The Big 10 with Jeff D'Alessio, Jan. 7, 2018

The Big 10 with Jeff D'Alessio, Jan. 7, 2018

Given the cozy-up-by-the-fireplace-with-a-book weather we've been experiencing, we asked 10 bookworms for the one recently released good read they'd recommend.

JACQUELYN MITCHARD
UI grad ('73) wrote 'The Deep End of the Ocean,' the first selection for Oprah Winfrey's Book Club

"John McGregor's 'Reservoir 13' is a deceptively simple book, beautifully spare and devastating, from the austere precision of its prose to the power of a grief authentically observed. On a New Year's visit to Peaks District of central England, a 13-year-old girl disappears as if the earth had opened and taken her. Everyone in the village is involved as the days turn to weeks, then months, then years, until the girl's absence is as much a part of the character of the village as the gossip and prayers, the births and deaths, the small crimes and heartbreaks.

"As readers, we expect to follow the police through a fast-paced labyrinth of clues and riddles; and there are clues, but some of them are clues that the police never see. McGregor's gift is in representing instead the relentlessness of life's progress, how it goes forward, changed but unchanging, the cycle of nature, the wheel of the seasons, impassive in the face of individual anguish.

"While I knew there would be no car chase, no tear-soaked climax, each night when I set it down, I felt bereft, as if I was being forced to leave home."

RICHARD POWERS
UI emeritus professor's 'The Echo Maker' won the 2006 National Book Award for Fiction

"Peter Wohleben's 'The Hidden Life of Trees' is a wondrous portrait of those enormous, long-lived creatures who shape this planet and make human life possible.

"Gathering together the most remarkable recent research, Wohleben explores how trees communicate, form memories, cooperate and collaborate, and hold together the enormous, entangled webs of earthly life. This book will open your eyes to the real world, a world richer, more social and more intelligent than most of us ever imagine."

ESTHER CEPEDA
Syndicated columnist, The Washington Post

"One of the best books I read this year was 'Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches,' by author and comedian John Hodgman. It's a collection of true stories that Hodgman calls 'white-privilege mortality comedy,' but is really about the joys and pains of growing older.

"This book will appeal to anyone who wants to laugh and loves, for instance, the humor of David Sedaris. Now, I adore David Sedaris' books and, as it happens, he published one this year. But, for my money, 'Vacationland' beats all the competition on both laughs and heart."

MIKE ROGALLA
Children's Services Manager, Champaign Public Library

"As my area of expertise is literature for children, particularly informational books, it took some thought to come up with a title even grown-ups would appreciate. Since the last year has been political, to say the least, my pick is 'Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today,' by Cynthia and Sanford Levinson.

"This award-winning husband-and-wife team take readers back to the creation of the Constitution in an overheated Philadelphia room in 1787. In each chapter, they cover a controversial news event or court case and show how the compromises made then have ramifications now. Such things as bicameralism, presidential vetoes, gerrymandering, term limits, the electoral college and voting rights.

"Anyone from fifth grade and older interested in how our wonderful experiment in government came about will find this book to their liking."

DAVE CULLEN