Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

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From the Top: Brief Transmissions from Tent Show Radio

If you can't make it to northern Wisconsin to slip into the canvas tent for an evening of music and storytelling from the Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua, dip into From the Top, a collection of Michael Perry's monologues from the summertime radio show. It's almost like being there, along the shore of Lake Superior, where "some days the water is incandescent blue and hopeful, other days it looks all steel gray and ship-sinky."

These stories are a delightful introduction to Perry (Population: 485--Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time) or a joyful reunion for those who think of him as an old friend. With droll wit, he shares reflections on marriage, fatherhood, putting down roots and raising pigs and chickens. His subjects range from the comedic (cornering a skunk in the chicken coop) to the poignant (returning from a wake to warm the house with firewood chopped with the neighbor who'd passed), with the 50-plus essays arranged in "loosely thematic clusters." As Perry advises: "You can read the book backward if you wish. Or scattershot. I've navigated much of my life in exactly that manner."

He's a compulsive philosopher: "Back home on the farm someone else is doing the chicken chores, because I've been on the road, and somewhere along the line on some ribbon of concrete a green mile marker flipped by and I thought, well, there's a metaphor on a stick." --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, bookseller, Book Passage, San Francisco