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What are we READING?

Daily Staff Report

The Bookworm of Edwards1. “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. 2. “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. 3. “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.4. “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, apres-ski legends, wrestling with skiing equipment and more. 5. “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. 6. “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime,” by Mark Haddon: Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. At 15, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor’s dog Wellington impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing. Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer, and turns to his favorite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. As Christopher tries to deal with the crisis within his own family, the narrative draws readers into the workings of Christopher’s mind.7. “Ishmael,” by Daniel Quinn: The narrator of this extraordinary tale is a man in search for truth. He answers an ad in a local newspaper from a teacher looking for serious pupils, only to find himself alone in an abandoned office with a full-grown gorilla who is nibbling delicately on a slender branch. “You are the teacher?” he asks incredulously. “I am the teacher,” the gorilla replies. Ishmael is a creature of immense wisdom, and he has a story to tell, one that no other human being has ever heard. It is a story that extends backward and forward over the lifespan of the earth from the birth of time to a future there is still time save. Like all great teachers, Ishmael refuses to make the lesson easy; he demands the final illumination to come from within ourselves. Is it man’s destiny to rule the world? Or is it a higher destiny possible for him – one more wonderful than he has ever imagined?8. “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.9. “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. 10. “State of Fear,” by Michael Crichton: “State of Fear” is a superb blend of edge-of-your-seat suspense and thought provoking commentary on how information is manipulated in the modern world. From the streets of Paris to the glaciers of Antarctica to the exotic and dangerous Solomon Islands, “State of Fear” takes the reader on a rollercoaster thrill ride, all the while keeping the brain in high gear.Verbatim Booksellers in Vail Village1. “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. 2. “Do Teddy Bears Ski?” by Rick Sanger: Ski instructors universally applaud this book. It captures the fascination of kids with images of skiing tigers, mice, giraffes and even crabs! But in the ear-catching rhymes are important messages that tell what skiing is all about.3. “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. 4. “Blink,” by Malcom Gladwell: “Blink” is about the first two seconds of looking – the decisive glance that knows in an instant. Gladwell, the best-selling author of “The Tipping Point,” campaigns for snap judgments and mind reading with a gift for translating research into splendid storytelling. Building his case with scenes from a marriage, heart attack triage, speed dating, choking on the golf course, selling cars and military maneuvers, he persuades readers to think small and focus on the meaning of “thin slices” of behavior. The key is to rely on our “adaptive unconscious” – a 24/7 mental valet – that provides us with instant and sophisticated information to warn of danger, read a stranger or react to a new idea. 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. “Adventures of Fraser the Yellow Dog,” by Jill Sheeley: Fraser follows Courtney, a young girl skiing Vail Mountain on a sunny powder day. When she’s caught in a snow slide, her faithful dog Fraser leads ski patrollers to her rescue in this uplifting story about courage, companionship and ski safety. 7. “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. 8. “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. 9. “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. 10. “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” by Mireille Guiliano: Author Mireille Guiliano is CEO of Veuve Clicquot, and “French Women Don’t Get Fat” offers a concept of sensible pleasures: If you have a chocolate croissant for breakfast, have a vegetable-based lunch – or take an extra walk and pass on the bread basket at dinner. Guiliano’s insistence on simple measures slowly creating substantial improvements are reassuring, and her suggestion to ignore the scale and learn to live by the “zipper test” could work wonders for those who get wrapped up in tiny details of diet. She sympathizes that deprivation can lead straight to overindulgence when it comes to favorite foods, but then, in a most French manner, treats them as a pleasure that needs to be sated, rather than a battle to be fought.Vail Colorado


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