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Bitterroot bestsellers - Mountaineer memoirs, vampire chronicles were valley favorites

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Bitterroot bestsellers - Mountaineer memoirs, vampire chronicles were valley favorites
Bitterroot bestsellers - Mountaineer memoirs, vampire chronicles were valley favorites

HAMILTON - Chapter One Book Store reports a more varied list of bestsellers for 2008 than in years past, with plenty of regional titles, but more representation from other categories than usual.

At the top of the list is Stephenie Meyer, whose tales of teenage-vampire romantic angst hold four of the top spots. "Breaking Dawn," the final installment in the series, sits atop the list at No. 1, with "Twilight," "Eclipse" and "New Moon" in close succession. Chapter One reports many mothers and daughters reading the books together, a charming thought!

Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose" was boosted by an endorsement from Oprah Winfrey's book club on the air. Hundreds of readers have responded to his message of peace and healing.

In the next slot is the Bitterroot Valley's own Mario Locatelli, author of the eponymous "The Mountain Goat Chronicles."

Locatelli, as you may guess, is a local mountaineer of some repute, who has climbed most nearby peaks, as well as becoming the oldest successful climber of Denali. He also organized the grueling "Mountain Goat Marathons," cross-country hikes that benefitted local causes. His tale of immigrating from Italy and finally settling here is as adventurous as his mountaineering exploits.

Montana fantasy author Christopher Paolini hit nationwide bestseller lists once again with his third book, "Brisingr," and resides in third place locally for 2008 sales.

Another Montana author with not just nationwide but international fame is Greg Mortenson, a mountaineer who turned to building schools for remote villages in Pakistan and elsewhere, as chronicled in "Three Cups of Tea" by Mortenson and author David Relin.

Inspirational in a different sense is "The Shack" by William Young, addressing difficult questions about God in an accessible novel.

Two hiking guides occupy the next spot on Chapter One's year-end list, Mort Arkava's "Hiking the Bitterroots" and Scott Steinberg's "Hiking the Selway-Bitterroot." Both have their strengths, but whichever one inspires you to get out and see some country is the right one for you!

My own book, "Montana's Bitterroot Valley," slips several notches from its usual perch, but still speaks to valley newcomers and tourists with its history, natural history, beautiful scenic photos by Harry June, and historic black-and-white photos.

Ivan Doig is a perennial favorite, and his new novel "The Eleventh Man" was popular in 2008. Set during World War II, much of the action takes place at an airfield near Great Falls, but it takes in the action in every theater of conflict in those years.

"Indian Creek Chronicles" is another sure-fire Bitterroot bestseller, Pete Fromm's true tale of a winter spent in the Selway-Bitterroot.

Rounding out the list, we have "The Thirteenth Tale," a literary novel by Diane Setterfield; "Eat, Pray, Love," the popular memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert; "Tales of Beedle The Bard," just published in early December but still making a strong showing, by "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling; "Out Stealing Horses," by Norwegian author Per Petterson; "The Whistling Season," another entry from Ivan Doig; and "Gallop!" a clever animation book for children by Rufus Seder.

Russ Lawrence is co-owner of Chapter One Book Store, 252 Main St. in Hamilton. He can be reached at (406) 363-5220 or online at

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