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Lee, Emerson, Thoreau and Lincoln. I found this to be an enlightening, inspiring and highly enjoyable read. Cold Mountain author Frazier, one of the great novelists of our time, has created a beautifully gripping novel through old-fashioned storytelling and his genius for bringing to life the people and landscape of the rural and wild Appalachia he intimately knows. Janis, Andrew and Morley love this book, too. Bravo, Charles Frazier! You don't need a ticket to Peru to enjoy this refreshingly candid, humorous yet very informative account of exploration in the land of the Inca.

Along the way we get a vivid feel for life on the trail in cloud forest and jungle, along breathtaking peaks and ridges, and among the ruins themselves. Adams leavens the narrative with history, politics, customs and culture, making for a very balanced and fascinating introduction to this magical part of the world. I appreciate the way he candidly interweaves his life experiences, including his divorce and his past career as a private eye, using them to illuminate the poetry writing process.

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What gratitude I feel for having concluded with this moving, intensely lyrical novel! Instead of characters in the traditional sense, Otsuka conjures up what seem like voices in the hundreds, each voice, each sentence, a thread in a hypnotic tapestry.

This slender volume is a masterpiece. Imagine a rip-roaring, page-turning young adult novel whose protagonist is a talented, award-winning—poet?! Wesselhoeft has taken that gift, goosed it up with several cases of Red Bull, and produced a fine, moving and valuable coming of age tale.

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Having as their setting Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, a place caught between modernization and the pull of traditional culture, these haunting, quietly moving and elegiac stories evoke themes of loss, exile, dislocation, and the search for identity; and find redemption in family, clan, and the handing down of stories through generations and across the span between old and new worlds.

Stunning in its beauty albeit almost heart-breakingly sad, this is the strongest short story collection I have read.

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This toothsome and affectionate memoir, punctuated by some of the author's favorite recipes, opens with "The Queen of Mold"-a mother dangerously inventive in the kitchen-and unfolds, memory by memory, with dishes richly infusing Reichel's life experiences. Thoroughly engaging, funny and wise, this book is a delight. I acquired a genuine feeling of warmth toward the characters in this lyrically enchanting novel of a coastal Oregon town named Neawanaka, whose inhabitants include a talking crow named Moses and a doctor who names his twelve allotted daily cigarettes after the apostles.

Just the right dose of magical realism infuses this quintessentially Northwest tale whose themes involve family, love, compassion, a nature-based sense of the sacred, and Native American and Irish ethnic identities. Storytelling at its finest, this book is a joy to read. I relished this classic page-turning novel from , which takes place in the jungles of Malaya during World War II, and in London and the outback of Queensland Australia thereafter. A tale of endurance and triumph over adversity, wrapped around a story of love, it features plucky protagonist Jean Paget, strong and resourceful and possessing true grit, who survives a forced march at the hands of Japanese forces that evolves into an odyssey lasting well into the post-War years.

Shute has an engaging storytelling style that vividly brings to life the various landscapes and subtly conveys the motivations of the characters who inhabit them. This novel moves along at a satisfying clip and is a most rewarding experience. When I finished this terrific novel, I immediately wanted to start reading it again, just so I could stay with the characters, among them a Bronx prostitute and her daughter, a young man from Ireland, and a wealthy woman living on the Upper East Side. Their diversity of experience, within the setting of New York City in , represents a compelling human panorama.

Serving as an axis for these artfully linked lives, and touching them in ways great and small, a man walks on a wire between the Twin Towers. This is a brilliant, exhilarating tale. Now the source of a powerful film, the book revolves around a friendship between two war veteran sons from two families, one black, one white, one sharecropping, the other owning land on a cotton farm. In this page-turner, Jordan deftly weaves alternating chapters, each chapter devoted to the voice of one of a handful of characters, to create a compelling narrative that captures the nuances and complexities of the American issue of race.

The Columbia River: Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce/Part 2/Chapter 2

Norton Taking as his premise the little-known history of Royalist black settlers to whom the British granted freedom in Nova Scotia after the American Revolution, Hill has crafted a compelling novel around an extraordinary heroine whose life odyssey speaks for the experiences of many. Through vivid, fascinating detail that reflects devoted research in addition to a great gift for writing, we follow Aminata Diallo from her African village to capture, enslavement and the Middle Passage; her work on a South Carolina indigo plantation and as a servant in Charleston; her service for the British Army in Manhattan; her hardships in Canada; a return to Africa and an experimental settlement in Sierra Leone; and finally her life as a darling of London abolitionists.

