Editor's Note: When we asked Caitlin Doggart to list a few of her favorite new books for our Winter Issue, she reviewed and recommended some great fiction being released in the first quarter of 2011.

She also recommended two books being released in April 2011 that don't fall into the fiction category – one is a collection of short stories, and one is a much anticipated non-fiction adventure. Check out her reviews, and look for these books in a local store near you.

Recommended New Reads for April

By Caitlin Doggart, owner of Where the Sidewalk Ends Bookstore

A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman: Complete Short Stories

A day in the Life of a Smiling Woman book cover

by Margaret Drabble

An introduction by Jose Francisco Fernandez explains the three groupings of short stories in depth, showing the influences portrayed in each decade of the British author's work.

Margaret Drabble is brilliant in drawing awkwardly social scenarios: a couple wondering if the plate of tapas at the bar is free or exorbitantly expensive; a misfit trying to attract the attention of a hippie girl at a party; a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist worried about her privacy in case a biography is ever written about her.

Drabble offers an impressive scope of situations which she extrapolates into searing and memorable short stories.

This short story collection is particularly wonderful for picking up and reading in spurts, as each story quickly develops into a solid narrative. The stories are so richly amusing it will be hard to put this book down at all!

Caitlin Doggart worked for both a literary agency and a NYC publishing company before earning a Master's Degree in English Literature from Columbia University.

She opened Where the Sidewalk Ends Bookstore in Chatham with her mother Joanne in May of 2005, and has enjoyed matching books and readers ever since.

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

by Wendy McClure

While cleaning out boxes after her mother's death, Wendy McClure rediscovered her worn childhood books and immersed herself in the world of Little House on the Prairie. She embarked on the nebulous project of exploring the series from her adult perspective and following her childhood love of the semi-fictional world Laura Ingalls Wilder created as far as her interests carried her.

Often accompanied by her fun-loving, supportive boyfriend, McClure traveled to most of the actual sites in Wilder's life. She slept in a covered wagon and a sod house, spent vacations driving to remote locales to see "Laura and Nelly" look-alike contests and churned butter in her Chicago apartment.

McClure is incredibly funny throughout the journey. She is also clear-headed, maintaining genuine enthusiasm without getting washed away by nostalgia, and including scholarly research without being pedantic. She has a unique appreciation of pioneer details - the sunbonnets! cornhusk dolls!

Her astute understanding of the emotions behind Little House on the Prairie, and her memory for cross-connections within the series, fully engage the reader. Connections between Wilder's narratives and McClure's own personal life give this memoir an unexpected depth.

You need not have recently read the original series to appreciate the anecdotes, but revisiting these classic books in anticipation of The Wilder Life would be a wonderful lead-in for this marvelous tribute to a culturally fascinating and beloved pioneer story.

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