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December 01
Selected by Gary from Corvallis, Oregon
Gary won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $60.
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
by Gregory Maguire

"It's a staggering feat of wordcraft, made no less so by the fact that its boundaries were set decades ago by somebody else. Maguire's larger triumph here is twofold: First, in Elphaba, he has created (re-created? renovated?) one of the great heroines in fantasy literature: a fiery, passionate, unforgettable and ultimately tragic figure. Second, Wicked is the best fantasy novel of ideas I've read since Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast or Frank Herbert's Dune. Would that all books with this much innate consumer appeal were also this good. And vice versa." Los Angeles Times (read more)

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December 02
Selected by Ann from Kansas City, Missouri
Ann won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic
Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic
by Martha Beck

"Expecting Adam is a glorious example [of a memoir]. Martha Beck is smart, willing to confide in the reader, good at concise description and very funny, particularly about the most serious possible subjects — childbirth, angels, and surviving at Harvard. Parts of this story are hard to believe — psychic experiences, glimpses of metaphysical beings — but Beck's voice is so sympathetic and most of her details so accurate that they frequently carry all before them." Susan Cheever, The New York Times Book Review (read more)

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December 03
Selected by Carol from Gainesville, Florida
Carol won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Ahab's Wife: Or, the Star Gazer
Ahab's Wife: Or, the Star Gazer
by Sena Jeter Naslund

"Ahab's Wife joins a distinguished tradition of literary works inspired by Moby-Dick. Sena Jeter Naslund's homage to Melville is steeped in his work and at the same time explores a world that Melville left largely uncharted: the world of woman's experience in nineteenth-century America. She weaves a richly imagined tapestry of historical details, compelling characters, literary history, metaphysics, and a gripping plot. Ahab's Wife is a riveting novel." Elizabeth Renker (read more)

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December 04
Selected by Mary Lynn from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
A Separate Peace
A Separate Peace
by John Knowles

"I think it is the best-written, best-designed and most moving novel I have read in many years. Beginning with a tiny incident among ordinary boys, it ends by being as deep and as big as evil itself. As I read the story I had the feeling of climbing a tower and looking at wider and wider prospects of human nature, each bleaker than the last....The characters are real, the tragedy is inevitable, the setting is perfectly chosen. I shall recommend this book to anyone who tells me that the novel is no longer a work of art." Audrey Menen (read more)

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December 05
Selected by Laura from Sunol, California
Laura won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture
Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture
by Ross King

"There's an art to writing about how things work, and, in the tradition of Henry Petroski and Tracy Kidder, Ross King has a knack for explaining complicated processes in a manner that is not only lucid but downright intriguing. In addition to his fascinating descriptions of Brunelleschi's inventions and methods, King fills in the equally fascinating biographical and historical background. We get a good sense of Brunelleschi's peppery personality (he enjoyed devising elaborate, rather spiteful, practical jokes), his rivalry with the sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti and the exciting, tumultuous world of the quattrocento Florentine republic." Merle Rubin, Los Angeles Times (read more)

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December 06
Selected by Maxine from Wailea, Hawaii
Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World
Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World
by Sarah Vowell

"I love Sarah Vowell's writing — it's smart, funny, soulful, even educational. This wonderful collection is about democracy, sleep, religion, pop music, and just about everything else that matters, and if you don't find something in here that makes perfect sense to you, I can only imagine that you gave up reading, thinking, and laughing some time ago." Nick Hornby (read more)

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December 07
Selected by Mei Ching from Singapore, Singapore
Housekeeping
Housekeeping
by Marilynne Robinson

"Here's a first novel that sounds as if the author has been treasuring it up all her life....You can feel in the book a gathering voluptuous release of confidence, a delighted surprise at the unexpected capacities of language, a close, careful fondness for people that we thought only saints felt." Anatole Broyard, The New York Times (read more)


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December 08
Selected by Pharrah from Dallas, Texas
The Lexus and the Olive Tree
The Lexus and the Olive Tree
by Thomas L. Friedman