Published two years after the author's death, this novel won the Pulitzer Prize in , and remains one of the most beautiful works in the American language. Death and family-Agee renders the collision of these in the most intimate, tender, and eloquent terms. His book is unparalleled for the sheer brilliance of its poetry, for its nuanced evocations of affection, grief, and the ways we think and feel, and for its loving attention to the gestures of everyday life. I especially appreciate the brush strokes of detail that render landscape and the rhythms of nature—river, forest, cabin, lake—around a meditative yet propulsive drama involving son, father, and two families.

This novel possesses the beauty that places Frazier in the top rank of American fiction writers-indelible vividness of imagery in scene after marvelous scene; breathtaking lyricism; sterling humor, irony and wit; and a voice that places us on intimate terms with characters and the landscapes in which they move.

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Will, the protagonist, makes certain fateful decisions that delineate him sharply in relation not only to Claire, the love of his life, but to the character of early America, the force of westward expansion, and the near-annihilation of American Indian peoples and ways. Through Will and two compelling Indian figures-Bear, a chief who adopts Will at an early age; and Featherstone, a some-time adversary and friend-we gather insights into the Cherokee vision of the world, concepts of land and its ownership, and the complex border regions between Indian, white, and mixed-blood peoples.

The sweep of this work held me through two consecutive readings. A novel of the Oregon Trail that richly details the westward odyssey, and a moving portrait of the collisions and confluences of European and Indian cultures. Harrowing yet supremely satisfying, Saturday is a great place to begin discovering the reasons why Ian McEwan is one of the finest novelists working today. These poems-each a distinct marvel and an invention in the finest sense of the word-are tight bundles of idea, image, and rhyme, bearing initial surprises like sparks, then offering much to ponder on successive readings.

Thought-provoking in their brevity, plain-spoken yet often surreal, they derive their imagery and pleasure, their odd truths and their playfulness, from the everyday life that surrounds us. Beautifully written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Home Town, The Soul of a New Machine, and Among Schoolchildren, this book tells the story of a remarkable and inspiring doctor who has fought tuberculosis and AIDS epidemics in some of the most wretched places on earth, including the central plateau of Haiti, a slum in Lima, Peru, and in Siberian prisons.

Mountains Beyond Mountains, like a bracing ray of light in a dark and cynical time, gave me perspectives not only on global health crises, but also on the power of the individual to change the world. Barack Obama is a marvelous and inspiring writer and his gifts with language are engaging and profound. With a fine sense of detail and dialogue, he tells of his youth in Hawaii, his further education on the mainland at institutions of higher learning and as an organizer and social activist on the gritty streets of Chicago, and his difficulties and breakthroughs in searching out his roots in Africa and the mystery of his father.

This is a great work in the American vein, yet one that reveals the origins of global consciousness he brought to the White House. Quite likely the most delightful book I've ever read and destined to be an all-time favorite, Durrell's memoir of his youth as a budding naturalist on the Greek isle of Corfu is a joy and a balm to one's cares. As lyrically insightful describing flora and fauna as he is detailing the comedic foibles of his family and the local population, he infuses his tale with warmth and a sense of wonder.

Save this enormously satisfying book for your next vacation. I have had a life-long fantasy of hosting one of my heroes, Benjamin Franklin, on a tour of the modern world. Given his imaginative curiosity about the processes of nature and the ways knowledge of that realm could be put to practical use, I believe he would by fascinated yet not surprised at where some of his discoveries have led. Isaacson's engaging biography takes us beyond the image of the kite-flying inventor of the lightning rod, bifocals and swim fins, beyond the spinner of adages about fish and house guests and pennies earned, to the whole, complicated Franklin.

This unsparing yet appreciative look at "the most accomplished American of his age," in Isaacson's words, shows Franklin in the light of his times and our own. In so doing, it gives us a vivid portrait of a man whose virtues seem to be growing rare in public figures, virtues including pragmatism, tolerance-religious and otherwise-respect for the individual, humility, lack of pretense, and opposition to arbitrary authority.

