Give a Bestseller
Give a Christmas Tale HEATHER GRAHAM, author of Home in Time for Christmas
© Charles William Bush
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“Books make incredible gifts, they can just about last forever.”
These beautiful and poignant Christmas stories make the perfect gift! Warm up this holiday season with inspiring books that remind us how sometimes the most unexpected events can bring everyday miracles.
This bold retelling of Luke 1-2, based on Eugene Peterson’s Message translation, reads like a novel and invites readers to experience the Nativity with fresh wonder. David C. Cook $12.99
Baker Publishing Group
The Lost Symbol
Follow Robert Langdon through a masterful and unexpected new A young woman journeying to Kenya landscape in the eagerly awaited struggles to balance her sense of self, her follow-up to Dan Brown’s international marriage and her understanding of the world in best-selling author Anita Shreve’s phenomenon, The Da Vinci Code. Random House Audio $50 new tale of the mysteries of the heart. Little, Brown and Company $26.99
A Change in Altitude
Detective Harry Bosch must investigate a homicide case while searching for his missing young daughter in this electrifying high-stakes thriller. Little, Brown and Company $27.99
Come along for the ride in David Baldacci’s new blockbuster thriller, where a routine homicide investigation turns into something complex, diabolical and possibly lethal. Grand Central $27.99
© Deborah Feingold
ANITA SHREVE, author of A Change in Altitude
In the tradition of The Christmas Shoes and A Christmas on Jane Street, this heartwarming story shows how the Christmas miracle works its wonders in the human heart. GuidepostsBooks $15.99
With gilded edges and a ribbon marker, this elegant offering for the Christmas season includes spiritual reflections from great thinkers, classic literature, poetry and the music of the holiday season . . . a perfect gift. HarperOne $14.99
An Amish Christmas
You Better Not Cry
A Classic Christmas
The Christmas Glass
From the #1 best-selling author of Running with Scissors and A Wolf at the Table comes a collection of stories about the one holiday we love to hate . . . and hate to love. St. Martin’s Press $21.99
In this collection of stories, John Grisham returns to Ford County, Mississippi, the setting of his first novel, A Time to Kill, and reminds us once again why he is America’s favorite storyteller. Doubleday $24
Follow the lives of three Amish families through the Christmas season. Sure to be a Christmas classic for years to come—give a copy to everyone on your list! Thomas Nelson $16.99
“Books make the best gifts because they offer hours of pure pleasure.”
The Gathering Storm
Tarmon Gai’don, the Last Battle, looms before unready humankind in book 12 of Robert Jordan’s best-selling Wheel of Time® series. Tor Books $29.99
Looking for the perfect gift?
Hostess gifts, stocking stuffers and presents for under the tree . . . give the magic of love and romance (and delicious home cooking!) this season with books from your favorite authors.
New Stories from the South
With 21 distinctive pieces of new short fiction from Wendell Berry, Elizabeth Spencer, Jill McCorkle and more, here is the latest volume of this distinguished Southern anthology. Algonquin $14.95
The Last Song
This unforgettable story from #1 best-selling author Nicholas Sparks centers on a rebellious teenage girl’s romantic awakening and first encounter with heartbreak. Grand Central $24.99
I, Alex Cross
Astonishing plot twists and electrifying revelations combine in James Patterson’s most suspenseful Alex Cross novel yet—a story of the hunt for a murderer in Washington’s most infamous club. Little, Brown and Company $27.99
A good book can make you laugh, cry— or even change your life. This holiday season, give family and friends the gift of entertainment and enrichment with a special book. It’s a gift they will share, remember and enjoy forever.
Give an Inspiring Story
Give Great Fiction AUDIO
“Books have the power to live on in your memory ... to motivate, inspire, educate and heal. They transport us to places of the heart and beyond.”
The J.R.R. Tolkien Collection
Tolkien’s best works are dramatized by the BBC. This set includes The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Tales from the Perilous Realm, a bonus Tolkien audio portrait and a Middle Earth map. BBC Audiobooks $99.95 9780786952403
Mixing historical novel, immigrant fiction and crime thriller, this book marks Kevin Baker’s return to Coney Island, the setting of his critically beloved Dreamland. Vertigo $24.99 9780786952984
BEV LEWIS, author of The Missing
A Separate Country
Post-Civil War New Orleans is the setting for Robert Hicks’ heartrending story of John Bell Hood, one of the most controversial generals of the Confederate Army. Grand Central $25.99
To Try Men’s Souls
With incredible detail and insight, best-selling authors Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen’s latest novel provides a rare and personal look at the men who fought for, and founded, the United States of America. Thomas Dunne Books $26.99
Jealousy, betrayal and revenge Follow the tales of the Planeswalkers 520
Of all the creatures in the Magic: The Gathering® trading card game multiverse, only the Planeswalkers have the spark that allows them to travel through the aether between worlds. Wielding boundless power against unfathomable adversaries, these powerful sorcerers carve their own destinies from the fabric of reality itself.
Wizards of the Coast
s Storie f rom the ge nA e d l o G
Track a con man through Rio de Janeiro. Dodge the Nazi government in 1930s Europe. Fly with the fighter pilots in World War II. Fight crime on the American frontier. Experience all this and more through the mysterious, fascinating and adventurous world of L. Ron Hubbard’s stories from the Golden Age. Also available: Under the Black Ensign 9781592123391 $9.95
“Books are keys to unlock everything from knowledge to our hearts.”
Shades of Blue
Brad Cutler is about to marry his dream girl when memories of a high school girlfriend begin to torment him. Before they can move forward, they must look back and search for forgiveness. Zondervan $14.99
ROBERT HICKS, author of A Separate Country
© Herman Estevez
This new stand-alone Fables novel from award-winning author Bill Willingham stars Peter Piper and his incorrigible brother Max in a tale of jealousy, betrayal and revenge based on the long-running comic book series.
Green: Book Zero: The Beginning of the End
Ted Dekker fans are about to come full circle with Book Zero in the Circle Trilogy. This book will be the beginning and the end! Thomas Nelson $25.99
Inspirational gifts for the holidays
Give your loved ones the gifts of history, mystery and adventure this holiday season with these page-turning stories from best-selling authors. Perfect for presents, stocking stuffers or relaxing by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate!
Sandman: The Dream Hunters
In honor of the 20th anniversary of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, this book is a graphic novel adaptation of Gaiman’s original prose novella by the same name. Vertigo $24.99
Wrap yourself up in a good book
Taking a novel approach to faith, Abingdon Press engages readers’ hearts, minds and souls with meaningful contemporary fiction, edge-of-your-seat suspense and intrigue and a quirky prayer warrior named Agnes.
A Gift of Grace
When Rebecca Kauffman’s sister dies in an automobile accident, she is left custody of her two non-Amish teenage nieces. Will faith and family survive as cultures collide? Zondervan $10.99
Love’s First Light
An aristocrat goes undercover to survive the French Revolution and meets a beautiful widow with whom he shares both tragic and dangerous connections. B&H Books $14.99
Give Help in the Kitchen
Give an Adventure
Mad Hungry: Feeding Men & Boys
Alton fans, rejoice!
Good Eats: The Early Years is the ultimate companion guide to Alton Brown’s hugely popular Food Network series. Good Eats contains more than 140 recipes and more than 1,000 photographs and illustrations, science-of-food information, behind-thescenes photos, food puns, food jokes and food trivia—everything Alton Brown’s fans have been waiting for!
Stewart, Tabori & Chang
Lucinda Scala Quinn, chef and resident food guru at Martha Stewart Omnimedia, dishes up winning recipes and strategies for sating the seemingly insatiable— men and boys. Artisan $27.95
ANNE BYRN, author of The Cake Mix Doctor Returns!
“Books are timeless, can be shared with others and can be read aloud or to yourself.”
Christmas gifts for every kitchen
Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook
With more than 200 creative and delicious recipes and 50 fullcolor photographs, this cookbook shares the secrets from the hottest restaurant in the South. Running Press $35
Christmas with Southern Living 2009 and Southern Living 2009 Annual Recipes offer inspiration for your best holiday season ever. In addition to these kitchen staples, Glorious Grits, full of recipes dedicated to the Southern grain, and Simply Chocolate, a divine collection of the best Southern treats, will make great gifts for any cook on your list.
The National Parks
The USA Book
With 440 photographs and one removable full-color map, this magnificent, lavishly illustrated book is the companion volume to the PBS series by Ken Burns, the acclaimed filmmaker behind The Civil War. Knopf $50
The newest addition to the bestselling Travel Book series, this book celebrates the country’s variety with insightful text and over 400 fullcolor photographs showcasing each state’s unique personality. Lonely Planet $39.99
The Cake Mix Doctor is back! The beloved and best-selling Anne Byrn (3.1 million copies of her books sold!) returns with 160 brandnew recipes, from luscious layer cakes, sheet cakes and brownies to muffins, bars and more … there’s even a wedding cake!
