What are we reading? | VailDaily.com

What are we reading?

Daily Staff Report

The Bookworm of Edwards1. “Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini: This is the story of a friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. Raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan nonetheless grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir’s father’s servant, is a Hazara, member of a shunned ethnic minority. When the Soviets invade and Amir and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him.2. “Secret Life of Bees,” by Sue Monk Kidd: Set in South Carolina in 1964, the “Secret Life of Bees” tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the town’s fiercest racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, S.C. – a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love – a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.3. “Ski Instructors Confidential,” by Allen Smith: These are some of the funniest and most entertaining stories that professional ski instructors swap at the end of the day. They represent literally hundreds of years of teaching experience and include tales of surviving ski school lessons, the importance of looking good on the slopes, après-ski legends, wrestling with skiing equipment and more.4. “The Broker,” by John Grisham: Before he was sent to federal prison for treason, Joel Backman was an extremely powerful man. Known as “the broker,” Backman was a high roller, a lawyer making $10 million a year who could open any door in Washington. That is, until he tried to broker a deal selling access to the world’s most powerful satellite surveillance system to the highest bidder. When caught, Backman accepted prison as the one option that would keep him safe and alive, since the interested parties (the Israelis, the Saudis, the Russians and the Chinese) were all itching to get their hands on his secrets at any cost. Little does he know that his own government has designs on accessing that information – or at least letting it die with him. Now, six years after his incarceration, the director of the CIA convinces a lame duck president to pardon Backman, and the broker becomes a free man, and a open target.5. “Sight Hound,” by Pam Houston: This is the story of a woman, Rae, and her dog, Dante, a wolfhound who teaches “his human” that love is stronger than fear (the dog has always known this). Dante is the catalyst for change in other characters as well, and they step forward with their narratives: Rae’s house-tender; her therapist; two veterinarians; and an anxiety-ridden actor, Howard, who turns out to be as stalwart as Dante himself. As the “seer” who hunts by sight rather than smell, Dante has some things to add, as does Rose, another dog who lives at Rae’s heels, and Stanley the cat. Among and above these myriad voices, Rae voices her own challenges. 6. “Time Traveler’s Wife,” by Audrey Niffenegger: This is the remarkable story of Henry Detamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Care Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare’s passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap, and it is Audrey Niffenegger’s cinematic storytelling that makes the novel’s unconventional chronology so vibrantly triumphant. An enchanting debut and a spellbinding tale of fate and belief in the bonds of love, the “Time Traveler’s Wife” is destined to captivate readers for years to come. 7. “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” by Malcolm Gladwell: How do we make decisions – good and bad – and why are some people so much better at it than others? Thats the question Malcolm Gladwell asks and answers in the follow-up to his huge bestseller, “The Tipping Point.” Utilizing case studies as diverse as speed dating, pop music and the shooting of Amadou Diallo, gladwell reveals that what we think of as decisions made in the blink of an eye are much more complicated than assumed. Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, he shows how the difference between good-decision making and bad has nothing to do with how much information we can process quickly, but on the few particular details on which we focus. Leaping boldly from example to example, displaying all of the brilliance that made the “Tipping Point” a classic, gladwell reveals how we can become better decision makers – in our homes, our offices and in everyday life. The result is a book that is surprising and transforming.8. “Graceland,” by Chris Abani: The sprawling, swampy cacophonous city of Lagos, Nigeria, provides the backdrop to the story of Elvis, a teenage elvis impersonator hoping to make his way out of the ghetto. Broke, beset by floods, and beatings by his alcoholic father, and with no job opportunities in sight, Elvis is tempted by a life of crime. Thus begins his odyssey into the dangerous underworld of Lagos, guided by his friend Redemption and accompanied by a restless hybrid of voices including the King of Beggars, Sunday, Innocent and Comfort. Ultimately, young Elvis, drenched in reggae and jazz, and besotted with American film heroes and images, must find his way to a Graceland of his own. Nuanced, lyrical, and pitch perfect, Abani has created a remarkable story of a son and his father, and an examination of postcolonial Nigeria where the trappings of American culture reign supreme.9. “Birth of Venus,” by Sarah Dunant: Alessandra Cecchi is not quite 15 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. Meanwhile, Florence is changing, increasingly subject to the growing