Staff Reading Picks

The Mercy Seat

by Rilla Askew
ISBN: 0670874671
Few first novels garner the kind of powerful praise awarded this epic story that takes place on the dusty, remorseless Oklahoma frontier, where two brothers are deadlocked in a furious rivalry. Fayette is an enterprising schemer hoping to cash in on his brother's talents as a gunsmith. John, determined not to repeat the crime that forced both families to flee their Kentucky homes, doggedly follows his tenacious brother west, while he watches his own family disintegrate. Wondrously told through the wary eyes of John's ten-year-old daughter, Mattie, whose gift of premonition proves to be both a blessing and a curse, The Mercy Seat resounds with the rhythms of the Old Testament even as it explores the mysteries of the Native American spirit world.

Sharing Faulkner's understanding of the inescapable pull of family and history, and Cormac McCarthy's appreciation of the stark beauty of the American wilderness, Rilla Askew imbues this momentous work with her tremendous energy and emotional range. It is an extraordinary novel from a prodigious new talent. Strange Business, a collection of linked stories that won the 1993 Oklahoma Book Award, is available from Penguin.

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How to Pick a Peach: the Search for Flavor from Farm to Table

by Russ Parsons
ISBN: 0618463488
In this follow-up to his critically acclaimed "How to Read a French Fry," Parsons helps the cook sort through the produce in the market; reveals intriguing facts about vegetables and fruits; and provides instructions on how to choose, store, and prepare these items.

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The Zen of Fish: the Story of Sushi, from Samurai to Supermarket

by Trevor Corson
ISBN: 978060883508
In this richly reported documentary Corson, journalist and author of "The Secret Life of Lobsters," shadows several American sushi novices as well as a master Japanese chef to give readers an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the elusive art of cooking without cooking.

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The River Queen

by Mary Morris
ISBN: 0805078274
In fall 2005 travel writer Mary Morris set off down the Mississippi in a battered old houseboat called the River Queen, with two river rats named Tom and Jerry--and a dog who hated her. It was a time of emotional turmoil for Morris: her father had just died; her daughter was leaving home; life was changing all around her. So she decided to return to the Midwest where she was from, to the river she remembered. Morris describes living like a pirate and surviving a tornado. Because of Katrina, oil prices, and drought, the river was often empty--a ghost river. As she learned to pilot her boat and made peace with her dog, Morris got her groove back, reconnecting to her past.

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