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What are we reading?

Daily Staff Report

Verbatim Booksellers

1. “In the Deep Heart’s Core,” by Michael Johnston:

In the fall of 1997, Vail Mountain School graduate Michael Johnston went to the rural Mississippi Delta – the “deep heart’s core” of the South – as a member of the Teach for America program, enabling him to become an English teacher in one of the poorest districts in the nation. He confronted a racially divided world in which his African-American students had to struggle daily against a legacy of crippling poverty, drug addiction and gang violence that ravaged their community. This novel tells the story of how Johnston reached out to inspire his teenage students with all the means at his disposal – from the language of the great poets to the strategies of chess to the vigor of athletics.

2. “Angels and Demons,” by Dan Brown: When Harvard symbolist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a mysterious symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist, he discovers evidence of the unimaginable: the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood which has surfaced to carry out the final phase of its legendary vendetta against its most hated enemy, the Catholic Church.

3. “Wicked, the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West,” by Gregory Maguire: Set in a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability and the Tin Man becomes a victim of classist violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to be the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil. Maguire will be here in next month as one of the featured authors for the 2004 Festival of Words.

4. “Da Vinci Code,” by Dan Brown: When a curator of the Louvre turns up murdered, his body surrounded by enigmatic ciphers written in invisible ink, code-breaker Robert Langdon and a French cryptologist are called in to unravel the clues to the killing. They discover the riddles are linked to the works of da Vinci and to a clandestine sect within the Catholic Church.

5. “Da Vinci Code,” by Dan Brown: When a curator of the Louvre turns up murdered, his body surrounded by enigmatic ciphers written in invisible ink, code-breaker Robert Langdon and a French cryptologist are called in to unravel the clues to the killing. They discover the riddles are linked to the works of da Vinci and to a clandestine sect within the Catholic Church.

6. “Three Junes,” by Julia Glass: Traces the lives of a Scottish family in three months of June over a decade as they confront the joys and longings, fulfillments and betrayals of love in all its guises.

7. “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency,” by Alexander McCall Smith: The first novel in the widely acclaimed series tells the story of the cunning and engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to help people with problems in their lives, both mundane and enormous. Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing 11-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witch doctors. Gives a good feel for Botswana history and culture.

8. “1,000 Places to See Before You Die,” by Patricia Schultz: An around-the-world, continent-by-continent listing of places both on and off the beaten track. The prose is enticing, and after dishing out the romance of the places delivers the nuts and bolts: addresses, phone and fax numbers, Web sites, costs, best times to visit. Of special interest are subject-specific indexes: beaches restaurants and more.

9. “Land that Moves, Land that Stands Still,” by Kent Nelson: Mattie Remmel, who loses her husband in a farm accident, discovers and confronts his hidden past, which darkens her own vision of the future. Deciding to keep their alfalfa ranch running, Mattie enlists the help of her daughter, Shelley, who’s returned home from college, and hires a ranch hand, Dawn, a young woman who has a penchant for mechanics. A 14-year-old runaway Native American boy joins the three women, and together they forge an unlikely family. Winner of the 2003 Mountains and Plains Book of the Year for Fiction. Nelson will be here next month for the 2004 Festival of Words.

10. Touching the Void,” by Joe Simpson: Joe Simpson and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, had just reached the top of a 21,000-foot peak in the Andes when disaster struck. Simpson plunged off the vertical face of an ice ledge, breaking his leg. In the hours that followed, darkness fell and a blizzard raged as Yates tried to lower his friend to safety. Finally, Yates was forced to cut the rope, moments before he would have been pulled to his own death. Yates, certain that Simpson was dead, returned to base camp consumed with grief and guilt over abandoning him. Miraculously, Simpson had survived the fall, but crippled, starving, and severely frostbitten was trapped in a deep crevasse. Summoning vast reserves of physical and spiritual strength, Simpson crawled over the cliffs and canyons of the Andes, reaching base camp hours before Yates had planned to leave.

The Bookworm of Edwards

1. “Queen’s Fool,” by Phillipa Gregory: In this eagerly awaited sequel to “The Other Boleyn Girl,” Gregory returns to Tudor England, where the offspring of Henry VIII ascend to the throne amid treason, poisonous rivalries, accusations of heresy and unrequited love.

2. “The Other Boleyn Girl,” by Phillipa 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.

3. “Angels and Demons,” by Dan Brown: When Harvard symbolist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a mysterious symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist, he discovers evidence of the unimaginable: the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood which has surfaced to carry out the final phase of its legendary vendetta against its most hated enemy, the Catholic Church.

4. “Deception Point,” by Dan Brown: When a NASA satellite discovers an astonishingly rare object buried deep in the Arctic ice, the floundering space agency proclaims a much-needed victory – a victory with profound implications for NASA policy and the impending presidential election. To verify the authenticity of the find, the White House calls upon the skills of intelligence analyst Rachel Sexton who uncovers the unthinkable: evidence of scientific trickery.

5. “The Solace of Leaving Early,” by Haven Kimmel: In her rich and nuanced debut novel, Haven Kimmel brings to life two irresistible people at odds with their small-town lives and with each other. Told with wit and surprising empathy, this is the story of finding our better selves through accepting the shortcomings of others.

6. “1,000 Places to See Before You Die,” by Patricia Schultz: An around-the-world, continent-by-continent listing of places both on and off the beaten track. The prose is enticing, and after dishing out the romance of the places delivers the nuts and bolts: addresses, phone and fax numbers, Web sites, costs, best times to visit. Of special interest are subject-specific indexes: beaches restaurants and more.

7. “South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss,” by Arthur Agatston: A complete guide to the South Beach Diet.

8. “Piano Tuner,” by Daniel Phillipe Mason: In 1886 Edgar Drake, is ordered by the British War Office to the jungles of Burma where a rare Erard grand piano, belonging to an unorthodox surgeon-major, is in need of repair. On his journey, Edgar encounters prophets, thieves, soldiers, and an enchanting yet elusive woman.

9. “Women of the Silk,” by Gail Tsukiyama: A rich portrait of one woman’s life in a China now lost. Her story is rendered with grace, with the clear dignity of legend or song. Tsukiyama lends her voice to figures of women emboldened by their dream of growth and personal power. Gail Tsukiyama will be at this year’s 2004 Festival of Words.

10. “Death in Vienna,” by Daniel Silva: The sins of the past reverberate in the present, in an extraordinary novel by an author of international suspense. Art restorer and sometime spy Gabriel Allon is sent to Vienna to authenticate a painting, but the real object of his search becomes something else entirely: to find out the truth about a photograph that has turned his world upside down.


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