The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn

The Fred Factor: how passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary by Mark Sanborn (2006)
A motivational speaker, Sanborn incorporates stories of the exceptional service he received from his mailman Fred into his talks. Fred is a mail carrier extraordinaire—he goes the extra mile to make life easier for the people on his route. Sanborn uses examples of other “Freds”—people who bring purpose and meaning to their jobs no matter how menial—to illustrate how anyone can transform his or her work from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

You can learn more about the Fred that inspired the book or how to be a “Fred” on the Fred Factor website.

Jar City by Arnaldur Indriasson

Jar City: A Reykjavik Thrill by Arnaldur Indriasson (2005)
Violent crimes such as murder are unusual in the insular world of Iceland. Indriasson won the Nordic Crime Novel Award for Jar City in which Detective Erlendur, his partner Sigurdur, and female colleague Elinborg reopen a cold case. The locale and psychological drama create a powerful story.

The Cat Who Saw Red by Lillian Jackson Braun

The Cat Who Saw Red by Lillian Jackson Braun (1986)
In the third book of the ever popular Cat Who series, Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese cats Koko and Yum Yum, rent a room at Maus House, a boarding house for gourmands. Qwilleran has been reassigned as food editor for The Daily Flexion—and he just started a new diet! To his delight, Qwilleran discovers that a former girlfriend is also staying at Maus House. His delight quickly turns into dismay when she disappears unexpectedly. When the house boy goes missing, Jim and his feline companions know something’s amiss.

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon (2006)
In this humorous look at a dysfunctional British family, Haddon takes a different tack from his bestseller The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Recently retired George Hall slowly and quietly begins to unravel, convinced that his eczema is cancer, troubled by his daughter Katie’s upcoming second marriage, his distant relationship with son Jamie, and his wife’s affair with his former business partner. As each of the Halls’ lives spiral out of control, the beleaguered family rediscovers the love and healing that holds them together.

Visit the author’s website for information about the author, his writings and his art.

Don’t Look Back by Karin Fossum

Don’t Look Back by Karin Fossum (2003)
Translated into sixteen languages, Norwegian author Fossum’s Inspector Konrad Sejer series have finally hit the U.S. The murdered body of a teenage girl found at a mountain top lake tears apart the façade of this tranquil Norwegian village. Other translated novels include: He Who Fears the Wolf (2005), When the Devil Holds the Candle (2006), and The Indian Bride (2007).

All the Shah's Men and Iran Awakening

All the Shah's MenAll the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror by Stephen Kinzer (2003)

The CIA’s 1953 coup of the democratically inclined Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh sets up the roots for Iran’s current distrust of the U.S.


For more information on the topic, check out Kinzer's interview with the History News Network of George Mason University or listen to his interview on NPR.


Iran AwakeningIran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope by Shirin Ebadi (2006)

A must read book for anyone interested in understanding the complex relationship between Iran and the U.S. Winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, Islamic jurist Shirin Ebadi’s memoir also provides a women’s view of life inside the theocracy of Iran. A great follow up to Kinzer’s All the Shah’s Men.


Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (2005)
Economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner examine the role incentives play in modern society. The authors use a variety of fascinating studies from sumo wrestling to the KKK to illustrate their points. Freakonomics is an entertaining read that makes you think in new ways about issues.

Go to the official book site for study guides, reviews, and articles on this bestselling title. Check out the authors' Freakonomics blog on the New York Times website. Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, discusses his Thoughts on Freakonomics.


Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez (2007)
An engaging, fast read about a hairstylist’s volunteer work in Afghanistan. On her first mission to Afghanistan, “Miss Debbie” is inundated with requests from other Americans to cut their hair! She realizes she has a skill to teach Afghan women which provides them with money, and a sense of self worth. An uplifting read that offers a true glimpse of life in Kabul.

Listen to an NPR interview with the author.

The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton

The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton (2007)
Fiona Sweeney, a 36-year-old Brooklyn librarian, jumps at the opportunity to travel to Kenya to manage a bookmobile service to the nomadic bush people. Traveling by camel, Fi brings the written word to Mididima, her favorite stop. Hamilton captures the traditional nomadic life beautifully. The clash between Fi’s well-intended help and this traditional culture raises interesting questions.

Visit the author's website to find out the story behind the book, read an excerpt and reviews, or view photographs.

The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby

The Faith ClubThe Faith Club by Ranya Idliby (2006)
Three women: a Muslim, Jew, and Episcopalian, begin an interfaith dialogue. Their intention is to write a children’s book showing the interconnection of these Abrahamic traditions. In the process, each woman embarks on a journey of understanding and questioning her own spirituality as well as prejudices.

Visit the authors' website for a reading group guide, information about the authors, interfaith links, and more.