Improve your world view by reading |

Improve your world view by reading

“Madonnas of Leningrad” by Debra Dean. Seamlessly moving back and forth in time between the Soviet Union and contemporary America, this story is a searing portrait of war and remembrance, of the power of love, memory, and art to offer beauty, grace, and hope in the face of overwhelming despair. Readers follow Russian émigré Marina Buriakov back and forth from the present-day American Northwest, where she battles the effects of Alzheimer’s, to World War II Leningrad, where she is a tour guide at the Hermitage Museum. This is a heartbreakingly lovely story of a woman who is able to see and celebrate beauty despite the ravages of war, time and disease.

“Everyman” by Philip Roth. Roth’s new novel is a candidly intimate yet universal story of loss, regret and stoicism. The best-selling author of “The Plot Against America” now turns his attention from one family’s harrowing encounter with history to one man’s lifelong skirmish with mortality. The fate of Roth’s everyman is traced from his first shocking confrontation with death on the idyllic beaches of his childhood summers, through the family trials and professional achievements of his vigorous adulthood, and into his old age. The terrain of this powerful novel is the human body. Its subject is the common experience that terrifies us all.

“Locked Rooms” by Laurie R. King. Mary Russell and her husband Sherlock Holmes are back in King’s highly acclaimed New York Times best-selling mystery series. And this time the first couple of detection pair up to unlock the buried memory of a shocking crime with the power to kill again – lost somewhere in Russell’s own past. After departing Bombay by ship, Russell and her husband are en route to the bustling, modern city of San Francisco. There, Mary will settle some legal affairs surrounding the inheritance of her family’s old estate. But the closer they get to port, the more Mary finds herself prey to troubling dreams and irrational behavior – a point not lost on Holmes, much to Russell’s annoyance.

“Velocity” by Dean Koontz. This book is likely to be one of the greatest suspense stories of the decade. The story’s protagonist is a simple man named Billy Wiles who is an easygoing yet, hardworking guy leading a quiet, ordinary life. One evening, however, after his bartending shift, he comes across a typewritten note on the windshield of his car that contains a threat to kill a lovely blond school teacher if he does nothing or an elderly charity worker if he goes to the police. Thinking it is a sick joke, he ignores the note until less than 24 hours later, the murdered school teacher is reported. Billy is tossed into a nightmare he cannot escape.

“The Gospel of Judas” by Rodolphe Kasser editor. For 1,600 years, its message is hidden. When the bound papyrus pages of this lost gospel finally reached scholars who could unlock its meaning, they were astounded. Here was a gospel that had not been seen since the early days of Christianity, which few experts had even thought existed. This gospel told from the perspective of Judas Iscariot has been translated from its original Coptic in clear prose and is accompanied by commentary that explains its fascinating history in the context of the early church. It offers a whole new way of understanding the message of Jesus Christ and is the first publication of the remarkable gospel since it was condemned as heresy by early church leaders, most notably by St. Irenaeus in 180.

“A Death in Belmont” by Sebastian Junger. A fatal collision of three lives in the most intriguing and original crime story since “In Cold Blood.” In the spring of 1963, the quiet suburb of Belmont, Mass., is rocked by a shocking sex murder that exactly fits the pattern of the Boston Strangler. Sensing a break in the case that has paralyzed the city of Boston, the police track down a black man, Roy Smith, who cleaned the victim’s house that day and left a receipt with his name on the kitchen counter. Smith is hastily convicted of the Belmont murder but the terror of the Strangler continues. On the day of the murder, Albert DeSalvo – the man who would eventually confess in lurid detail to the Strangler’s crimes – is also in Belmont, working as a carpenter at the Jungers’ home. In this spare, powerful narrative, Junger chronicles three lives that collide – and ultimately are destroyed – in the vortex of one of the first and most controversial serial murder cases in America.

“To See Every Bird on Earth” by Dan Koeppel. The author’s obsession began at age 12, when he first spotted a brown thrusher and jotted the sighting in a notebook. One failed marriage and two sons later, he set out to see every bird on Earth. He became a member of a subculture of competitive bird-watchers worldwide, collecting more than 7,000 species over a 25-year span, becoming one of about 10 people to do so.

“The Book Thief” by Marcus Zusak. Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids, as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.


Compiled by owner Stacey Colin with contributions by Jake Michael 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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