The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion
This enhanced new reference volume will give home chefs more knowledge about good food and elegant dining. It is a perfect gift for anyone who loves to cook and eat. Barron’s Educational Series $29.99
Best of Christmas Ideas
Wine All-in-One for Dummies Whether you’re a wine novice or a budding sommelier, here is an allinclusive, easy-to-use guide to all things wine. Enjoy wine like never before and become the toast of your friends and family! Wiley $29.99
The Deen Bros. Take It Easy
In this indispensable new cookbook, Jamie and Bobby Deen, Food Network stars and sons of Paula Deen, show you how to whip up 125 favorite recipes for your family in under 45 minutes. Ballantine $25
The editors of Better Homes and Gardens deliver a collection of holiday how-tos that make the season bright! Decorating ideas, crafts and recipes are a wrap for family-friendly fun. Wiley $14.99
© Laurie Roberts
From best-selling author and host of the Food Network’s “Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger” comes So Easy, a gorgeous cookbook for creating delicious and healthy meals that are easy enough for even the busiest people to prepare any day of the week.
It’s so easy
SUE GRAFTON, author of U is for Undertow
Food Network star Nigella Lawson’s first book of Christmas recipes includes incredibly delicious and easyto-make festive meals and treats, with recipes for traditional classics as well as original variations by Nigella. Hyperion $35
r’ s r e m From ull-colo f goes
Starting with their seven most popular destinations, Frommer’s new full-color Complete Guides are packed with color photos and maps—plus more expert tips than ever. Frommer’s Costa Rica 2010 $21.99, 9780470482179 Frommer’s Hawaii 2010 $21.99, 9780470497654 Frommer’s Italy 2010 $25.99, 9780470470695 Frommer’s London 2010 $19.99, 9780470470664 Frommer’s Paris 2010 $19.99, 9780470470671 Frommer’s Alaska 2010 $21.99, 9780470497739 (available 12/21)
“No sugar, no fat and no calories. Books are easy to mail and there are enough choices to please everyone.”
Off the Tourist Trail
With a foreword by Bill Bryson, this book takes 100 clichéd tourist destinations and reveals 1,000 fresh and fascinating alternatives. These lesser-known wonders remind you what real travel is all about. DK $40 9780756653996
Curl up with a good book this winter THE SCARPETTA FACTOR Patricia Cornwell
U IS FOR UNDERTOW Sue Grafton In Kinsey Millhone’s 21st excursion into the world of suspense and misadventure, #1 New York Times best-selling author Sue Grafton delivers a twisting, complex, surprise-filled and totally satisfying thriller.
Kay Scarpetta faces a sensational case and a string of unexpected events in the explosive new novel from the world’s #1 best-selling crime writer. Putnam 978-0-399-15639-7 $27.95
On Sale December 1
DRACULA THE UN-DEAD Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt
Putnam 978-0-399-15597-0 $27.95
RETURN TO THE HUNDRED ACRE WOOD David Benedictus It was 80 years ago, on the publication of The House at Pooh Corner, when Christopher Robin said good-bye to Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. Now they are all back together in new adventures.
He returns… At last, the sequel to the original classic and one of the most influential novels of all time. Dutton 978-0-525-95129-2 $26.95
Dutton Children’s Books 978-0-525-42160-3 $19.99
STREGA NONA’S HARVEST Tomie dePaola Strega Nona attempts to teach Big Anthony about gardening and the importance of order. But when Big Anthony does not follow her directions and tries to use her growing spell, his small vegetable patch turns into an unruly jungle! What will they do with all the extra vegetables?
KNIT THE SEASON A Friday Night Knitting Club Novel Kate Jacobs
From the #1 New York Times best-selling author comes another heartwarming Friday Night Knitting Club novel—a loving, moving, laughout-loud celebration of special times with friends and family. Putnam 978-0-399-15638-0 $24.95
KNIT TWO Kate Jacobs
In this follow-up to the beloved #1 New York Times bestseller The Friday Night Knitting Club, Georgia Walker and her fellow knitters continue to rely on each other for help, even as they struggle with new challenges. Berkley Trade 978-0-425-22992-7 $15.00
JAN BRETT’S SNOWY TREASURY Jan Brett
Four of Jan Brett’s bestsellers together in a gorgeous treasury. Includes Gingerbread Baby, The Mitten, The Hat and The Three Snow Bears, set in Switzerland, the Ukraine, Denmark and the Arctic, respectively. G.P. Putnam’s Sons 978-0-399-25401-7 $29.99
A TOUCH OF DEAD Sookie Stackhouse: The Complete Stories Charlaine Harris
GRAVE SECRET Charlaine Harris
DARK SLAYER Christine Feehan
The brand-new novel from the #1 New York Times best-selling author, featuring the rarest of Carpathians— a female. Berkley Hardcover 978-0-425-22973-6 $25.95
Plume 978-0-452-29557-5 $20.00
A SIMPLE CHRISTMAS Twelve Stories That Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit Mike Huckabee The former presidential candidate, governor, and pastor returns with the perfect gift book. He shares 12 true and heartwarming stories from his past—often funny, sometimes deeply moving— that help recall the real meaning of Christmas.
SKIPPYJON JONES LOST IN SPICE Judy Schachner Buckle up, amigos—everyone’s favorite kitty boy is about to lift off. You’ll want to be there when the brave Skippito gets lost in spice! Skippy knows—from his big ears to his toes—that the planet Mars is red because it’s covered in spicy red pepper, and he’s off on a space jaunt to prove it. Dutton Children’s Books 978-0-525-47965-9 $16.99
THE SARTORIALIST Scott Schuman
An inspired photographic journey into the extraordinary style of everyday people by the photographer and creator of the wildly successful fashion blog thesartorialist.com. Penguin 978-0-14-311637-0 $25.00
THE BORDER LORD AND THE LADY Bertrice Small
Ace Hardcover 978-0-441-01769-0 $25.95
Penguin 978-0-14-311643-1 $15.00
SIGNSPOTTING III Lost and Loster in Translation Doug Lansky
OTIS Loren Long
From “UFO University” to “Speedo Check Ahead,” this Signspotting collection takes the reader on a pictorial worldwide tour of the bizarre and hilarious street signs and advertisements that provide far more laughs than information.
Otis is a special tractor. He loves his farmer and he loves to work. But when Otis is replaced with the big yellow tractor, he is cast away behind the barn, unused, unnoticed . . . until the little calf gets stuck in Mud Pond. Then there is only one tractor—and it’s not big or yellow—who can come to the rescue. It is Otis who saves the day.
Perigee 978-0-399-53522-2 $10.95
Philomel Books 978-0-399-25248-8 $17.99
A new novel of stunning epic fantasy from the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Dresden Files.
New American Library 978-0-451-22792-8 $15.00
In this delightful holiday tale, military widow turned B&B owner Josie Taternall decides that life is too short to let old grievances stand in the way of family togetherness.
Viking 978-0-670-02136-9 $21.95
FIRST LORD’S FURY Book Six of the Codex Alera Jim Butcher
From the New York Times best-selling author—the fourth passionate romance in the Border Chronicles series.
BED AND BREAKFAST Lois Battle
This charming novella promises to be the perfect stocking stuffer for fans of Lake Wobegon and anyone hankering for a whimsical holiday yarn to curl up with by the fire.
Hudson Street Press 978-1-594-63066-8 $25.95
Putnam 978-0-399-15599-4 $27.95
Berkley Trade 978-0-425-23007-7 $16.00
A CHRISTMAS BLIZZARD Garrison Keillor
A landmark book that shows us exactly how we have let health and medicine become a crisis in our society— and what we can all do to resolve it.
Sentinel 978-1-59523-062-1 $19.95
The New York Times best-selling movie guide from the household name in film criticism.
WHY OUR HEALTH MATTERS Andrew Weil, M.D.
An audacious new historical thriller, filled with intricate plotting and dazzling set pieces, from the #1 New York Times best-selling author and grand master of adventure. On Sale November 17
Love blooms in the second novel in Nora Roberts’s celebrated Bride Quartet series, following the #1 New York Times bestseller Vision in White. Florist Emma Grant is finding career success at Vows wedding planning company, but she still hasn’t found Mr. Right—except that he’s right under her nose.
Viking 978-0-670-02120-8 $25.95
THE WRECKER Clive Cussler and Justin Scott
From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels comes the brandnew mystery starring lightning-struck sleuth Harper Connelly.
BED OF ROSES Nora Roberts
This intimate dual memoir by bestselling author Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor, gives voice to that most protean of connections: the bond between mother and daughter.
The Penguin Press 978-1-59420-232-2 $26.95
Ace Hardcover 978-0-441-01783-6 $23.95
Berkley Prime Crime Hardcover 978-0-425-23015-2 $24.95
TRAVELING WITH POMEGRANATES Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor
From the ultimate team— basketball superstar LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Friday Night Lights and Three Nights in August—a poignant, thrilling tale of the power of teamwork to transform young lives, including James’ own.
#1 New York Times best-selling author Charlaine Harris delivers a collection of every Sookie Stackhouse short story ever written—just in time for the holidays.
