2008 Readers & Writers
Winter Reading List
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Hard economic times have an impact on our culture-hemlines, we are told, drop, while reading goes up. Down with frivolous shopping sprees and fancy dinners, down with new electronica and esoteric sporting gear. Up with visits to the library or bookstore. We're digging in for a boom reading season this winter. That's good. We've got a list.
Throughout the list, you'll find a sampling of this year's winners and runners-up from the San Jose State University Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which entrants submit over-the-top parodies of literary styles-a tip of the hat to the memory of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) of "It was a dark and stormy night
" fame. Remember, entrants are encouraged to write really bad opening sentences to imaginary novels.
Stay in touch-whether times are good or bad, you can always email me at email@example.com or call us at 1-877-388-6277.
Literature programs on NCPR are supported by the NYS Council on the Arts, Literature Program. Visit ncpr.org/readers for information on booksellers partnering with NCPR.
The Overall Grand Prize Winner of the 26th Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest was Garrison Spik, with this entry:
Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride
burning rubber, and like the city their passion was
open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like
slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath
through manhole covers stamped "Forged by
DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J."
Ellen Rocco, NCPR station manager/co-host Readers & Writers
This winter I'm focusing my reading on specific authors: writers I've put off or just been introduced to, and a couple I've been meaning to read more thoroughly for a long time. Okay, I can always find time for an aberration from this none-too-rigid reading rule-a new European detective or great first novelist or non-fiction Pulitzer-winner. But my recommendations here target writers more than titles.
- Mark Twain: There's more to Twain than Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. Much more. When I was 12 or 13, I read the complete works. I think it's time to give Twain a more mature read. He was funny, yes, and a clear-eyed observer and remarkable storyteller.
- W.G. Sebald: My friend Jochen, who is an on-line bookdealer, gave me two volumes by Sebald earlier this year. I had never read him, though I'd heard about his novel, Austerlitz. I've just finished On the Natural History of Destruction, a collection of three essays exploring the German societal-and literary-silence about WW II in the decades following the war. I thought I'd looked at the war, the Holocaust and the aftermath from every possible perspective. Sebald provides a very different take on post-war Germany. Other volumes of note: The Emigrants and The Rings of Saturn.
- Stewart O'Nan: O'Nan's Last Night at the Lobster was a recent Readers & Writers selection and it wet my appetite for more by O'Nan. Now, I want to go back and read The Good Wife, Snow Angels, and A Prayer for the Dying. And, I certainly plan to read his latest, Songs for the Missing.
- Richard Stevenson: The author of the Donald Strachey mystery series, featuring a gay detective. The ninth and latest installment is called Death Vows and was very favorably reviewed by NPR. I haven't read any in this series yet but think it sounds like a perfect chain of books to throw into the winter mix.
" thought Abigail as she gazed languidly from the veranda past the bright white patio to the cerulean sea beyond, where dolphins played and seagulls sang, where splashing surf sounded like the tintinnabulation of a thousand tiny bells, where
great gray whales bellowed and the sunlight sparkled off the myriad of sequins on the flyfish's bow ties, "time to get my meds checked." -- Andrew Bowers
Chris Robinson, co-host NCPR Readers & Writers, Clarkson University
"Be serious. Be passionate. Wake Up!" This was the mantra of author and public intellectual Susan Sontag. I keep this next to my desk positioned in a way that it is the first thing I see in the morning. Caffeine takes care of the physical challenges posed by Sontag. But the seriousness and passion I associate with the lifelong pursuit of learning are cultivated by reading. It keeps me young (in mind). Reading has also led me to admire and feel profound gratitude for writers. The death of a favorite author becomes an occasion to re-read their work. You'll notice in my reading list below that I've been paying homage to David Foster Wallace, Studs Terkel, and John Leonard. I owe each a serious and passionate debt.
Fiction and Criticism
- David Lodge, Deaf Sentence. I have had a Lodge novel on every list I have composed for Readers and Writers. This one is special. It is not a comedy set on a campus, as you find in many of Lodge's books. This one takes up the problem of maintaining your dignity and your capacity for love as you suffer the ravages of aging. Desmond Bates is losing his hearing, and this has led to early retirement from his teaching position, and a slow isolation from the social life he once knew and loved. He's driving his wife nuts too. The ensuing struggle to live a good life is heartfelt and inspiring.
- Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country. This book is described as an "assemblage of mini-memoirs," and I think this accurate. The essays composing this short volume are funny and poignant windows onto Vonnegut's thinking about the world and the writer's calling. His humor blunts the harsher edges of reality, as when he threatens to sue cigarette companies for promising to kill him and failing.
- David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest. Losing this writer to suicide at age 47 is unspeakably tragic. This is a 1,100 page postmodern-inflected novel that seeks to capture the pace and complexity of life at turn of the twentieth century America. It is also the best fictional work on tennis ever written. Take a look at David Sommerstein's great website, "To the Beat," for a lovely tribute to Wallace.
- John Leonard, The Last Innocent White Man in America, and Lonesome Rangers. Leonard was probably the most influential literary and cultural critic in America since Edmund Wilson. He was not a harsh critic; rather, he thought himself a literary enthusiast. His essays contributed mightily to the reputations of Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, David Lynch, and others.
- Stewart O'Nan, Songs for the Missing. The style of this novel is a departure from the spare minimalism of O'Nan's Last Night at the Lobster. Songs for the Missing is a fictional elegy for the loss of innocence experienced by a family and a town after a young woman goes missing. It is a powerful psychological inquiry into trust and trauma.
- Studs Terkel, Will the Circle be Unbroken: Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and the Hunger for Faith. Terkel published this book the year he turned 90 and three years after his wife passed away. It is composed of a series of interviews with people regarding their experiences with the death of loved ones, their own near-death experiences, their thoughts about what a good death is, and their thoughts about what happens after you die. Terkel was an extraordinary interviewer. His questions, compassion, and humor brought out the best in others.
- Jane Mayer, The Dark Side. This work is the most comprehensive expose of the abuses of power by the Bush Administration on both the domestic and foreign fronts. It is a well researched study of the torture memos composed by John Yoo, David Addington, and other members of the defense Department's legal staff, and signed off on by Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. American became a rogue nation in the eyes of international and human rights law under this administration.
- Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust and Hope In the Dark. I am an unabashed fan of Solnit's writings on art, political activism, and the environment. Wanderlust is a beautiful history of walkers and walking from Wordsworth to Peace Pilgrim. She argues convincingly that the pace of the walk is attuned closely to the pace of thought. That is, in walking we remind ourselves of what it is to be human. Hope In the Dark is a volume designed to be an antidote to the political and cultural pessimism that pervades the progressive left throughout the world. I'm wondering if Barack Obama read this book. His speeches resonate with the spirit evinced by Solnit in these pages.
- Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia. The essays in this volume concern the effects, sometimes extreme, of music on the human brain. As always, Sack's careful studies of neurological pathologies lead us to a deeper appreciation of the intricacies of our mental life.
- Mark Richardson, Zen and Now. This is book written by a fan of Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for fellow fans. Richardson, in the midst of a personal crisis, decides to retrace the trip Pirsig took with his son that became the basis for the novel. Richardson's story is compelling and interesting, but he is much stronger on motorcycle maintenance than he is on philosophy.
- Suji Kwock Kim, Notes from the Divided Country. The divided country is Korea, but the experiences expressed in these poems are all too universally human.
- Hayden Carruth, Collected Longer Poems. Another writer who died this year. It's been a rough few months for literature.
Leopold looked up at the arrow piercing the skin of the dirigible with a sort of wondrous dismay-the wheezy shriek was just the sort of sound he always imagined a baby moose being beaten with a pair of accordions might make. -- Shannon Wedge
"Die, commie pigs!" grunted Sergeant "Rocky" Steele through his cigar stub as he machine-gunned the North Korean farm animals.
-- Dave Ranson
John Ernst, co-host Readers & Writers, Elk Lake and New York City
- Caspian Rain, Gina B. Nakai. (Also by Nakai: Cry of the Peacock, Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith, and Sunday's Silence.) This is a novel that took me by surprise. It came to me with a bunch of others from the overflowing pile publishers had sent to Ellen, hoping to get some attention. The novel is a stunner-brief, lyrical, balanced, sophisticated, moving. It is the story of a Jewish family living in Teheran in the decade of the Shah's rule, before the Mullahs shut down the country. It is the story of a spunky young woman who gambles everything on one decision in the hope of leaving ghetto life. It is the story of an unhappy child in the course of losing her mother, her brother and her hearing. It is the story of the turbulent world of Tehran, where Jew and Muslim collide and co-exist, where eccentrics thrive and ghosts ride bicycles but also a place where the Savrak-the secret police-can strike with terror at any moment. Nakai, with beautifully calibrated and lucid prose, tells this story movingly and compellingly, without a trace of pity or excess sentiment.
- Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, Vincent Lam. Another one sent to me by Ellen. It's a sleeper-a first collection of stories linked by re-appearing characters, written by a Toronto physician who was the youngest writer ever to win the Giller Prize for fiction. It comes with a warm recommendation from Margaret Atwood and one from Sherman Alexie who says unequivocally: "This guy is a star." The stories follow four medical students from very different backgrounds as they meet, study, compete, work, fall in and out of love and ultimately turn into doctors. This is an exciting book to read, both because it is so engrossing and because it introduces a prodigiously talented young writer. I suspect that we will be hearing more from Dr. Lam.
- The Killer Angels: A Novel of the Civil War, Micahel Shaara, with a new introduction by Jeff Shaara. I listened to the complete and unabridged audio read by Stephen Hoye. I had long heard great things about this novel but dismissed it as historical fiction, preferring to take my history straight, in books like Stephen Sears' wonderful documentation of the battle of Gettysburg. That was a huge mistake. This is an absolutely brilliant piece of work. Shaara tells the story of Gettysburg through the major personalities in the battle. What is brilliant about this book, in addition to the stunningly beautiful descriptions of landscapes and battle movements and weather, is the way that Shaara zeroes in on the main players and brings them hauntingly to life. It just doesn't get any better than this.
- Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri. (Also by Lahiri, the Pulitzer and Pen/Hemingway Award-winning Interpreter of Maladies stories, and The Namesake.) These eight stories are tremendously accomplished. Lahiri probes emotions with words as precise and as sharp as a scalpel. In her economical style, nothing is wasted. The stories are about sophisticated Bengalis living abroad-in the U.S. and in Europe. Members of the older generation of these well-educated professionals feel the pull back to India. Members of the younger generation are citizens of the world. These stories plunge you into the characters' lives. There is no barrier between us and them. They are not exotic; they are us-people trying to deal with demanding parents, with disappointing love affairs, with alcoholism, with insecurity, and finally with death. They are stories that are luminous in their appreciation and understanding of the human soul.
- The Yiddish Policeman's Union, Michael Chabon. (Also by Chabon, the Pulitzer-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.) Once you accept this novel's premise--that in 1948 the state of Israel collapsed and Jews were resettled in a temporary haven in the Sitka district of Alaska--all else follows. Among the story threads: a plot to return the Messiah to the Temple of Isaac, and a Yiddish policeman left with one unsolved murder too many and his life in an unholy mess. Then his ex-wife is transferred to become his boss. Oy! The writing is over the top in delicious excess.
- Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3, Annie Proulx. (Also by Proulx the National Book Award-winning The Shipping News, and two earlier collections of Wyoming stories that include the story on which "Brokeback Mountain" was based.) Nobody equals Annie Proulx in probing the grim realities of the bleak Wyoming plains, where it always seems to be 30 below zero with a raging blizzard in progress. And nobody combines this gritty realism with a deep sardonic streak and an imagination seared by the Seven Circles of Hell. These are stories that are tough and raw and without mercy, very much like their setting and characters. Proulx throws in a couple of stories about Hell for comic relief. Proulx is a writer with a unique touch, a searing vision and a way of using words the way others use a stun gun.
- Suite Francaise and Fire in the Blood, Irene Nemirovsky. This novel contains the first two parts of a planned five-part novel by a writer who tragically died at Auschwitz in August 1942 at age 39. A Russian émigré who had published four novels before her death, Nemirovsky was a well known figure in the Paris literary scene. The novel describes the panicky exodus from Paris in June 1940 as the French army collapsed. The second section tells the story of the German occupation of a provincial French village. Fire in the Blood is a newly-discovered short novel, found in hand-written form in an archive among other papers and written the year before her death. It is a beautifully-wrought miniature of life in a village in Burgundy before the war. Nemirovsky is a writer of great skill and restraint. She sees life in a way that is clear-eyed and unforgiving but also infinitely moving.
