Happy 2022 from River Bend

Note from a Bookseller

Hi readers, it's your friendly neighborhood bookseller Ernio! Welcome to the new year. We hope you're all taking it easy and spending some winter downtime with a great read or two.


It's a perfect time to renew your commitment to reading things for your own pleasure this year (your comfy reading spot at home is much less crowded than the gym, just saying). I've personally kickstarted my year with a fresh pile of books (and audiobooks while on the move!) — see some of mine and my fellow booksellers' picks below!

Among my new faves is a debut from our very own local author Nancy Tandon — a beloved regular among our shelves and now a well-deserved superstar on them. Scroll all the way down for our chat with her about her new middle grade novel The Way I Say It out TODAY as well as some of her favorite books to recommend!

Hope to see you back in the shop soon, come say hello and tell us what you're reading this year!

— Ernio, Bookseller

River Bend Bookshop

Ernio's Latest Book Picks


Kids: The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson

Always a fave author of mine, a true wordsmith. While most of us would love to forget the past few years, she turns our experiences into a wonderful lesson in finding beauty amid turmoil. A celebration of life!


"Adults": A Bathroom Book for People...Using the Bathroom as an Escape by Joe Pera

I love starting my year with a serious, epic saga. This was better. Joe does a delightful job of speaking to a very site-specific audience of one in this deep philosophical dive.


Listeners: The Storyteller by Dave Grohl

I'm not even a Foo Fighters fan, but this auto-biography is steeped with such great stories about family, friends and life as a rocker, you can't help but enjoy it. Read by Dave himself, you'll love just listening in.

Hot Stock! Recent Best Sellers


Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez


Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr


Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray


Keep Sharp by Sanjay Gupta, M.D.

Virtual Book Events


CT LitFest Lit Talk

CT Lit Fest and CT Humanities present a free and thought-provoking panel featuring River Bend Bookshop owner Meghan.

Registration is required for the first Lit Talk of 2022 — about changes to the publishing industry in the pandemic.

Register now for Jan. 19 @ 7PM

The Way I Say It Book Launch

Celebrate the debut of The Way I Say It with author Nancy Tandon! Join the fun virtually on Saturday, January 22 from 3-5pm.

Register to get the link. Books are available through River Bend Bookshop and Eventbrite websites.

Register now for Jan. 22 @ 3 PM

Top Staff Picks


Meghan: How High We Go... by Sequoia Nagamatsu


Audrey: Sandor Katz's Fermentation Journeys


Deb: Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam


Taryn: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner


Audrey: Messy Roots by Laura Gao

(preorder for March 8)


Anna: The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames


Tess: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas


Sophia: Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown


Audrey: A Tiny Upward Shove by Melissa Chadburn

(preorder for April 12)

Author Chat with Nancy Tandon


Who did you write The Way I Say It for?

The inspiration for Rory’s story came from my clinical work as a Speech-Language Pathologist.I worked with several kids who couldn’t say the first sound of their name (e.g., Camille who couldn’t say “kuh” and Justin who couldn’t say “djuh”). The challenges that caused stayed with me. I wondered what life would be like for a kid whose name-related speech difficulties persisted into middle school, and Rory was born. So, in a sense, I wrote this book for any kid who is living with a stubborn articulation disorder. I hope getting to know Rory will help them feel less alone. And for all other readers, I hope it helps them see beyond the surface of what someone sounds like to the heart of what they actually have to say.


Is there a character you absolutely adored writing?

Mr. Simms is totally the cool SLP I wish I had been and it was a blast getting to know him! When I started writing I’d hear people say their characters “told them” who they were, and I was super skeptical. (You’re the writer – aren’t you the one in charge?) But I can honestly say this guy is an example of that happening to me! (And my only example so far. Wish it would happen more often!) When introducing him on the page, I closed my eyes and saw him fully formed – Metallica t-shirt, hair, voice, mannerisms. It was one of my favorite writing moments ever.

Did you have an inspiring teacher as a kid?

My fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Wuestnick was very encouraging of my writing. That was the year I had two books “published” by some kind parent volunteers who typed out my text and bound the pages between wallpaper remnants. We were then told we were published authors; it felt very real to me. Going back even further in my archives, my second-grade teacher Mrs. Martin reported I was “A great little author already.” She took time to tell us stories and encourage us to do the same. I love thinking about how long ago those seeds were planted. Teachers are amazing!

What author do you always read?

Ann Patchett and Fredrik Backman are instant reads for me. I’ve also always loved Barbara Kingsolver, especially her earlier work. In terms of kidlit authors, two from right here in CT that I’m an uber-fan of are Leslie Connor and Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo. I really look up to them as examples of how I might grow a lasting writing career in contemporary middle grade.


What's the last book you read and/or loved?

I listened to the audio version (through my River Bend-linked Libro.fm account!) of The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune and was completely smitten by the characters, the setting, the gorgeous writing, everything. It really surprised and delighted me. I love that in a book!

Books you keep recommending:

Alone by Megan E. Freeman, A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus, and 365 Days to Alaska by Cathy Carr. All three are middle grade but very different stories, and I’ve had such fun recommending them to various readers.

Some other middle grade titles I can’t stop gabbing about: A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat, When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller, Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros, From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks, The Unforgettable Logan Foster by Shawn Peters, and A Comb of Wishes (coming 2/8/22!) by Lisa Stringfellow. It actually stresses me out a little bit thinking about how many good books there are! I want to read them all!


In the adult realm, I’m constantly giving away and replenishing my copies of A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I believe these characters would (reluctantly) be friends, which is how they live, rent free, in my head.

Other than River Bend, where can people find out more about you and your books?

For more information and to sign up for my occasional newsletter, visit nancytandon.com.

I also love connecting with readers on Twitter (@NancyTandon) and Instagram

(@_NancyTandon_). My hope for everyone in 2022: Be well, and be well read!


The Book Box is Back!

Our little porch pickup spot is back out at the shop. We're still open for browsing, but are more than happy to take orders by phone or online and place them out back (weather-permitting) anytime we're open for a safe and easy grab-and-go option. ⁣Call ahead if your books are ready to let us know you're on the way. Stay well.

Hours: Monday-Tuesday 10-4, Wednesday-Friday 10-6, Saturday 10-4, closed Sunday

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