G.P. Putnam’s Sons 978-0-399-25291-4
LEONARD MALTIN’S MOVIE GUIDE 2010 Leonard Maltin
SHOOTING STARS LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger
MOON RIVER AND ME Andy Williams
A remarkable autobiography by one of the most popular and beloved entertainers of the 20th century. Viking 978-0-670-02117-8 $25.95
Penguin Group (USA)
On Sale November 24
Available from Penguin Audio
Give True Life Stories
Give Facts, Fun & Games INCLUDES DVD
For the first time, one of America’s greatest leaders tells his personal story—of his legendary family, politics and 50 years at the center of national events. Twelve $35
Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit
This wonderful, diverse collection spanning the writing career of the celebrated “60 Minutes” commentator and best-selling author is a great gift and must-have for fans. PublicAffairs $26.95
From Peanuts to the Pressbox
In an intimate walk down memory lane, Gold relives some of the greatest moments in Alabama sports and NASCAR, as well as the early days with Yankee broadcasters. Foreword by Bob Costas. Thomas Nelson $24.99
For the first time, the revered Coach Roy Williams—lauded by figures like Barack Obama and Michael Jordan—tells his life story, from his turbulent childhood to UNC’s 2009 National Championship victory. Algonquin $24.95
2010 Physicians’ Desk Reference
PDR has been the authoritative source of FDA-regulated drug information on prescription drugs for more than 63 years. The 2010 PDR includes more than 2,400 drugs organized by brand and generic name, manufacturer and product category. Physician’s Desk Reference $96.95
With astonishing images of skeletons and fossils, this visual encyclopedia explores dinosaurs, early man and plant life in unparalleled detail. Artwork created with cutting-edge technology renders species in full-color images. DK $40
What’s Wrong With My Plant?
Whether your garden consists of herbs on a windowsill or an elaborate backyard border, this innovative, easy-to-use guide diagnoses any plant problem and matches it to the right cure. Timber Press $24.95
The Human Brain Book
Combining the latest findings in neuroscience with state-of-the-art illustrations, this comprehensive book by acclaimed science writer Rita Carter reveals fascinating details about this most potent human organ. DK $40
GARRISON KEILLOR, author of
© Prairie Home Productions
A Christmas Blizzard
Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera
Author and historian Ron Schick delivers a landmark publication that sheds new light on the work and working methods of Norman Rockwell, one of America’s most celebrated illustrators. Little, Brown and Company $40
What the Dog Saw
These provocative and memorable essays from gifted journalist Malcolm Gladwell touch on topics such as the quest to create the perfect cookie and a dissection of Ivy League admissions. Little, Brown and Company $27.99
The Monuments Men
What if your mission was to save the world’s most treasured masterpieces from looting Nazis? Learn more in this fascinating World War II history. Center Street $26.99
Arguing With Idiots
#1 New York Times best-selling author and popular radio and television host Glenn Beck writes the ultimate handbook for tackling—and winning— life’s most important arguments. Threshold Editions $29.99
Insider information and up-to-date stats on the NFL’s greatest players combined with breathtaking fullcolor action photos make this book a must for every fan. Firefly $24.95
The Long Snapper
In his first book since his New York Times bestseller Season of Life, Jeffrey Marx tells the spellbinding story of one man’s odyssey from seventh-grade Bible teacher to Super Bowl champion. HarperOne $24.99
I Am America (And So Can You!) The hilarious Stephen Colbert, always controversial and outspoken, offers his knee-jerk beliefs on the American family, race, religion, sex, sports and many other topics. Grand Central $15.99
This book picks up where An Inconvenient Truth left off, providing a blueprint for solving the global climate crisis from environmental advocate and former Vice President Al Gore. Rodale $26.99
Firefly’s World of Facts
Here are thousands of the most up-to-date facts on a world of topics—answers that address almost every subject on earth. Firefly $29.95 9780786948208
o ur y r e Gath ds and f rien ady for e get r venture ad
“They’re rectangular and easier to wrap than, say, basketballs, and they’re a compliment to the recipient.”
This book is an adorable collection of photographs of smiling, happy, joyous family dogs from The Bark magazine readers. A perfectly packaged gift book that all dog lovers will want. Rodale $16.99 INCLUDES CD
Discover a new world of heroic fantasy with the D&D® Starter Set. Then create bold heroes of your own with the Special Holiday Bundle (Player’s Handbook, Player’s Handbook 2), which offers two books for one great price—along with a $12 savings on a 12-month subscription to D&D Insider.
Wizards of the Coast
The #1 game of the year is now a book. That’s right—the first ever BananaGrams! book brings the brain-twisting, awardwinning word game to the page. Compact, portable and perfect for travel. Workman $8.95
“Sesame Street” is turning 40! Go behind the scenes with this lively, energetic, photo-packed celebration of four decades of groundbreaking educational programming—perfect for fans of all ages. Black Dog & Leventhal $40
Give Hope & Inspiration
Give Hope & Inspiration
The Love Dare: Legacy Edition
The Word of Promise Audio Bible
The New York Times best-selling 40-day marriage devotional featured in the hit Christian film Fireproof is now available in a deluxe, embossed leather keepsake edition, sure to bring couples closer together. B&H Books $22.99 9780849920196 9780785213062
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
The Year of Living Like Jesus
Evangelical pastor Ed Dobson chronicles his year of living like Jesus and obeying his teachings. As Dobson discovers, living like Jesus is quite different from what we imagine. Zondervan $19.99
© Dan Davis Photography
Full of beautiful, heart-wrenching and hilarious stories, this book details one man’s opportunity to edit his life as if he were a character in a movie. Thomas Nelson $19.99
Mossy Oak Giant Print Bible The #1 brand in camouflage brings enthusiasm for the outdoors together with passion for God. Enjoy God’s creation while reading God’s Word! Thomas Nelson $39.99
Find Your Strongest Life
Find the powerful key to bringing fulfillment, peace and control into your life. This book will help shatter myths about balance between a woman’s home and work life. Thomas Nelson $29.99
What Difference Do It Make?
This faithful rendering of the NKJV presents the Bible in more than 90 hours of compelling, dramatic audio theater. The perfect gift for the holiday season. Thomas Nelson $124.99
The more than 400,000 readers stirred by the story of Ron Hall and Denver Moore will identify with the all-new true stories of hope and healing in this follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Same Kind of Different as Me. Thomas Nelson $16.99
In this follow-up to the profound message of Crazy Love, Pastor Francis Chan offers a compelling invitation to understand, embrace and follow the Holy Spirit’s direction in our lives. David C. Cook $14.99
KAREN KINGSBURY, author of Shades of Blue
“Books bring people together. They create moments and special family bonding times along with memories of shared togetherness.”
The Eerdmans Companion to the Bible
With a broad evangelical perspective and a plethora of user-friendly maps, charts and photos, this handbook provides Bible readers with a useful companion on their journey into scripture. Available January 2010. Wm. B. Eerdmans $39.99
Tackle fear with Max Lucado
Imagine your life without fear! Envision a day, just one day, when you could trust more and fear less. What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats? Best-selling author Max Lucado offers hope for you. This is a perfect gift for yourself as well as the others on your list! $24.99
$11.99 9780768431315 9781433502415
ESV Study Bible
The ESV Study Bible, the ECPA 2009 Book of the Year, is now available in 12 different bindings. It has quickly become the leading study Bible with more than 450,000 copies in print during the first year. Crossway $49.99
Praying God’s Word
America’s favorite devotional for more than 30 years with more than 20 million copies sold, Daily Guideposts is a trusted companion, helping readers to live and grow their faith in their everyday lives. GuidepostsBooks $19.99
Daily Guideposts 2010
Best-selling author and women’s Bible teacher Beth Moore guides readers through Scripture-based prayers in this topically arranged guide to praying the Bible, in paperback for the first time. B&H Books $14.99
Fascinating insight into today’s bestsellers
Four diverse women come together in The Powder Room, an online reading place to discuss best-selling books. You will enjoy learning about different beliefs, ideas and experiences as the narrators discuss 90 Minutes in Heaven, The Shack and The Love Dare. In The Twilight Phenomenon, Kurt and Olivia Bruner intelligently dissect the popularity of the Twilight series and drive dialogue about Christian orthodoxy.
You can have a happy and peaceful family
Is it possible to have peace in your house? Is it possible to have your husband and kids help out with chores? Dr. Leman says it is. The New York Times best-selling author and relationship expert shows you how with his easy and accessible principles.
