Readers' picks

Set during the Vietnam War-era, this beautiful, multilayered novel, Plum Wine by Angela Davis-Gardner, relates, through a Japanese woman's memoirs, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath. I'll not forget this one.
- Nancy Olson, Raleigh, N.C.

My favorite "read" of the last 12 months is Twilight of Love: Travels with Turgenev by Robert Dessaix. It was charming and interesting to learn about this Russian author, combining travelogue, biography, history, and his interesting life. A wonderful journey.
- Gretchen Stephens, Houston, Tex.

Three Christmases ago, my sister-in-law gave me a beautiful used edition of the first ten volumes of Will and Ariel Durant's The Story of Civilization. I've given myself five years to read it and am about halfway through Volume 5, "The Renaissance." It is a pure delight.
- Casey Willson, Takoma Park, Md.

I couldn't stop reading The Thieves of Baghdad by Matthew Bogdanos. This true account [by the] marine who was the driving force behind the recovery of many of the treasures looted or lost from the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad reads like a thriller. He peppers his account with snippets about military personnel in Iraq, his life as a "family oriented" assistant DA in Manhattan during 9/11, and the role that boxing plays in keeping his type-A personality "unspoiled."
- Ruth Hill, Hastings, Mich.

The Prince of Wales and his young wife are scamps: irresponsible, self-indulgent, disreputable, and, at the same time, gorgeous, hilarious, sweet, and lovable. Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin is a witty, high-speed, clever, romantic, eventful, and delightful book. A great read!
- Robert Robison, Newport Beach, Calif.

Recently finished reading a long lost tome, We Too Are the People, by Louise Armstrong. Written in 1938, she chronicles her trials and successes as the administrator for the Emergency Relief Administration in a northern Michigan town during the Great Depression. A first-hand account that should be required reading for today's bureaucrats.
-Tim Carter, Stoughton, Wis.

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