25 Books to Read Before You Die
 
 

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September 01
Selected by Jenna from Woodlesford, Leeds, England
Jenna won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
The Food of Love
The Food of Love
by Anthony Capella

Jenna's Comments:
"Jenna's comments:
Cyrano de Bergerac for the foodie set! I loved this book. It is full of food descriptions so rich you can almost smell them and translations of pithy Roman expressions that would make a sailor blush. This is a book that truly captures the spirit of the love of cooking and cooking as an expression of the deepest of emotions." (read more)

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September 02
Selected by Matthew from Cotati, California
Smonk
Smonk
by Tom Franklin

Matthew's Comments:
"Matthew's comments:
Franklin's much-anticipated new novel doesn't disappoint. He writes about what he knows best: the underside of the South. Relentlessly dark yet simultaneously humorous, Smonk is a wild and brutal ride through small towns in Alabama at the turn of the century. Franklin writes well and has a keen eye for detail, ear for dialogue, and imagination for recreating the past. An authentic, harrowing, darkly comic tale." (read more)

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Used - Hardcover
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September 03
Selected by Pete from Joliet, Illinois
Pete won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
Hairstyles of the Damned
Hairstyles of the Damned
by Joe Meno

Pete's Comments:
"Peter's comments:
A sharply written and funny tale of a teenaged boy of the early 1990s struggling to find his place in the world. Meno nails the 17-year-old male voice perfectly." (read more)

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September 04
Selected by Tim from Naperville, Illinois
The Irresistible Revolution: Living As an Ordinary Radical
The Irresistible Revolution: Living As an Ordinary Radical
by Shane Claiborne

Tim's Comments:
"Tim's comments:
Irresistable Revolution is well titled: it's irresistably funny, moving, and thought-provoking. Claiborne writes with the candor and humor of Don Miller and the passion and zeal of Jim Wallis. It's very hard to find books that are as enjoyable and as grounded in the harsher realities of our world than this one." (read more)

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September 05
Selected by Michael from New York City, New York
Michael won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
Atonement
Atonement
by Ian McEwan

Michael's Comments:
"Michael's comments:
Short of making up words (transplendent? maglorious?) it would be difficult to praise this novel any more than the those who have already done so in print. However, I will add that there is some sneaky humor within this tapestry of "love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness."" (read more)

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September 06
Selected by Jennifer from Terra Alta, West Virginia
Jennifer won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America
Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America
by Laura Shapiro

Jennifer's Comments:
"Jennifer's comments:
With WWII over what do you do with all the left over canned meats? Why, you market them to American housewives, of course! This was a facinating read, and one that would entertain anyone who likes to read about cooking, marketing, psychology, or the 1950s. I loved reading about some of the worst recipes from the era, such as strawberry jello and pickles...or all the things mayonnaise was added into." (read more)

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September 07
Selected by Eric from Bowie, Maryland
A Nation Gone Blind: America in an Age of Simplification and Deceit
A Nation Gone Blind: America in an Age of Simplification and Deceit
by Eric Larsen

Eric's Comments:
"Eric's comments:
A disturbing perspective of today's national culture. The three essays act as a catalyst to understanding the influence corporate organizations and the mass media have on American culture." (read more)

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New - Trade Paper
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September 08
Selected by Anaya from Portland, Oregon
Anaya won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
The Brambles: A Novel
The Brambles: A Novel
by Eliza Minot

Anaya's Comments:
"Anya's comments:
This quirky novel will captivate readers with its fascinating episodes and depressing tragedies of the Bramble family. Minot writes about the joys and sorrows of motherhood and successfully exploits the typical experiences of a modern surburban family. As a heartwarming and heartbreaking novel, The Brambles will grip you with its tenderness and surprising plot twist; it will suck you into the pages and you will feel as if you have known the Bramble family your whole life — or at least someone like them." (read more)

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September 09
Selected by Corinne from Portland, Oregon
The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs (Poets on Poetry)
The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs (Poets on Poetry)
by Charles Simic

Corinne's Comments:
"Corinne's comments:
This is one of those books that you can just pick up and read a page or a story at random and feel inspired to live or write. When I go on vacation I always take this book. When I can't sleep I reach for this book. If you can't find a used copy of this book, it is probably because I bought it to give to a friend, and I'm not sorry about it." (read more)

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September 10
Selected by Joe from Denver, Colorado
Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK
Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK
by Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann

Joe's Comments:
"Joe's comments:
A very insightful look into a terrible double tragedy and unbelievble cover-up. This book brings new ideas and discoveries to the table, the truth is hidden in the facts. It's also a great look back into a very tense and emotional time in our country's history. Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann are two of the most intelligent political minds out there and Ultimate Sacrifice shows just that." (read more)

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Used - Hardcover
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September 11
Selected by Jim from Casper, Wyoming
Jim won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $60.
Strange Piece of Paradise
Strange Piece of Paradise
by Terri Jentz

