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Natalie and Tom have been best friends forever. But Tom wants more, and he’s going to prove to Natalie that they’re meant to be together. He makes a wildly romantic proposition: spend 26 weekends together, indulging in a different activity from A-Z. In six months, he argues, they will be desperately in love. The cautious Natalie – recently burned by a longtime boyfriend – isn’t so sure.

But Tom and Natalie aren’t the only ones coping with the vagaries of love. Natalie’s mother is going through her own personal crisis and Lucy, Tom’s unhappily married sister-in-law, yearns to give in to temptation.

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In Dreaming the Mississippi, Fischer offers a fresh perspective on the river’s environment, industry, and recreation by sharing experiences of modern Americans who work the barges, rope–swing into muddy bottoms, struggle against hurricane floodwaters, and otherwise find new meaning on this great watery corridor. Through compelling words and photographs, Dreaming the Mississippi invites readers to taste life on today’s Mississippi, as sweet, tangy, and wildly cantankerous as it gets.

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When she was seven, Rachel Manija Brown’s parents, post-60s hippies, left California for an ashram in a cobra-ridden, drought-stricken spot in India to devote themselves to Meher Baba, best known as the guru to Pete Townshend of The Who. Despite the fact that Rachel is the only foreign child within a 100-mile radius, she manages to keep her wits and humor about her when everyone else seems to have lost touch with reality. Filled with eccentric characters, this astutely observed and laugh-out-loud funny debut memoir marks the arrival of a major new literary talent.

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In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas lives an embittered judge who wants only to retire in peace, when his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep. The judge’s cook watches over her distractedly, for his thoughts are often on his son, Biju, who is hopscotching from one gritty New York restaurant to another. In a generous vision that is at times funny and at others sad, Desai’s characters face numerous choices which majestically illuminate the consequences of colonialism as it collides with the modern world.

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Alison and Veronica meet amid the nocturnal glamour of 1980s New York. One is a young model stumbling away from the wreck of her career, the other an eccentric middle-aged office temp. Over the next twenty years their friendship will encompass narcissism and tenderness, exploitation and self-sacrifice, love and mortality. Moving seamlessly from present and past, casting a fierce yet compassionate eye on two eras and their fixations, the result is a work of timeless depth and moral power.

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During a year spent in Japan on a personal quest to deepen her appreciation for such Eastern ideals as commitment and devotion, documentary filmmaker Karin Muller discovered just how maddeningly complicated it is being Japanese. Muller invites the reader along for a uniquely American odyssey into the ancient heart of modern Japan. Deftly observed by an author with a rich visual sense of people and place, Japanland is as beguiling as this colorful country of contradictions.

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