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Daily Dose Archives

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January 01
Selected by Karen from Albuquerque, New Mexico
Karen won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Throwim Way Leg: Tree-Kangaroos, Possums, and Penis Gourds
Throwim Way Leg: Tree-Kangaroos, Possums, and Penis Gourds
by Tim Flannery

"What an extraordinary book this is....Flannery provides a magical polychrome of [New Guinea]. You can hear the cataclysmic thunderstorms, smell the hunting dogs, taste the roast possum. No one else could have written this book....The themes he elucidates are the largest themes available to any writer: life and death; religion and questions of belief; greed and the havoc that the pursuit of money can wreak; the politics of colonialism and oppression; the cultural specificity of morality....Flannery is a fiercely intelligent and perceptive guide. He is also courageous. This is a journey through and beyond fear....Flannery's book is as fertile and fascinating as New Guinea itself. It deserves to be read widely and often." Michael Winkler, Sunday Age (read more)

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January 02
Selected by Amoreena from Salem, Massachusetts
Amoreena won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
by Patrick Suskind

"The point about genuine historical fiction is that it is primarily concerned with the contemporary world. This is not a historical romance, full of 'Prithees!' and strange objects known as poniards, but a meditation on the nature of death, desire and decay....As a novel of character or incident, Perfume is at best tentative, therefore, but as a disquisition on sensibility and as an instrument of historical analysis, it is both well conceived and carefully sustained....This is a remarkable debut." Peter Ackroyd, The New York Times Book Review (read more)

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January 03
Selected by Janet from Hot Springs, Arkansas
Janet won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
In The Sweet Kitchen: The Definitive Baker's Companion
In The Sweet Kitchen: The Definitive Baker's Companion
by Regan Daley

"Obviously a labor of love, this ambitious handbook provides a thorough guide to the ingredients, equipment, and techniques used in baking; the 150 or so delectable recipes that make up the second half of the book are an added bonus. Daley, who worked as a pastry chef in some of Toronto's top restaurants, has an engaging conversational style, and even the most inexperienced home cook will find her book as unintimidating as it is informative. Professionals, too, will find it a handy reference." Library Journal (read more)

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January 04
Selected by Susan from Greencastle, Indiana
Susan won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
The Hunger Moon
The Hunger Moon
by Suzanne Matson

"What saves The Hunger Moon from the usual pitfalls of books about women in transition ? overearnestness, an irritating self-righteousness ? is Matson's crisp, clean writing, her compassionately drawn characters and her sharp eye for slyly humorous detail....[T]he men...are almost too good to be true: paragons of the sort of new-male sensitivity that is hard to find in real life....But unreal as they might be, the men are a pleasant change from the conniving seducers and unfeeling dolts that populate many books whose main characters are women." Sarah Lyall, The New York Times Book Review (read more)

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January 05
Selected by Amy from Honolulu, Hawaii
Amy won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


"No one else writes about the human environment quite like Michael Pollan: we can be grateful indeed that one of our wittiest writers about nature is also one of our wisest. In The Botany of Desire, Pollan makes a persuasive case that the plants we might be tempted to see as having been most domesticated by humanity are in fact also those that have been most effective in domesticating us. It is a stunning insight, and no one will come away from this book without having their ideas of nature stretched and challenged." William Cronon, editor of Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature (read more)


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January 06
Selected by Rob from Ft. Worth, Texas
Rob won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
The Onion Girl
The Onion Girl
by Charles De Lint

"Ottawa writer Charles de Lint is one of Canada's...most accomplished writers despite an undeserved lack of mainstream recognition. His work defies easy categorization....De Lint's greatest strength as a writer is not his impressive imagination, nor his ability to seamlessly integrate the folklore traditions and beliefs of the Irish, native Canadians, and natives of the Southwestern desert. Rather, de Lint's greatest skill is his human focus — the mythic elements never overshadow his intimate study of character....To read de Lint is to fall under the spell of a master storyteller, to be reminded of the greatness of life, of the beauty and majesty lurking in shadows and empty doorways." Quill and Quire (read more)

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January 07
Selected by Adelaide from Cleveland, Ohio
Terrible Lizard: The First Dinosaur Hunters and the Birth of a New Science
Terrible Lizard: The First Dinosaur Hunters and the Birth of a New Science


