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This Week's Hot Reads

This week: Miranda Kennedy finds surprises in India, a dog saves its owner from alcoholism, the American heiresses who took the British aristocracy by storm, a sexy Cold War espionage thriller, and Dan Barry recounts the longest game of baseball.

04.28.11 10:27 PM ET

Sideways on a Scooter: Life and Love in India
By Miranda Kennedy

NPR reporter Miranda Kennedy moves from New York City to India and finds the country is not quite as she imagined.

When Miranda Kennedy decided to trade in her chaotic life as a reporter in New York City for the frenetic excitement of a rapidly developing country, she moved to India expecting a world of promise and enlightenment. But during the five years she spent in the buzzing city of New Delhi, Kennedy discovered that the progressive country she imagined is behind the times in many ways. While becoming close with six different Indian women, she learns that, though the country's economy is growing at an exponential rate, many of its social and cultural norms have not changed in centuries. Kennedy chronicles her love affairs, hopes, disappointments, and friendships with wit and deft insight. Sideways on a Scooter is as much a sharp social commentary as it is a compelling, humorous travel memoir.

Bad Dog (A Love Story)
By Martin Kihn

In this bittersweet memoir, Martin Kihn struggles to tame his alcohol addiction and his terribly behaved but nonetheless adorable dog.

Bad Dog: A Love Story By Martin Kihn 224 pages. Pantheon Books. $23.95.

Many researchers have debated that owning a dog can improve one's health, and Martin Kihn could certainly make a case for their argument. Marty was in a drunken haze when his wife Gloria announced she was adopting a Bernese Mountain Dog. But as the irresistible puppy started growing up and getting unruly, Marty's alcoholism spiraled out of control, and his wife moved out. In a desperate attempt to save their marriage and pull his life together, Marty enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous and the American Kennel Club's rigorous dog-training program. Tirelessly teaching Hola to sit and stay helped Marty sober up, and together they passed the program's Canine Good Citizen test. Walter Kirn, author of Up in the Air, hailed Bad Dog as "the most touching, original buddy story I've come across in ages."

Sisters of Fortune
By Jehanne Wake

Wake's biography of the Caton sisters—America's first heiresses—is an extraordinary tale of four wealthy, clever women who were ahead of their time.

Sisters of Fortune: America's Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad By Jehanne Wake 416 pages. Touchstone. $27.

Born into a wealthy Maryland family at the turn of the 19th century and brought up by their tobacco tycoon grandfather, the four Caton sisters were destined for a life of wealth and prominence. Jehanne Wake follows the three elder American heiresses—Bess, Louisa, and Emily—as they leave their youngest sister Marianne behind for the time-honored tradition of refilling the fortunes and bloodlines of the British aristocracy. Based on an unpublished collection of letters, Wake's Sisters of Fortune is a groundbreaking, feminist biography that demonstrates how the Caton sisters capitalized on their fortune, spinning it into political and social influence on both sides of the Atlantic. The Sunday Times said, "The story of the Caton sisters sounds like the plot of an Edwardian novel by Henry James or Edith Wharton… remarkable… fascinating… a rare pleasure."

The Russian Affair
By Michael Wallner

A thrilling plunge into a dangerous dance of love and espionage at the height of the Cold War.

The Russian Affair By Michael Wallner. 400 pages. Nan A. Talese. $26.95.

Michael Wallner, author of the international sensation April in Paris, ventures to a new country in this tale of a dangerous romance in Soviet Russia in The Russian Affair. Anna Viktorovna meets Soviet official Alexey Bulyagkov while her husband is on active duty with the army, and she begins an affair with him. When the KGB forces Anna to spy on Alexey, who is suspected of disloyalty to the state, she reluctantly agrees. But Anna is not the only one engaged in double-crossing. Wallner brings the 1970s Soviet Union to life in this suspenseful tale of love and espionage during the Cold War.

Bottom of the 33rd
by Dan Barry

The story of the longest game in baseball history.

Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball's Longest Game By Dan Barry 272 pages. HarperCollins. $26.99

Journalist Dan Barry takes us inside the longest baseball game in history. It started at dusk on April 18, 1981, Holy Saturday, and continued through eight hours and 33 innings. This legendary minor-league game, played between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings, and the lives and dreams of the participants involved is brought lyrically to life. From the team owner hoping to fix a decrepit stadium to the father and son in the stands who refused to leave their seats in the bleachers for all eight hours, to the first baseman's wife who traveled with him season after season, hoping he would make it to the majors—Barry weaves a vivid portrait of an unending game and the people whose hopes, dreams, and dedication kept the game going through the night.