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Judy’s Shelf

August 25, 2014

“Judy’s Shelf” has been part of the library for, like, for-ev-er. After Judy moved to Salida from Denver, where she worked at the Tattered Cover Book Store, we began getting requests at the library: “Judy told me to read this …”

Eventually, we convinced her to stock a shelf and write short reviews for the bookmarks inside the books. Now, back in Denver, she still maintains it. Here are a few of her notes about the most recent batch of seven.

“Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton. “This book could easily have been edited down several hundred pages … (but) … Disappearances, murders, fortunes won and lost, and all manner of subterfuge won this book the Man Booker Prize of 2013.”

“Theft” by B.K. Loren. “Willa Robbins is a young woman living in New Mexico, who has been hired by the Wilderness and Water Agency to track two re-introduced Mexican grey wolves that ranchers believe have been taking down their cattle. Her master tracker skills are required elsewhere, however, when the Colorado State Police ask her help in finding her estranged brother who has been accused of murder and is on the lam. It’s a bold and gripping first novel from a prize-winning Colorado writer. Loren won the 2014 Colorado Book Award for her creative non-fiction, “Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food,” which is next on my list of books to read.”

“11-22-63” by Stephen King. “This is my first Stephen King novel, and I approached it with some trepidation … but I found this story of time travel very engaging. When Jake Epping falls through the rabbit hole and enters the world of 1963, he has the opportunity to change world events.”

“I Hate To Leave This Beautiful Place” by Howard Norman. “This small and beautifully written book by the author of “The Bird Artist,” is a treasure, and one of the loveliest memoirs I have ever read. The last chapter, “The Healing Powers of the Western Oystercatcher,” needs to be read over and over …”

“The Dog Stars” by Peter Heller. “You’re either going to love this book or hate it, but for me, the jury is still out. Heller doesn’t use quotation marks, and often his sentence structure is pretty bizarre, but somehow the book is captivating. Hig and his dog, Jasper, are the stars in this post-apocalyptic novel of survival after a pandemic flu wipes out a good portion of the known world.”

“The Dinner” by Herman Koch. “What I liked most about this quick read is that any preconceived notions of what the reader thinks would happen next doesn’t! Two couples go to dinner (the men are brothers), and the superficial, congenial conversation among them disintegrates quickly when they discuss the recent nefarious activities of their children.”

“Full Body Burden” by Kristen Iversen. “Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant outside of Golden, Colorado, was a foundry built in the early 1950’s that smelted plutonium, purified it, and shaped it into “triggers” for nuclear bombs … As a child, Kristen Iversen moved with her family to a subdivision next to the plant … It was shocking to read this narrative non-fiction, and I will forever feel ashamed to have driven by the protesters years ago and not to have joined them.”

Thank you, Judy! I loved “The Bird Artist” and took “I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place” on vacation, along with W.G. Sebald’s “The Rings of Saturn.” Both are marvelous books we will revisit here. Next up: “Art as Therapy” by favorite author Alain de Botton.

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