Some of you already know that I get far more books in the mail than I could ever review in the paper--far more. A thousand a month, more or less. (More as we approach the winter holidays, less in the quiet and still middle of summer.) I open them all myself, look at all of them, and am entranced and impressed every day by the variety and imagination and creativity.

And I am in despair, sometimes, that I cannot mention more of them. Sometimes afte sorting the day's haul I bring a couple of books up to my desk in the newsroom from the Book Dungeon, knowing I have no room for a review, knowing that I'm already overbooked, but still hoping that somehow I can squirm them into the paper. Sometimes, I can. Usually, I can't.

But there's always the Internet! So here goes.Here are two that captivated me today.


 "The Bedtime Book for Dogs," by Bruce Littlefield (Grand Central, $15.99, pubs June 8) is adorable, cleverly incorporating into the story words that dogs actually know. (Not that I think any of you actually read to your dogs.) (Or do you?)

It begins: "Come. Sit. Stay. I want to tell you a story. I think you'll like it. It's about a TREAT."

My dog, I can assure you, would be all ears by now. The story is simple--about a dog who goes out to the park to play by himself when nobody else is around.



The second book is quite different. "Portraits of the Prairie: The Land That Inspired Willa Cather" (University of Nebraska Press, $45), with a foreword by Ted Kooser, is a stunning homage to Willa Cather and the corner of Nebraska where she grew up and which helped inspire her stories.

The watercolors of Richard Schilling -- himself a Nebraska native -- capture the sweeping prairie, the big sky, the winding country roads, the wildflowers, the snowy landscapes of a place known forever as "Catherland."


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Living in a town paved with poetry