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Karl Pohrt, Shaman Drum Bookstore

Cover: Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog

Pohrt is the owner of the Shaman Drum, a bookstore serving the Ann Arbor area of Michigan since 1980.

Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney: The editors of this geographical tome asked writers including Robert Hass, Charles Frazier and Barbara Kingsolver to define 850 landscape terms, complementing the text with graceful line drawings by Molly O'Halloran. Pohrt calls the book "enormous fun, because it puts the reader in touch with the dazzling inventiveness we use to describe our world." Hear Readings from 'Home Ground'

Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences by Kitty Burns Flore: This season's Eats Shoots and Leaves, Flore's book is a wonderful, reminiscent book for people interested in grammar and language. Quite simply, it's a book about diagramming sentences. (Remember that old classroom task?)

Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon: In his book of 1,000-plus pages, Pynchon offers the history of the world, from the Chicago World's Fair until right after World War I. Like Russian dolls or Chinese boxes, one story comes out of the next. Reading this book is less about narrative than it is about sentences: Length aside, you have to read this slowly to appreciate the way it is so beautifully constructed.

Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation by Jonathan Lear: This is a very poignant story on the collapse of a culture. Lear does an analysis of the oral history of Plenty Coups, the last chief of Crow Indians in Montana. It is interesting to understand psychoanalysis as applied to an entire culture, rather than an individual.

The Echo Maker by Richard Powers: A young man has an accident and is left with a brain lesion, unable to recognize the faces of the people closest to him. Powers delivers a compelling examination of what happens when a person loses his sense of self, occupying the same body, but changed on the inside.

Leaves of Grass: The Deathbed Edition by Walt Whitman: Whitman's poems carry a sense of generosity and inclusiveness -- something that seems quintessentially American. This edition of Whitman's revised poems covers his lifetime, including poems that he wrote at the end of it, about saying goodbye to his world.

Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everything and Other Lessons From Darwin's Lost Notebooks by Lyanda Lynn Haupt: There's an almost spiritual intensity that Darwin brings to looking carefully at things. This book offers an opportunity to see Darwin in a different way, possibly bridging the gap between camps who debate Darwin and evolution. It's a wonderful book for young people.

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