The Keen Thinker is your monthly source for information on, and inspiration from, the newest business books you should be reading (both publisher reco

KeenThinker WIP

The Keen Thinker is your monthly source for information on, and inspiration from, the newest business books you should be reading (both publisher recommendations and our own), a look at current trends in business thought, advice to make your work life more successful and satisfying, and even some music recommendations to make your work day more enjoyable.

Here is a look back at what we were up to in October and November in this double-decker issue with your friendly newsletter editor, Sally, and all your friends-in-business-books at 800-CEO-READ!

Our 7th Annual Author Pow Wow


Thinking of writing a business book? Or, have you already written one, had it published, and were surprised (positively or negatively) with the results? Disillusioned or enchanted with your eBook? Not sure how to create a platform and audience for the ideas you wish to spread?

The publishing industry is an ever-evolving, constantly changing beast, equally filled with challenges and pitfalls as it is with growth, personal achievement, and monetary success. So, how does one best navigate the labyrinth? What’s the best way to achieve your goals via publishing? How do you create your ultimate book (which goes far beyond that which is found between the two covers)?

We’ll be hosting our 7th Annual Author Pow Wow from January 13-15, 2013 in Austin, TX. Hosted by 800-CEO-READ, sponsored by Cave Henricks Communications, Shelton Interactive, and Greenleaf Book Group.

Not sure if the Author Pow Wow is for you? Here's what you can expect.

(Keep in mind, the audience will be other authors and industry folks who will add depth of knowledge to the offerings of these featured speakers.)

This year, the Pow Wow centers around helping authors, both current and future, create their Ultimate Book. The agenda:

A discussion on developing good ideas
Featuring Erika Andersen (author of Leading So People Will Follow), John Moore (author of Tribal Knowledge, owner of Brand Autopsy), and Ray Bard (Bard Press)

A presentation and discussion on storytelling, writing, design, and speaking
Featuring Nancy Duarte (author of Resonate) and Victoria Labalme.

A discussion of publishing
Featuring Will Weisser (Portfolio), Clint Greenleaf (Greenleaf Book Group), Tim Sullivan (Harvard Business Review Press) and Susan Williams (Jossey Bass).

A discussion and presentation on sales, marketing, and social media
Featuring Tom Wilson (Wiley), Barbara Cave Henricks (Cave Henricks Communications), Rusty Shelton (Shelton Interactive), and Spike Jones (co-author of Brains on Fire).

And, a very Special Guest live webcast, featuring one of the most popular authors and thinkers of today, answering attendee questions for 60 minutes. This will be good--we guarantee it.

Also, copies of Erika Andersen's, Nancy Duarte's and the Special Guest's latest books will be given to all attendees.

Convinced? We hope so. Sign up today to reserve your spot.

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From the Daily Blog

The Best Books of 2012, A Season of Lists

This month on the Daily Blog, we provided readers with a comprehensive gathering of the most interesting and influential "Best of 2012" book lists because we want you to know what's the best of the best. (Keep an eye out for our very own Business Book Awards announced in December.) Here is a summary of the top books, just in time for your holiday gift-giving:

The Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year was Steve Coll's Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power, published by The Penguin Press.

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson and published by Crown Business appeared on a list of The 10 best books of 2012 from the Washington Post.

CNNMoney put up a list of The 5 must-read business books of the year that included:

Turn the Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level by David Marquet, Greenleaf Books Group
Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss, Harvard Business Review Press
Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis, Free Press
The Only Way to Win: How Building Character Helps You Achieve More and Find Greater Fulfillment in Business and Life by Jim Loehr, Hyperion Books
Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired—And Secretive—Company Really Works by Adam Lashinsky, Business Plus

Hudson Booksellers announced their Best Books of 2012. This year's included:

Leadership 2.0 by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves, Talentsmart
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain, Crown
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, Random House
End This Depression Now by Paul Krugman, W.W. Norton & Company
Heart, Smart, Guts and Luck: What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur and Build a Great Business by Anthony K. Tjan, Richard J. Harrington, & Tsun-Yan Hsieh, Harvard Business Review Press

Fast Company recommended 12 titles:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain, Crown
How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen, HarperBusiness
Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours by Robert Pozen, HarperBusiness
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—but Some Don't by Nate Silver, The Penguin Press
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown, Gotham Books
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, Random House
Renegades Write the Rules: How the Digital Royalty Use Social Media to Innovate by Amy Jo Martin, Jossey-Bass
Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck: What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur and Build a Great Business by Anthony K. Tjan, Richard J. Harrington, & Tsun-Yan Hsieh, Harvard Business Review Press
The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World by Frans Johansson, Portfolio
Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy, PublicAffairs
The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations (25th Anniversary) by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, Jossey-Bass
11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era by Nilofer Merchant, Harvard Business Review Press (e-book)

