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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. “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. 3. “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. 4. “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. 5. “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. 6. “Prince of Fire,” by Daniel Silva: Few recent thriller writers have excited the kind of critical praise that Daniel Silva has, with his novels featuring art restorer and sometime spy Gabriel Allon. Now Allon is back in Venice, when a terrible explosion in Rome leads to a disturbing personal revelation: the existence of a dossier in the hands of terrorists that strips away his secrets, lays bare his history. Hastily recalled home to Israel, drawn once more into the heart of a service he had once forsaken, Allon finds himself stalking an elusive master terrorist across a landscape drenched in generations of blood, along a trail that keeps turning in upon itself, until, finally, he can no longer be certain who is stalking whom. And when at last the inevitable showdown comes, it’s not Gabriel alone who is threatened with destruction – for it is not his history alone that has been laid bare. 7. “Angle of Repose,” by Wallace Stegner: Wallace Stegner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a story of discovery–personal, historical, and geographical. Confined to a wheelchair, retired historian Lyman Ward sets out to write his grandparents’ remarkable story, chronicling their days spent carving civilization into the surface of America’s western frontier. But his research reveals even more about his own life than he’s willing to admit. What emerges is an enthralling portrait of four generations in the life of an American family.8. “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. 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. “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.Verbatim Booksellers in Vail Village1. “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. 2. “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.3. “Shadow Divers,” by Robert Kurson: This superlative journalistic narrative tells of John Chatterton and Rich Kohler, two deep-sea wreck divers who in 1991 dove to a mysterious wreck lying at the perilous depth of 230 feet, off the coast of New Jersey. Both had a philosophy of excelling and pushing themselves to the limit; both needed all their philosophy and fitness to proceed once they had identified the wreck as a WWII U-boat. 4. “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. 5. “Worse than Watergate,” by John Dean: The most facile presidential comparison one could make for George W. Bush would be his father, who presided over a war in Iraq and a struggling economy. Some “neocons” reject the parallel and compare Bush to his father’s predecessor, Ronald Reagan, citing a plainspoken quality and a belief in deep tax cuts. But John Dean goes further back, seeing in Bush all the secrecy and scandal of Dean’s former boss, the notorious Richard Nixon. The difference, as the title of Dean’s book indicates, is that Bush is a heck of a lot worse. While the book provides insightful snippets of the way Nixon used to do business, it offers them to shed light on the practices of Bush. In Dean’s estimation, the secrecy with which Bush and Dick Cheney govern is not merely a preferred system of management, but an obsessive strategy meant to conceal a deeply troubling agenda of corporate favoritism and a dramatic growth in unchecked power for the executive branch that put at risk the lives of American citizens, civil liberties and the Constitution. 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. “Prince of Fire,” by Daniel Silva: Few recent thriller writers have excited the kind of critical praise that Daniel Silva has, with his novels featuring art restorer and sometime spy Gabriel Allon. Now Allon is back in Venice, when a terrible explosion in Rome leads to a disturbing personal revelation: the existence of a dossier in the hands of terrorists that strips away his secrets, lays bare his history. Hastily recalled home to Israel, drawn once more into the heart of a service he had once forsaken, Allon finds himself stalking an elusive master terrorist across a landscape drenched in generations of blood, along a trail that keeps turning in upon itself, until, finally, he can no longer be certain who is stalking whom. And when at last the inevitable showdown comes, it’s not Gabriel alone who is threatened with destruction – for it is not his history alone that has been laid bare. 8. “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. 9. “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” by Azar Nafisi: In 1995, after resigning from her job as a professor at a university in Tehran due to repressive policies, Azar Nafisi invited seven of her best female students to attend a weekly study of great Western literature in her home. Since the books they read were officially banned by the government, the women were forced to meet in secret, often sharing photocopied pages of the illegal novels. For two years they met to talk, share and “shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color.” Though most of the women were shy and intimidated at first, they soon became emboldened by the forum and used the meetings as a springboard for debating the social, cultural and political realities of living under strict Islamic rule.10. “Return of the Bunny Suicides,” by Andy Riley: Return of the Bunny Suicides follows over one hundred bunnies as they find ever more bizarre ways to end their fuzzy little existences. From swimming with nibbly fishes, to hiding under an elephant’s footstool, to getting on the sharp end of a Venetian gondola-no stone goes unturned (or undropped, or uncatapulted) in the twisted little creatures’ next installment.Vail Colorado


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