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People Top 5
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- February 09, 2009
- Vol. 71
- No. 5
Picks and Pans: Books
More Cups of Tea
by Amy Dickinson |
REVIEWED BY KIM HUBBARD
Plucked from semi-obscurity to replace Ann Landers, who died in 2002, Amy Dickinson suffered bouts of imposter syndrome: Who was she to give advice to the millions who read Landers' syndicated column? Her appealing new memoir credits the women in her life—mother, aunts, sisters and daughter Emily, now 20—for bequeathing her the requisite wisdom. Wisdom like "Don't call him" after her husband left her. Or "Prevailing is underrated," something she learned from seeing her own mother support four kids in tiny Freeville, N.Y., once the man of the house took off. Mighty Queens is a paean to that nurturing town and its female inhabitants, whose survival instincts the author clearly shares. Of one rough moment on the dating scene, she writes, "The architect ... rejected me for structural reasons. His exact words were, 'I don't like your body.'" That's a woman who understands the power of defusing pain with humor. Which just might be the best advice there is.
by Erica Bauermeister
REVIEWED BY JOANNA POWELL
Food Network fans will devour this first novel about a whimsical cooking school run by a gentle chef with a fierce passion for food. Lillian's classes are more celebration than lesson: She talks to ingredients ("Okay, my pretties") and rhapsodizes over the "waterfall of white" as sugar drifts into butter in her mixer. But Lillian's more than a chef, and for the students whose lives intersect in her kitchen—as well as for readers—her healing warmth lingers long after the last bite of tiramisu.
by Kristin Hannah
In this big juicy novel, bestselling author Hannah (Firefly Lane) scores again with a tale of three sisters set in the sprawling ranchlands of Washington state. The girls, who lose their mother early on, are thick as thieves, but their bond is fractured when the oldest—sturdy, can-do Winona—loses her crush to the younger, prettier Vivi Ann. Disobeying their credo "Sisters trump men," the trio is nearly undone by sibling rivalry, social injustice and a gossip-mad small town. Deliciously romantic and often heartbreaking, this is a book you'll want to climb inside of and stay as long as possible.
by Hannah Holmes |
REVIEWED BY MICHELLE GREEN
In her engaging latest, science writer Holmes compares humans to crickets and coyotes, among other species, noting that we share both noble and troubling behaviors (lying, infanticide and shunning strangers, to name a few). The focus is on Homo sapiens, but animals claim the best moments—Holmes describes chimps practicing herbal medicine, for example. Smart and upbeat, Ape will leave you prouder of your links to the wild things.
by Efrem Sigel |
REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT
One idyllic summer day Joshua and Nathalie Sandler return from an errand in their Massachusetts hamlet to find their home empty: Their son Daniel, almost 14, has vanished. As anxious hours become hellish days and weeks, Nathalie, a cellist, withdraws, while Joshua obsesses over suspects. Mystery turns the pages, but it's Sigel's insights into the manifestations of grief that elevate this above most kid-gone-missing tales.
'It wasn't until I started doing it that I realized how much I wanted to be an advice columnist ...'
>THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
CAREER RENEGADE by Jonathan Fields Life is too short to hate your job. Fields' guide offers tips on following your bliss, even—no, especially—now.
BORN TO BE GOOD by Dacher Keltner Caring and compassion have evolutionary advantages. Reason enough for renewed faith in the human race.
BROKEN OPEN by Elizabeth Lesser Lesser's 2005 primer on gaining strength through adversity has special relevance (and is selling briskly) today.
>• Students at 826 National, a network of nonprofit after-school tutoring programs, were asked what Barack Obama should do now. Their considered advice appears in a new book edited by Jory John.
When you are president, don't eat junk food. Junk food makes you fat. —AMY RAMIREZ, AGE 8 SAN FRANCISCO
I noticed that the financial crisis is changing lives. So I think you should stop it, somehow. —KHALED K. HAMDAN, AGE 11 BROOKLYN
You should give the whole United States of America snow cones. No, your servants should do it. It's easier. —HAMZA SAALIM, AGE 8 ANN ARBOR
>• Since she was tiny, Amira Mortenson, 12, has done her part helping dad Greg build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan—a mission chronicled in his '06 megaseller Three Cups of Tea. Now they've collaborated on two kids' versions of the book.
WHY CHILDREN'S VERSIONS? G: When I promised to build the first school in '93, [American] kids raised 62,340 pennies in six weeks. Now we have 78 schools and a program called Pennies for Peace. Kids started this.
AMIRA, HOW DO YOU HELP YOUR DAD? I've gone to Pakistan three times. I visit schools and help him explain things in a kid's way.
DO YOU MISS HIM WHEN HE GOES ALONE? It can be hard. My brother [Khyber, 8] and I don't get to see him half the year. But I want to be just like him when I grow up.
GREG, DO THE DANGERS YOU FACE WORRY YOU? I have to be careful. Since '07 hundreds of mostly girls' schools have been bombed by the Taliban. Yet you still see kids trying to go to school. This is their greatest hour of need—we can't abandon them.
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