The premise of this compelling page-turner-a black man who owns slaves in 19th-century Virginia plantation country-serves as the springboard for a masterful exploration of the pivotal American issue of race. The stately beauty, authority and authenticity of Jones' writing lay the groundwork for an intricate yet accessible tale that involves a mosaic of memorable characters-overseer, slaves, masters black and white, free blacks, and whites of various stations and means. Vivid language that unveils without compromise the nuances, complexities, and profound truths of the peculiar American institution makes this a must-read for anyone interested in great literature.

A novel for the ages. In these beautifully powerful and wide-ranging essays, Kingsolver brings her passion to bear on large issues—globalism, war and genocide, genetically engineered foods, hunger and homelessness—while embracing the virtues of conservation, wild places, buying organic and locally grown foods, biodiversity, sustainable living, poetry, basic human kindness, and, yes, independent bookstores.

Yet she writes as though she's speaking to you over coffee, and her words spring from the ground of specific observations in the places where she lives and visits: a bobcat seen outside a window of her home in the Tucson hills, scarlet macaws spotted in a Costa Rican jungle, a clutch of eggs gathered from her daughter Lily's chicken coop. How fortunate we are to have a brilliant novelist whose keyboard clicks every bit as lively for her nonfiction.

Not since Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain have I longed to recommend a novel to almost everyone I know, for the sheer magic of its story-telling. Having as its main characters an asthmatic eleven-year-old boy, his nine-year-old sister who writes heroic verse set in the Old West, and their father, a high school janitor whose faith bears remarkable powers, the story revolves around their search for a lost older brother in the Badlands of North Dakota. Along the way, through beautifully descriptive and figurative language and a narrative voice that possesses both humor and wisdom, the author gives us glimpses into the true nature of miracles, forgiveness, and difficult decisions.

This moving page-turner is a true wonder, and gave me goose bumps at its conclusion. This enthralling memoir of a bicultural childhood is one of the finest works of nonfiction I have read. With prose masterfully grounded in memory and the senses, Arana, born of a Peruvian father and an American mother, explores the ties and tensions between the two, and how those forces resonate intricacies in the cultural divide between Latin and North America. Her lyrical story brings to life a Peru animated by spirits and magic, as well as calamities brought on by earthquakes, rubber barons, and grinding poverty.

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A finalist for the National Book Award, this inspiring book sustains its importance through timeless themes: family, love, history, race, class, and the role of women in society. Why did I wait so long to read this immensely satisfying National Book Award finalist from ? Amid the drama of a rural Colorado community, with all its cruelties and kindnesses, Haruf unfolds the intricate connections between main characters: a pregnant teenaged girl, a high school teacher and his young sons, and two aging bachelors who ranch outside town. For its old-fashioned storytelling that possesses elegance and authority, I would recommend this heartwarming, quietly compelling book to anyone.

In this book-length verse narrative, modern master poet Merwin has interwoven the complex threads of Hawaiian history with the account of one family and community stricken with leprosy on the island of Kauai.

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At once epic and intimate, Merwin's chronicle also fuses the strains of cruelty, intolerance and greed in Hawaii's uniquely tragic past with the primal beauty of the islands themselves. I found this to be an uncommonly moving and rich reading experience. This endearing and highly engaging novel revolves around the written correspondence between a precocious, persistent and ingenious Brooklyn youth named Joey Margolis and Charlie Banks, star hitter and third baseman for the New York Giants.

Their relationship begins to unfold in , and as time passes we get glimpses of developments in the nation and the world through news headlines and Joey's periodic letters of advice to Franklin D. A unique reading experience with a quirky sense of humor and great heart, this book is one-of-a-kind.

Take it on your next flight, take it to the beach, take it to the nearest Adirondack chair on a sunny lawn. It's the perfect summer read. I came late to this powerful dystopian masterpiece, originally published in , its resurgence fueled in part by the highly praised television series. The novel unfolds through the eyes of one of these women, whose voice I found so convincing it gave me goosebumps—her fears, her yearnings for freedom, her ironic sense of humor, and her reflections on her previous life.

As I read along, I found myself wishing that Orwell could visit the present, could measure up his creation against the world in which we find ourselves. I sensed a chilling and eerie resonance between the two, even down to such details as the "telescreen" you carry in your pocket.