"[A] breathtaking tour, one that possesses the exhilarating qualities of flight and the stomach-hollowing ones of free fall....He can be eloquently outraged about the growing gap between rich and poor and the threat to the environment....For the most part...Mr. Friedman accepts the current version of the invisible hand: globalize, or the economic forces that be will condemn you to be left behind." Richard Eder, The New York Times (read more)

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December 09
Selected by Nikki from Medford, Massachusetts
Gospel
Gospel
by Wilton Barnhardt

"Wilton Barnhardt has written a splendid novel on all counts. The scholarship of Gospel is as formidable as its premise is original, its pages are stuffed with fascinating religious erudition and it poses some curly theological questions. Like all complicated books, Gospel takes time to get into, but once characters and plot are established, it proceeds, smoothly accelerating, in workmanlike prose that is eminently readable and lyrical only when it ought to be....It is a story of loneliness and confusion of the spirit, of the triumph of faith over pursuit of the truth." Colleen McCullough, The New York Times Book Review (read more)

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December 10
Selected by Karen from Los Angeles, California
Karen won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $100.
Seabiscuit: An American Legend
Seabiscuit: An American Legend
by Laura Hillenbrand

"Laura Hillenbrand knows racehorses, riders, and trainers. She knows our history. She knows how the two combine. Seabiscuit was a great horse, perhaps the best ever, running in one of the worst decades ever, the Great Depression, bringing excitement and pleasure to millions of Americans when they needed those emotions desperately. This is more than a fine piece of writing about the sport of racing; it is also about our history. I wish all sportswriters could write like this." Stephen Ambrose, author of Undaunted Courage (read more)

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Used - Hardcover
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December 11
Selected by Melissa from Duluth, Georgia
Melissa won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Bee Season
Bee Season
by Myla Goldberg

"There is such joy and pain thrumming inside Myla Goldberg's spelling bees! She delicately captures one family's spinning out by concentrating equally on the beauty and the despair. 'Bee Season' is a heartbreaking first novel." Aimee Bender, author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (read more)

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December 12
Selected by Janet from Victoria, British Columbia
Janet won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
The Circus Fire
The Circus Fire
by Stewart Onan

"Stewart O'Nan is amazing in his handling of the abundance of facts, rumors and legends that have built up around this fire in the years since it occurred. The author of several fine novels...this is his first work of non-fiction. He shows here a journalist's restraint, using poetic description at only choice moments. You can't ask for a more dramatic story, and Stewart O'Nan captures it all in an extraordinary book, The Circus Fire" Ann Stephenson, USA Today (read more)

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December 13
Selected by Elsha from New York, New York
Uncollected Poems Bilingual Edition
Uncollected Poems Bilingual Edition
by Rainer Maria Rilke

"Snow is, with Stephen Mitchell and David Young, among the most trustworthy and exhilarating of Rilke's contemporary translators....much here is outstanding including 'The Spanish Trilogy,' 'To Holderlin,' and the Frost-like monologue 'The Raising of Lazarus' (when Jesus lifts his hand and 'no hand ever raised itself this slowly, with this much weight,' for a moment he dreads 'that all the dead might / come rushing back through the suction of that tomb...')." Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Book World (read more)

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December 14
Selected by Marci from Boston, Massachusetts
The Origin of Satan
The Origin of Satan
by Elaine Pagels

"A model of exemplary scholarship....The Satanic imagery of the gospels has burned itself into the Western imagination -- indeed, into that of Islam as well. Satan has traveled from innocent word to rhetorical flourish to rebellious angel to cosmic demon to supreme ally of the Jew....Ms. Pagels has served us well through her clear tracing of that journey. One leaves this most worthy book with a grim sense that Satan will be with us for a long time to come." Chaim Potok (read more)

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December 15
Selected by Jennifer from Ottawa, Canada
Jennifer won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $60.
Hummingbird House
Hummingbird House
by Patricia Henley

"...Patricia Henley's novel takes us into the life of one American woman who becomes part of a community where trust is as vital as bread and just as rare. With deliberate craft and enormous compassion, Henley shows us how one exhausted woman exchanges numbness for resolution, and then chooses ? to witness, to act, and to love regardless of what is lost." Citation for the National Book Award (read more)

