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2010

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

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Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

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Old Filth by Jane Gardam

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Jane Gardam is often described as "the best novelist you're not reading." That's true, and after reading the marvelous Old Filth I think I know why.

My Holocaust by Tova Reich

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Should you ever need to send a conversation to a screeching halt, mention you're reading a satirical book about the Holocaust. Cue crickets.

Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles

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If you've ever been stuck at O'Hare Airport (and if you have lived in Chicago, that scenario probably rings a bell), you'll get a kick out the premise of Dear American Airlines: A Novel . The recently sober and barely functioning poet Benjamin Ford is trying to attend his estranged daughter's wedding when he finds himself stranded in the purgatory of O'Hare. He begins a screed to American Airlines, which evolves into an examination of Bennie's sad life.

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

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Much to my surprise, this 20-year-old novel by Barbara Kingsolver is being checked out in droves around Baltimore.

It turns out a subplot in The Bean Trees: A Novel (P.S.) revolves around illegal immigrants in Arizona seeking asylum. So you know, there's that eerily prescient aspect. But I also suspect that The Bean Trees: A Novel (P.S.) pops up on a fair amount of summer reading lists or is being picked up by fans of Kingsolver's later works, such as Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life or The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel .

Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace by Ayelet Waldman

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Ayelet Waldman does not inspire mixed feelings - you either love her or hate her.

I fall into the former category. Ever since an essay about loving her husband more than her children appeared in the New York Times, mothers across the nation have tried to eviscerate Waldman. Of course, none of those other mothers are married to the brilliant and by extension dreamy Michael Chabon, but that didn't stop them from suggesting that Waldman was a bad enough mother to have her four children taken away from her.

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert

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I really wanted to dislike this book. While I admired Gilbert's style of writing in her best-seller Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia and appreciated her journey, so much of that memoir felt I was reliving a friend's therapy session.

Crazy Love by Leslie Morgan Steiner

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If you've ever wondered how successful beautiful women find themselves in abusive relationships, look no further than Leslie Morgan Steiner.

Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict by Irene Vilar

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Amidst all the hysteria around Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict , it seems that few people have actually sat down and read the book. That's a shame, because it's likely that both sides of the pro-choice/pro-life debate would be surprised at what they find.

Vilar's memoir chronicles her childhood and matriculation into Syracuse University, where she, at age 16, falls in love with a professor 34 years older than she. During their romance, ensuing marriage, and divorce, she has 15 abortions in 16 years.

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