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December 8, 2006 Edition

15-minute Italian

15-minute Latin American Spanish

“15-minute Italian” and “15-minute Latin American Spanish,” both by Eyewitness Travel, could be just what you need before you take your next trip out of the country. These are perfectly-sized for packing along for frequent review of the bite-sized lessons. Whether you are starting from scratch or brushing up, by the end of each book you’ll have the basics for many different conversations. Each of the 12 weeks of study (each week contains 5 15-minute lessons) has a theme: introductions, travel, shopping, etc. Plenty of color photos, cultural tips, and a dictionary enhance the usefulness of these well-conceived books. We also carry Eyewitness audiobook guides to German, European Spanish, Japanese, and French.

Whoops! I’m in Business, by Richard Stim and Lisa Guerin.

Written for anyone thinking about starting their own business, this covers all kinds of topics, including whether working with family creates problems or paradise, making initial decisions that will affect your business and your taxes, and essential skills like record- and book-keeping. Read this before you start a business to get the lay of the land, then read it again for the fine details once you are under way.

Tasmanian Devil: a Unique and Threatened Animal, by David Owen and David Pemberton

The Tasmanian devil has a fearsome reputation, thanks in part to the Warner Brothers’ cartoon character, but as with most reputations, there’s more to the story. Owen and Pemberton create a portrait of a timid but determinedly omnivorous creature, well-adapted to its surroundings, with biological and behavioral similarities to wolverines, hyenas, and honey badgers. They present readers with a history that includes Aboriginal Dreamtime mythology, persecution by settlers, and the current health crisis that threatens the devils’ survival as a species. Wonderful reading for animal lovers.

In the Path of Hizbullah, by Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh

A complex book for a complex subject, this book examines the Shi’ite Muslim group from its inception to its goals and its strategies. Not an easy read, but for those interested in the Middle East and the changing political landscape there, perhaps essential.

A Thousand Miles of Dreams, by Sasha Su-Ling Welland

To write this, Welland collected stories from her grandmother, who emigrated from China in the 1920s to become a doctor, and studied her great-aunt’s writings, who remained in China to become a writer. The two sisters were “modern girls” of their generation, nudged by the revolutionary waves in China to create their own lives and identities. Though their lives diverged in many ways, they were forever family and their stories are intertwined and recognizable, despite the mutability of memory.

The Pride of Baghdad, by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon

This brilliant graphic novel tells the thought-provoking story of four lions who escape from the Baghdad zoo during the early days of bombing in 2003. It may look Disneyfied, full of talking animals (even a darling and innocent cub), but this is strictly for adults who want an allegory for the brutality of war and to ponder whether it is better to die free or live in captivity. No answers, just evocative illustrations and intelligent, well-rounded characters.

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