Amazon's editors revealed their choices in the Business and Investing category:

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, Random House
Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Random House
The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni, Jossey-Bass
Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power by Steve Coll, The Penguin Press
Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City by Brad Feld, John Wiley & Sons
How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life by Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky
Reverse Innovation: Create Far From Home, Win Everywhere by Vijay Govindarajan, Chris Trimble and Indra K. Nooyi, Harvard Business Review Press
The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's Most Exclusive School for Startups by Randall Stross, Portfolio
The Strategy Book (Financial Times Series) by Max McKeown
The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers—and the Coming Cashless Society by David Wolman

Also, listed in the History category was one of Jack's favorite books of the year, Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America's Kings of Beer by William Knoedelseder, published by HarperBusiness.

In the general Nonfiction category, The Signal and the Noise (Penguin) and The Power of Habit (Random House) both made the list along with Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain (Crown).

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson from Crown, and Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are by Sebastian Seung, from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, might also be of interest to the business reader.

The strategy + business best of business books list is always one of our favorites of the year.

Biography, or Virtuosity Squared:

Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith, Random House
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, Simon & Schuster
Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man by Mark Kurlansky, Doubleday

Strategy, or Considering Competition:

The New Emerging Market Multinationals: Four Strategies for Disrupting Markets and Building Brands by Amitava Chattopadhyay & Rajeev Batra, with Aysegul Ozsomer, McGraw-Hill
Pragmatic Strategy: Eastern Wisdom, Global Success by Ikujiro Nonaka & Zhichang Zhu, Cambridge University Press
Competitive Strategy: Options and Games by Benoit Chevalier-Roignant & Lenos Trigeorgis, MIT Press

Marketing, or Brand New:

Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies by Jim Stengel, Crown Business
Brand Real: How Smart Companies Live Their Brand Promise and Inspire Fierce Customer Loyalty by Laurence Vincent, Amacom
The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge by Doc Searls, Harvard Business Review Press

Innovation, or Context Is King:

The Wide Lens: A New Strategy for Innovation by Ron Adner, Portfolio
Reverse Innovation: Create Far from Home, Win Everywhere by Vijay Govindarajan & Chris Trimble, Harvard Business Review Press
Cloud Surfing: A New Way to Think about Risk, Innovation, Scale, and Success by Thomas M. Koulopoulos, Bibliomotion

Healthcare, or Beyond the Rhetoric of Reform:

Healthcare beyond Reform: Doing It Right for Half the Cost by Joe Flower, Productivity Press
How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks about Being Sick in America by Otis Webb Brawley, M.D., with Paul Goldberg, St. Martin’s Press
Pursuing the Triple Aim: Seven Innovators Show the Way to Better Care, Better Health, and Lower Costs by Maureen Bisognano & Charles Kenney, Jossey-Bass

Organizational Culture, or Small Talk:

Productive Workplaces: Dignity, Meaning, and Community in the 21st Century: 25th Anniversary Edition by Marvin R. Weisbord, Jossey-Bass
Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution by Lisa Bodell, Bibliomotion
Talk, Inc.: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power Their Organizations by Boris Groysberg & Michael Slind, Harvard Business Review Press

Capitalism, or Of Markets and Morals:

A Capitalism for the People: Recapturing the Lost Genius of American Prosperity by Luigi Zingales, Basic Books
What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt, Pantheon

Jack Covert Selects


Each month, our founder and president Jack Covert recommends and reviews three current business books, books that he believes are must-reads.

For more, you can find the Jack Covert Selects archives dating back to the year 2000 on our website.


The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing by Michael J. Mauboussin, Harvard Business Review Press, 320 Pages, $27.00 Hardcover, November 2012, ISBN 9781422184233

How much of your accomplishments can you attribute to skill and how much to luck? And why does that matter? Michael Mauboussin believes that when we understand which factor dominated—skill or luck—it leads to better decision-making and improved performance. If you liked Michael Lewis's Moneyball, with it’s mix of data and great storytelling, you’ll very much enjoy Michael Mauboussin’s Success Equation.


