Throughout the year, book lovers take to their soap boxes to make a case for their favorite reads. And with so many bibliophiles in Eagle County, picking just one book is about as difficult as naming your favorite child. Staff members at The Bookworm of Edwards engaged in literary arm wrestling to choose the best book titles and authors of 2012."It's always a very tough decision, narrowing it down to the best," says co-owner and book buyer Nicole Magistro. "One of the things we love about books is how much variation there is in voice, style, story and subject. Nonetheless, naming the cream of the crop is fun!"Here's a look back at the best of the best in books at your local independent bookstore.Storytelling"Running the Rift," by Naomi BenaronThis book is a gem - an unflinching and beautifully crafted account of a nation and the survival of hope in unimaginable events. Jean Patrick, a Rwandan student and gifted middle-distance runner has dreams of achieving Olympic glory but he is Tutsi, and Rwanda's Hutu-Tutsi tensions are steadily increasing. In the violent genocide explosion of 1994 what happens to Jean Patrick and his family reflect the collective experience of more than 800,000 victims. Naomi Benaron renders friendships and families with tenderness and sincerity, and lingers on the goodwill of humankind even when they turn against each other. Winner of the Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, Benaron has written a stunning and gorgeous novel that - through the eyes of one unforgettable boy - explores a country's unraveling, its tentative new beginning, and the love that binds its people together.Read this if you liked "The Kite Runner" or "What is the What."Buzz worthy"Shine, Shine, Shine," by Lydia NetzerThe literary world was afire with talk of this book last winter, and with its release in July, the entire staff got to reading. What they discovered was that the hype was legitimate. A debut unlike any other, this novel is a shocking, searing, breathless love story, about how a woman's perfectly manicured life comes crashing down. "I laughed, cried, and thoroughly enjoyed this quirky story," says Bookworm floor manager Karin Barker. "Despite reservations, the slightly wacky characters - bald mother, genius engineer/astronaut, autistic child - captured my heart. I followed these compelling characters through space and time and was reminded what is really important on this journey we call life."White-knuckled adventure"Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2's Deadliest Day," by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda PadoanIn August 2008, when 11 climbers lost their lives on K2, the world's most dangerous peak, two Sherpas survived. They had emerged from poverty and political turmoil to become two of the most skillful mountaineers on earth. Based on unprecedented access and interviews, "Buried in the Sky" reveals their astonishing story for the first time.Together the authors explore the intersecting lives of Chhiring Dorje Sherpa and Pasang Lama, following them from their villages high in the Himalaya to the slums of Kathmandu, across the glaciers of Pakistan to K2 Base Camp. When disaster strikes in the Death Zone, Chhiring finds Pasang stranded on an ice wall, without an axe, waiting to die. The rescue that follows has become the stuff of mountaineering legend. Local adventure enthusiasts met Chhiring Dorje Sherpa and his wife Dawa at the sold out "Buried in the Sky" event in June.Redemptive fiction"Dog Stars," by Peter HellerColorado crossed with the end of humankind might sound a little to close to home, but this book impressed even the most skeptical booksellers. "I am not a dystopian, fantasy or dog-book lover - but I cannot get enough of 'The Dog Stars,'" says Magistro. "If you liked Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road,' you are going to love this book."The premise: Hig survived the flu that killed everyone he knows. His wife is gone, his friends are dead, he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, his only neighbor a gun-toting misanthrope. In his 1956 Cessna, Hig flies the perimeter of the airfield or sneaks off to the mountains to fish and to pretend that things are the way they used to be. But when a random transmission somehow beams through his radio, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life - something like his old life - exists beyond the airport. Risking everything, and without enough fuel to get home, he flies past his point of no return, following the trail of the static-broken voice on the radio. Local milestone"Women of Vail: Those Who Walked This Bridge 1962-1970," by Elaine Kelton, Carolyn Pope and Warren Miller (foreword)Original and adventuresome, these are the stories of women who made Vail their home during the early years. A collection of memories tempered by time and perspective, curators Elaine Kelton and Carolyn Pope focus on Vail's one-village community during 1962-1970. This is a book of memories captured in print as part of the fabric of Vail's history.Several books have been written about Vail's history, but the women's story has not been told until now. These ladies and their stories amaze with their strength, bond of friendship, and pure joy of life in this little valley surrounded by the majestic Rockies.Unforgettable audiobook"Heading Out to Wonderful," by Robert Goolrick, read by Norman DietzThis suspenseful and lusty listen is a Bookworm staff favorite. It is the summer of 1948 when a handsome, charismatic stranger, Charlie Beale, recently back from the war in Europe, shows up in the town of Brownsburg, a sleepy village nestled in the valley of Virginia. All he has with him are two suitcases: One contains his few possessions, including a fine set of butcher knives; the other is full of money. A lot of money.Finding work at the local butcher shop, Charlie gradually meets all the townsfolk, including Boaty Glass, Brownsburg's wealthiest citizen, and most significantly, Boaty's beautiful teenage bride, Sylvan. This last encounter sets in motion the events that give Goolrick s powerful tale the stark, emotional impact that thrilled fans of his previous novel, "A Reliable Wife." Food writing"Vegetarian: A Delicious Celebration of Fresh Ingredients," by Alice Hart, Alice Chadwick (Illustrator), Lisa Linder (Photographer)Whether you are strictly vegetarian, trying to consume less meat, or simply searching for enticing vegetable dishes, this book will transform the way you think about meat-free eating. The vibrant and delicious recipes are combined with luscious photographs and whimsical illustrations, offering vegetable-based cooking with dishes that are stylish, fresh and flavorsome. Recipes include "Pressed Leek Terrine and Dijon Mayonnaise," "Pumpkin and Spinach Rotolo" and "Pear and Parmesan Tarte Tatin with Thyme Pastry."From breakfasts to breads, salads to soups and small bites, to indulgent dinners and sweets, this imaginative cookbook also includes contributions of special-occasion recipes from Stephane Reynaud, Skye Gyngnell, Rowley Leigh and other leading chefs. A selection of these recipes were featured at the Wine & Words event in June.Fearless teen fiction"Fault in Our Stars," By John GreenInsightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, "The Fault in Our Stars" is award-winning author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet. Adults and teens will keep Hazel and Augustus in their hearts and memories for a long time. Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at the Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is completely rewritten.The title is a twist on Shakespeare's line from "Julius Ceasar":"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,But in ourselves, that we are underlings."Hysterical chapter book"Ungifted," by Gordon KormanThis wacky yet well-crafted novel explores the fish-out-of-water theme with freshness and pizzazz. The word gifted has never been applied to a kid like Donovan Curtis. His motto is usually more like "don't try this at home." So when the troublemaker pulls a major prank at his middle school, he thinks he's finally gone too far. But thanks to a mix-up by one of the administrators, instead of getting in trouble, Donovan is sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction (ASD), a special school for gifted-and-talented students.It wasn't exactly what Donovan had intended, but there couldn't be a more perfect hideout for someone like him. That is, if he can manage to fool people whose IQs are above genius level.Imaginative picture book"Dragons Love Tacos," by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel SalmieriDid you know dragons love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teeny tiny tacos? Well, if you want to lure a bunch of dragons to your party, you should definitely serve tacos - buckets and buckets of tacos! Unfortunately, where there are tacos, there is also salsa. And if a dragon accidentally eats spicy salsa - oh boy, you're in red-hot trouble. This scrumptious read-aloud has a whole lot of kick.Kelli Kostroski is the marketing and events manager at The Bookworm of Edwards.
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