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December 17, 2008

Book Smart: Carmichael’s Top 5 Staffpicks

1) The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British by Sarah Lyall (nonfiction) — It’s not a travel book, and it’s not comprehensive. It has a wealth of information, research and incisive observation about living in Britain and how it’s different from here. I never thought dentistry, PM Question Time or the lack of a written constitution could be so funny or illuminating. —Emma Aprile

2) Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow (debut horror thriller) — Beautiful noir — L.A., dogs, werewolves — the lure of a feral sensuality. Written in free verse with some fine lines and great breaks that open chasms of meaning and provide a gorgeous rhythm without hampering readability. —Jason Brown

3) The Anansi Reader: Forty Years of Very Good Books edited by Lynn Coady (nonfiction guide) — Though it serves as a back- (front- and forthcoming-) list advertisement, this is a fine introduction to Canadian literature as well as North America’s most enduring small presses. —JB

4) The Chess Machine by Robert Lohr (fiction) — An intriguing, sad, funny and suspenseful novel based on the true story of a fantastic hoax pulled off in 1770s Vienna: an unbeatable mechanical chess-playing “Turk” that was run by a dwarf hidden inside it! —Kate Hanratty

5) A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson (fiction) — A lovely little book. If you’re a birder or a fan of Alexander McCall Smith, this is for you. A humorous, endearing story spiced with a little romance and even some Kenyan politics. —Carol Besse