Producing Prosperity: Why America Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance by Gary P. Pisano & Willy C. Shih, Harvard Business Review Press, 192 pages, $27.00, Hardcover, November 2012, ISBN 9781422162682

Gary Pisano and Willy Shih believe that we are indeed an innovation and knowledge-based economy, but that manufacturing still plays an essential and integral role in the process. Producing Prosperity is an essential addition to how we think about manufacturing and its contribution to our modern economy. It’s an argument, really, for not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and that alone will inspire achievable innovations.


Fearless at Work: Timeless Teachings for Awakening Confidence, Resilience, and Creativity in the Face of Life’s Demands by Michael Carroll, Shambhala Publications, 240 pages, $16.95, Paperback, November 2012, ISBN 9781590309148

Fearless at Work leans on the author’s thirty-seven years of Buddhist training, and seeks an instructional answer to one question: At work, I want to be "X". Most would say they want to be happy, successful, fulfilled... but Carroll thinks that, as simple as those goals are, we know it is wishful thinking. But if we can learn to be more mindful of our experience in each moment, we will begin to see the possibilities.


Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson, Crown Business, 257 pages, $26.00, Hardcover, October 2012, ISBN 9780307720955

Makers is a fascinating read by the author of The Long Tail and Free that takes business theory into the age of The Jetsons, where everything we need is at our fingertips. And if not, we can simply print it. Similar to innovations in desktop publishing, the Makers movement will soon see consumers thinking up, designing, and manufacturing their own products in every category.


Leading So People Will Follow by Erika Andersen, Jossey-Bass, 224 Pages, $26.95, Hardcover, October 2012, ISBN 9781118379875

There is a lot of mythology surrounding effective leaders, but one need not be a “natural born leader” to inspire people. In her new book, Leading So People Will Follow, leadership coach and acclaimed business author Erika Andersen lays out “six leadership characteristics that inspire followers to fully support their leaders,” making the qualities that define great leaders accessible to all.


Mind Over Mind: The Surprising Power of Expectations by Chris Berdik, Current, 288 Pages, $26.95, Hardcover, October 2012, ISBN 9781591845096

In Mind Over Mind, Berdik explains how crucial a role our expectations play in many areas of life. Simply by riding the coattails of our expectations, by being “a little less insistent on separating what we imagine and what’s real” our minds can take us places where our bodies or even our reality would hesitate to go, and each of us can use that knowledge to improve ourselves and our performance.




While we've put a temporarily freeze on KnowledgeBlocks to prepare for a reboot in January, we posted two new explorations for October: MAKING IT YOURS and YOUR LIFE IS YOUR BUSINESS. Here's a look at what you'll learn diving into these explorations:

The word "make" instantly conjures up images. Maybe it's a birthday cake or a holiday craft you helped your mom make as a child. Maybe it's the notepad or napkin holder you made in shop class in high school. Maybe it's the family dinner you are making tonight. Regardless of how you define "make" for yourself, we've all had experience in making something of value out of nothing much at all. As anyone who has shopped on Etsy knows, there are lots of very industrious folks out there whose interest in making extends past the realm of arts and crafts, and into bulk production and sales.

Those of us who aren't as handy or inventive are happy to buy the products that result from other people's labor. But what if we really could make much more of what we need or want? What if we stopped turning to the Internet and instead could privately own the 3D machines that could "print" out anything we designed, from food to cars? Sounds like sci-fi, but this exploration's featured book, Makers by Chris Anderson, will explain how what seems like future-impossible is actually quite likely.

Also in this exploration we'll look at the potential--even the humanity--found in making things via Mark Frauenfelder's Made By Hand, and how innovation starts always with a good idea (that is probably part someone else's good idea) with Steven Johnson's Where Good Ideas Come From.


October 19th was Evaluate Your Life Day. Yup, that's a copyrighted holiday. And while we might not observe all of the wacky holidays such as Talk Like a Pirate Day or National Doughnut Day (that's one worth remembering!), being reminded to reflect on your life--where it is, where you want it to go--can be a valuable exercise. Most of us do that kind of reflection during the New Year, but possibly if we engage in some reflection now in October, and make some requisite changes now, then we'll have more time to celebrate as 2013 rolls in.

In honor of Evaluate Your Life Day, we're publishing an issue that will help you do just that. Here are some wonderful books by some very smart people who offer us wisdom on living life, on facing dying, on making the most of the time we have, and achieving those things we dreamed of doing when we were young. The first book, Howard's Gift, will open the door to a number of other memoirs that may change the way you look at your life. The second, Search Inside Yourself, will lead you to several other books to help you make changes to make the most of the life you are living.

