Jeffrey Zaslow |

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Zaslow, a Wall Street Journal columnist, is probably best known for writing the story that sparked interest in Randy Pausch's now-famous "last lecture." Here he turns a spotlight on 10 Iowa women, a project that grew out of a column on why women, and not men, hold tightly to old friends. Now in their mid-40s, Karla, Jane, Marilyn and company bonded as schoolgirls in college-town Ames. They scattered after high school, but periodic reunions and e-mail have held them together through the joys of marriage and motherhood and, more importantly, the agonies of divorce and death. The ordinariness of these women's lives is both a strength and weakness: Readers will easily identify with them, but the most exceptional aspect of their friendship is its staying power. The Ames girls' collective memory of their past helps them be more genuine in the here and now. As Cathy, now a Hollywood makeup artist, says, "You can tell people where you're from and who you were ... but no one really knows you unless they were there."

by Deirdre Shaw |

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It's a familiar story: Boy meets girl. Girl moves to Los Angeles so boy can chase entertainment career. Boy and girl get hitched; then the stresses of Hollywood unravel the marriage almost as quickly as it began. But just because it's familiar doesn't make the tale any less heart-wrenching. Young and in love, Lacey and Toby immerse themselves in L.A. life, hosting dinner parties for their creative friends. But the couple's relationship falters—and it's Shaw's raw, realistic depiction of the breakup that elevates the novel into something more than a glib, camera-ready meditation on starter marriages. Anyone who's ever had to deal with the death of a relationship (and isn't that pretty much everyone?) will appreciate Shaw's honest, vividly written take.

by Tracy Winn |

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Set in the blue-collar town of Lowell, Mass., as it withers after World War II, these linked tales focus on characters who pursue the forbidden: Along with a self-destructive clan whose wealth derives from the sweatshops, the ensemble includes interlopers and social trespassers of every description. Few find happiness, but fans of literary fiction will savor Winn's powerful debut collection.

>Snapping up an organic-cotton T-shirt seems Earth-friendly, but what if the fabric contains dye that's an eco-nightmare? In his new book, Daniel Goleman explains how we can all buy smarter:

WHAT IS ECOLOGICAL INTELLIGENCE? It's knowing that when we shop, we can now compare the things we buy based on their impacts on the environment, health and the people who made them.

HOW DOES THAT AFFECT MY LIFE? One example: If you want to buy wine with the smallest carbon footprint, buy French if you live east of Columbus, Ohio, and buy from California if you live west.

YOU SAY YOUNGER PEOPLE ARE MORE WILLING TO EMBRACE THIS IDEA. The younger you are, the more you will have to live with the environmental and health consequences of decisions made decades before.

>• In her latest book, hungry girl Lisa Lillien has cooked up 200 yummy snack ideas—all under 200 calories. If you're the type who wants "to eat the foods you crave and still fit into your pants," this cookbook's for you. Try one of her favorites:


Ingredients • 2/3 cup light vanilla soy milk, cold • ½ cup fat-free vanilla ice cream • ¼ cup Cap'n Crunch cereal • 2 Tbsp. sugar-free calorie-free vanilla syrup • 1 tsp. Coffee-mate Sugar Free French Vanilla powdered creamer • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract • 2 no-calorie sweetener packets • 4 to 6 ice cubes • Optional topping: Fat Free Reddi-wip

Directions In a small bowl, dissolve powdered creamer in 1 tablespoon warm water. Combine in blender with other ingredients. Pour into a glass. Top off with Reddi-wip.