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What are we reading?

Daily Staff Report

The Bookworm of Edwards1. “Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books,” by Azar Nafisi: For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; several had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments.2. “Angels and Demons,” by Dan Brown: World-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a cryptic symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. What he discovers is unimaginable: a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization — the Illuminati. Desperate to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb, Langdon joins forces in Rome with the beautiful and mysterious scientist Vittoria Vetra. Together they embark on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and the most secretive vault on earth … the long-forgotten Illuminati lair.3. “Middlesex,” by Jeffrey Eugenides: The story of Calliope and three generations of her Greek-American family, who relocated to Prohibition-era Detroit from Greece, witnessing the glory days of the Motor City, and the race riots of 1967, before moving to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe. Calliope uncovers a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal.4. “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons,” by Lorna Landvik: Five friends live through three decades of marriages, child-raising, neighborhood parties, bad husbands and good brownies-and Landvik (Patty Jane’s House of Curl) doesn’t miss a single cliche as she chronicles their lives in this pleasant but wholly familiar novel of female bonding.5. “Shadowmancer,” by G. P. Taylor: An apocalyptic battle between good and evil. The story, set in the 1700s on the Yorkshire coastline, revolves around Vicar Obadiah Demurral, a corrupt-but-inept, dead-conjuring “shadowmancer” who desires to control the universe by overthrowing God, or Riathamus.6. “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. 7. “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.8. “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.9. “Deception Point,” by Dan Brown: The time is now and President Zachary Herney is facing a very tough reelection. His opponent, Senator Sedgwick Sexton, is a powerful man with powerful friends and a mission: to reduce NASA’s spending and move space exploration into the private sector. He has numerous supporters, including many beyond the businesses who will profit from this because of the embarrassment of 1996, when the Clinton administration was informed by NASA that proof existed of life on other planets. That information turned out to be premature, if not incorrect.10. “Lake of Dead Languages,” by Carol Goodman: Twenty years ago, Jane Hudson fled the Heart Lake School for Girls in the Adirondacks after a terrible tragedy. The week before her graduation, in that sheltered wonderland, three lives were taken, all victims of suicide. Only Jane was left to carry the burden of a mystery that has stayed hidden in the depths of Heart Lake for more than two decades. Now Jane has returned to the school as a Latin teacher, recently separated and hoping to make a fresh start with her young daughter. But ominous messages from the past dredge up forgotten memories. And young, troubled girls are beginning to die again – as piece by piece the shattering truth slowly floats to the surface. Verbatim Booksellers1. “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, to become an English teacher in one of the poorest districts in the nation. “In the Deep Heart’s Core” 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. It is an inspiring and unforgettable story of one young man’s experience in the Teach for America program, and of how a new generation of teachers is reaching out to give hope to the students society has forgotten.2 “Angels and Demons,” by Dan Brown: World-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a cryptic symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. What he discovers is unimaginable: a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization — the Illuminati. Desperate to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb, Langdon joins forces in Rome with the beautiful and mysterious scientist Vittoria Vetra. Together they embark on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and the most secretive vault on earth…the long-forgotten Illuminati lair.3. “Desert Solitaire,” by Edward Abbey: Edward Abbey lived for three seasons in the desert at Moab, Utah, and what he discovered about the land before him, the world around him, and the heart that beat within, is a fascinating, sometimes raucous, always personal account of a place that has already disappeared, but is worth remembering and living through again and again.4. “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.5. “The Purpose Driven Life,” by Rick Warren: Author and Pastor Rick Warren argues that discerning and living five God-ordained purposes is the key to effective living. His 40 short chapters are intended to be read over 40 days’ time, giving readers small pieces of his purpose-discovering program to chew on.6 “Middlesex,” by Jeffrey Eugenides: The story of Calliope and three generations of her Greek-American family, who relocated to Prohibition-era Detroit from Greece, witnessing the glory days of the Motor City, and the race riots of 1967, before moving to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe. Calliope uncovers a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal.7. “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 into a deep crevasse. Yates, certain that Simpson was dead, returned to base camp consumed with grief and guilt over abandoning him. Miraculously, Simpson had survived the fall and summoning vast reserves of physical and spiritual strength, he crawled over the cliffs and canyons of the Andes, reaching base camp hours before Yates had planned to leave. How both men overcame the torments of those harrowing days is an epic tale of fear, suffering and survival, and a poignant testament to unshakable courage and friendship. 8. “Devil In the White City,” by Erik Larson: Bringing Chicago circa 1893 to vivid life, Erik Larson’s spellbinding bestseller intertwines the true tale of two men – the brilliant architect behind the legendary 1893 World’s Fair, striving to secure America’s place in the world; and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to death. Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction.9. “Plan of Attack,” by Bob Woodward: Plan of Attack is the definitive account of a turning point in history as President George W. Bush, his war council, and allies launch a pre-emptive attack on Iraq, toppling Saddam Hussein and taking over the country. From in-depth interviews and documents, Bob Woodward provides an authoritative narrative of the Administration’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering over two years and examines the causes and consequences of the most controversial war since Vietnam. 10. “Birth of Venus,” by Sarah Dunant: Alessandra Cecchi is not quite fifteen when her father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings a young painter back from northern Europe to decorate the chapel walls in the family’s Florentine palazzo. A child of the Renaissance, with a precocious mind and a talent for drawing, Alessandra is intoxicated by the painter’s abilities. But their burgeoning relationship is interrupted when Alessandra’s parents arrange her marriage to a wealthy, much older man. Alessandra’s married life is a misery, except for the surprising freedom it allows her to pursue her powerful attraction to the young painter and his art.


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