So many wonderful books, so little time. Let's not waste another second! Without further ado, let's dive into this month's staff picks...

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Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food Cover Image
ISBN: 9781619020733
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Counterpoint LLC - February 12th, 2013

Emily's Staff Pick, July 2015:

“Writing is listening.”

Animal, Mineral, Radical is a compilation of 13 essays that combine the tender self-reflection of a memoir with fierce, scientific observation of the natural world. Loren’s essays address issues including hunger and food distribution, depression and illness, incomplete and ineffective cleanups of radioactive waste, and what can happen when people with disparate interests meet in the middle to work together.

Loren’s work is insightful, clearly and artfully written with a bold message of environmentalism and compassion.

Years ago I read and loved this book and I have since passed it on to many friends. I’m sharing it with you this month because BK Loren will visit Off the Beaten Path for a reading on July 25.

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The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451659160
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - June 30th, 2015

Emily's Staff Pick, July 2015:

Part travelogue, part work of history, The Oregon Trail explores the mythology of the Oregon Trail and its place in American memory.

This book stands apart from other histories of the Oregon Trail, however, because author Rinker Buck actually experienced the trail: he and his brother were the first people since 1908 to travel from St. Joseph, Missouri to Baker City, Oregon with only a wagon and mule team.

In addition to the (often humorous, not-so-romanticized) account of his overland journey, Buck writes a factually sound history. He argues that the collective experience of migrating along the Oregon Trail “virtually defined the American character” because it physically united the coasts and coalesced the values of the American nation.

Buck also imagines the trail as an “incubator” for issues we continue to address today: race, competition for water and land, and religious strife.

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Atonement: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385721790
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - February 25th, 2003

Shannon's Staff Pick, July 2015:

When young Briony Tallis witnesses a series of events between her older sister Cecilia and a longtime family friend, Robbie Turner, she accuses Robbie of a crime that will alter all three of their lives on the eve of WWII. Atonement is a love story, but it is also the story of three interwoven lives and how life’s decisions and their consequences stain fate’s intentions.

Atonement is one of my all time favorite books.

It is as beautiful as it is heartbreaking, and Ian McEwen’s writing is deserving of many nights of lost sleep reading this book.

For any movie fans, the 2007 movie adaption of the novel is a definite outlier – it is as stunning and thought-provoking as the book!

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The Cherry Harvest: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062343628
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: William Morrow - June 2nd, 2015

Virgie's Staff Pick, July 2015:

This historical fiction takes place during World War II, but from a perspective I’ve never considered before.

The story takes place in mid-western Wisconsin, on a cherry farm which has lost its workers due to better war job opportunities. As the cherry farm nears a second “lost” harvest, the townspeople agree to allow German POW’s (called PW’s) to work and live on their fields.

Ironically, the POW’s who save a particular crop are the same POW’s who devastate a family.

Although the ending was rather dark, I found this book very thought-provoking.

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The Bookseller: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062333001
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Harper - March 3rd, 2015

Virgie's Staff Pick, July 2015:

This story takes place during the cultural landscape of the sixties. Kitty, a bookseller and bookstore owner has a rather simple, idyllic life until she begins having dreams about another life, in which she is called Katharyn.

Her dreams become more vivid, and with more frequency, until Kitty/Katharyn can no longer determine which life is real and which life is imaginary. Her night dreams blend into her daytime reality, and she feels as if she is dreaming madness.

But which life is the dream?

As a reader, I was perplexed! Until the end I kept changing my prediction of which life was reality.

I just had to know how this story would end!

Author Cynthia Swanson finds her home in Colorado, and even gives a mention of Steamboat Springs in her novel! We so enjoyed her visit to the store at the beginning of this month!

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Circling the Sun: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345534187
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Ballantine Books - July 28th, 2015

Candace's Staff Pick, July 2015:

While reading this historical novel, one of my favorite movies came to mind: Out of Africa.

The setting is in Kenya (before it was named Kenya). The reader is taken into the opulent and decadent world of English West Africa in the 1920’s.

The book follows Beryl Markham from her childhood of being abandoned by her mother, ignored by her father through to her flight across the Atlantic in a two-seater plane - an adventure that captivated the world.

It takes the reader through the complicated relationships between Markham, Karen Blixen and their struggle for the affection of Denys Finch Hattan.

It’s a love story, and a story of one woman’s life of survival and triumph.

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Virgil & Owen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781619633728
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury USA Childrens - January 27th, 2015

Candace's Staff Pick, July 2015:

Virgil, a polar bear, finds Owen. Virgil decides that Owen is his penguin and no one else can play with him. Owen, however, doesn’t like being treated as a toy, dragged about and not allowed to play. Owen helps Virgil understand how to be a friend.

A charming book with great illustrations!

The Badass Body Diet: The Breakthrough Diet and Workout for a Tight Booty, Sexy Abs, and Lean Legs (The Badass Series) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062390950
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: William Morrow - May 12th, 2015

Kim's Staff Pick, July 2015:

Rarely does Off The Beaten Path do reviews on diet books, however this one deserves a mention. A trainer at Crossfit recommended it to someone and within a week she had such dramatic results her colleagues all ordered books. We couldn’t keep it in stock!

Christmas Abbott is living proof that fitness is sexy, and a badass body is a birthright for one and all. A CrossFit star, professional athlete, former NASCAR pit crew member, Olympic weightlifter, and former unhealthy “skinny fat” woman herself, Christmas knows what real women need in order to get the butts and bodies of their dreams.

In The Badass Body Diet, Christmas provides a quick and simple workout plan that tones everything—from booty to total body—and teaches you how to spot-reduce excess fat with targeted meal plans and recipes.

In one week of just adjusting my eating habits I lost 5 pounds. Pretty simple, lots of lean proteins and healthy carbs.

I love having menus so meals are planned for the week.

Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation; Authority; Acceptance Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374261177
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: FSG Originals - November 18th, 2014

Theodora's Staff Pick, July 2015:

This volume brings together the three installments of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, set some time in the future, which revolves around a series of government-initiated expeditions into Area X, a wilderness separated from the rest of the country by an arcane boundary.

It’s difficult to disclose much more about the plot without revealing too much or telling a partial lie, since the gradual revelation of information is at the crux of the novel.

This trilogy is extraordinarily creative, profoundly creepy, and generally serves to highlight Jeff VanderMeer’s range of literary talents.

The Water Knife Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385352871
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - May 26th, 2015

Theodora's Staff Pick, July 2015:

Set in an American Southwest ravaged by drought, The Water Knife confirms that Paolo Baciagalupi is capable of creating some incredibly detailed and relevant dystopian settings.

In the world portrayed in this novel, water is a scarce resource. It is allocated based on social and financial status, and is vied over by various factions along the Colorado River.

The futuristic setting is the novel’s greatest strength; its details extrapolated from modern realities. Against this backdrop, characters struggle with water rights, corruption, and survival.


July 2015 Staff Picks