Give a Little Holiday Magic
Give Hours of Fun CDs INCLUDED INCLUDES CD
If You Love a Christmas Tale
The Polar Express: 25th Anniversary Edition
Celebrate the Christmas season with graphic artist Susanna Lockheart’s festive depictions of two classic stories: The Night Before Christmas and The Nutcracker. Barron’s Educational Series $18.99
A beloved holiday classic for 25 years, this lavish gift edition includes a CD audio recording read by Liam Neeson, a note from Chris Van Allsburg and a special keepsake “All Aboard” ornament. Houghton Mifflin $18.95
The Spirit of Christmas
Best-selling author Nancy Tillman has created a beautiful holiday book filled with Christmas memories that families will want to share year after year. Feiwel and Friends $16.99
The Jesus Storybook Bible
Calling all princesses
Join the greatest of all adventures and discover that Jesus is at the center of God’s great story of salvation— and at the center of your story, too. This beautiful deluxe edition of the Moonbeam Award Gold Medal Winner includes the narrative on two CDs. Zonderkidz $24.99
Princesses big and small will love these princess storybooks! Come and giggle with Gigi on all of her adventures with her cat, Lord Fluffy. These are the perfect “must haves” for any princess! Thomas
Introduce young listeners to Winnie-the-Pooh and friends as Stephen Fry, Dame Judi Dench and other famed performers bring A.A. Milne’s classic children’s story to life. Listening Library $20
Delight MUTTS fans—and readers of all ages—with this energetic picture book about every dog’s secret to the joy of life. Little, Brown Young Readers $15.99
CHRIS VAN ALLSBURG, author of The Polar Express
© Michael Keel
PATRICK MCDONNELL, author of Wag!
$18.99 9780794525194 $8.99
“... toys break but good stories are remembered forever.”
The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree
While searching for the perfect Christmas tree for the Bear Family’s Tree House, the family learns a lesson in kindness and respect for others and their belongings. Zondervan $12.99
Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas
Ooh la la! Christmas is Fancy Nancy’s favorite time of year. In this merriest of stories from best-selling duo Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser, Nancy proves once again that a little fancying up can go a long, festive way! HarperCollins $17.99
y Holida ts trea
“There is a perfect book for everyone and books expand your horizons.”
Your preschooler will love chiming in with the Noisy Zoo animals and the rhyming tale of Super Duck ! Dress the dolls for a fabulous wedding and lull your little one to sleep with the beautiful Go to Sleep Little Baby CD.
Usborne Books & Kaner Miller Books
Love You Forever Gift Edition 9780545143141 $16.99
This beloved children’s classic, with its heartwarming story and charming illustrations, has sold more than 15 million copies since it was first published in 1986. Firefly $19.95
9780545159807 $9.99 9780545037730
Happy holidays to readers of all ages
Celebrate the time for giving with these beautiful holiday treasures from notable authors. Endearingly illustrated, these books thrum with the magic and warmth of this festive season in a way that is sure to delight the entire family.
Love You Forever
Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs and Lullabies
The beloved Julie Andrews and her daughter share a deluxe treasury of family favorites in this timeless, fully illustrated collection. Little, Brown Young Readers $24.99
From the creator of the New York Times bestsellers Gallop! and Swing!, this newest animals-in-motion Scanimation® book adds color to each moving image! Sure to inspire prancing, hopping, stomping and scampering. Workman $12.95
LEGO fun from DK Publishing
Explore the LEGO® Star Wars™ galaxy with LEGO® Star Wars™: The Visual Dictionary. Discover the over 50-year history of the LEGO® Brick in The LEGO® Book! Build 16 amazing LEGO® models with DK’s LEGO® Brickmasters™.
Give the Love of Reading
Give the Love of Reading
Open Me Up
Learn about the discovery of penicillin from a graphic novel, see how the heart works via its social networking page and watch white blood cells zap invaders in a video game in this dynamic and informative book about what goes on in our insides. DK $24.99
Fantasy f iction adventures for tweens and teens
109 Forgotten American Heroes
In Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow, Hunter enters a supernatural realm where his adventure becomes a journey of self-discovery. A mysterious flame guides Hunter in his quest to save the Resistance in Hunter Brown and the Consuming Fire.
Produced in collaboration with McSweeney’s, this unique history book looks at 109 forgotten American heroes—from activists, politicians, ordinary citizens, even pets and inanimate objects—that have all played a role in creating our nation. DK $19.99
Hit the high seas with R.A. Salvatore and son
Get on board with the first two books in an epic fantasy adventure written for young readers by New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore and his son, Geno Salvatore—featuring an appearance by the legendary character Drizzt Do’Urden.
The Maze Runner
Thomas wakes up in the Glade, remembering nothing, surrounded by a group of boys. Like Thomas, they remember nothing. To survive, they must solve the maze that surrounds them and escape. Delacorte Books for Young Readers $16.99
The Amanda Project
Who is Amanda Valentino? Why did she disappear? Find out in the first interactive, collaborative fiction series for teen girls. Go to www. theamandaproject.com for an extended Amanda Project experience. HarperTeen $16.99
The Twilight Saga Collection
Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn capture the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. Thrill fans of the Twilight saga with this stunning set. Little, Brown Young Readers $83
The Fairy Godmother Academy: Birdie’s Book
Fairy Godmothers are the hidden protectors of the world, trained by fairies in a land called Aventurine. In the first book in this exciting new series, a fairy godmother named Birdie must travel to Aventurine to save her family. Random House Books for Young Readers $7.99
Teach purity, integrity and generosity In The Princess and the Kiss, a princess learns about the gift of purity. A squire faces the dangers of temptation in The Squire and the Scroll and in The Three Gifts of Christmas, a young princess learns the joy of giving.
An unforgettable foursome of 12-year-olds must face their phobias as students at the exclusive and elusive School of Fear. Little, Brown Young Readers $15.99
Truth is more fascinating than f iction
School of Fear
With these books from Kingfisher, bravely explore four dinosaur worlds and stomp around with Tyrannosaurus Rex, take a rollercoaster ride through the world of reason and ridiculousness that is philosophy, journey through magnificent lost worlds and engage in deadly battle with the fiercest warriors of history.
An adventure of extraordinary proportions
Enter a new reality. Louder Than Words—a new memoir series written by teens with powerful voices. Marni, Chelsey and Emily offer the compelling stories of their lives and you won’t put them down until you’ve read every fascinating word!
JAMES PATTERSON, author of I, Alex Cross 9780786952434
You never know when you’ll meet a vampire If you ever find yourself face-to-fang with a vampire (or faced with becoming one yourself ), it’s best to be prepared. Learn the tricks of the trade from a vampire hunter, then peek into the life of a teenager with a surprising bloodline.
© Deborah Feingold
“... parents and grandparents need to continue to give books as gifts. And make sure it’s a book that each kid is really going to love.”
® ® ®
America’s America’s BoOK BoOK Review Review TTH HEE BBEESSTT IIN N N NEEW W BBO OO OKKSS Publisher Michael A. Zibart Publisher Associate Michael A.publisher Zibart Julia Steele Associate publisher Editor Julia Steele Lynn L. Green Editor fiction Editor Lynn L. Green Abby Plesser fiction Editor NONfiction Editor Abby Plesser Kate Pritchard web Editor web TrishaEditor Ping Trisha Ping Contributing Editor Assistant web Editor Sukey Howard Eliza Borné Contributor Contributing Editor Roger Bishop Sukey Howard Children’s books Contributor Allison Hammond Roger Bishop Advertising Sales Children’s books Julia Steele Allison J.Hammond Angela Bowman Advertising Sales Production Manager JuliaChildress Steele Penny Angela J. Bowman Production Designer Production Manager Karen Trotter Elley Penny Childress SUBSCRIPTION MANAGER Production Designer Elizabeth Grace Herbert Karen Trotter Elley Customer Service SUBSCRIPTION MANAGER Alice Fitzgibbon Elizabeth Grace Herbert ONLINE SERVICES manager Customer Service Scott Grissom Alice Fitzgibbon ONLINE SERVICES manager Scott Grissom
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INTERVIEW 29 Gregory Maguire A classic holiday tale from the
author of Wicked
FEATURES 20 Kate Jacobs Meet the author of the Friday Night
Knitting Club series
32 Well Read Alexander McCall Smith gives readers a
new heroine to root for
gifts 22 Literary Quirky and classic selections for
26 Guys Sports, humor and more
30 Religion Give the gift of inspiration 40 Travel The world at your fingertips 42 Science & Nature From birds to brains and
everything in between
45 Style Fashionable home design
Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro
46 Music The best books for the music buff
Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin
and Nicola Kraus
A Good Fall by Ha Jin
36 Picture Books The best picks for the season
37 Nancy Tillman Meet the author-illustrator
20 Read My Pins by Madeleine Albright
47 Art Seeing is believing
38 Under the Tree Seasonal selections for kids—
and kids at heart
39 Teen Scene Great gifts for your favorite teen
BBO O O K PA GE.COM
by Lisa Scottoline
32 Cake Wrecks by Jen Yates 34 Raymond Carver by Carol Sklenicka Ken Burns
44 YOU: Having a Baby by Michael F. Roizen, M.D.,
and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D.
44 The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion
by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
45 The Secret Lives of Buildings by Edward Hollis 45 How to Sew a Button by Erin Bried
Rates or contact Julia Rates are are available availableonline, at BookPage.com or Steele 615-292-8926, ext.15. contactatJulia Steele at 615-292-8926, ext.15.