"A book about the blossoming of paleontology in the early 19th century might not strike you as light summer reading, but this wonderfully written account filled with eccentric characters, gigantic reptiles, and a war between science and religion makes Michael Crichton's dopey, dull Jurassic Park seem like cereal box copy....Cadbury has crafted a spirited, compelling story, and the cast of strange and exotic creatures matched by strange and exotic people makes this the kind of book that keeps Coppertone in business." Douglas Cruickshank, Salon.com (read more)


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January 08
Selected by Johanna from Seattle, Washington
Johanna won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
Poison
Poison
by Kathryn Harrison

"Poison is a fascinating, feminist princess-and-pauper story, gorgeously written and hauntingly told. It is a tale of passion, hopelessness, and thwarted ambitions in a harsh and hate-filled century that was, as in all fine historical fiction, quite different than and disturbingly like our own." Ron Hansen, The Los Angeles Times Book Review (read more)

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January 09
Selected by Neil from Gabriola, British Columbia
Neil won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books
A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books
by Nicholas Basbanes

"Bibliophile Basbanes has written an exceptionally entertaining and comprehensive history of bibliomania, which turns out to be not so 'gentle' an obsession after all....A surprising number of these stories involve nefarious dealings and vicious rivalries, proving that even in our digitized age, books arouse intense emotions, from worship to greed." Donna Seaman, Booklist (read more)

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January 10
Selected by Anne from San Francisco, California
Anne won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
About the Author
About the Author


"About the Author has already been compared to Patricia Highsmith's Talented Mr. Ripley. Both are gripping psychological thrillers about a young man trying to get away with stealing another's life. Though Colapinto's novel is not the better of the two, with characters such as the charmingly amoral agent Blackie Yaeger, Les the straight-talking grifter, and Cal himself, as sympathetic as he is dishonest, About the Author is certainly the more entertaining. If Cal Cunningham is Tom Ripley with a heart, John Colapinto is Patricia Highsmith on Prozac." -- C. P. Farley, Powells.com (read more)


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January 11
Selected by Mary from Washington, DC
Mary won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War
Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War


"A candid, sexy, and very funny romp that makes photojournalism seem like an X-treme sport. Deborah Copaken Kogan goes out and wrings enough terrifying heroics from the last bits of the twentieth century to make T. E. Lawrence jealous." John Hockenberry, author of Moving Violations (read more)


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January 12
Selected by Brenda from Chicago, Illinois
Getting a Life
Getting a Life
by Helen Simpson

"In these subtly linked stories, and with prose that in its range of cultural and sensual reference is breathtaking and beautiful, Helen Simpson registers what is both laughable and lamentable in the lives of contemporary women. In her take on fin de siècle motherhood and work, she has elegantly updated and complicated the mad housewife fiction of previous decades and offered a bracing post-script to Bridget Jones. These stories are wonderfully composed in their irony and wrath. They are admirable and haunting." Lorrie Moore (read more)

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January 13
Selected by Ramon from Reseda, California
Ramon won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
Before Night Falls: A Memoir
Before Night Falls: A Memoir
by Reinaldo Arenas

"[This] is an extraordinary book, extraordinary in its restraint and its dignity, particularly in view of the tribulations that seemed always to dog [Arenas]....The language of the memoir is stark, the sentences short and staccato, with an urgency of forward movement. He is recalling his life, ticking it off in sharp, remembered moments, against the clock, with death waiting at his elbow....Before Night Falls might well have been a long cry of anger, a diatribe, but it is marked much more by its fierce determination to describe his experience honestly and incontrovertibly than by anger or self-pity....There is a noble and imperturbable dignity about 'Before Night Falls'; it is a book above all about being free." Alastair Reid, The New York Review of Books (read more)

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January 14
Selected by Matt from Bucyrus, Ohio
Matt won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials (Paperback) #01)
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials (Paperback) #01)
by Philip Pullman

"One of life's pleasures is the experience of plodding through the first few pages of a book and then finding oneself sucked in, flipping the pages to discover what happens next. The Golden Compass is long, but is told simply and draws us on, as one crisis blossoms out of another." Jane Langton, New York Times Book Review (read more)

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January 15
Selected by Mark from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health
Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health
by Laurie Garrett