Jim's Comments:
"Jim's comments:
This is a must read for anyone interested in rebuilding their life after any significant trauma. I work in the criminal justice field and have not read a better book. It is an incredibly interesting story that is nearly impossible to put down. It is also very useful because it covers topics relavent to today such as dealing with losses, working with the criminal justice system, and finding the joy in simply living life. Just an awesome, awesome book!" (read more)

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September 12
Selected by Deborah from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Deborah won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Passion: A Novel of the Romantic Poets
Passion: A Novel of the Romantic Poets


Deborah's Comments:
"Deborah's comments:
"Despite the subtitle, Morgan's novel focuses not so much on the Romantic poets as on the women in the their lives....Unlike many novels set amongst the Romantics, this one avoids the gothic and the overly dramatic. Morgan creates realistic, intelligent women, and his style is graceful and comepelling. A fascinating read!"" (read more)


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September 13
Selected by Erin from Middletown, Maryland
Erin won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Mezzanine
Mezzanine
by Nicholson Baker

Erin's Comments:
"Erin's comments:
"This is a quirky, brilliant, and highly original depiction of modern life in all its mundane glory, from the genius of perforated sheets of toilet paper to the fascination of an everyday ride on the escalator. The descriptions of office interactions and the mental acrobatics of free association are detailed with anthropological care. This slight novel seems almost like a time capsule for future generations to understand what life was like for those who first encountered the milk carton and the automatic hand dryer."" (read more)


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September 14
Selected by Eric from Portland, Oregon
Eric won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Half Life
Half Life
by Shelley Jackson

Eric's Comments:
"Eric's comments:
"It hardly does this novel justice to call it densely layered. It can be read as a satire of identity politics, a meditation on semiotics, a critique of the nuclear age, a murder mystery (of sorts), a love story -- that's just for starters."" (read more)

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September 15
Selected by Anne from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Anne won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Schrodinger's Ball
Schrodinger's Ball
by Adam Felber

Anne's Comments:
"Anne's comments:
"How to make quantum physics fun and easy-to-understand? Add one musician who may or may not be dead; trigger-happy members of the Free State of Montana; a few half-hour orgasms; a cat (who also may or may not be dead) and one bag-lady historian. Mix well. Sit back and get ready to laugh. If only someone could figure out how to make all scientific theories this entertaining."" (read more)

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Used - Trade Paper
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September 16
Selected by Carlos from Providence, Rhode Island
Carlos won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
The Areas of My Expertise
The Areas of My Expertise
by John Hodgman

Carlos's Comments:
"Carlos's comments:
"I really couldn't stop laughing when I was reading this book. Imagine an almanac where everything is invented, from lists of abbreviated words used in submarines to preserve oxygen, to the secret history of a hobo rebellion led by the famed Hobo Joe. It is all so deadpan and seemingly factual, which is what makes this a brilliant book."" (read more)

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September 17
Selected by Shardul from Auckland, New Zealand,
The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It
The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It
by Neal Bascomb

Shardul's Comments:
"Shardul's comments:
"[A] perfect book about running ? and a great commentary on the inate aspect of human nature that yearns to transcend its limitations. Whether you are into running and sports or not, this is a great read ? a glimpse of the end of an era when the world had a simplicity and innocence....Well researched and written, Neal Biscomb has a lovely light touch that makes the book very personable and an easy and compelling read."" (read more)

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September 18
Selected by Jan from Battle Ground, Washington
Jan won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
Frangipani
Frangipani
by Celestine Hitiura Vaite

Jan's Comments:
"Jan's comments:
"This is a funny and wonderful novel by Tahitian writer Clestine Hitiura Vaite. She really brings the island and its people to life. It centers around the love and strife between a mother, Maternena, and her headstrong, beautiful daughter, Leilani. The mother/daughter relationship is universal, but there are some interesting twists."" (read more)

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September 19
Selected by Maribeth from Lake Charles, Louisiana
Maribeth won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
The Best American Erotica 2006
The Best American Erotica 2006
by Susie Bright

Maribeth's Comments:
"Maribeth's comments:
"This edition of The Best American Erotica series is on the cutting edge of the short story genre, not just erotica....The stories in the book are realistic in the sense that the sex is just a vehicle for other emotions the characters are feeling.....A highly recommended read when you're feeling a little naughty."" (read more)

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September 20
Selected by Cheryl from Jacksonville, Florida
Cheryl won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
The Optimists
The Optimists


Cheryl's Comments:
"Cheryl's comments:
"[A] book that draws a fine line between reality, optimism, and delusion. You are drawn into all these and it makes you wonder what is real."" (read more)


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September 21
Selected by Debra from North Haven, Connecticut
Debra won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife
Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife
by Sam Savage

