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The BookShelf

“America America” by Ethan Canin.

From Ethan Canin, bestselling author of “The Palace Thief,” comes a stunning novel about America and family, politics and tragedy, and the impact of fate on a young man’s life.

In the early 1970s, Corey Sifter, the son of working-class parents, becomes a yard boy on the grand estate of the powerful Metarey family.

Soon, through the family’s generosity, he is a student at a private boarding school and an aide to the great New York senator Henry Bonwiller, who is running for president of the United States.

Before long, Corey finds himself involved with one of the Metarey daughters as well, and he begins to leave behind the world of his upbringing.

As the Bonwiller campaign gains momentum, Corey finds himself caught up in a complex web of events in which loyalty, politics, sex, and gratitude conflict with morality, love, and the truth.

“America America” is a beautiful novel about America as it was and is, a remarkable exploration of how vanity, greatness, and tragedy combine to change history and fate.


“The Broken Window” by Jeffery Deaver.

Lincoln Rhyme, a forensic consultant for the NYPD, and his detective partner, Amelia Sachs, take on a psychotic mastermind who uses data mining, the business of the twenty-first century, not only to select and hunt down his victims but also to frame the crimes on complete innocents.

Rhyme is reluctantly drawn into a case involving his estranged cousin, Arthur, who’s been charged with first-degree murder.

But when Rhyme and his crew look into the strange set of circumstances surrounding his cousins alleged crime, they discover tangential connections to a company that specializes in collecting and analyzing consumer data.

Further investigation leads them to some startlingly Orwellian revelations.

The topical subject matter makes the story line particularly compelling, while longtime fans will relish Deaver’s intimate exploration of a tragedy from Rhymes adolescence.


“The Monster of Florence: A True Story” by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi.

United in their obsession with a grisly Italian serial murder case almost three decades old, thriller writer Preston and Italian crime reporter Spezi seek to uncover the identity of the killer in this chilling true crime saga.

From 1974 to 1985, seven pairs of lovers parked in their cars in secluded areas outside of Florence were gruesomely murdered.

When Preston and his family moved into a farmhouse near the murder sites, he and Spezi began to snoop around, although witnesses had died and evidence was missing.

With all of the chief suspects acquitted or released from prison on appeal, Preston and Spezi’s sleuthing continued until ruthless prosecutors turned on the nosy pair, jailing Spezi and grilling Preston for obstructing justice.

This suspenseful procedural reveals much about the dogged writing team as well as the motives of the killers.

Better than some overheated noir mysteries, this bit of real-life Florence bloodletting makes you sweat and think, and presses relentlessly on the nerves.


“This Land is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation” by Barbara Ehenreich.

Ehrenreich , author of “Nickel and Dimed” laments, “I flinch when I hear Woody Guthrie’s line ‘This land belongs to you and me.’

Somehow I don’t think it was meant to be sung by a chorus of hedge fund operators.”

In this collection of essays and commentaries on the U.S. economic and social divide-turned-chasm, she looks at a wide range of topics including extravagant corporate CEO bailouts, pharmaceutical companies’ recruitment of college cheerleaders as sales reps, and xenophobic children living in gated communities.

Feisty, fearlessly progressive Ehrenreich offers laughter on the way to tears in 62 previously published essays that show the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer.

Ehrenreich’s reach is capacious, encompassing not only unemployment, health insurance and inflation, but also corporate spying, cancer studies, and marriage education.

Her passion, compassion and wit keep these excursions lively and timely even when yesterday’s headlines provide the immediate provocation.

Entertaining Ehrenreich certainly is, but she raises a hard, serious questions.


“How Math explains the World: A Guide to the Power of Numbers, from Car Repair to Modern Physics” by James D. Stein.

Mathematician Stein reveals how seemingly arcane mathematical investigations and discoveries have led to bigger, more world-shaking insights into the nature of our world.

In the four main sections of the book, Stein tells the stories of the mathematical thinkers who discerned some of the most fundamental aspects of our universe.

From their successes and failures, delusions, and even duels, the trajectories of their innovations, and their impact on society, are traced in this fascinating narrative.

Quantum mechanics, space-time, chaos theory and the workings of complex systems, and the impossibility of a “perfect” democracy are all here.

Stein’s book is both mind-bending and practical, as he explains the best way for a salesman to plan a trip, examines why any thought you could have is imbedded in the number pi, and, perhaps most importantly, answers one of the modern world’s toughest questions: why the garage can never get your car repaired on time.


Compiled by manager Susan Beck at The Book Seller, 107 Mill Street, Grass Valley, 272-2131.

Hours are Mon. through Fri. 9:30 a.m. Ð 7 p.m., Sat. 9:30 a.m. Ð 5:30 p.m., and 11 a.m. Ð 4 p.m. Sunday.

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