"In her surprise best-seller The Coming Plague, Pulitzer Prize-winning Newsday reporter and former NPR science correspondent Garrett drew readers' attention to emerging, antibiotic-resistant diseases. Her primary recommendations were more (and more effective) public-health fieldwork, research, and preventive medicine. In Betrayal of Trust, Garrett's subject is public health itself: the desperate inadequacy of public-health infrastructure in much of the developing world and the shocking neglect of that infrastructure in 'developed' nations....Garrett's 'biowar' chapter makes clear that the threat of biological terrorism has gained the attention of world (and U.S.) leaders, but their responses to date have been dominated by a military (rather than public-health) mind-set. Dramatic changes in attitudes as well as resource allocation will be needed to construct a public-health infrastructure capable of coping with the myriad challenges of globalization." Booklist (read more)

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January 16
Selected by Bronwen from Albany, California
Bronwen won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
The Nature of Water and Air
The Nature of Water and Air
by Regina Mcbride

"Combining elements of a gothic novel and a folktale, this lyrical coming-of-age debut is set in a luminous Ireland....Finely wrought and deeply felt, the novel is a work of supercharged imagination, in which the presence of sea spirits, ghosts, and the dire workings of fate contribute to an atmosphere of brooding mystery." Publishers Weekly (read more)

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January 17
Selected by Barry from Lynn, Indiana
Barry won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece
Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece
by Ashley Kahn

Today's Dose was recommended by Barry, who calls Kind of Blue "a fascinating and insightful read that is obligatory for all jazz aficionados." The Phoenix New Times wasn't so demure, claiming Kahn's book "celebrates the famed album with a big, wet kiss." (read more)

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January 18
Selected by Jean from St. Johns, Newfoundland
Jean won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Single & Single
Single & Single
by John Le Carre

According to Kirkus Reviews, John Le Carre handled Cold War espionage better than any other novelist. But with the Cold War over, he's had to find a new topic. In Single & Single he makes his choice clear: the greatest threat in the post-Cold War world is no longer the battle between super powers, but the unchecked greed of individuals. Jean from Newfoundland called this book "VERY thought provoking" and praised its "wonderful plotting and memorable characters." (read more)

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January 19
Selected by Chisa from Los Angeles, California
Chisa won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War
A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War
by Susan Griffin

Today's Dose is recommended by Chisa: "This book encourages us to think about the far reaching effects of war, the short and long term as well as the rarely considered, by providing the back stories of the real people involved. I read this last year when we weren't at war and thought it was excellent, chilling, and important. I'm going to reread it because I think it will be even more important now." (read more)

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January 20
Selected by Ross from Portland, Oregon
Ross won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Atlas Shrugged
Atlas Shrugged
by Ayn Rand

We might have chosen today's Dose because, in a joint survey conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club, Atlas Shrugged was deemed the "second most influential book for Americans" after the Bible. We might have chosen it in order to feature a rare blurb from Alan Greenspan. But we didn't. We were persuaded instead by Ross, whose comments ? "Pick me, pick me!!" ? seemeed highly appropriate for a novel by the author of The Virtue of Selfishness. (read more)

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January 21
Selected by Betty from Carlinville, Illinois
Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture
Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture
by Michael Bellesiles

Betty recommended today's Dose, saying "This book is one person's view of the gun culture in America. Some statements are debatable, but it is interesting." For a book that sparked so much controversy, her comments are refreshingly tepid. Arming America was called "exciting," "splendidly subversive," "extravagantly researched," and so on by reviewers, who overwhelmingly praised the book. Bellesiles himself was called "a paid agent of [the Zionist Occupational Government]," and a "tool of the liberals (or state socialists, as they really are) seeking to steal my guns" by his most spirited detractors. Only Charleton Heston seemed nonplussed. He merely regretted that "Bellesiles had too much time on his hands." (read more)

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January 22
Selected by Nancy from Willseyville, New York
Nancy won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
On Ice
On Ice
by David Ramus

According to Nancy, this thriller "is edgy from start to finish. Mr. Ramus writes a wicked story. He knows his way around horses, hookers, cons, etc. I simply couldn't lay this book down!" She's in good company. Nelson DeMille, Donald Westlake, James Hall, and Tess Gerritsen couldn't put it down either. (read more)

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January 23
Selected by Marilyn from Missoula, Montana
The Secret Life of Dust
The Secret Life of Dust
by Hannah Holmes

