Best of 2011 (Staff Picks) - For Adults

House of Prayer No. 2: A Writer's Journey Home

By Mark Richard

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Award-winning author Mark Richard tells his story of growing up physically challenged in the American South with a mix of racial tension and religious fervor.

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The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos

By Brian Greene

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"The Hidden Reality" reveals how major developments in different branches of fundamental theoretical physics -- relativistic, quantum, cosmological, unified, computational -- have all led us to consider one or another variety of parallel universe.

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Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved In Life, and Lost, 1934-1961

By Paul Hendrickson

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An illuminating reconsideration of a key period in the life of Ernest Hemingway that will change the way he is perceived and understood. Focusing on the years 1934 to 1961--from his pinnacle until his suicide--Paul Hendrickson traces the writer's exultations and despair around the one constant in his life during this time: his beloved boat, Pilar.

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A Game of Lies

By Rebecca Cantrell

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Posing as travel reporter Adelheid Zinsli and lover of SS officer Lars Lang, Hannah has been collecting Nazi secrets from Lang and smuggling them back to Switzerland. Wanted by the SS, her travel in and out of Germany has always been fraught with danger, but this trip is especially treacherous. Her relationship with Lang gets more complicated as he sinks into alcoholism; the whispers she hears about his work in the SS give her chills. Whose side is he on?

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Friendship Bread: A Novel

By Darien Gee

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Still reeling from a personal tragedy that left her estranged from the sister who was once her best friend, Julia Evarts remains at a loss as to how to move on with her life until she receives an anonymous gift of Amish Friendship Bread with instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others.

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The Four Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality

By Richard Panek

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Science journalist Panek (The Invisible Century) offers an insider's view of the quest for what could be the ultimate revelation: the true substance of the unseen dark matter and energy that makes up some 96% of our universe.

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Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation

By Andrea Wulf

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A fascinating look at the founding fathers from the unique and intimate perspective of their lives as gardeners, plantsmen, and farmers.

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Discovery of Witches

By Deborah E. Harkness

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Witch and Yale historian Diana Bishop discovers an enchanted manuscript, attracting the attention of 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew Clairmont. The orphaned daughter of two powerful witches, Bishop prefers intellect, but relies on magic when her discovery of a palimpsest documenting the origin of supernatural species releases an assortment of undead who threaten, stalk, and harass her.

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The Dog Who Came in from the Cold

By Alexander McCall Smith

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"Literary agent Barbara Ragg has agreed to represent a man writing a book about his experiences hanging out with the Abominable Snowman. Terence Moongrove's residence has become the target of New Age cosmologists. And pint-sized terrier Freddie de la Hay is being recruited by MI6 to infiltrate a Russian spy ring."

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Doc: A Novel

By Mary Doria Russell

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After the burned body of a mixed-blood boy, Johnnie Sanders, is discovered in 1878 Dodge City, Kansas, part-time policeman Wyatt Earp enlists the help of his professional-gambler friend Doc Holliday.

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