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December 16
Selected by Bud from San Francisco, California
Bud won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Compass Points: How I Lived
Compass Points: How I Lived


"The precision with which Hoagland sees and the appetite with which he explores are staggering. So is that unassuming powerhouse, his prose ? matter-of-fact, rhapsodic, elegant, a little surprise in every line. My admiration for his artistry approaches his for the ancient, dying ways of wilderness living." Philip Roth (read more)


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December 17
Selected by Regina from New York, New York
Regina won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Norwegian Wood
Norwegian Wood
by Haruki Murakami

"A huge success when it was published in Japan in 1987 and only now translated into English, this book would seem to bear little resemblance to Murakami's surreal later novels (e.g., The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) and has been dismissed as just another love story. But it is more....Deeply moving, darkly comic, beautifully written, and smoothly translated, this is for all literary fiction collections." Judith Kicinski, Library Journal (read more)

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December 18
Selected by Jennifer from Ottawa, Canada
Jennifer won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
From the Mississippi Delta: A Memoir
From the Mississippi Delta: A Memoir
by Endesha Ida Holland

"She carries us into the lives that she and Mama and their neighbors lived, illustrating not only the obstacles the SNCC organizers faced but also the heroism they found and the ultimate price that some people paid....A magnetic memoir....No one with a sense of history and humanity ? no one who has been as far down as Holland says she was, who has had helping hands as Holland has had, who had a Mama like hers ? can read her book with dry eyes." The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review, Kay Mills (read more)

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December 19
Selected by Karen from Ashland, Oregon
Karen won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
The Foreign Student
The Foreign Student
by Susan Choi

"[I]t's good to report that Susan Choi believes in the old-time religion of William Faulkner, Ralph Ellison and Eudora Welty. Her first novel is a strong, graceful piece of prose that stirs war, love, class and culture together in a strange and beautiful alchemy. The opening of The Foreign Student conjures the sort of mythic dream time Faulkner raises in Absalom, Absalom or Welty evokes in her Morgana stories, the never-never 'before the war' when rich families closed up their townhouses and moved to their country estates. Only this is not Jefferson or Jackson but Seoul, and the war is the Korean War." Cox News Service (read more)

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December 20
Selected by Kitty from Lexington, Kentucky
Kitty won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Austerlitz
Austerlitz
by W G Sebald

"Sebald's work is reminiscent of the stories of Borges, of the mysterious pictorial conundrums of Escher, of the precisely vague films of Resnais, though he is much more emotionally affecting than any of those overly cerebral magicians. He is perhaps a direct descendant of Kafka, except that Sebald's books are blessedly free of the transcendent boringness that breathes out grayly from Kafka's novels, though not from the stories or the diaries. Anyway, seeking influences is particularly fruitless in the case of Sebald, for he is unique." John Banville, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review) (read more)

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December 21
Selected by Mark from Mobile, Alabama
Beyond Belief
Beyond Belief
by V S Naipaul

"The stuff of real life, the experiences of real people, are displayed in these pages, and displayed with a degree of transparency that is rarely found in travel narratives. Naipaul is disarmingly hesitant in his recollections, admitting to lapses of memory or to failures in pushing conversations in the direction that would have yielded predictable results. He bends over backwards to let his subjects speak for themselves." Malise Ruthven, The Times Literary Supplement (read more)

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December 22
Selected by Michael from Beaverton, Oregon
Michael won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man
Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man
by Susan Faludi

"There isn't a subject she touches on ? from the space program to Tailhook to Rodney King to Si Newhouse ? that she doesn't illuminate in prose as graceful as a gazelle, with statistics that startle us into sentience. There isn't an Angry White Male she encounters who won't be heard out respectfully almost groomed for nuance and clues. And there's not a jot of jargon in the whole brilliant book." John Leonard, New York Newsday (read more)

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December 23
Selected by Marci from Monroe, Washington
Marci won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Falling Angels
Falling Angels
by Tracy Chevalier

