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Entertaining books for your summer vacation reading

Compiled by Kim Carrow

“Quality of Life Report” by Meghan Daum. A funny, smart and satirical novel about a New York TV reporter who leaves the big city in pursuit of a “quality life” in the Midwest. She plans to televise vignettes of her idyllic life to her New York audience, but when she meets a ruggedly handsome individualist, the wholesome, lemonade-on-the-front porch scenario she envisions is nothing like her reality.

“Maisie Dobbs” by Jacqueline Winspear. Maisie Dobbs is the spirited star of a new and critically acclaimed detective series. Fans of Brit Lit and “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” will adore this colorful and intelligent sleuthing story, set in the post-war ’30s.

“Nina Adolescence” by Amy Hasinger. After posing nude for a portrait painted by her emotionally volatile mother, 15-year old Nina finds the “exposure” unwelcoming and her already-tenuous family life unraveling. A very penetrating novel dealing with the complexities of adolescence.

“A Widow for One Year” by John Irving. Soon to be a movie, John Irving’s last “big novel” follows the enigmatic character Ruth through the tragedies and triumphs of her life. In his unique style, Irving weaves an intricate tale full of very worthy side plots and masterful “stories within the story.”

“The Hazards of Good Breeding” by Jessica Shattuck. A social comedy set in Boston that portrays a pivotal week in a blue-blooded family – a family whose upper crust values and lifestyle are crumbling. Beautifully crafted and keenly observant.

“The Bobby Gold Stories” by Anthony Bordain. Crime, sex, craziness and food served up by Anthony Bordain, an author famous for his hilarious, shameless foodie-bio, “Kitchen Confidential.” Bobby Gold is an ex-con who hangs out with restaurant club hoppers and can’t seem to avoid trouble; Bordain’s sarcastic wit brings the crime story to life.

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver. A novel that reads like the front-page news – this book tells the story of a Columbine-like massacre and the young boy responsible for the carnage. Yet the story is told from the perspective of the boy’s mother, a twist in narrative that lends to a surprising climax.

“Cookoff” by Amy Sutherland. From the gold standard Pillsbury Bake-Off to the gritty, rowdy Terlingua Chili Cook-Off, this book takes a serious look at the people, places and food, which make cooking contests so popular across America. Gets you in the mood to enter that pie in the fair!

“Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs” by Chuck Klosterman. A bold and acerbic examination of American pop-culture, including diatribes on institutions such as reality TV, pro basketball and other more sublime topics.

“Confessions of a Slacker Mom” by Muffy Mead-Ferro. Here’s a fresh voice in the world of super-parenting affirming that kids don’t necessarily need to be showered with toys, overscheduled with activities and pushed into a state of hyper-academia. Drawing upon her experiences growing up on a ranch in Wyoming, the author dissects the “Supermom Syndrome.”


Compiled by Kim Carrow of Odyssey Books, 11989 Sutton Way, Grass Valley. Hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The phone number is 477-2856.

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