Ages 18+.

Voice of Faith and Science

A new book out this summer by Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, is entitled The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. Enlightening and engaging, this book is the subject of a wonderful current article at Salon. Collins, who joined the U-M faculty in 1984 and still has ties here, talks in the Salon interview about topics including C.S. Lewis and athesism.

Rallying Liberals to Fix Foreign Policy

With election season heating up, we all probably need to be reading more than just newspapers. Here's a new book with a great deal of promise, The Good Fight: Why liberals - and only liberals - can win the War on Terror and make America great again. The author, Peter Beinart, is editor-at-large of The New Republic magazine. When the book came out earlier this summer, it prompted some favorable reviews, including one in the Washington Post. The book is currently available at Pittsfield and Mallets Creek.

Nora is Older - and Still Very Witty

Nora Ephron - essayist and film director - has a new book out, I Feel Bad About My Neck: and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman. Although I feel fine about my age and my neck, I'm eager to read this book - simply because Nora Ephron wrote it. So far the best article I've seen on it is an interview by Rebecca Traister at Salon, with the headline "What's So Damn Great About Aging?" Very entertaining.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (8/6/06)

I've been a fan of James Lee Burke ever since Dave Robicheaux first appeared in Neon Rain in 1987. His evocation of New Orleans and Louisiana is poetic and haunting. Who better to capture the beauty of the landscape and a way of life that Katrina destroyed? In this latest novel, the action take place just before the hurricane strikes but the mood is elegiac. Dave is looking back with sadness for what has already been lost.

At #1 is Phantom by Terry Goodkind: the author is an admirer of Ayn Rand; some critics find her influence in the author's depiction of the battle between the forces of good and evil in his Sword of Truth fantasy series.

At #4 is Pegasus Descending by James Lee Burke: a young woman commits suicide; another young woman comes to New Iberia with vengeance on her mind; Dave Robicheaux becomes convinced of connections between the two and once again tries to save his world.

At #5 is The Ruins by Scott Smith: another critically acclaimed offbeat thriller by Smith, this time involving couples vacationing in the Yucatan.

At #10 is Sleeping with Fear by Kay Hooper: a psychic FBI agent comes under attack by dark forces while investigating occult activity in South Carolina (last book in trilogy after Hunting Fear and Chill of Fear).

Warlord, Barbarian, Empire Builder: Who was Attila the Hun?

He was called the 'Scourge of God' and considered one of the destroyers of the Roman Empire. His own empire stretched from the Rhine to the Black Sea, from the Baltic to the Balkans. He was Attila the Hun, once a byword for mindless barbarism. John Man's fascinating recent book Attila: The Barbarian King Who Challenged Rome revisits the evidence and retraces the career of this shrewd and powerful leader of the feared nomadic horsemen who challenged the Roman Empire for nearly 20 years during the early 5th Century. Man, a travel writer and historian, has traveled extensively in Asia and Mongolia and is also the author of Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection and Gobi: Tracking the Desert. Another fairly recent look at Attila can be found in Patrick Howarth's Attila, King of the Huns: Man and Myth and in the lushly filmed made-for-TV movie, Attila.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #29

You might as well hear about it here, no doubt you will be hearing a lot about this book.

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters was THE buzz among librarians and booksellers at the American Library Association annual conference. Some of us stood in line with a coupon in hand, just to pick up a preview copy. The reviews for this debut novel thus far have been mixed but the storyline is intriguingly complex, and the telling mesmerizing.

Miss Celeste Temple travels from her tropical island home to Victorian London in search of her fiance after receiving a cryptic message from him breaking their engagement. This 768-page doorstopper is part adventure, part fantasy, part mystery, part romance, but 100% entertainment. It should appeal to Diana Gabaldon readers.

The author Gordon Dahlquist is an award-wining playwright and a director of experimental films. He lives in New York.

Kick Keswick: Three Measures of Elegant Summer Fluff

Kick Keswick did not know who her father was. Her mother lived in a trailer in the Oklahoma oil fields. Kick was a shoplifter of jewelry. After a year in juvenile detention, she goes off to college, takes a trip to London, skips out on the group tour, buys a very short Mary Quant miniskirt and some plastic boots, gets soaked in the rain, and is ushered into the limousine of Sir Cramner Ballantine, owner of the venerable Ballantine & Company Auctioneers. She becomes his mistress and the executive secretary of the auction house. She gradually becomes an elegant and self-possessed woman with a love for food, chocolate, wine, and jewels. She is a master jeweler and a master jewel thief (the Shamrock Burglar, leaving a “lovely crisp bouquet of shamrocks tied with an ivory satin ribbon” in the place of the stolen jewelry).

She wittily narrates three charming adventures (best read in order):

Brilliant 2003
Priceless 2004
Perfect 2005

Beach Reads #5 (admittedly borrowed...)

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Billed as the British version of Oprah's Book Club, the vastly popular "Richard (Madeley) & Judy (Finnigan)" talk show has its very own RICHARD & JUDY'S SUMMER READ!.

The 2006 list is selected by Amanda Ross who is the joint managing director of Cactus TV, which produces the show, and was recently named the No. 1 most influential person in British publishing.

Instead of the authors or experts, a panel of celebrities is invited to discuss the books (only paperback titles are considered) on air. Richard & Judy are pleased that "The books are there to be read and enjoyed and talked about sensibly, not in the rarefied ways of a wine buff or a food critic, but in the way the rest of the world does".

Don't be surprised to find U.S. titles and some very familiar names, and what a great way to get to know new ones.

FolkTale Bits - African-American Tall Tales

Zora Neale Hurston collected these "lies" from "professional liars" of the Gulf States, as she noticed there was a "decline in the quality of lies and it was just gone get worse, unless somebody did something." Christopher Myers, the adaptor and illustrator, "found them in a government office, which is where they are keeping all the llies nowadays." Each page is a new "lie". It could be great fun to create your own "lies" based on these examples. Can you top this?

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (7/30/06)

Nora Roberts is a modern publishing phenomenon. She lands more titles on national best seller lists than any other author, outselling all others as well, commanding almost 10% of the book market. There is a formula but for her legions of fans, she refreshes the story every time and they keep coming back for more.

At #1 is Angels Fall by Nora Roberts: the undisputed queen of romantic fiction strikes gold once again with her latest thriller; after suffering a traumatic shock in Boston, a young chef takes off and ends up in Wyoming where she witnesses a murder. Or does she?

At #5 is Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs: fans of the TV show Bones will want to read the latest adventure of forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Our appealing heroines keeps finding bodies around Charleston.

At #16 is Dragon's Fire by Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey: in their second collaboration in this series the authors (mother and son) return to Pern; in a race to stave off disaster, the inhabitants mine dangerous minerals and use slave labor. Fantasy or the real world?

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