- The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring, Richard Preston. (Also by Preston, The Hot Zone and The Demon in the Freezer.) Richard Preston has been a New Yorker Magazine writer for the past 20 years, and this book began as a feature for the magazine. It is the story of a group of young botanists and amateur naturalists who develop a daring new technique for climbing the world's tallest trees--redwoods, Douglas firs and Australian eucalyptus. In the process they discover a natural world of plants and animals never before explored. Written in short, staccato sentences, skimming from story to story as though swinging through trees, Preston holds the reader's attention, both with the essential drama of the climbing scenes and with the personal stories of these pioneers of arboreal heights.
- Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin. Goodwin tells the story of the Lincoln administration through the prism of his relations with his extraordinary and sometimes fractious cabinet. Stunning political observers of the day, Lincoln chose his bitterest rivals from the political wars. What should have been a prescription for disaster, turned to magic. Lincoln earned the respect, admiration and, in several cases, deep love of these former opponents. The story is ably told, marshalling an army of facts into a focused narrative.
Winner: Children's Literature
Joanne watched her fellow passengers-a wizened man reading about alchemy; an oversized bearded man-child; a haunted, bespectacled young man with a scar; and a gaggle of private school children who chatted ceaselessly about Latin and flying around the hockey pitch and the two-faced teacher who they thought was a witch-there was a story here, she decided. -- Tim Ellis
Runner-Up: Children's Literature
Dorothy had reasons to be nervous: a young girl alone in a strange land, traveling with three weird, insecure males badly in need of psychiatric help; she tucked her feet under her skirt to keep the night's chill (and lewd stares) away and made sure one more time that the gun was secured in her yet-to-develop bosom. -- Domingo Pestano
Jackie Sauter, NCPR program director
- The Lost Ravioli: Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family, Laura Schenone.
The author sets out from New Jersey to Italy, searching for the authentic family recipe, a special ravioli recipe that came from her great grandmother but may have got confused over the years. It's a carefully researched and lovely memoir about family, love and emigration...and a good detective story.
- The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story, Diane Ackerman
This author is best known for her wonderful writing about the natural world (A Natural History of the Senses, A Natural History of Love), but this is a fascinating story (true) about Polish zookeepers who save hundreds of people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in empty animal cages in their bombed zoo. It's a beautiful story about courage.
- Mysteries by Kate Atkinson --- One Good Turn, Case Histories, and When Will There Be Good News.
Great thrillers with interesting characters, good writing, witty dialogue and loads of fun.
- The Greatest Hockey Stories Ever Told: The Finest Writers on Ice, Bryant Upstadt, editor.
An anthology of classic tales from the locker room, the buses and the ice. Includes pieces by William Faulkner (who didn't know much about hockey but saw the Rangers and the Canadiens play at Madison Square Garden!), George Plimpton, and E.M. Swift's "A Reminder of What We Can Be," the classic and very moving essay about the Lake Placid Olympics "Miracle on Ice."
Connie Meng, NCPR theatre critic/announcer
- Three Day Road, Joseph Boyden. Short-listed for the Governor General's Literary Award, the protagonist of this WW I novel is a Cree sniper who doesn't speak much English. Beautifully written.
Mike Hummer had been a private detective so long he could remember Preparation A, his hair reminded everyone of a rat who'd bitten into an electrical cord, but he could still run faster
than greased owl snot when he was on a bad guy's trail, and they said his friskings were a lot like getting a vasectomy at Sears. -- Robert B. Robeson
The hardened detective glanced at his rookie partner and mused that who ever had coined the term "white as a sheet" had never envisioned a bed accessorized with a set of Hazelnut, 500-count Egyptian cotton linens from Ralph Lauren complimented by matching shams and a duvet cover nor the dismembered body of its current occupant. -- Russ Winter
Melissa MacDonald, Old Forge
- Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mithchell, Carly Simon-The Journey of a Generation, Shiela Weller. I first heard of this book from Vanity Fair. They included an excerpt last spring and I had to run out and get it. I have been a Joni fan my entire life....I worship her. This book is an interesting read for fans of any or all three women.
- The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel, David Wroblewski I know Oprah, Oprah, Oprah. Say what you want she has done wonders for the world of reading in this country. I don't always agree with her "picks," but I loved this book. I found it very "Steinbeck" for lack of a better review.
- Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer. This book has been around a LONG while (1996) but I encourage everyone in the "north country" to read it. As you can see with the one column I attached....I resisted this book for over 10 years because I thought the kid was just plain stupid. Until Sean Penn and Eddie Vedder came on board. Because I admire them so much I decided to give the book a try. It's the only book I have ever read that had me debating with myself the entire time...was he actually stupid and naive or perhaps one of the most courageous and brilliant spirits of all time (McCandlless that is). Ironically this is the last book my father and I shared before he passed. We both read it twice. He used to cry when talking about it. He told me that "it was just such a shame and shouldn't have happened." Again the irony.
Erica Murray, Old Forge Hardware Store
- Adirondack Birding, Gary Lee and John M.C. Peterson.
- In Stoddard's Footsteps: The Adirondacks Then and Now, Mark Bowie.
Linda Cohen, Old Forge
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. My favorite light reading for this season.
Kathleen Rivet via email
I've been reading quite a bit with my six-year old son. We have been gobbling up "chapter" books.
- Nicholas and Nicholas Again, Rene Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempe. Translated from French to English, these books are hilarious. Tales of a schoolboy and his classmates that are always getting into trouble with their teacher, parents and grown-ups in general. Each chapter is a short story of daily mishaps. Perfect for bedtime closure-no fighting for one more chapter to see what happens next.
- The Poppy Stories, Brian Floca. These stories tell the tale of some mice living in Dimwood Forest that dare to explore and have all sorts of adventures. They encounter villains ranging from a porcupine to a great horned owl.
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne. I just read this classic for the first time. Our family loved it! The enigmatic Captain Nemo is such a wonderful character. The mysterious submarine kept us in suspense. We even learned a bit about the Lost city of Atlantis and now have to follow up and find out more.
Betsy Folwell, Blue Mountain Lake
In the realm of audiobooks, there is new emphasis on authors reading their own works. In nonfiction, this is wonderful for memoirs and narrative essays.
- Eat, Pray, Love, Liz Gilbert. Great.
- Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder. Also wonderful.
- Blue Latitudes and A Voyage Long and Strange, Tony Horwitz. The author is the perfect reader of his own words, wry and authentic in his observations.
Winner: Historical Fiction
As she watched the small form swing backwards and forth from the crystal chandelier-hands on hips, sniffing the air and squeaking inaudibly-it suddenly became clear to Madame de Pompomme that she had done the wrong thing asking Jacques to find and bring back her long-lost sister: for, whilst her coterie would doubtless be enchanted for a short while, the novelty of Janine having been raised by bats since the age of two in caves of the North-west Congo would soon wear off in seventeenth-century France. -- Simon Terry
Runner-Up: Historical Fiction
Our tale takes place one century before the reign of Alboin, the Lombard king who would one day conquer most of Italy and who would end up being murdered by his own wife (quite rightfully, I'd say, since Alboin made a drinking cup out of her daddy's skull and
forced her to drink from it), when our little Sonnebert was seven years old. -- Edo Steinberg
Leslie Ann King, listening on-line from Owego
- Three Junes, Julia Glass. It is a first novel by a woman who is also a painter. One can see the right brain thinking and the painterly sensibilities in the writing. The book relates the events (mostly interior) of a couple of generations of a family over three Junes set many years apart. It was a very good look at family relationships with fine writing "...When I had walked these streets in spring, they had smelled of new growth and fresh breezes, but now at this hour, at least until the pavements were hosed own, they smelled like an urban low tide. ..." as an example.
Dick Gaffney, Keene Valley
- The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga. Won the Mann-Booker prize. An excellent book about contemporary India.
Winner: Purple Prose
The mongrel dog began to lick her cheec voraciously with his sopping wet tongue, so wide and flat and soft, a miniature pink fleshy cape soaked through and oozing with liquid salivary gratitude; after all, she had rescued him from the clutches of Bernard, the curmudgeonly one-eyed dogcatcher, whose own
tongue--she remembered vividly the tongues of all her lovers--was coarse and lethargic, like a slug in a sandpaper trenchcoat. -- Christopher Wey
Runner-Up: Purple Prose
The complementary crepuscularities of earth and sky shrank away from one another as the roseate effulgence of a new dawn burst forth, not unlike a reclining pneumatic beauty's black silk stocking
splitting apart at the seam to reveal the glowing radiance of an angrily sun-burned leg. -- Graham Thomas
Kathy Clarke, Lake George
- Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, Vicki Myron. A sweet, relevant, touching true story from a small town in Iowa--about a cat and its impact on the whole community.
