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Books: Leisure reading

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'Blessed Are the Cheesemakers'

By Sarah-Kate Lynch

Warner, $22.95.

This is the lighthearted story of two Irish cheesemakers whose product lessens the suffering of many people.

Coolarney cheese is probably the finest cheese in the world, and "Fee" Feehan and "Corrie" Corrigan, both 73, are approaching retirement.

Corrie's granddaughter Abbey, who happens to have a lot of trouble with a philandering husband, returns to Coolarney farm just in time to keep the legendary cheesemaking process alive.

And when Kit Stephens, a New York stockbroker, arrives in Coolarney, he is tempted by cheese-factory matron Avis O'Reagan, who is determined to rid him of his alcoholism.

Love is also involved.

This is an interesting debut novel from a New Zealand journalist. — Dennis Lythgoe

'The All-American Boys'

By Walter Cunningham

ibooks, $25.95.

Cunningham, America's second civilian astronaut, flew on Apollo 7, the first manned flight of the Apollo program. Prior to that he was a Marine Corps fighter pilot. This book is a memoir of his time in the astronaut program, which he views with candor. Originally published two decades ago, it has been revised and updated.

Cunningham writes not only about the astronaut program he knew personally but comments on the recent Columbia disaster and presents an analysis of today's NASA. Among other things, he talks about NASA's current cooperation with the Russians, and he tells the inside story of astronaut selection. He is not shy about being critical and wonders how it can be that in the 30 years since he left the program the United States has not successfully landed on Mars. — Dennis Lythgoe

'The Reagans'

By Anne Edwards

St. Martins Press, $27.95.

A well-known biographer of the famous, Anne Edwards has written about the Reagans before. In this book, subtitled "Portrait of a Marriage," she tries for an intimate portrait of Ronald Reagan's political life and his relationship with the woman who contrived to meet him so she could "become Mrs. Somebody Important."

As pictured here, the Reagans had an obsessive romantic relationship, in which each thought of the other first in all situations.

Unfortunately, that was not always a good thing for the four Reagan children. The author categorizes their family life as dysfunctional.

The author is candid about Nancy's reputation for meddling in presidential matters and her dedication to maintaining her husband's dignity in the long, difficult battle with Alzheimer's disease. Edwards is convinced that had Reagan not married Nancy Davis, he never would have been president of the United States. Her influence on him was paramount. — Dennis Lythgoe