Lots of titles to choose from
1. “Queen of Dreams” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni ($21.95). This is my favorite read of 2004 – so far, anyway. Rakhi, a young artist and single mom, runs a small coffee house in Berkeley. Her mother, a dream teller, interprets the dreams of others, yet isolates Rakhi from her own Indian heritage. Her dream journals lead Rakhi on a journey of self-discovery.
2. “Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker” edited by Robert Mankoff ($60). My New Yorker magazines pile up waiting to be read, but only after I’ve seen every cartoon. This book is truly a publishing event and includes two easy-to-use CDs with every cartoon ever published – over 68,000. Since its founding in the 1920s, The New Yorker has elevated the cartoon to an art form. This is not to be missed.
3. “The Dark Tower” by Stephen King ($35). The final chapter in “The Dark Tower” series is here. King says this is his last book ever, and what a way to end things. “The Dark Tower” is a sweeping, eventful saga of demons, monsters and magic portals. It is King’s masterpiece.
4. “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” by Aron Ralston ($26). In April of 2003, climber and outdoorsman Ralston found himself trapped against a rock wall by a massive boulder. Faced with near-certain death, he used his video camera to record goodbyes and reflections on his life. Ralston survived by doing the unthinkable: He cut off his arm. Absolutely riveting!
5. “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson ($15.95). Now in paperback. Bryson is a keen observer, known for his humorous and often self-deprecating armchair travel books. In “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” he sets out to answer the biggest questions about the universe and mankind – no easy task. Bryson makes science interesting and funny in his wonderful way.
6. “Quicksilver” by Neal Stephenson ($15.95). Acclaimed sci-fi author Stephenson turns to historical fiction in Volume One of The Baroque Cycle. This is a terrific saga of the exploits of Half-Cocked Jack, a London street urchin turned swashbuckling adventurer. Stephenson’s characters of Puritans, philosophers, politicians and pirates are the stuff of great fiction. The conclusion of the cycle, “The System of the World,” is just out in hard cover.
7. “Coast of Dreams: California on the Edge, 1990-2003” by Kevin Starr ($35). Starr is the pre-eminent historian for California. His most recent book focuses on the collapse of the California dream as we’ve stumbled and been humbled, yet often flourished, in spite of it all. A fascinating work by someone who truly understands life in California.
8. “The Pleasure of My Company” by Steve Martin ($11.95). Daniel Pecan Cambridge is a young man with a perfect life, provided that he never sets foot at his Southern California apartment. This is a sweet and compelling story about loneliness and love by the comedian who is also a very fine literary talent.
9. “America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines” by Gail Collins ($14.95). “America’s Women” tells the story of how women shaped our nation. From suffrage to high heels, Collins shows what it means to be female in America. Well-researched and told, this is a book for anyone who appreciates history or women.
10. “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Grim Grotto” by Lemony Snicket ($11.99). The poor Baudelaire orphans encounter even more horrors, too numerous to list in the continuation of this popular series. As the children fight off their evil Uncle Olaf, they find themselves plunging into the deep end – and I mean water. As the author himself says, this is too depressing to read. But don’t let that stop you.
Compiled by manager Alison Jones-Pomatto at The Book Seller, 107 Mill St., Grass Valley, 272-2131. The store is open from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.
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