According to Marilyn, "Anyone who loved Dr. Seuss's 'Horton Hears a Who!' as a child will love 'The Secret Life of Dust.' Holmes does an excellent job in making you believe that entire worlds exist in each grain of dust." Perhaps this is the perfect book for all of us too lazy to clean under the refrigerator. (read more)

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January 24
Selected by Susan from providence, Rhode Island
Susan won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
Cruddy
Cruddy
by Lynda Barry

Despite the fact that we loved it too, we didn't want to choose Cruddy for today's Dose. We don't like to be pushed around, and how else would you describe the intentions of someone whose comments begin "You must, must, must choose this book!!" We vowed to stand firm, even though Susan described Lynda Barry as "the female Mark Twain for this generation!", which makes this selection particularly timely, given the recent Ken Burns Twain documentary. Besides, it can't be appropriate to feature a book whose main character can be described as "Becky Thatcher on acid!" But in the end, we just couldn't hold out. All those exclamation points just wore us down. (read more)

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January 25
Selected by Mary from OKlahoma city, OKlahoma
Mary won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Bloodland: A True Story of Oil, Greed and Murder on the Osage Reservation
Bloodland: A True Story of Oil, Greed and Murder on the Osage Reservation
by Dennis Mcauliffe

We were already aware of today's title. Our own Tracy Trudeau selected it for her Staff Picks page. But Mary made it sound particularly gripping: "Enthralling and infuriating, especially to people like me who are Osage, Bloodland reads like a murder mystery ? because that is exactly what it is, even though it is nonfiction." (read more)

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January 26
Selected by Katharine from Clarion, Pennsylvania
Katharine won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Ghost Story
Ghost Story
by Peter Straub

Everyone who's read Peter Straub's now-classic horror novel will relate to Katharine, who claimed that "it made my skin crawl, and I was reading it in broad daylight! For those who love to be scared to death, this is the book for you." So what kind of crazy fool loves to be scared to death? No, don't answer that. (read more)

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January 27
Selected by Mike from Medicine Lodge, Kansas
Mike won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place
Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place
by Terry Tempest Williams

As far as world religions go, the Mormon Church is quite young. So, relative to, say, the Catholics or the Jews, there are few heavyweight Mormon writers to choose from. With wonderful writers like Terry Tempest Williams, this is beginning to change. The eyes of the world will soon be on the Mormon capital, Salt Lake City, which makes this a good time to give Williams a try. According to Mike, Refuge is a "beautiful book on love, dying, birds, ecology, the Mormon Church, and much more." (read more)

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January 28
Selected by Tasia from Portland, Oregon
Tasia won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Victory Over Japan
Victory Over Japan
by Ellen Gilchrist

Tasia: "I get that Im supposed to use this space to be witty and convincing. Forget it. Ellen Gilchrist's stories are both of those things without any of my help." (read more)

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January 29
Selected by Susan from Kansas City, Missouri
Einstein: A Life
Einstein: A Life
by Denis Brian

As Susan points out, it's a good time to read books about eccentric smarties: "Genius seems to be on everyone's mind right now with the movie A Beautiful Mind getting so much attention." But a better reason to choose a particular book is that it is good. Never fear, Susan continues: Einstein: A Life is "one of the best biographies I have ever read. Einstein was a likable and unpretentious person, and Brian's telling is inspired." (read more)

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January 30
Selected by Scott from Providence, Rhode Island
Scott won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline: Stories and a Novella
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline: Stories and a Novella
by George Saunders

"Ah, the guilty pleasure of laughing out loud in the face of post-apocalypic amusement parks. A hard choice between this and 'Pastoralia.' Read all of George Saunders for the humor, then read him again and fear for humanity." Scott (read more)

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January 31
Selected by Greg from Austin, Texas
Greg won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Through the Narrow Gate: A Memoir of Spiritual Discovery
Through the Narrow Gate: A Memoir of Spiritual Discovery
by Karen Armstrong

Since September 11th, Karen Armstrong is best known as the author of several bestselling books about Islam. Her first book, though, was a memoir about life as a Catholic nun, which Greg describes as a "fascinating look at life in a convent just before the reforms of Vatican II. Although the reader will find much amusement at tales of the absurdities of the convent's rules...the book is more than a voyeuristic glimpse into a closed world. Armstrong always stresses the importance of the complex spiritual beliefs underlying the sometimes bizarre patterns of convent life." (read more)

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