RREEA AD DA ALLLL O OU URR RREEVVIIEEW WSS AT AT
Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog
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Changing the world, one school at a time
24 Holiday Nonfiction Books to get you in the spirit
Grab a Christmas story and curl up by the fire page
19 29 33 34 41 44
The Author Enablers Bestseller Watch Whodunit? Audio Romance Cooking
THE AUTHOR ENABLERS
One island, one book Booksellers choose their favorite reading for castaways Marcia Schneider (San Francisco Public Library) says, “Ahh . . . The complete works of Jane Austen. Another time, another place, but still the same human foibles of love, regret, misunderstanding, jealousy, hypocrisy, humility, self-importance and more. How could someone so young write with such understanding, all in elegant, compact and highly accessible prose? A delicious treat that would provide excellent company and keep me entertained for a long time.” Tricia Lightweis (Booksmith in Seneca, South Carolina) tells us: “I would not be stuck on a desert island without the book You Are My Miracle by Maryann Cusimano Love and Satomi Ichikawa. This book comes as close as anything I have ever read to describing the great love between a parent and child. Its beauty is in its simplicity. I sell many copies to adults as gifts for their adult children as well as to parents of young children. I’ve yet to see a customer read it without sentimental tears. And I’ve yet to discuss its beauty without those same sentimental drops myself. Each of my four adult children has a personal copy inscribed with a handwritten love letter from both my husband and myself.” Mitchell Kaplan (Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida) checks in: “For me it would have to be Joyce’s Ulysses, a novel that I was supposed to read for maybe a half dozen different classes and never got all the way through. I’m pretty sure it would keep me occupied for a great deal of time before my rescue.” Calvin Crosby (Books, Inc. in Berkeley, California) loves Julia Glass. “Being stranded on a desert island with Three Junes (or either of her other two books) would be awesome. Her work is so character-driven and casts big enough that you would never be lonely, as you learn more about each character every time you read the book.” Kathy Patrick (Beauty and the Book in Jefferson, Texas, and founder of the Pulpwood Queens book club) says, “That’s easy: my favorite book of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I re-read it every year, sometimes twice, and I still find nuances that I had never picked up on before after each read. It’s my great ‘fiction’ bible. I know that is probably a given but the only other book I would choose would be the NLT Study Bible, which I am reading at this time. And I might add, I would not want the e-reader version; I would want the real book.” Kathleen Caldwell (A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland, California) has a similar choice. “My desert island book would have to be Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White; I read it at least once a year and every time I read the last sentence I feel a little sad that it’s over. It’s both a celebration of friendship and an affirmation of life going on.” Craig Shafer (Boulder Book Store in Boulder, Colorado) would choose “Don Quixote (Edith Grossman, translator). It has been sitting on my shelf since it came out and at 940 pages it would keep me occupied for a while.” We want to thank all these independent thinkers for their ideas. Remember to support libraries and independent bookstores—without them, many of our favorite authors would never have been published. Let’s not leave all our book choices in the hands of a few conglomerates! o In a strange, coincidental twist of circumstance (nudge, wink), Sam chose And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You by Kathi Kamen Goldmark, “a charming, sunny, well-told story,” as his desert island selection, while Kathi chose How to Play the Harmonica: and Other Life Lessons by Sam Barry, “a great gift for aspiring harmonica players.”
#1 New York Times bestselling author of The Friday Night Knitting Club
KNIT TWO As the Friday Night Knitting Club’s various projects—an afghan, baby booties, a wedding coat— are pieced together, so is their understanding of the patterns underlying the stresses and joys of their relationships. “Pull up your afghan and snuggle in with The Friday Night Knitting Club.” –USA Today (on The Friday Night Knitting Club)
BERKLEY A Member of Penguin Group (USA) penguin.com
DECEMBER 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
Once again the holidays are upon us, and if you’re anything like us, this means you need ideas for last-minute shopping. Each year we try to help by asking for gift book suggestions from some of our favorite authors. This year we decided to switch up a little and ask some of our favorite independent booksellers, plus one fabulous librarian, for their recommendations. The theme is from a classic dinner party parlor game: if you BY SAM BARRY & were stuck on a desert island and had to KATHI KAMEN GOLDMARK choose just one book to keep you company, what would it be? Megan Zabel (Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon) loves Lamb by Christopher Moore. “Sure, some of the humor might be teetering on juvenile (a variety I’ve been known to wholeheartedly embrace), but this hilarious adventure story paired with Moore’s overarching message of hope knocked me off my feet. If I’m going to be trapped on a desert island, I could probably use some hope—and some juvenile humor. (Besides, who will be on the island to judge?) Somehow, through all the brouhaha, Moore manages to make more sense of the Bible than I got out of 12 years of Lutheran school, and does it in a non-polarizing way that appeals to people of all faiths—or those who have none. I’ve been wholeheartedly recommending this book for years.” Elaine Petrocelli (Book Passage in Corte Madera and San Francisco, California) says, “If I was on a desert island, I’d dream of being somewhere else. I’d want A Writer’s World by the great Jan Morris. With this enticing book I could travel to Everest, the Middle East, South Africa, the Caribbean, South America, all over Europe, China, Canada, Sydney and even the U.S. I could pretend I was walking in a deserted calle in Venice on a cold February night instead of sweating on that hot island. I could get the news (in 1953) that Everest had at last been climbed. I could go to the opera in Odessa. And like Morris, I could be seduced by Rio de Janeiro. I wouldn’t want to be rescued until I got to read all 464 pages at least a couple of times.” Bill Petrocelli (also from Book Passage) says, “Stuck on a desert island? What kind of a premise is that? If I took a favorite book I’d already read, I’d be bored out of my mind in about an hour! I would need something big like Winston Churchill’s The Second World War (6 volumes) or Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of History (12 volumes!) to keep me from going nuts. On the other hand, those things are so voluminous they would probably sink with my suitcase after the plane crashed (that’s how I got to the island, I suppose), so I might end up with nothing to read at all. So I’ll settle for the two-volume Anderson & Zinsser’s A History of Their Own: Women in Europe from Prehistory to the Present. At a combined 876 pages, that ought to keep me busy until the rescue team arrives. And, as a guy, I’m sure I’d find lots of things in those two volumes that I should have known—but really didn’t. However, there’s only one problem: some doofus at Harper let that book go out of print [ed: though it’s still available from Oxford University Press]. Sheesh! Maybe I’ll just take my iPod.”
NOW IN PAPERBACK
Munro’s stories stay close to home By Harvey Freedenberg What’s most remarkable about Alice Munro’s latest collection is the vast psychological terrain she covers in just 10 stories, while rarely straying from her home territory of rural Ontario. It’s common for Munro’s stories—exploring what one of her characters calls the “emotional housekeeping of the world”—to range across decades, in a scope that’s more akin to a compressed novel than a singular offering of short fiction. In one such story, “Deep Holes,” she traces the reverberation of a child’s accident at a family picnic in his troubled life years later, while in “Face,” a boy’s disfiguring birthmark has much to do with shaping the man he becomes. Still, Munro is equally adroit at painting on a smaller canvas, as she sketches the tension and conflict among three women tending to a man dying of leukemia in “Some Women.” Several of the stories feature macabre plot twists, as in “Free Radicals,” where a cancer-stricken woman finds herself face-to-face with a dangerous intruder and invents a horrible secret about her past in order to persuade him to spare her. In “Child’s Play,” two women bear for a lifetime, and in strikingly different ways, the burden of a terrible act Too Much they committed one summer at camp. And in the hauntHappiness ing tale “Dimensions,” a young mother who loses her three children to her husband’s violence is reconciled to their loss By Alice Munro Knopf in an almost inexplicable fashion. The collection’s title story, and its longest, takes Munro $25.95, 320 pages ISBN 9780307269768 far from her Canadian roots. In “Too Much Happiness” she Also available on audio creates a deep and plausible interior life for Sophia Kovalevsky, a real-life Russian mathematician and novelist of the late 19th century, elegantly connecting Kovalevsky’s passion for the precision of mathematics with her humanistic side. “Rigorous, meticulous, one must be, but so must be the great poet,” she writes. While Munro is not above poking some good-natured fun at herself, referring to the author of a collection of short stories in the story “Fiction” as “somebody who is just hanging on to the gates of Literature, rather than safely settled inside,” this latest work from a master of the form demonstrates why she’s earned her place of honor in the house of fiction. o Harvey Freedenberg writes from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
DECEMBER 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
A diplomat’s secret weapon
Kate Jacobs’ debut, The Friday Night Knitting Club, was a surprise hit that spent more than a year on the bestseller list and now has more than one million copies in print. She returns to the Walker & Daughter knit shop in a new holiday novel, Knit the Season (Putnam, $24.95, 272 pages, ISBN 9780399156380). Jacobs 20 and her husband live in Southern California.
