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Monday, November 24, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 40.0° F  Light Drizzle
The Daily


Dane County's effigy mounds are a world wonder

Robert Birmingham was touring Ireland when he had "a sort of epiphany." He was visiting megaliths -- large, ancient stone structures exemplified by England's Stonehenge. "It occurred to me," he recalls, "that there was a connection between megaliths and the mounds here," in Dane County. >More
 A Book A Week: Baker Towers by Jennifer Haigh

Pennsylvania coal mining country isn't a glamorous setting for a novel. In Jennifer Haigh's Baker Towers, the eponymous Baker towers are two huge piles of coal mining waste that dominate the town of Bakerton. >More
 A Book A Week: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I avoided Kathryn Stockett's The Help for a while. I was afraid it was going to be exploitative, opportunistic, manipulative, a cheap bid for attention. In some ways it is those things, but not in the ways I expected. >More
 A Book A Week: Restless by William Boyd

Don't you love a good spy thriller? I do, except not the Cold War-era ones. I also love William Boyd. I read Brazzaville Beach years ago but hadn't gotten around to anything else by him until now. >More
 A Book A Week: Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

Nancy Horan's Loving Frank is such a beautiful book, very moving, very sad. It's one of those novels that are based on fact, about the affair between the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney. These two met and started a relationship around 1907 when Mamah (pronounced "may-ma") and her husband, Edwin, hired Wright to design a house for them in Oak Park, Ill. >More
 A Book A Week: The Believers by Zoe Heller

My mother used to remark on our odd habit of watching TV shows about people we wouldn't want to live next door to. Reality TV hadn't been invented when she said this; I think she was talking about All in the Family. But Zoe Heller's The Believers reminded me of what she said. >More
 A Book A Week: Not Becoming My Mother by Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl's first memoir, Comfort Me With Apples, introduced us to Mim, her mother. Clearly suffering from some form of mental illness, Mim is a terrifying figure, at once funny and dangerous, who wreaks all kinds of havoc on Ruth's life. Now Mim is back in Not Becoming My Mother: And Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way, a short memoir by Reichl devoted entirely to Mim. >More
 Elizabeth Gilbert charms Overture Center audience

An eager and estrogen-dominated audience filled Overture Hall last night for an intimate evening with Elizabeth Gilbert, celebrity author and patron saint of divorcees. Gilbert's memoir of her travels, Eat, Pray, Love, exploded onto the New York Times bestseller list in 2006 and subsequently catapulted Gilbert into literary rock star fame. >More
 Chocolate rabbits, plaid sunflowers: My Garden by Kevin Henkes

Inside the front cover of My Garden, the new picture book by local author Kevin Henkes, the Library of Congress dryly catalogs it as "Gardens -- Fiction." That's an understatement. The wide-eyed, straw-hatted little girl in the book imagines a garden in which jellybean bushes flourish and flowers reappear immediately after being picked. >More
 A Book A Week: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

This was better than I expected, given its ubercute title, odd narrative structure, and overhyped back story. Did you know that the Channel Islands (located between France and England) were occupied by the Germans during World War II? I did not, before reading this book. >More
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