Best of 2011 (Staff Picks) - For Adults

The Paris Wife

By Paula McLain

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Meeting through mutual friends in Chicago, Hadley is intrigued by brash "beautiful boy" Ernest Hemingway, and after a brief courtship and small wedding, they take off for Paris, where Hadley makes a convincing transformation from an overprotected child to a game and brave young woman who puts up with impoverished living conditions and shattering loneliness to prop up her husband's career. Selected by multiple CRRL staff members.

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The Red Market: On the Trail of the World's Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers

By Scott Carney

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A shocking tour through a macabre global underworld where organs, bones, and live people are bought and sold on the red market. Investigative journalist Scott Carney has spent five years tracing the lucrative and deeply secretive trade in human bodies and body parts.

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The Secret Lives of Dresses

By Erin McKean

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A tale of a girl who finally discovers herself and finds love in her grandmother's vintage clothing store.

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The Sisters Brothers

By Patrick deWitt

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When a frontier baron known as the Commodore orders Charlie and Eli Sisters, his hired gunslingers, to track down and kill a prospector named Herman Kermit Warm, the brothers journey from Oregon to San Francisco, and eventually to Warm's claim in the Sierra foothills, running into a witch, a bear, a dead Indian, a parlor of drunken floozies, and a gang of murderous fur trappers.

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The Vault: An Inspector Wexford novel

By Ruth Rendell

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When four bodies are discovered in the same underground sewer 12 years after the events of A Sight for Sore Eyes, former Chief Inspector Wexford is pulled out of retirement to follow a complex trail to the original murders only to have his life thrown into turmoil by a devastating personal tragedy.

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Townie: A Memoir

By Andre Dubus III

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After their parents divorce in the 1970's, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their exhausted working mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and crime. To protect himself and those he loved from street violence, Andre learned to use his fists so well that he was even scared of himself. He was on a fast track to getting killed, or killing someone else, or to beatings-for-pay as a boxer. Nearby, his father, an eminent author, taught on a college campus and took the kids out on Sundays. The clash of worlds couldn't have been more stark or more difficult for a son to communicate to a father. Only by becoming a writer himself could Andre begin to bridge the abyss and save himself.

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Train Dreams

By Denis Johnson

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Robert Grainer is a day laborer in the American West at the start of the twentieth century--an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Buffeted by the loss of his family, Grainer struggles to make sense of this strange new world. As his story unfolds, we witness both his shocking personal defeats and the radical changes that transform America in his lifetime.

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Troubled Bones: A Medieval Noir

By Jeri Westerson

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Disgraced knight Crispin Guest gets himself into some serious trouble in London and as a result is forced to accept an assignment far out of town. The Archbishop of Canterbury has specifically requested Guest to investigate a threat against the bones of saint and martyr Thomas a Beckett, which are on display in the cathedral in Canterbury. The archbishop has received letters threatening the safety of the artifacts, and he wants Guest to protect them and uncover whoever is after them. Part of the Crispin Guest medieval mystery series.

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Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

By Laura Hillenbrand

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On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared--Lt. Louis Zamperini. Captured by the Japanese and driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor. Selected by more than one CRRL staff member.

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