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Friday, September 28, 2012

Weekend picks for book lovers

USA TODAY gives 'Winter of the World' by Ken Follett 3 1/2 stars out of four.

USA TODAY gives 'Winter of the World' by Ken Follett 3 1/2 stars out of four.

USA TODAY gives 'Winter of the World' by Ken Follett 3 1/2 stars out of four.

What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY's picks for book lovers include Ken Follett's fat but addictive "Century" sequel, and Salman Rushdie's reflections on his years in hiding.

Winter of the World By Ken Follett; Dutton, 960 pp., $36; fiction

Ken Follett's second book in his massive Century Trilogy is 960 pages long.

It will take you more than a few cool autumn nights to finish, but it's a good investment in time.

The reader is once again transported, this time back to the 1930s and '40s, an era ripe for the picking. There's the burning of the Reichstag and the chilling rise of Adolf Hitler; there's unrest in London and civil war in Spain; there's Pearl Harbor, the Battle of France, the Battle of Britain, the Battle of Moscow.

Winter of the World is told through the eyes of five inter-related families â?? American, German, Russian, English, Welsh â?? characters who were introduced in Follett's Fall of Giants, the first novel in the trilogy. Follett gives us a history lesson through the lives of both historic figures and his fictional families.

USA TODAY says *** 1/2 out of four. "Quintessential Follett. The delight remains in the details."

Joseph Anton By Salman Rushdie; Random House, 656 pp., $30; non-fiction

In his new memoir, Rushdie chronicles the years he spent in hiding after the Ayatollah Khomeini sentenced him to death -- because of Rushdie's "blasphemous" novel, The Satanic Verses.

USA TODAY says ****. "An important book...a fascinating look into the intense drama of how those years of death threats, bookstore bombings, attacks and murders affected U.S. and British publishing circles."

We Sinners By Hanna Pylväinen; Henry Holt, 189 pp., $23; fiction

The Finnish-American Rovaniemi family in We Sinners belong to the Laestadian Lutheran Church, founded in 19th-century Sweden. The author tells their story in 11 chapters, each from a different family member's perspective.

USA TODAY says *** 1/2. "The rare mainstream novel that treats faith with respect and subtlety...a moving story (of) grace, insight and compassion."

Telegraph Avenue By Michael Chabon; Harper, 465 pp., $27.99; fiction

Set at the border of Oakland and Berkeley, Calif., in 2004, Chabon's novel centers on Archy and Nat â?? owners of a struggling used-record store â?? whose wives work together as midwives. Their intertwined businesses and relationships totter on the edge of collapse.

USA TODAY says **** out of four. "Evocative and true â?¦ Michael Chabon is having some century."

Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures By Emma Straub; Riverhead, 304 pp., $26.95; fiction

In Straub's first novel, a young Midwestern blonde named Elsa Emerson travels to Hollywood in the late 1930s and is transformed into the title character, a brunette screen goddess.

USA TODAY says *** ½ out of four. "Vividly recaptures the glamour and meticulously contrived mythology of the studio-system era."

Contributing reviewers: Craig Wilson, Don Oldenburg, Deirdre Donahue, Robert Bianco and Elysa Gardner

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