Debra's Comments:
"Debra's comments:
"Firmin is not a rodent in the Stuart Little mold: he is caustic and cynical, his story imbued with a sense of tragedy. Savage exhibits an uncanny ability to channel Firmin's inner life: he emerges a very believable character, a creature of elevated sensibilities mired in the ugly realities of a rat's world. Savage's writing, moreover, is exquisite. If it is true, as Firmin explains, that a book's literary quality is directly related to its taste, then you might want to give your copy of Firmin a nibble."" (read more)

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September 22
Selected by Richard from North Adams, Massachusetts
Richard won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson
Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson
by Peter Ames Carlin

Richard's Comments:
"Richard's comments:
"Carlin's book surpasses both the gossipy David Gaines biography and the somewhat disorganized Timothy White offering....He assesses the musical output which from the M.I.U. album on is a difficult and formidable task because, well, the records just aren't very good. He also takes the history up to the present day including the death of Carl, the 'pro-Mike Love' documentary Endless Harmony and the made for TV movie that appeared in the past decade, and the continuous squabbling by Al, Mike, Brian and Bruce. A painful story for sure, but Brian's resurrection with Smile gives a happy ending to an often contradictory and paradoxical California saga."" (read more)

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September 23
Selected by Audrey from Doylestown, Pennsylvania
The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right
The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right
by Robert Lanham

Audrey's Comments:
"Audrey's comments:
"From the author of the extremely funny Hipster Handbook, The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right has the same sharp humor with even more useful information. I'm having a great time reading it, learning a lot and laughing out loud."" (read more)

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September 24
Selected by Marc from Saginaw, Michigan
Marc won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness
Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness
by Doug Peacock

Marc's Comments:
"Marc's comments:
"If you've read H.D. Thoreau, Farley Mowat, and Ed Abbey, the next chapter in illuminating a powerful, poetic, and passionate earth ethic is is being written by Doug Peacock. Grizzly Years is a great starting point. What struck me in reading it was that it was far more than an account of deep encounters with one of our worlds last great predators, but...also a very fine and lasting piece of literature."" (read more)

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September 25
Selected by Madeleine from Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Madeleine won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Alphabet of Thorn (04 Edition)
Alphabet of Thorn (04 Edition)
by Mckillip

Madeleine's Comments:
"Madeline's comments:
"Patricia McKillip specializes in an extremely surreal type of fantasy. It is necessary for the reader to pay close attention to everything McKillip writes ? passages that seem to be merely descriptions of the landscape warp into actions and reflections upon the characters. McKillip's prose is a little like poetry in that way ? every word matters. Her characters are interesting mixes of academic types, courtiers, and sorcerors. The way she treats romance is also unique and unusual."" (read more)

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September 26
Selected by Veronica from Chicago, Illinois
A Beautiful Bowl of Soup: The Best Vegetarian Recipes
A Beautiful Bowl of Soup: The Best Vegetarian Recipes
by Paulette Mitchell

Veronica's Comments:
"Veronica's comments:
"Presumably this book is full of wildly delicious recipes, but the few I've already tried are such hits that I have not moved past them yet. Highly recommended. I get compliments every time I make something from this book, and the recipes are very easy to make vegan if you're into that kind of thing."" (read more)

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September 27
Selected by Igal from Lafayette, California
Igal won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $40.
The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations
The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations
by James Surowiecki

Igal's Comments:
"Igal's comments:
"Can a bunch of strangers out-think a team of focused experts? Under certain conditions, according to this intriguing book, yes. Author James Surowiecki cites numerous experiments and real-life situations to illustrate how a group of diverse people who cooperate in the attempt to solve a problem...will come up with a better answer than even its most intelligent members working alone."" (read more)

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Used - Hardcover
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September 28
Selected by Roger from Howell, New Jersey
Roger won a Powells.com gift certificate worth $20.
Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
by Douglas R. Hofstadter

Roger's Comments:
"Roger's comments:
"A profound achievement in literature. There is no concise way to summarize the content of this interdisciplinary work by (then) first-time author Douglas Hofstadter....Thought-provoking and deeply satisfying, Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid is destined to remain a classic work on man's pursuit and understanding of knowledge."" (read more)

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September 29
Selected by Richard from Sackets Harbor, New York
The Placebo Chronicles
The Placebo Chronicles
by Douglas Farrago M. D.

Richard's Comments:
"Richard's comments:
"I plan on initiating a malpractice suit against Dr. Farrago. I was injured in a fall because my chair gave way while laughing and can no longer see patients. Wait a minute, I've changed my mind. I will still see patients, but only because I love humanity and am looking for an anecdote to submit to the bimonthly Placebo Journal."" (read more)


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September 30
Selected by Judith from Oceanside, California
The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam
The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam
by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Judith's Comments:
"Judith's comments:
"This book is an eye-opener! Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia and was raised in Islam. She now lives in the Netherlands and protests the atrocities and grievances committed against women and mankind in the name of Islam....[A]nyone who is interested in learning more about Islam and the current state of the world would find The Caged Virgin a worthy read, if not a great topic for debate."" (read more)

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Used - Hardcover
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