Bob, Tupper Lake
- Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance, John Berger.
- The Reserve, Russell Banks.
- The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas, pere.
- The Best Short Stories of O'Henry, O'Henry.
Whitney McDermott, Bombay
- When the Past Returns, C.J. Engle.
- Forgotten Carols: A Christmas Story, Michael McLean.
Manny, Saranac Lake
- The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood, Sy Montgomery.
Bill swore the affair had ended, but Louise knew he was lying, after discovering Tupperware containers under the seat of his car, which were not the off-brand containers that she bought to save money, but authentic, burpable, lidded Tupperware; and she knew he would see that woman again, because unlike the flimsy, fake containers that should always be recycled responsibly, real Tupperware must be returned to its rightful owner. -- Jeanne Villa
Like a mechanic who forgets to wipe his hands on a shop rag and then goes home, hugs his wife, and gets a grease stain on her favorite sweater-love touches you, and marks you forever. -- Beth Fand Incollingo
- The Great Railway Bazaar, Paul Theroux.
- The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul, Patrick French.
- Netherland: A Novel, Joseph O'Neill.
- Letters to My Daugher, Maya Angelou.
- Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, George Victor Martin.
- The Patchwork Farmer, Craig MacFarland Brown. For young readers.
Winner: Science Fiction
Timothy Hanson, Commander of the 43rd Space Regiment in the 52nd Battalion on board the USAOPAC (United Space Alliance of Planets Attack Carrier) and second in command to Admiral L.R. Morris of the USAOP Space Command, awoke early for breakfast. -- Joe Schulman
Runner-Up: Science Fiction
Lightning flashed from the blue-black sky of this alien world and Shattered the engines of the spaceship, destroying Reninger's last chance of escaping and reminding him of the time his sister
returned from New York with the tips of her hair dyed blue, except for the part about the lightning and the spaceship. -- Mark Murata
Ray Louise Tate, Star Lake
- The Molly Murphy Mysteries, Rhys Bowen.
- The Royal Spyness Mysteries, Rhys Bown.
- The Eragon Series, Christopher Paolini. Great for young adult reading.
- Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami.
- The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom, Simon Winchester. A biography of Robert Needham.
- Pledge: The Secret Life of Sororities, Alexandra Robins.
- Fraulein Else, Arthur Schnitzler.
Nobody knew just who the steely-eyed stranger was, where he came from, where he was headed, or what his intentions were while he was in Dodge City; but he wasn't an hombre you'd want to stick your tongue out at or flip off, and any man who tried to tickle him would be asking for a long stay in a pine box, if you know what I mean. -- David McKenzie
Bryson the Plainsman seldom spoke a discouraging word but he did when he filed for divorce after discovering his dear and an interloper played. -- Maree Lubran
Kent, Indian Lake
- Echoes in These Mountains, Glenn Pearsall. Just out, a wonderful history of Johnsburg.
- Logmarks on the Hudson, Richard Merrill.
Bill, Denmark (the country, not the NYS town)
- The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, Stieg Larson.
- Voices: A Thriller, Arnaldur Indridason and Bernard Scudder.
- Frozen Tracks: A Chief Inspector Erik Winter Novel, Ake Edwardson and Laurie Thompson.
- Detective Inspector Irene Huff Series, Helene Tursten and Steven T. Murray.
- Ann Lindell Series, Kjell Eriksson and Ebba Segerberg.
- Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip, Tove Jansson.
Winner: Vile Puns
Vowing revenge on his English teacher for making him memorize Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality," Warren decided to pour sugar in her gas tank, but he inadvertently grabbed a sugar substitute so it was actually Splenda in the gas.
Runner-Up: Vile Puns
The Jones family held their annual family reunion on Easter going through over six dozen spiral-cut, hickory-smoked hams and several bottles of a fine Australian shiraz, before Farmer Jones,
the head of the family, took the leavings back to Manor Farm to slop Napoleon and his other champion hogs but the seventy-six ham bones fed the pig's tirade. -- Michael VanBlaricum
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