Best of 2011 (Staff Picks) - For Adults

Daughters-in-law

By Joanna Trollope

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After her youngest son, and last one to marry, brings home his wife, Rachel feels her role of family matriarch slipping away and must deal with the loss that comes with it, while maintaining the relationships she holds dear.

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A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS

By Jennet Conant

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A stunning account of Julia Child's early life as an OSS agent in the Far East.

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Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness

By Alexandra Fuller

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In this sequel to Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, the author returns to Africa and the story of her unforgettable family. In this book she braids a multilayered narrative around the perfectly lit, Happy Valley era Africa of her mother's childhood; the boiled cabbage grimness of her father's English childhood; and the darker, civil war torn Africa of her own childhood. At its heart, this is the story of Fuller's mother, Nicola.

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The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must

By Robert Zubrin with Richard Wagner

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Explains how scientists can use current technology to send humans to Mars; produce fuel and oxygen on the planet's surface; build bases and settlements; and one day terrafor-- or alter the atmosphere of the planet.

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Caleb's Crossing

By Geraldine Brooks

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Once again, the author takes a remarkable shard of history and brings it to vivid life. In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold she has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure.

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The Borrower: A Novel

By Rebecca Makkai

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Lucy Hull, a young children's librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, finds herself both a kidnapper and kidnapped when her favorite patron, ten-year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home. The odd pair embarks on a crazy road trip from Missouri to Vermont, with ferrets, an inconvenient boyfriend, and upsetting family history thrown in their path. But is it just Ian who is running away? Who is the man who seems to be on their tail? And should Lucy be trying to save a boy from his own parents?

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Blood, Bones, & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

By Gabrielle Hamilton

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Chef and restaurateur Hamilton, chef/owner of the acclaimed New York City restaurant Prune, offers a sensuous and evocative memoir of her rural Pennsylvania childhood and her training as writer and chef.

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Bird of Paradise

By Diana Abu-Jaber

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After a five year absence, an eighteen-year-old runaway returns to her family in Miami to deal with the guilty secret that caused her to flee.

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