suppression imposed by the fundamentalist Monk Savonarola, who is seizing religious and political control. Alessandra and her native city are caught between the Medici State, with its love of luxury, learning and dazzling art, and the hellfire preaching and increasing violence of Savonarola’s reactionary followers.10. “Short History of Nearly Everything,” by Bill Bryson: In a “Short History of Nearly Everything,” Bill Bryson takes his ultimate journey – into the most intriguing and consequential questions that science seeks to answer. It’s a dazzling quest, the intellectual odyssey of a lifetime, as this insatiably curious writer attempts to understand everything that has transpired from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, or, as the author puts it, “… how we went from there being nothing at all to there being something, and then how a little of that something turned into us, and also what happened in between and since.” This is, in short, a tall order.Verbatim Booksellers in Vail Village1. “Ski Instructors Confidential,” by Allen Smith2. “Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini3. “Vail – Triumph of a Dream,” by Pete Seibert: This is the inside story of Vail by the man who helped create it. A ski trooper and member of the famed 10th Mountain Division during World War II, Seibert came back from the war with wounds so severe he was not expected to ski again. Against all odds he became a champion ski racer and a member of the 1950 Men’s Alpine Team. Then he focused on the dream he had since childhood – of building his own ski resort.4. “The Broker,” by John Grishaml 5. “Hell or High Water,” by Peter Heller: In January 2002, in the heart of the Himalayan winter, a team of seven kayakers launched a meticulously planned assault of the Tsangpo Gorge. The paddlers were river cowboys, superstars in the universe of extreme kayaking who hop from continent to continent ready for the next death-defying pursuit. Accompanying them was author Peter Heller. A world-class kayaker in his own right, Heller has logged countless river miles and several major first descents. He joined the Tsangpo Expedition as a member of the ground support team and official expedition journalist, and was also granted the exclusive opportunity to write the book about the descent.6. “Flavors of Vail,” by Peak Properties: Now you can enjoy recipes from award-winning restaurants and acclaimed chefs. It also features special family recipes from around the world. Treat yourself to what everyone is tasting in Vail. 7. “The Five People you meet in Heaven,” by Mitch Albom: Part melodrama and part parable, Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” weaves together three stories, all told about the same man: 83-year-old Eddie, the head maintenance person at Ruby Point Amusement Park. As the novel opens, readers are told that Eddie, unsuspecting, is only minutes away from death as he goes about his typical business at the park. Albom then traces Eddie’s world through his tragic final moments, his funeral, and the ensuing days as friends clean out his apartment and adjust to life without him. In alternating sections, Albom flashes back to Eddie’s birthdays, telling his life story as a kind of progress report over candles and cake each year. And in the third and last thread of the novel, Albom follows Eddie into heaven where the maintenance man sequentially encounters five pivotal figures from his life (a la “A Christmas Carol”). Each person has been waiting for him in heaven, and, as Albom reveals, each life (and death) was woven into Eddie’s own in ways he never suspected.8. “Hallelujah! The Welcome Table,” by Maya Angelou: Throughout Maya Angelou’s life, from her childhood in Stamps. Ark., to her world travels as a bestselling writer, good food has played a central role. Preparing and enjoying homemade meals provides a sense of purpose and caml, accomplishment and connection. Now in “Hallelujah! The Welcome Table,” Angelou shares memories pithy and poignant and the recipes that helped to make them both indelible and irreplaceable.9. “The Beast in the Garden,” by David Baron: When, in the late 1980s, residents of Boulder suddenly began to see mountain lions in their yards, it became clear that the cats had repopulated the land after decades of persecution. Here, in a riveting environmental fable that recalls Peter Benchley’s thriller “Jaws,” journalist David Baron traces the history of the mountain lion and chronicles Boulder’s effort to coexist with its new neighbors. A parable for our times, “The Beast in the Garden” is a scientific detective story and a real-life drama, a tragic tale of the struggle between two highly evolved predators: man and beast.10. “Frankenstein: Prodigal Son,” by Dean Koontz: Some 200 years after creating his monster, Victor Frankenstein, alias Helios, is settled in New Orleans. Continuing research and experimentation have allowed him to obviate robbing graveyards to fashion his creatures, and to enhance himself so that he indefinitely remains a vigorous forty-something. He is seeding the city with his perfect “new race,” intending to eventually replace and exterminate “imperfect” humanity. One New Racer is rebelling, murderously, and his killings over lap with those of a serial killer, bringing the attentions of homicide cops Carson O’Conner and Michael Maddison. And, known only to the reader, one of Frankenstein’s new experiments is going awry, not to mention AWOL.Vail Colorado

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