By Lacey Galbraith Cleopatra had her pearls, the British Empire its crown. Jewelry has long held a symbolic place in world affairs, and for Madeleine Albright, the all-important symbol is the brooch. In her new book Read My Pins: Stories From a Diplomat’s Jewel Box, the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state offers a colorful view of international politics, explaining how fashion’s classic accessory became an integral part of her “personal diplomatic arsenal.” During the course of her decade-long career as a public servant, Albright traveled widely, and the pins she bought—or was given—became a vast and varied menagerie. Blending memoir, anecdote and colorful world history, Read My Pins tells the story behind each piece. Albright’s unique use of jewelry began with an 18K gold snake pin worn to a meeting with Iraqi officials (Saddam Hussein’s government-controlled press had called her an “unparalleled serpent”). When meeting with North Korea’s Read My Pins Kim Jong-il, Albright donned a red-white-and-blue By Madeleine Albright American flag as an outward symbol of her per- Harper sonal belief in the rules of democracy. A Swarovski $40, 176 pages heart was chosen to pay tribute to the victims of ISBN 9780060899189 September 11. Whether a ceramic Valentine’s Day gift from Albright’s then five-year-old daughter or a diamond-encrusted dazzler, every pin is a joy to behold. Albright’s remarkable story offers a fascinating and bejeweled look at America, and American foreign policy, during the latter half of the 20th century. o
Crichton’s swashbuckling finale
“I have worked to keep the many promises I made to my mother about how I’d live my life, promises large and small, spoken and silent, promises that brought me success and have kept me grounded.”
© Mary Ann Halpin
By Ian Schwartz In Michael Crichton’s posthumously published Pirate Latitudes, the grog is strong, the wenches are saucy, the blood is spilled by the bucket and the cutthroats do their slicing with fiendish regularity. The hero of this fast-paced novel is Charles Hunter, a Harvard-educated swashbuckler who is a privateer captain of some renown. He does not like to be called a pirate—a point he makes by nearly drowning a man in a plate of gravy—but in Jamaica’s Port Royal in 1665, that distinction is a fine one. Port Royal is a city of riches that is little more than a den of thieves. It also is Great Britain’s precarious toehold in a Caribbean dominated by Spain. Hunter, like other privateers in the sometime employ of the British, earns his living by raiding Spanish merchant ships. Now a storm has separated a Spanish galleon holding untold riches from its escorts, and Captain Hunter has his eye on the prize. With the blessing of Port Royal’s British governor, Sir James Almont, Hunter and his picaresque crew sail off to capture the treasure. Pirate Latitudes While the galleon El Trinidad is nearby, it rests in a harbor protected by an impregnable fortress. The Spanish com- By Michael Crichton mander of the harbor at Matanceros is the ruthless Cazalla, Harper 320 pages who tortured and murdered Hunter’s brother. To steal away $27.99, ISBN 9780061929373 with the galleon, Hunter must first figure out a way to silence Also available on audio the cannons of Matanceros without meeting the same fate as his brother. An assistant discovered this completed manuscript in Crichton’s computer after the best-selling novelist’s death in 2008. Crichton appears to have done a good deal of nautical and political research for his old-fashioned adventure yarn. With its numerous battles, hurricanes and even a Kraken-like monster that rises from the depths to block Hunter’s path home, it’s rather different from the author’s normal fare (Jurassic Park, The Great Train Robbery, The Andromeda Strain). But action on the high seas is always fun, especially guided by the talented—and gone-too-soon—Michael Crichton. o Ian Schwartz writes from San Diego.
eat r g
The promises Sam Haskell made to his mother, Mary, have guided from precocious boyhood to student at Ole Miss to Hollywood, where he rose from the William Morris mailroom to become the Agency’s Worldwide Head of Television.
“A portrait of character—something mothers and sons should read together while celebrating one of the greatest bonds that exists in the world today.”—LiLy TomLin “An eye-opening read for anyone who has the capacity to dream.”—DoLLy ParTon AVAILABLE WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD. T Ballantine Books | www.ballantinebooks.com
DECEMBER 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
By Amy Scribner Some of the best books are the ones in which it’s clear the author had as much fun writing the book as you do reading it. Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog is one of those books. Best-selling mystery writer Lisa Scottoline (Look Again, Lady Killer) also writes a regular Sunday column, “Chick Wit,” for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Here, she has compiled about 70 of the funniest, smartest and most poignant dispatches (plus a few new essays) into one deliciously exuberant collection. A single (and happily so, referring to her ex-husbands as Thing One and Thing Two) mother of a college-age daughter, Scottoline lives with four unruly dogs and two cats. Add one feisty octogenarian mom and Scottoline’s brother Frank, who is gay and lives in Miami, and she has a vibrant cast of characters to populate her columns. But what really makes this collection so addictive is Scottoline’s way of capturing everyday moments, dissecting them and coming up with unexpected and slightly off-kilter observations about life. When daughter Francesca comes home from college for the summer, Scottoline notices that she’s gotten used to having the house to herself: “Francesca’s become a vegetarian, so we go food-shopping all the time. We’re in the market, squinting at labels and scanning for magic words like cruelty-free. What’s the Why My Third alternative? Pro-cruelty? Obviously she’s right, but all of a Husband Will sudden, I’m spending too much of my life around produce. Be a Dog Plus, I’m carb-free, which means that we agree only on celery. . . . You get the idea. My daughter has disturbed my By Lisa Scottoline empty nest, and she’ll be home all summer. And you know St. Martin’s $21.99, 320 pages what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.” ISBN 9780312587482 There’s a reason the book is subtitled “The Amazing Ad- Also available on audio ventures of an Ordinary Woman.” Scottoline is an ordinary woman, and unlike the fast-paced legal thrillers she’s best known for, in this book she’s going to tell you all about what kind of tattoos she’d get if she were brave enough, why she dreads magazine subscription notices and her deep thoughts on Jennifer Aniston’s hair. And the funny thing is, it’ll make you think. o Amy Scribner writes from Olympia, Washington.
Scottoline’s wit and wisdom
Literary delights: Gifts for the discriminating reader By Julie Hale echnology may have altered the face of publishing, but among true bibliophiles the old impulses persist. In the tradition of old-fashioned bookishness (long may it endure!), we’ve rounded up a delightful miscellany of literary titles. This holiday season, smarten the shelves of your favorite reader with one of these engaging books.
Daily inspiration Booklovers can indulge their obsession on a regular basis with Hallie Ephron’s The Bibliophile’s Devotional: 365 Days of Literary Classics (Adams Media, $16.95, 400 pages, ISBN 9781605501055). Offering a book-a-day survey of time-honored works in addition to the classics of the future, this lively reference volume brims with author anecdotes, great quotes, plot précis and other literary tidbits. Ephron (yes, she is one of those Ephrons—sister to Nora, Delia and Amy) serves as an instructor at writing workshops around the country and as a book columnist for the Boston Globe. Spotlighting revered novels by Edith Wharton and George Eliot as well as popular modern works from Mary Karr and Salman Rushdie, Ephron provides a balanced representation of great books, along with insightful entries for each title—something for every reader. She writes with discernment, wit and evident affection for her subject matter, and her zeal is contagious. Just try to confine yourself to a single day’s devotional. Reader, it can’t be done.
fessor of Victorian literature at the University of London and former president of the Dickens Society of America— offers the first biography of the author in 20 years. He brings a wealth of knowledge and a flair for factual storytelling to this comprehensive chronicle. Readers already familiar with Dickens’ history will welcome Slater’s in-depth focus on his work—the journalism, letters, lectures, plays and essays produced during a career that started in 1833, when Dickens published his first short story, and ended with his death nearly four decades later, in 1870. Slater also focuses on the author’s idiosyncrasies—his mania for organization, inclination for younger women and passion for social reform—and these richly explored traits add wonderful dimension to the narrative. As the reader soon realizes, there’s more to the man and his work than meets the eye, and Slater, who has written several authoritative books on his beloved subject, covers it all in this compelling biography.
