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  Fall 2010/ Winter 2011
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"Community Connection" staff book recommendations

The "Community Connection" is produced and published twice a year by a small team of employees in the Office of Marketing and Public Relations. In the spirit of this issue's book recommendation theme, the editorial team has offered a few book recommendations of their own.

Beth Lorow“Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White
Recommended by Beth Lorow, assistant director of public relations

My go-to conversation starter among both my closest friends and new acquaintances is, “Have you read any good books lately? “ I have an always-expanding list of books that I want to read jotted down on scraps of paper and stashed in safe places. While I love delving into a new book or reading the latest bestseller, there’s something wonderfully comforting about re-reading a book. My favorite “comfort” book is “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White.

I don’t know at exactly what age I first read “Charlotte’s Web,” but I’m certain that I was very familiar with the story long before I was a teenager. I have my own copy – a hardback with a thin paper cover featuring a whimsical illustration of Fern with her arms tightly around her beloved pig Wilbur, the main endearing character of the barnyard story.

I can easily recall the slightly torn cover because I just recently revisited “Charlotte’s Web” last summer when I read it to my newborn baby girl. She slept through nearly all of it, but I enjoyed reliving the tale of sweet Fern and her fierce protection of a runt piglet named Wilbur. I chuckled at the antics of Templeton the wise-cracking, opportunistic barn rat, smiled at the goose’s stuttering declarations, and remembered how Charlotte, the brilliant spider and hero of the story, expanded my vocabulary as I looked up words she spoke like “salutation” and “versatile.”

I will never tire of “Charlotte’s Web” and can only hope that my sweet little girl will request many re-readings.

Beth Lorow is the editor of “Community Connection” and is responsible for brainstorming ideas for each issue, writing and editing the content, and selecting and coordinating photography.


“The School of Essential Ingredients” by Erica Bauermeister Sherri Hoffman
Recommended by Sherri Hoffman, project and research coordinator

is a great novel.  It’s a book about everyday life, everyday love, and not so everyday food. The story portrays eight people who gather every Monday night at Lillian’s restaurant for a cooking class. The students arrive separately to the class but soon find themselves connecting in ways they never imagined.

Lillian had been drawn to food and its magical properties since she was a young girl. Food is much more than what we put into our mouth. Her soulful insights and ingredients bring the recipes and the students to life. Each night’s special ingredient and technique lead the students beyond the kitchen and into the hidden corners of everyday life. Just as each ingredient has a specific texture, aroma, and purpose, so too the students find comfort in their own stories and purposes. 

The book brings Lillian’s cooking class together by the power of food and friendship and was both comforting and relaxing to read – which I believe is a good place to be at the end of a book now and then.  Through the pages I learned a little bit about cooking and a little bit about myself.

Sherri Hoffman provides regular content for the "Community Connection," including the calendar and Messiah College as a Community Resource. In addition, she works with the vendor to procure the addresses for the mailing list.


Steph Perry"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett
Recommended by Stephanie Perry, graphic designer

" The Help" was a book I could not put down. The historical aspect of the book along with the way Stockett developed the characters was wonderful. I imagined myself in the different situations and could feel the pain, joy, friendship, and disappointment of the characters as they experienced life during the early years of the civil rights movement.

The story begins with Skeeter, a recent college grad, coming home to find her best friend, her maid Constantine, gone. No one will tell her where Constantine went. Skeeter has a degree in English, but no husband like her friends, so she is an outsider in society. Determined to write, she finds a job at a local newspaper and starts writing her own column. Meanwhile, she meets Aibileen, a friend’s maid, and asks for her help in answering questions for her column at the newspaper.

The longer Skeeter is home, the more she begins questioning the racist attitudes of her college friends and takes issue when her friend starts a petition to make sure all maids or “help” have their own outside bathrooms. She’s enraged at how her friends treat their maids—who they rely on to raise their kids and take care of their families—but act like they are less than human.

As Skeeter gets more frustrated with the racist comments and moral inconsistencies, she decides to write a book by interviewing maids in their town about their different experiences. It’s a stressful time to keep it all hidden and not get caught, but the trust and friendships built between Skeeter and the maids are long-lasting and the final accomplishment is rewarding.

Stephanie Perry is responsible for the visual appeal of the "Community Connection." In addition to coordinating the photography, Steph designs the publication and gets it ready for press.





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