The September / October Paperback 76 Top Ten

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1. PEACE LIKE A RIVER, by Leif Enger (Grove, $13, 0802139256; Aug. 20) "Told through the insightful, honest voice of an 11-year-old boy, this novel is reminiscent of A Prayer for Owen Meany or To Kill a Mockingbird. It offers a new take on family loyalty, the power of prayer, true and mythological heroes, the fine line of vengeance, and simple miracles in our daily lives." --Alaine Borgias, Village Books, Bellingham, WA

2. THE CORRECTIONS, by Jonathan Franzen (Picador, $15, 0312421273; Aug. 27) "Rarely are novels this generous and complex. Two generations struggle not just with their own personal dramas in the legacy of crippling family dynamics, but also with a culture that constantly deceives them by offering false 'corrections.' A fierce social satire wrapped in a poignant family saga." --Will Peters, Annie Bloom's Books, Portland, OR

3. ELLA MINNOW PEA: A Novel in Letters, by Mark Dunn (Anchor, $12, 0385722435; Sept. 17) "A treasure of a novel. Dunn has an incredibly fascinating and clever way of using the English language, with or without all the letters of the alphabet! This witty satire and moving fable is a must-read for everyone who loves words…and free speech" --Susan Wasson, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM

4. FALLING ANGELS, by Tracy Chevalier (Plume; $13, 0452283205; Sept. 24) "In a rich evocation of another era, the limitations of social class and a woman's station in early 19th century England are called into question during the ensuing friendship of two girls who meet by chance in a London cemetery after Queen Victoria's death." --Meredith Slesinger, Olsson's Books, Washington, DC

5. SHOOTING DR. JACK, by Norman Green (Perennial, $12.95, 0060934131; Sept. 3) "A first novel and a gritty, realistic portrait of lowlife Brooklyn that will keep you up late. These are not the Sopranos, nor even people who dream that high, but you care about them quickly in spite of themselves. This is as good as Motherless Brooklyn." --Anne Whelan, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

6. AVA'S MAN, by Rick Bragg (Vintage, $13, 0375724443; Aug. 13) "If any part of your heart and soul lives in the South, or if you like reading about real people and their families, or if you just like writers who can tell a story, you have to read this book. This is the story of the grandfather that Bragg never met. You'll laugh a lot and cry a little, too, but it'll be good for your soul." --Buster Keenan, Boulder Book Store, Boulder, CO

7. SAILING ALONE AROUND THE ROOM: New and Selected Poems, by Billy Collins (Random House, $13.95, 0375755195; Sept. 4) "Here again is Collins as we've come to expect him: making the ordinary somehow beautiful, making the familiar interesting. Each poem ends in some form of delight." --Hans Weyandt, Ruminator, St. Paul, MN

8. THE MUSIC OF THE SPHERES, by Elizabeth Redfern (Jove, $7.99, 051513239X; July) "It's 1795 and in London a killer stalks young redheads. This is a thriller worthy of a place beside The Alienist and Instance of the Fingerpost. The characters are very real, but it is the plot, so intricately woven, that keeps you turning the pages." --Jane Stroh, The Bookstore, Glen Ellyn, IL

9. BLUE DIARY, by Alice Hoffman (Berkley, $13, 0425184943; Aug. 6) "I truly loved this book. You will think about it well after reading the last page. It's a story of redemption and the (im)possibility of forgiveness. The rich imagery lures one in for a rewarding fall." --Marion Bright, Book Soup, W. Hollywood, CA

10. THE GRAND COMPLICATION, by Allen Kurzweil (Hyperion, $16, 0786885181; Aug.) "I loved the library jargon and the assembly of characters who spouted therewith. I loved Jesson's fussy anal-neuroticism combined with his lovely control-freak qualities. I loved each and every pun. (I was particularly fond of 'out-of-cite-out-of-mind.') Sixty chapters in 360 pages. How cool." --Doug Dutton, Dutton's Brentwood Books, Los Angeles, CA