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What are we reading?

Wren Wertin

The Bookworm of Edwards

1. “Secret Life of Bees,” by Sue Monk Kidd: Lily Owens has shaped her life around one devastating, blurred, memory – the afternoon her mother was killed. Since then, her only real companion on the peach farm of her harsh, unyielding father has been a fierce-hearted black woman, Rosaleen. When Rosaleen insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily knows it is time to spring them both free.

2. “Miracle Life of Edgar Mint,” by Brady Udall: At the beginning of this high-spirited novel of the American West, a boy on an Apache Indian reservation in Arizona has his head run over by a mail truck. Nevertheless, the book is anything but tragic – or, at least, not purely tragic.

3. “Glory,” by Jodi Lynn: Thirteen-year-old Glory Mason has always been known as a troublemaker in Dogwood. Intelligent and impudent, Glory is frustrated with Dogwood’s isolation from the world “outside,” and her pranks and tomfoolery have become an almost constant worry to her father, the town leader and pillar of the community. But when Glory’s hijinks cause a horrible accident, her father – and the townspeople can no longer look the other way. Glory is cast out of the town, left alone to fend for herself in a world she has never known.

4. “The Other Boleyn Girl,” by Philippa Gregory: The daughters of a ruthlessly ambitious family, Mary and Anne Boleyn are sent to the court of Henry VIII to attract the attention of the king, who first takes Mary as his mistress and then Anne as his wife.

5. “Seabiscuit: An American Legend,” by Laura Hillenbrand: The story of Seabiscuit, a horse with crooked legs and a pathetic tail that made racing history in 1938, thanks to the efforts of a trainer, owner, and jockey who transformed a bottom-level racehorse into a legend.

6. “Atonement,” by Ian McEwan: On a hot summer day in 1935, 13-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives – together with her precocious literary gifts – forces a situation that will change the course of their lives.

7. “Ultimate Gift,” by Jim Stovall: Red Stevens owned everything a man could ask for, and he generously supported his entire extended family, asking nothing in return. Near the end of his life, however, Red realized one thing: in giving his family everything, he had given them nothing.”The Ultimate Gift” our own.

8. “Lovely Bones,” by Alice Sebold: The spirit of 14-year-old Susie Salmon describes her murder, her surprise at her new home in heaven, and her witness to her family’s grief in their efforts to find the killer.

9. “Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family,” by Mary S. Lovell: The story of a close, loving family splintered by the violent ideologies of Europe between the wars. Jessica was a Communist; Debo became the Duchess of Devonshire; Nancy was one of the best-selling novelists of her day; the ethereally beautiful Diana was the most hated woman in England; and Unity Valkyrie, born in Swastika, Alaska, would become obsessed with Adolf Hitler.

10. “Devil Wears Prada,” by Lauren Weisberger:A witty, dishy novel about life at a glamorous fashion magazine, an empire ruled by a legendary editor whose sense of style is topped only by her sense of self-importance.

Verbatim Booksellers

1. “Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Living,” by Joseph Marhall: A descendant of Crazy Horse adapts Lakota spiritual wisdom and traditions to modern life – using poetry, songs and folklore – to fundamental ideas about the essential 12 qualities of human character.

2. “Miracle Life of Edgar Mint,” by Brady Udall: At the beginning of this high-spirited novel of the American West, a boy on an Apache Indian reservation in Arizona has his head run over by a mail truck. Nevertheless, the book is anything but tragic – or, at least, not purely tragic.

3.”Where Rivers Change Direction,” by Mark Spragg: The story of a boyhood spent on the oldest dude ranch in Wyoming, with a family struggling against the elements and against themselves, and with a wry and wise cowboy who taught him life’s essential lessons.

4. “Stupid White Men,” by Michael Moore: The documentary artist returns to size up the new century – and that big, ugly special-interest group that’s laying waste to the world as we know it: stupid white men.

5.-“Desert Solitaire,” by Edward Abbey: An account of two summers spent in Southeastern Utah’s Canyonlands. The book reflects profound love of nature and a bitter abhorrence of all that would desecrate it.

6.-“Brownsville,” by Oscar Casares: At the country’s edge, on the Mexican border, Brownsville, Texas, is a town like many others. It is a place where people work hard to create better lives for their children, where people bear grudges against their neighbors, where love blossoms only to fade, and where the only real certainty is that life holds surprises.

7.-“Nine Parts of Desire,” by Geraldine Brooks: An intimate, often shocking portrait of the lives of modern Muslim women – and of how male pride and power have warped the original message of a once liberating faith.

8. “Letters from Yellowstone,” by Diane Smith (Festival of Words author): In the spring of 1898, A. E. (Alexandria) Bartram – a spirited young woman with a love for botany – is invited to join a field study in Yellowstone National Park. The study’s leader assumes she is a man, and is less than pleased to discover the truth. Once overcoming the shock of having a woman on their team, the group forms an enlightening web of relationships as they move from Mammoth Hot Springs to a camp high in the backcountry. But as they make their way collecting amid Yellowstone’s beauty the group is splintered by differing views on science, nature and economics.

9. “Hours,” by Michael Cunningham: This book draws on the life and work of Virginia Woolf to tell the story of a group of contemporary characters struggling with the conflicting claims of love and inheritance, hope and despair.

10.-“Desert Queen,” by Janet Wallach: Turning away from the privileged world of the “eminent Victorians,” Gertrude Bell explored, mapped and excavated the world of the Arabs. Recruited by British intelligence during World War I, she played a crucial role in obtaining the loyalty of Arab leaders. After the war, she played a major role in creating the modern Middle East and was, at the time, considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire.


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