“The Dangerous Book For Boys” by Conn and Hal Iggulden. Equal parts droll and gorgeous nostalgia book and heartfelt plea for a renewed sense of adventure in the lives of boys and men, Conn and Hal Iggulden’s “The Dangerous Book for Boys” became a mammoth bestseller in the United Kingdom in 2006. Adapted, in moderation, for American customs in this edition (cricket is gone, rugby remains; conkers are out, Navajo code talkers in), this is a guide book for dads, as well as their sons, as a reminder of lore and techniques that have not yet been completely lost to the digital age. Recall the adventures of Scott of the Antarctic and the Battle of the Somme, relearn how to palm a coin, tan a skin, and, most charmingly, wrap a package in brown paper and string. The book’s ambitions are both modest and winningly optimistic: You get the sense that by learning how to place a splint or write in invisible ink, a boy might be prepared for anything, even girls (who warrant a small but wise chapter of their own).
“Prisoner of Tehran: A Memoir” by Marina Nemat. Nemat tells of her harrowing experience as a young Iranian girl at the start of the Islamic revolution. In January 1982, the 16-year-old student activist was arrested, jailed in Tehran’s infamous Evin prison, tortured and sentenced to death. Ali, one of her interrogators, intervened moments before her execution, having used family connections with Ayatollah Khomeini himself to reduce her sentence to life in prison. The price: She would convert to Islam (she was Christian) and marry him, or he would see to it that her family and her boyfriend, Andre, were jailed or even killed. She remained a political prisoner for two years. Nemat’s engaging memoir is rich with complex characters – loved ones lost on both sides of this bloody conflict. Nemat offers her arresting, heartbreaking story of forgiveness, hope and enduring love – a voice for the untold scores silenced by Iran’s revolution.
“Stolen Child” by Keith Donohue. In interlocking chapters of scintillating prose, Donohue tells the tale of Henry Day and the two people he becomes after being snatched at age 7 by changelings. One of them takes his human life, convincing almost everyone that he is the real Henry; meanwhile, the boy becomes one of the changelings, dubbed Aniday and initiated into their magical twilight world. Keith Donohue’s sparkling debut novel was first presented as a “bedtime story for adults.” It is a perfect blend of literary fantasy and realism that kept me captivated o the very end.
“The Secret of a Fire King” by Kim Edwards. Showcasing the intensity and perception of a truly gifted writer, this collection of stories by the author of “The Memory Keepers Daughter” transports us to exotic locations as it follows the lives of those on the fringes of society – a fire-eater, an American and his Korean war bride, a juggler and trapeze artist, and a cleaning woman whose life is interwoven with Marie Curie’s. Each must confront, in dramatically different ways, the barriers of time, place and circumstance in that most universal of human experiences: the quest to discover and understand the elusive mysteries of love.
“Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death” by Deborah Blum. At the close of the 19th century, as Darwin’s theory of evolution gave birth to a golden age of rationalism, a small group of scientists launched a determined investigation into “unexplainable” incidences of clairvoyance and ghostly visitations. Led by William James, the renowned philosopher and professor of psychiatry at Harvard, they staked their reputations, their careers, even their sanity on one of the most extraordinary psychological quests ever undertaken: to empirically prove the existence of ghosts, spirits and psychic phenomena.
Compiled by owner Stacey Colin at Harmony Books, 231 Broad St. Nevada City, 265-9564. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m-5 p.m.
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