Head on over to KnowledgeBlocks today to read these explorations and many more.


Top of the Pile


Deliver the Unexpected: And Six Other New Truths for Business Success by Richard Robbins 9781118402313, Nov. 2012, John Wiley & Sons

Deliver the Unexpected is an inspiring fable structured around a series of false beliefs—seven myths that seem to mark the way to success, but in fact lead us further from it. Through a series of thought-provoking teachings that unveil each myth and replace it with a new insight or truth, Josh comes to understand the truth about his quest for success and discovers a new set of rules.


Start at the End: How Companies Can Grow Bigger and Faster by Reversing Their Business Plan by David Lavinsky, 9781118376768, Nov. 2012, John Wiley & Sons

Whether your goal is selling millions of your product, expanding operations to a new location, or generating more profits, "Start at the End" offers a unique approach and action steps for business owners and entrepreneurs to redevelop your business plan and achieve ultimate success.


Clients First: The Two Word Miracle by Joseph and Joann Callaway, 9781118412770, Oct. 2012, John Wiley & Sons

Clients First is a two word miracle that can change your life. This book outlines a powerful path to riches that authors Joseph and JoAnn Callaway used to sell a billion dollars in real estate in just ten years. Here, they explain the three keys to putting your clients first that helped them create one of the most successful realty firms in the U.S.


Science of Serendipity: How to Unlock the Promise of Innovation by Matt Kingdon, 9781118478103, Nov. 2012
John Wiley & Sons

"Innovation." The word might make you think of Silicon Valley. But innovation isn't the sole province of start-ups. They didn't invent it, and they're not always the ones from which we can best learn. As Matt Kingdon argues in The Science of Serendipity, it's corporate innovators battling within large, established organisations who are the field's real heroes.


Anticipate: Knowing What Customers Need Before They Do by Bill Thomas, Jeff Tobe, 9781118356913, Nov. 2012
John Wiley & Sons

Anticipate provides business readers with a practical "how-to" approach for taking their customer-supplier relationship to one that is more sustainable and more mutually profitable. Design and implement a customer-focused journey that moves beyond the transaction and satisfied customers, to a relationship and culture that creates and leverages loyalty.


Leading So People Will Follow by Erika Andersen, 9781118379875, Oct. 2012, Jossey-Bass

Leading So People Will Follow explores the six leadership characteristics that inspire followers to fully support their leaders. Using Erika Andersen’s proven framework, new leaders and veterans alike have increased their capacity for leading in a way that creates loyalty, commitment and results.


Everybody's Business: Engaging Your Total Enterprise to Boost Quality, Speed, Savings and Innovation by Marta Wilson 9781608323920, Oct. 2012, Greenleaf Book Group

It's every employees' business to build agility and longevity into an organization through imagining small steps with big payoffs. Wilson shows readers how and what skills to implement.


Wisdom of Failure: How to Learn the Tough Leadership Lessons Without Paying the Price by Laurence G Weinzimmer, Jim McConoughey, 9781118135013, Oct. 2012, Jossey-Bass

Learning from the mistakes of others is a necessary part of the journey of effective leadership, and this book offers an indispensable guide to learning these powerful lessons--without paying the price of failure.


Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream: The Scoop on Increasing Profit by Differentiating Your Company Through Strategy and Talent by Steve Van Remortel, 9781608323876, Oct. 2012, Greenleaf Book Group

If you are like most business owners and leaders today, you feel stuck working constantly "in" your business, for little return. The Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream process offers an easy-to-follow strategic planning and talent development methodology that leads to real differentiation and a high-performance team ready to deliver it.


Engagement Equation: Leadership Strategies for an Inspired Workforce by Christopher Rice, Fraser Marlow, Mary Ann Masarech, 9781118308356, Oct. 2012
John Wiley & Sons

The Engagement Equation explains the drivers of employee engagement, and how you can use improved engagement to execute strategy, reduce costs, and meet your organizational goals. This book describes a unique engagement model that focuses on individuals' contribution to a company's success and personal satisfaction in their roles.


ChangeThis: Issue 100

It's hard to believe that ChangeThis has published 100 issues! We couldn't be prouder of the nearly 600 manifestos we've helped spirit into the world. We hope you have enjoyed and learned from the wisdom and calls for change that these works convey. Below are the 6 manifestos--including one from ChangeThis founder, Seth Godin, that comprised our 100th issue.