A timeless institution
In addition to its more obvious functions—serving as a repository for books and a place of study—the public library represents a society’s finest efforts at civic improvement. In The Library: An Illustrated History (Skyhorse, $35, 310 pages, ISBN 9781602397064) by historian Stuart A.P. Murray, the most democratic of institutions receives a fitting tribute. Packed with colorful photos, illustrations and archival materials, this handsome volume traces the roots of the modern library back to ancient times and examines the role it played during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The institution’s Reconsidering Dickens evolution in the U.S.—growth that The genius who conjured some of the most enduring led to the nation-sweeping library characters in world literature—Ebenezer Scrooge, Pip, Ol- movement of the 1830s—is also amiver Twist, the list goes on—gets a fresh evaluation in Mi- ply covered. A survey of the world’s chael Slater’s Charles Dickens (Yale, $35, 712 pages, ISBN significant contemporary libraries, 9780300112078). With this volume, Slater—emeritus pro- featuring great collections like the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris and the Folger Shakespeare Library in WashingThis holiday season brings new translations of three classic works ton, D.C., rounds from some of the world’s most famous authors. out the volume. German author Günter Grass collaborated with Breon Mitchell on a Published with asbrand-new translation of his Nobel Prize-winning classistance from the sic, The Tin Drum (HMH, $26, ISBN 9780151014163). American Library Association, this In 2005, Mitchell and nine other translators accompais a vivid historical tour of an invalunied Grass on a week-long retreat in Germany, asking able establishment. questions about the book and touring the locations featured in The Tin Drum. The result? The most faithHistory of a classic ful translation in 50 years. If you haven’t read this modern classic, now’s the time. Survey the bookshelves of any edPeter Ackroyd knows England—and English history—like few othitor, and one title you’re likely to find ers, so perhaps it’s not surprising that he’s taken on the task of retellis The Elements of Style by William ing Chaucer’s classic poem, The Canterbury Tales (Viking, $35, ISBN Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. Initially de9780670021222). This edition stands out because Ackroyd has chosen signed as a classroom reference manual, to present the poem as prose—a decision that Chaucer, who wrote his this revered grammar guide was first poem in English rather than French to make it accessible to a larger published by Strunk himself—a Cornell audience—would no doubt applaud. University English professor—in 1918. And finally, Russian translators extraordinaire RichFour decades later, White, a former stuard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have completed a dent of Strunk’s, revised the guide for new collection of Leo Tolstoy’s short fiction. The Death Macmillan and Company. Since then, of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories (Knopf, $28.95, ISBN Elements has sold more than 10 million 9780307268815) contains 11 classic tales that were copies. The evolution of this unlikely written at the end of the author’s career. o classic is documented in Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk —TRISHA PING 22 and White’s The Elements of Style DECEMBER 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
Old favorites, new editions
(Touchstone, $22.99, 224 pages, ISBN 9781416590927) by Mark Garvey. An award-winning journalist, Garvey brings an insider’s sensibility to this wonderfully readable chronicle of how The Elements of Style came to be. Using previously unpublished letters and photographs from White’s archives, he provides an in-depth look at the men behind the book. He also interviews big-name authors like Elmore Leonard and Adam Gopnik, who share their thoughts on the guide. A lively, well-rounded tribute to the volume that has become an editor’s bible, Stylized is a compelling account of the birth of a classic.
Addicted to Austen With their plucky heroines, surprising plots and ohso-delicious endings, Jane Austen’s books represent a perfect synthesis of the elements of fiction. Although they’re firmly rooted in reality, each of her narratives has the air of a fairy tale. The beloved novelist’s special kind of literary alchemy is celebrated in A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen (Random House, $25, 320 pages, ISBN 9781400068050). In this intriguing collection of essays, a diverse group of authors consider Austen’s singular appeal and examine enduring works like Emma and Persuasion. Among the admiring voices included here are Jay McInerney, who comes clean about his crushes on Austen’s female protagonists; Martin Amis, who ponders the pleasures of re-reading Pride and Prejudice; and Virginia Woolf, who speculates on what Austen’s career might have been like had she lived past the age of 42. Edited by scholar Susannah Carson, this fascinating volume offers a range of perspectives on the great lady’s work, supporting the theory that no one is immune to the allure of Austen.
Royal treatment One of the best-selling books of all time, The Little Prince, written by French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was first published in 1943. This unforgettable fable about a young boy who leaves the asteroid he calls home to explore the universe has since been translated into 180 languages. Now, thanks to the wonders of paper engineering, the story has been recast in an interactive, three-dimensional format, and the result, The Little Prince Deluxe Pop-Up Book (HMH, $35, 64 pages, ISBN 9780547260693), is a magnificent twist on the original tale. Ingenious pull-tabs and cunning mechanical features enhance the prince’s extra-terrestrial travels, making his story more irresistible than ever. Cleverly designed and loaded with hidden surprises, the pop-up Prince is the perfect gift for Saint-Exupéry enthusiasts and a splendid introduction for readers unacquainted with the classic. o Julie Hale reads the classics in North Carolina.
A unique and original tale from the author of THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY
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“Unlike anything else in McCall Smith’s work.” —THE INDEPENDENT
“He writes about the enduring, patient qualities of love.” —THE TIMES (UK)
—THE DAILY MAIL (UK)
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“A gentle and uplifting read.”
Green gifts, crafty cookies and lots of laughs By Deanna Larson ingerbread and dirty Santas, nativity scenes and maxed-out credit cards: the holidays bring both highs and lows. During this most special time of year, there are cooks cooking, crafters crafting— and people creating wacky Christmases of their own making, as celebrated in these new books.
Strange stories of the season
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Count on Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors, A Wolf at the Table) to have a droll but dysfunctional take on the most sacred of holidays. You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas (St. Martin’s, $21.99, 224 pages, ISBN 9780312341916) is a stepbrother of sorts to that antidote for forced merriment, David Sedaris’ Holidays on Ice. In “Two Eyes Made Out of Coal,” Burroughs attempts to impress his mother with a gingerbread house as seen in a magazine but decides to use “imagination” instead of the chump’s choice—following the recipe—and ends up with less fairy tale castle and more “public housing unit.” The mandatory participation of the holiday season strains Burroughs’ spirits in “Why Do You Reward Me Thus?” as he realizes how much he despises the “sheep shoppers,” the being-with-friends thing and the hijacking of Hanukkah. So he searches Manhattan for Jews, Chinese and others “on the outside of the snow globe” who “don’t give a [expletive] about Christmas either.” In a denouement worthy of O. Henry, he finds bums wanting to talk semiotics and a homeless angel who brings Burroughs out of his despondent drunken stupor with a Puccini aria instead of “The Chipmunk Song.” It’s the hap-happiest season of all, so take a spin through the holiday madness in The Upside-Down Christmas Tree: And Other Bizarre Yuletide Tales (Lyons, $14.95, 208 pages, ISBN 9781599214191). Authors
Back to basics If you fear that the real meaning of Christmas is getting lost amid all the stressful gift-buying and Santa kitsch, take some time to look through The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: 101 Inspiring Ways to Enjoy Christmas (Howard, $15.99, 145 pages, ISBN 9781416598589). This small book will help you rediscover the joy of the season, offering advice both practical (Take a Winter Walk) and philosophical (Be Thankful, Practice Forgiveness) and reminding us that we celebrate Christmas not only when we focus on ourselves (Enjoy a Cozy Fire) but also when we serve others (Donate in Someone’s Name, Visit the Sick and Elderly). With inspirational phrases, biblical passages and quotes from Christmas classics on each page, this book is a balm for the Christmas-wearied soul. o —KATE PRITCHARD
Delilah Scott and Emma Troy uncover kooky traditions, presents from hell, weird holiday food and drink, unusual decorations and dysfunctional family antics from Christmases around the world. From the festive kiviak—or rotten auk meat—of Greenland and trees decorated in tampon “ornaments” to the clever “divide-and-conquer” in-laws’ Christmas, the “Yankee Swap” created by the original frugal regifters and the number of Santas peed on by children (34 percent), this compendium of all things kooky, charming and Christmas will provide plenty of laughs at the holiday table. Pop-culture writer Hank Stuever enters the world of the Christmas crazy willingly in Tinsel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present (HMH, $24, 352 pages, ISBN 9780547134659). Relocating to a Dallas suburb over the course of three years to follow “true holiday believers,” Stuever— an award-winning writer for the Washington Post Style section and author of Off Ramp— creates an utterly charming yet sobering profile of the music, traditions, money, pressure and sheer nuttiness of the city’s seasonal celebration. Traveling with the proprietor of Two Elves with a Twist home trimming service, visiting with homeowners who light up their house so brightly it’s visible from space, meeting collectors of the twee Department 56 miniature villages and witnessing a single mom as she tries to provide a good holiday for her kids, Stuever is part sociologist, part psychologist and always a perceptive observer, placing American holiday rituals in a new light. “Our sense of Christmas is nothing without the narrative of heartbreaking need,” he writes. “Mary needed a place to give birth and nobody would give her one. This need for need exists so that our children can distinguish it from the concept of want.”
