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UPDATED 01/10/2011 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 01/10/2011 at 01:00 AM EST


by Claire Dederer |

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After the author injured her back carrying her "pleasingly substantial" infant daughter, she got the same advice from everyone (even a homeless guy) in her Seattle neighborhood: Do yoga. Despite reservations about becoming a "self-indulgent middle-aged woman seeking transformation through the customs of brown-skinned people," she acquired a mat. And soon, an addiction. This memoir about her decade doing downward dog while raising two kids and trying to keep her marriage alive reads like Eat Pray Love for hip but harried moms. A journalist, Dederer moves in a circle of mothers "consumed with trying to do everything right." The food is organic; the love directed mostly at the kids. She sees yoga not as a spiritual journey, since she's ambivalent about religion, but as a way to begin uncovering the real sources of her tension. Dederer's account of her journey to a life that's "more real and less perfect" is funny, well-observed and ultimately inspiring.

Being Polite to Hitler

by Robb Forman Dew |

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This final book in Dew's trilogy chronicling family life in small-town Ohio focuses on Agnes Scofield, a 54-year-old widow, teacher and mother tired of her narrow life. Flouting mid-century convention, she marries a younger man-proving to herself and those around her that renewal is possible at any age. A winning, quietly lyrical account of a simpler time.

Sea Change

by Jeremy Page |

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After the death of his daughter and the breakup of his marriage, Guy holes up in a barge off the coast of England, a man unraveled. For years he literally drifts, keeping his daughter alive in imagined diary entries, until an enigmatic woman reawakens him. "Sea change," borrowed from Shakespeare, means transformation, and Guy's reminds us that love can heal even the worst wounds.

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