To visit (or revisit) the manifestos from Issue 99, click on the following links:

The Connected Company: How Distributed Organism Businesses are Rising... by Dave Gray
The Laws of Subtraction: How to Innovate in the Age of Excess Everything by Matthew E. May
Timeless Leadership for a New World by Erika Andersen
Trust-and-Track: A New Approach to Small Business Success by Nick Sarillo
Uncommon Wisdom: Why Great Leaders Don’t Reward Results by Eric C. Sinoway
Rethinking Your Business from the Outside In by Harley Manning, Kerry Bodine, Josh Bernoff


We Are All Artists Now by Seth Godin

“We know how much you care, and it’s a shame that the system works overtime to push you away from the people and the projects you care about. The world does not owe you a living, but just when you needed it, it has opened the door for you to make a difference.”

100.02.DeathBlues normal

Death Blues: The Celebration and Opportunity of Each Moment
By Jon Mueller

“How much time is left? Do we know? Does our plan know? What happens when we thoroughly hold and understand that our lives are finite? How does this understanding of our end shape our present? And how do we become more ‘present?’ Because each moment is an opportunity and a decision."


The Paradox of Skill: Why Greater Skill Leads to More Luck
by Michael J. Mauboussin

“Greater skill doesn’t decrease the dependence on luck, it increases it. If you have an interest in sports, business, or investing, this lesson is for you.”


The Snowflake Moment: Presenting the Future Today
by Scott Schwertly

“[T]he snowflake moment is just one of a countless million moments, an isolated still shot of an existence that is predominantly defined by its very motion. We are what we do every day. Nothing more.”

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How to be an Idea Guru: U.S. Department of Innovation, April 1, 2018
By Bryan W. Mattimore

“Please Note: The following is a transcript of the introductory workshop for the Department of Innovation’s, How to be an Idea Guru program, held from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM on April 1, 2018 at the Department of Innovation’s Training Center in Washington, DC.”


The Creative Instinct: How Big Ideas Happen by Nikos Acuña

"The more creative we become, the more resourceful we will be. We can transform ourselves and everyone around us. These connections, and this archetype of innovation, uncovers the building blocks of life itself, revealing our origins. Innovation is intrinsic to essence, and essence is intrinsic to the act of creation.”


Who is 800-CEO-READ

We are business book experts. There is no better way to say it. We sell, promote, read, review, and LOVE business books. We've been doing it for over 25 years, and we do it better than anyone else. Our goal, then, is to spread our knowledge to you through as many channels as we can create. Here's a sampling of how we can help you:

Our new project is KnowledgeBlocks, an online resource for business ideas, featuring explorations in Running a Business, Creating and Innovating, and Being a Leader. The site also features thinkers-in-residence, and will help you find ideas and connect them to the work you're doing, link diverse resources, and share them with others.
Our book is The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten
Visit us at 800ceoread: We Sell Business Books and Promote Great Ideas
Download new ideas from ChangeThis: Spreading Ideas, Changing Minds
You can contact us and learn more about us on our website.
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Drop us a line with comments or suggestions by writing to: newsletter[at]

Why beans and brains? Ours is a humble coffeepot to be sure. Not a sexy Braun or Breville, and it doesn't make espresso or froth any milk. Utilitarian works for us, because we drink a lot of coffee around here. Since you can't be here in person to have a cup with us, we're serving up The Keen Thinker, a monthly pick-me-up for your business brain for you to read at your leisure.


Tis the Season: Our (Non-Business Book) Gift Picks

While we traffic in business books, we are lovers of all books. Here are some of our picks for the best books we've read this year. Not all are new, and some are obscure, but all will delight.

Carol: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (and "the new films of Les Miserables and Anna Karenina remind me that it is time to acknowledge the classics!!)

Jack: Live by Night: A Novel by Dennis Lehane

Jon: Pictures of Sound: One Thousand Years of Educed Audio: 980-1980, by Patrick Feaster and It Chooses You by Miranda July

Shawn: Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach ("One of the best books I’ve read in years.")

Michael: 4 books by Clarice Lispector, Near to the Wild Heart, A Breath of Life, Àgua Viva, The Passion According to G.H. ("A great gift idea because they feature excellent design and look great together.")

Aaron: Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

Mel: Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan

Todd: A Good Day to Die by Jim Harrison

Roy: Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery by Herbie J Pilato and A Dance with Dragons - Book 5 of Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Meg: Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison ("It's not new, but it's the best book I've read all year, and I keep comparing every other book I read to it.")

Dylan: Building Stories by Chris Ware and American Nations by Colin Woodard

Sally: In Praise of Messy Lives: Essays by Katie Roiphe

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