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There are one million new books published each year. With so many books and so little time, where do you begin to find your next must-read? There’s the New York Times Bestseller list, the Goodreads app, the Cape Library’s Staff picks shelf and now Martin’s Must-Reads.Every Wednesday at 6:42 and 8:42 a.m., and Sunday at 8:18 a.m., Betty Martin recommends a must read based on her own personal biases for historical fiction, quirky characters and overall well-turned phrases. Her list includes WWII novels, biographies of trailblazers, novels with truly unique individuals and lots more. Reading close to 100 titles a year, Betty has plenty of titles to share.Local support for "Martin's Must Reads" comes from the Cape Girardeau Public Library and the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library.

Martin's Must Reads: 'The Giver of Stars'

“And there is the bare truth of it, for her and all the women around here. Doesn’t matter how smart you are, how clever, how self-reliant- you can always be bettered by a stupid man with a gun....She reaches behind into her saddlebag with her left hand, and as he turns his head she drops the reins, grabs the other corner with her right fist, and swings the heavy book as hard as she can, smack, into his face.”

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and those are some lines from the opening chapter of Jojo Moyes newest novel The Giver of Stars. From 1935 to 1943, the rural residents of Kentucky were recipients of a literacy program championed by  Eleanor Roosevelt. The WPA Packhorse Librarians in this novel consist of four women who spend their days bringing library materials to remote locations, rain or shine, snow or sleet, via packhorses.

Alice Wright has married a handsome American in a desperate attempt to escape her stifling life in England. Just as her loneliness becomes unbearable, she answers the call to help with the traveling library and makes lasting friends.

The leader, Margery O’Hare is a smart-talking, self sufficient  woman, which ultimately gets her in trouble and accused of murder.  And then there’s Izzy, an outcast due to a limp leftover from a bout of polio, Beth who wants to travel the world and Sophie, who lives with her brother and works at the library at night to avoid trouble due to the color of her skin.

As the cover says, if you want to read “ a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond” then you must read The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes.

Betty Martin was born in Boston, Massachusetts to a Lutheran pastor and his organist wife. Betty’s love of books was inspired by her father who read to all four children each night.
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