"I read Falling Angels in an afternoon. The next day, I sat down and read it again. For several days afterward, I found myself revisiting its people and places, as if I'd just returned from travelling. This is Tracy Chevalier's singular gift: through the particular perspectives of a few finely drawn characters, she is able to evoke entire landscapes....Chevalier manages to delve beneath what we think we know about turn-of-the-century Britons ? there are no stock characters here, none who are perfectly comfortable in the niche society has assigned them." Janice P. Nimura, New York Times Book Review (read more)

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December 24
Selected by Peggy from Billings, Montana
Boychiks in the Hood: Travels in the Hasidic Underground
Boychiks in the Hood: Travels in the Hasidic Underground
by Robert Eisenberg

"Eisenberg clears up many misconceptions about Hasidic belief, such as the mistaken notion that all Hasidim are anti-Zionist, and although clearly respectful of Hasidic religious viewpoints, he writes so lightheartedly that, while it is hard to believe a fine book on Talmudic scholars could be so much fun, fun it is." Aaron Cohen, Booklist (read more)

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December 25
Selected by Wendy from Mystic, Connecticut
Wendy won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
Snow Crash
Snow Crash
by Neal Stephenson

"A fantastic, slam-bang-overdrive, supersurrealistic, comic-spooky whirl through a tomorrow that is already happening. Neal Stephenson is intelligent, perceptive, hip and will become a major force in American writing." Timothy Leary (read more)

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December 26
Selected by Terry from Westminster, Maryland
Terry won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
by Barbara Ehrenreich

"We have Barbara Ehrenreich to thank for bringing us the news of America's working poor so clearly and directly, and conveying with it a deep moral outrage and a finely textured sense of lives as lived. As Michael Harrington was, she is now our premier reporter of the underside of capitalism." Dorothy Gallagher, New York Times Book Review (read more)

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December 27
Selected by Jim from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Jim won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

"Arrange the great English novelists as one will, it does not seem possible to bring them out in any order where she is not the first, or second or third, whoever her companions may be....A little aloof, a little inscrutable and mysterious, she will always remain, but serene and beautiful also because of her greatness as an artist." Virginia Woolf, The Times Literary Supplement, 1913 (read more)

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December 28
Selected by Marlene from Minneapolis, Minnesota
Churchill
Churchill
by Roy Jenkins

"A first-class, well-sustained work of history and a masterpiece of biography....To have writtent his splendid book at the age of 80 in only a little over two years is a simply astonishing achievement....The greatest British political story of the 20th century is presented in a more elegant, engaging and consistently fair way than ever before. Of all the very many biographies of Winston Churchill that have beenw ritten, this one is the best." Andrew Roberts, The Sunday Telegraph (read more)

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December 29
Selected by Lindsay from Brattleboro, Vermont
Lindsay won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
Gold Bug Variations
Gold Bug Variations
by Richard Powers

"[T]he most lavishly ambitious American novel since Gravity's Rainbow...an outright marvel....there is scarcely a sentence in this gigantic book that has not been tuned for maximum intensity....Indeed, for sheer thematic aspiration, Gold Bug can contend comfortably with Moby Dick." The Washington Post Book World (read more)

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December 30
Selected by Mark from San Diego, California
Mark won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents
Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents
by Ellen Ullman

"Ullman — software engineer, businesswoman and rugged individual — wittily spills the beans about the technology on which we all depend. 'If people really knew how software got written, I'm not sure if they'd give their money to a bank or get on an airplane ever again.' The dirty little secret, says Ullman, is that she and her associates, 'barely know what we're doing.'" Publishers Weekly (read more)

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December 31
Selected by Erica from Sarajevo, Bosnia Hercegovina
Erica won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
The Bone People
The Bone People
by Keri Hulme

"This novel is unforgettably rich and pungent....Set on the harsh South Island beaches of New Zealand, bound in Maori myth and entwined with Christian symbols, Miss Hulme's provocative novel summons power with words, as in a conjurer's spell. She casts her magic on three fiercely unique characters, but reminds us that we, like them, are 'nothing more than people,' and that, in a sense, we are all cannibals, compelled to consume the gift of love with demands for perfection. But they, and perhaps we too, are capable of change." Claudia Tate, The New York Times Book Review (read more)

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