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What are we READING?

Daily Staff Writer

The Bookworm of Edwards1. “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. 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. “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. 4. “Hidden Messages in Water,” by Masaru Emoto: The “Hidden Messages in Water” is an eye-opening theory showing how water is deeply connected to people’s individual and collective consciousness. Drawing from his own research, scientific researcher, healer, and popular lecturer Dr. Masaru Emoto describes the ability of water to absorb, hold and even retransmit human feelings and emotions. Using high-speed photography, he found that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward it. Music, visual images, words written on paper and photographs also have an impact on the crystal structure. Emoto theorizes that since water has the ability to receive a wide range of frequencies, it can also reflect the universe in this manner. He found that water from clear springs and water exposed to loving words shows brilliant, complex and colorful snowflake patterns, while polluted water and water exposed to negative thoughts forms incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors. Emoto believes that since people are 70 percent water, and the Earth is 70 percent water, we can heal our planet and ourselves by consciously expressing love and goodwill.5. “Wicked,” by Gregory Maguire: When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil? Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to be the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil. 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. “March,” by Geraldine Brooks: As the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats during the dark first year of the war, one man leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. Riveting and elegant as it is meticulously researched, “March” is an extraordinary novel woven out of the lore of American history.8. “Known World,” by Edward P. Jones: In one of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, Edward P. Jones, two-time National Book Award finalist, tells the story of Henry Townsend, a black farmer and former slave who falls under the tutelage of William Robbins, the most powerful man in Manchester County, Va. Making certain he never circumvents the law, Townsend runs his affairs with unusual discipline. But when death takes him unexpectedly, his widow, Caldonia, can’t uphold the estate’s order and chaos ensues. In a daring and ambitious novel, Jones has woven a footnote of history into an epic that takes an unflinching look at slavery in all of its moral complexities. 9. “Namesake,” by Jhumpa Lahiri: “The Namesake” is a finely wrought, deeply moving family drama that illuminates this acclaimed author’s signature themes: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the tangled ties between generations. “The Namesake” takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of an arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle in Cambridge, Mass., where Ashoke does his best to adapt while his wife pines for home. When their son, Gogol, is born, the task of naming him betrays their hope of respecting old ways in a new world. And we watch as Gogol stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours and wrenching love affairs. With empathy and penetrating insight, Lahiri explores the expectations bestowed on us by our parents and the means by which we come to define who we are. 10. “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. 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, apres-ski legends, wrestling with skiing equipment and more. 2. “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. 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. “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. 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 Broker,” by John Grisham: Before he was sent to federal prison for treason (among other things), 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 an open target.8. “Inventors of Vail,” by Dick Hauserman: This book tells the entire story of the remarkable men and women who created a world-class community from acres of pasture. More than 60 interviews were conducted with early founders, pioneers and entrepreneurs of Vail in order to piece together a fascinating history replete with detail, fact, intrigue, conflict, and romance. 9. “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. 10. “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.


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