Become smarter – read a book |

Become smarter – read a book

“Innocent Man” by John Grisham. John Grisham tackles nonfiction for the first time with “The Innocent Man,” a true tale about murder and injustice in a small town that reads like one of his own bestselling novels. The “Innocent Man” chronicles the story of Ron Williamson, how he was arrested and charged with a crime he did not commit, how his case was (mis)handled and how an innocent man was sent to death row. Grisham’s first work of nonfiction is shocking, disturbing and enthralling – a must read for fiction and nonfiction fans.

“Firstlight: The Early Inspirational Writings” by Sue Monk Kidd. Before her phenomenal success with the novels “The Secret Life of Bees” (2001) and “The Mermaid Chair” (2005), Kidd wrote inspirational stories, spiritual meditations and personal essays for “Guideposts,” an interfaith magazine founded by Norman Vincent Peale. Firstlight collects these early writings for the first time. The pieces collected here are thoughtful, moving, often luminous meditations on faith, family, death and love and on compassion, solitude and grace. Fans of Kidd’s novels and of inspirational writing will appreciate them.

“Thirteen Moons” by Charles Frazier. When Frazier’s debut “Cold Mountain” blossomed into a National Book AwardÐwinning bestseller, expectations for the follow-up rose almost immediately. A decade later, the good news is that Frazier’s storytelling prowess doesn’t falter in this second effort, a bountiful literary panorama again set primarily in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains. The story takes place mostly before the Civil War this time, and it is epic in scope. With pristine prose that’s often wry, Frazier brings a rough-and-tumble pioneer past magnificently to life, indicts America with painful bluntness for the betrayal of its native people and recounts a romance rife with sadness.

“Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette” by Sena Jeter Naslund. The opening sentence of Naslund’s fictional memoir of Marie Antoinette (“Like everyone, I am born naked”) sets a hypnotically intimate tone that never wavers as the much-maligned Austrian princess recounts her life from baptism in the Rhine and rebirth as French citizen to appointment with the guillotine.

“State of Denial: Bush at War Part III” by Bob Woodward. This tedious yet very readable book answers the core questions: What happened after the invasion of Iraq? Why? How does Bush make decisions and manage a war that he chose to define his presidency? And is there an achievable plan for victory? Woodward’s third book on President Bush provides the fullest account and explanation of the road Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and the White House staff have walked.

“Night Watch” by Sarah Waters. In the fall of 1947, an androgynous woman walks aimlessly through the scarred streets of London, adjusting her cufflinks. An ambulance driver during the Blitz, she now does nothing more dramatic than go to the cinema, arriving midway through a film and watching the second half first – “People’s pasts, you know, being so much more interesting than their futures.” Likewise, this historical novel begins at the end and moves backward, tracing the lives of its characters from peacetime Britain to the early years of the war.

“Worst Hard Times: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl” by Timothy Egan. On April 14, 1935, the biggest dust storm on record descended over five states, from the Dakotas to Amarillo, Texas. People standing a few feet apart could not see each other; if they touched, they risked being knocked over by the static electricity that the dust created in the air. The Dust Bowl was the product of reckless, market-driven farming that had so abused the land that, when dry weather came, the wind lifted up millions of acres of topsoil and whipped it around in “black blizzards,” which blew as far east as New York. This ecological disaster rapidly disfigured whole communities.

“Oh No, Not Ghosts” by Richard Michelson and Adam McCauley. Shhhhh! Dad said not to make a peep so that he could get some sleep. But what if something is wriggling, sniggling and slithering in the shadows? And did that floorboard just creeeeeak? Each ghoulish possibility seems worse than the last, until – what was that? Oh no, not …! Richard Michelson’s zinging rhymes and Adam McCauley’s moonlit illustrations will transport readers beyond the bedroom walls to a magical nighttime world where imagination rules.

Compiled by owner Stacey Colin at Harmony Books, 231 Broad St. Nevada City, 265-9564. Hours are Mon. through Sat. 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. and 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sunday.

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