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August 11, 2006 Edition

On the Road with Francis of Assisi, by Linda Bird Francke

Francke details her journey through Italy and Egypt with her husband, using medieval texts about the life of St. Francis to plan her wanderings. Starting in Umbria, Francis’ birthplace, she recounts his early, licentious youth and eventual spiritual rebirth, and then criss-crosses Italy to follow his physical footsteps and trace his spiritual development.

Theatre of Fish, by John Gimlette

Inspired by a great-grandfather who traveled through Newfoundland and Labrador in the 1800s, Gimlette takes to the hills, villages, and pubs of the areas. Every place he stops is full of stories, and he comes away with vivid descriptions of land and people, and improbable (but mostly true) accounts of feuding families, the last of the Beothuk, fish, and storms.

The Book of Lost Books, by Stuart Kelly.

Lost books, whether burned in the library of Alexandria, stolen from a publisher’s car, or never put to paper, have fascinated Kelly since he was a teenager. In this fascinating compendium, he explores the stories behind missing or incomplete works by Shakespeare, Aristophanes, Chaucer, Pound, Plath, and many more, giving readers a wistful taste of what might have been.

The Last Season, by Eric Blehm

Reminiscent of Krakauer’s “Into the Wild,” this is the story of park ranger Randy Morgenson’s disappearance into the High Sierra in 1996. Morgenson, who grew up in Yosemite and honed his mountaineering skills in the Himalayas, had been a ranger in Kings Canyon National Park for 28 years, where his devotion to the wilderness he loved had made him some enemies. Five years after his failure to return from a backcountry trip, the question of foul play, suicide, accident, or deliberate disappearance was finally answered.

The Renaissance Soul, by Margaret Lobenstine.

Written for those who feel they have too many interests to settle down in one ordinary job, this book is not only encouraging and supportive, but also surprisingly practical. With chapters that will help you streamline your interests to a few favorites with earning potential, chapters on educational alternatives, and chapters on time-management and persistence, the end result might be a happier, more focused you.

Life Before Life, by Jim B. Tucker.

Intrigued by the idea of having lived a previous life, or of coming back into this world after death? Tucker distills over 40 years of careful research on children’s past-life memories by the University of Virginia Medical Center into laymen’s terms. He presents the facts of only a few of the 2500 documented cases of children remembering events and people they shouldn’t have any knowledge of, discusses the possibility of fraud, and leaves readers to draw their own conclusions in this fascinating look at reincarnation.

Alligators, Old Mink, and New Money, by Alison Houtte and Melissa Houtte

This is a light, fun read for those who love immersing themselves in fashion. Alison began her professional career as a model in Europe, and gradually evolved into a vintage clothing store owner and fashion advisor in New York. Here, she writes about her modeling years, what drove her to start a shop, and the details she pays attention to that have made her so successful in the vintage clothing world.

Scars of War, Wounds of Peace, by Shlomo Ben-Ami

Conflict in the Middle East continues to escalate, bringing a renewed interest in the roots of the dispute between Israel and the Arab world. In exploring the history of the conflict, Ben-Ami takes pains to be unbiased and to represent all the major points of view, and he succeeds. Readers of this comprehensive and evenhanded history by the Oxford-educated historian who served as Israeli Foreign Minister in 2000 will come away enlightened and informed.

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