Picks and Pans Review: Great Reads

UPDATED 08/28/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/28/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT

Nonfiction

Grayson by Lynne Cox: Don't believe in interspecies communication? Swimming to Antarctica, author Cox's moving, mystical memoir about the lost baby whale she encountered when she was 17, just might change your mind.

Mama's Boy, Preacher's Son by Kevin Jennings: Growing up poor, gay and Southern Baptist, Jennings crosses many Rubicons in this inspiring, power-packed memoir. He goes to Harvard, becomes a high school teacher, then a gay-rights activist—and has to "come out" again every time.

The Human Voice by Anne Karpf: Exploring the way accents define status, female voices have gotten lower as women have entered the working world, and cell phones are making private conversations loudly public, Karpf gives us a captivating new sense of the power of the spoken word.

Throwing Bullets by Roy Rowan: Following a season in the lives of two pitchers in the Minnesota Twins' farm system vying for a single open spot in the Twins' rotation, Rowan offers a lively portrait of the circus atmosphere of minor-league baseball. The characters in his story are vivid and the emotional pull strong.

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