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What are we reading?

Daily Staff Writer

Verbatim Booksellers in Vail Village

1. “Climb to Conquer,” by Peter Shelton: Few stories are as unforgettable – or as little known – as that of the 10th Mountain Division. Today a versatile light infantry unit deployed around the world, the 10th began in 1941 as a crew of civilian athletes with a passion for mountains and snow. Featured as the 2004 Valley Read selection, adventure writer Peter Shelton follows the unique division from its conception on a Vermont ski hill, through training at Camp Hale near Leadville, through its dramatic World War II coming-of-age, to the ultimate revolution it inspired in American outdoor life. Shelton will be a featured author at April’s Festival of Words.

2. “Against All Enemies,” by Richard Clarke: Richard Clarke served seven presidents and worked inside the White House for George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush until he resigned in March, 2003, devoting two decades of his professional life to combating terrorism. From the moment the Bush team took office and decided to retain Clarke in his post as the counter-terrorism czar, Clarke tried to persuade them to take al Qaeda seriously. For months, he was denied the opportunity even to make his case to Bush. Coming from a man known as one of the hard-liners against terrorists, the book is both a history of our two-decades-long confrontation with terrorism and a searing indictment of the current administration.

3. “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency,” by Alexander McCall Smith: The first novel in the 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.” Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, Botswana, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con ma, 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.

4. “Angels and Demons,” by Dan Brown: When 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.

5. “Body and Soul,” by Frank Conroy: In the dim light of a basement apartment, 6-year-old Claude Rawlings sits at an old white piano in 1940’s New York, picking out the sounds he has heard on the radio and shutting out the reality of his lonely world. Describes the life of a child prodigy whose musical genius pulls him out of squalor and into the drawing rooms of the rich and a gilt-edged marriage.

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, Schultz 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.

8. “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.

8. “From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey,” by Pascal Thwe: In 1988, Dr. John Casey, a professor visiting Burma, met a waiter in Mandalay with a passion for the works of James Joyce. The encounter changed both their lives. Within months of his meeting with Dr. Casey, Pascal’s world lays in ruins. Burma’s military dictatorship forces him to sacrifice his studies, and the regime’s brutal armed forces murder his lover. Fleeing to the jungle, he becomes a guerrilla fighter in the life-or-death struggle against the government. In desperation, he writes a letter to the Englishman he met in Mandalay. Miraculously reaching its destination, the letter leads to Pascal’s rescue and his enrollment in Cambridge University, where he is the first Burmese tribesman ever to attend.

9. “A Girl Named Zippy,” by Haven Kimmel: When Haven Kimmel was born in 1965, Mooreland, Indiana, was a sleepy little hamlet of 300 people. Nicknamed Zippy, this small girl was possessed of big eyes and even bigger ears. In this highly readable and endearing memoir, Kimmel delivers a giant slice of Midwestern life. Kimmel is one of five featured authors at next week’s 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 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. “Wideacre,” by Philippa Gregory: Set in 18th century England, “Wideacre” introduces Beatrice Lacey, a heroine who makes Scarlett O’Hara look like a simpering weakling.

5. “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, Schultz 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.

6. “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.

7. “A Girl Named Zippy,” by Haven Kimmel: When Haven Kimmel was born in 1965, Mooreland, Indiana, was a sleepy little hamlet of 300 people. Nicknamed Zippy, this small girl was possessed of big eyes and even bigger ears. In this highly readable and endearing memoir, Kimmel delivers a giant slice of Midwestern life. Kimmel is one of five featured authors at next week’s Festival of Words.

8. “Climb to Conquer,” by Peter Shelton: Few stories are as unforgettable – or as little known – as that of the 10th Mountain Division. Today a versatile light infantry unit deployed around the world, the 10th began in 1941 as a crew of civilian athletes with a passion for mountains and snow. Featured as the 2004 Valley Read selection, adventure writer Peter Shelton follows the unique division from its conception on a Vermont ski hill, through training at Camp Hale near Leadville, through its dramatic World War II coming-of-age, to the ultimate revolution it inspired in American outdoor life. Shelton will be a featured author at April’s Festival of Words.

9. “Against All Enemies,” by Richard Clarke: Richard Clarke served seven presidents and worked inside the White House for George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush until he resigned in March, 2003, devoting two decades of his professional life to combating terrorism. From the moment the Bush team took office and decided to retain Clarke in his post as the counter-terrorism czar, Clarke tried to persuade them to take al Qaeda seriously. For months, he was denied the opportunity even to make his case to Bush. Coming from a man known as one of the hard-liners against terrorists, the book is both a history of our two-decades-long confrontation with terrorism and a searing indictment of the current administration.

10. “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.


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