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8 (smart) books for the beach

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(Read caption) Imperium
By Robert Harris
Simon & Schuster
320 pp., $14

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The Monitor's 2010 summer reading guide goes online on Monday. But until then, here's a list of recent books lively enough to keep the pages turning yet smart enough to keep you thinking. In other words, good reads – but no empty calories.

1. Imperium, by Robert Harris (Simon & Schuster, 320 pp., $14). This “account of Cicero’s dazzling career ... conveys vivid, accurate depictions of Roman political intrigue through the use of historical research.” (CSM review 10/6/06)

2. Little Heathens, by Mildred Armstrong Kalish (Random House, 304 pp., $14). This ­“generous-hearted” memoir about Depression-era life on an Iowa farm “will have you itching [to] put up some tomatoes and try out [Kalish’s] recipe for homemade marshmallows.” (CSM review 8/3/07)

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