Help for the holidays Hostesses who fear they won’t have the mostest this holiday season only need a few hours with Best of Christmas Ideas (Wiley, $14.99, 192 pages, ISBN 9780470503959) to boost their spirits. The editors and stylists of Better Homes and Gardens magazine can be counted on for “fresh, fast and fabulous” ideas for stylish holiday decor, table settings, floral centerpieces, wreaths, cards, wrapping and treats in styles that range from fashion-forward (lime-green tree trimmings, blue velvet stockings) to traditionalcontemporary (feather tree decorated with dried orange slices and pine cones). Need fast decorations? A Tiered Meringue Tree of either homemade or store-bought meringue cookies looks like it took hours but only requires a bit of stacking skills. Expecting last-minute guests? Spend an afternoon making and freezing hearty soups—like Smoked Sausage Split Pea—along with easy rolls and ice cream sandwiches (recipes included), and you’ve got dinner-in-a-minute for a crowd. Kids driving you crazy? Put them to work
making paper cones stuffed with ornaments or pinecones to decorate the tree. Need quick hostess gifts? Try Herbed Toasted Almonds, or dress up a store-bought red pillar candle by gluing stick peppermints along its base. Each recipe, craft or sewing project is illustrated with full-color pictures and complete instructions and patterns (most only require basic crafting or sewing skills), and a list of sources at the back will help harried cooks or crafters place their overnight orders. If Mother Earth is on the gift list, Anna Getty’s I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas: Gifts, Decorations, and Recipes That Use Less and Mean More (Chronicle, $24.95, 180 pages, ISBN 9780811867672) has stylish ideas for celebrating, giving and reflecting on the season that recycle and reuse but still give plenty of joy. Sections on Nesting and Entertaining feature homemade decor and place settings using natural and recycled elements (Recycled Wool Wreath, Newspaper Stocking), and Trimming has ideas for earthy decorations (Sugared Crabapple Ornaments, Twig Stars). The Giving section suggests packaging homemade treats in repurposed containers, such as bamboo steamer baskets. Sophisticated but easy recipes are also included (Cranberry Prosecco Cocktails, Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Ginger and Mascarpone, Pan-Fried Chicken Breasts with Chestnut Stuffing and Port Gravy), and the book is rounded out with lush photographs, “green tips” by famous eco-experts, a resource section listing useful websites and sidebars on green greetings and shipping, recyclable parties, low-impact gift and wrapping ideas and “composting Christmas.” Bakers who are mystified by royal icing and luster dust will feel merry about the elegant designs in Cookie Craft Christmas (Storey, $14.95, 176 pages, ISBN 9781603424400). Valerie Peterson and Janice Fryer—the bakers behind the Cookie Craft series—have created a tiny treasure of a book complete with full-color illustrations of their bakeryworthy holiday creations ranging from easy to elaborate. A few basic rolledcookie recipes and lessons on pre- and post-baking decorative techniques are followed by instructions for more than 70 distinctive designs, plus tips on freezing, shipping and swapping home-baked treats. From white reindeer and gingerbread sleighs to sweet treats for New Year’s and Hanukkah, these cookies are designed to create lasting memories. o Deanna Larson writes from Nashville.
Man with a mission
‘Three Cups of Tea’ author steps up school-building effort
The Best-selling Reference Books of All Time
of derring-do, a geographical and cultural education about a poorly understood region of the world that has become increasFULL-COLOR ingly important to U.S. interests, and a moral education about THROUGHOUT the value of humility in international relationships. PAPERBACK ISBN: 978-1-60057-128-2 But Stones into Schools is also different from the previous book. For one thing, it makes a compelLIST PRICE: $13.99 ling case for what Mortenson calls the Girl Effect—the importance of educating girls and young women in the developing world. Educating girls, Mortenson says, “reduces infant mortality, reduces the population explosion and improves the quality of FULL-COLOR health and of life itself.” In addition, INSERTS Mortenson points out, young men PAPERBACK ISBN: wishing to go on jihad “first must 978-1-60057-123-7 get permission from their mothers. LIST PRICE: $12.99 . . . The Taliban very deliberately target impoverished, illiterate communities because many educated Check out our Web site for women refuse, even at the risk of more information and to order. their lives, to allow their sons to join WWW.WORLDALMANAC.COM the Taliban. There is a profound influence from the mother, especially GREG if she is educated.” So communities where Mortenson’s organization MORTENSON builds schools must agree to send their girls to school. CALL: 1-800-322-8755 Another difference between the FAX: 1-800-678-3633 two books is in the telling of the tale. Three Cups of Tea is written in third person, and Mortenson is the story’s main protagonist. Urged by Viking, his publisher, Mortenson tellsBookPage_1209_WA_AA_1109.indd the 1 11/5/09 4:26:23 PM second installment of his story in the first person. “I’m a pretty shy guy,” Mortenson says. “I was really embarrassed to write it in first person. My wife told the publishers, ‘If Greg writes a book in first person, it will be a pamphlet.’ ” But with help from editor Paul Slovak (“I can’t praise him enough,” Mortenson says) and assists from writers Mike Bryan and Kevin Fedarko, he has produced a compelling first-person account that, ironically, is less about Mortenson than it is about the accomplishments of the Life along the Inner Coast: A Naturalist’s Guide “Dirty Dozen,” the ragtag local staff that has assembled around to the Sounds, Inlets, Rivers, and Intracoastal Mortenson’s school-building effort over the years and “is now Waterway from Norfolk to Key West achieving much more than anything I could ever do. They’re HC $35 9780807833032 willing to risk their lives. They’ve gone into areas where it would Based on decades of travel by the authors along the rivers, be very, very risky for me to go. I’ve been enjoying taking a back backwaters, sounds, bays, lagoons and inlets stretching seat and watching this happen.” from the Chesapeake Bay to the Florida Keys, this book is a guide to the plants, animals and habitats found in one of Finally, Stones into Schools gives a glimpse of Mortenson’s the most biologically diverse regions on the planet. changing role. Because of the phenomenal grassroots response to Three Cups of Tea, he now spends far less time in distant reaches Bring Your ‘A’ of Pakistan and Afghanistan and more time on speaking tours or Game: A Young in his office in Bozeman, building the organization to support the Athlete’s Guide to burgeoning efforts of the Dirty Dozen. To avoid the cynicism and Mental Toughness burnout he has seen in other career humanitarians, he has made a deliberate choice to take better care of himself “emotionally, mentally and physically.” His wife, Dr. Tara Bishop, tries to limit HC $35 9780807833476 him “to 120 days away a year, although last year it was more like 160 days.” The couple has a date every Tuesday night, “no matPB $16.95 ter what,” and he devotes every Saturday to his son and daugh9780807859902 ter. “I’m just a very stubborn Midwesterner,” Mortenson says. “I work very hard at things. I’m not a rocket scientist, and I’ve tried to stress how many failures I’ve had. It is sometimes painful, but Mental training is just as important as physical training when it comes to success in sport. This book was written you have to let people do things themselves. So now I just call specifically for young athletes interested in improving myself a cheerleader, or I say I am the Chief Tea Drinker.” mental performance and reaching their potential in sport. Well, then, long may Greg Mortenson drink tea—and continue to write about it. o UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS 25 Alden Mudge writes from Berkeley, California. PHOTO BY Khyber Mortenson
By Alden Mudge s the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan seems headed from bad to worse, Greg Mortenson, co-author of the blockbuster Three Cups of Tea (140-plus weeks and counting on the New York Times bestseller list), and his Central Asia Institute are building more schools in that volatile region than ever before. The ongoing effort is the subject of Mortenson’s new book, Stones into Schools, a sequel that is at least as good as its inspiring predecessor. “This year has been by far our most successful year,” Mortenson says during a call to his home in Bozeman, Montana. On this particular afternoon Mortenson is at home caring for his 13-year-old daughter, who had her tonsils removed earlier that morning. “She loves singing, so that’s the main thing she’s worried about—her voice and vocal chords,” he says. Mortenson, it quickly becomes obvious, is not a man for sound bites. He is well-read (“I read about two books a week. I read all nonfiction, mostly related to my work, much to my wife’s dismay. Right now I’m reading The Graveyard of Empires by Seth Jones.”). He is knowledgeable enough about working successfully in Afghanistan and Pakistan that the U.S. government, and especially the U.S. military, now regularly seeks his advice (“I’m pretty much a pacifist, so it’s a little hard for me to tell our politicians and the public that the military really gets it. But from my honest perspective on the ground, I’d say a lot of our commanders and NCOs do get it.”). And he is thoughtful, rather than ideological (“We often have to work with some pretty shady characters, including the Taliban, opium smugglers and corrupt government officials. [The success of the work] is about empowering elders, listening more and building relationships. It’s about getting local buy-in. . . . I always say politics won’t bring peace, but people will.”). In conversation, one thought leads him to another, which leads to an exploratory aside, which leads to a question, which leads to a humble demurral, which leads to a revision of the original thought. All of this is part of Mortenson’s genuine personal appeal. Circling back to the original question about the success of his school-building effort, Mortenson says, “It took us eight years to set up the first 30 schools. This year we set up 31 schools. Over the last two years we’ve been moving significantly into areas where the Taliban prevail and we’re able to do that entirely because of our relationships with the local elders.” None of the schools Mortenson has helped build has been forced to close, despite the growing insurgency, because, he says, “the community is so fiercely devoted to something they’ve put their sweat, tears and blood into.” Stones into Schools continues the story of these devoted relationships that Mortenson began to tell in Three Cups of Tea. Like its predecessor, the new book offers a dramatic narrative
“I always say
politics won’t bring peace, but people will.”
By Greg Mortenson Viking $26.95, 448 pages ISBN 9780670021154 Also available on audio
DECEMBER 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
Stones into Schools
GIFTS FOR GUYS
Boy, oh boy Books to suit every guy’s inner cowboy
By Martin Brady nother year passes, and finding good gifts for that favorite guy only gets tougher. Books can be a solution, though, since their subject matter ranges as widely as the different types of guys on anyone’s shopping list. Sports books are always big, and this season has produced several of note, but the practical guy and the guy who likes to laugh are also covered. There are even a couple of books about cowboys—and deep down inside, that’s every guy.
The love of the game The publishers of Sports Illustrated continue to dazzle at holiday time with their beautiful, oversized treatments on major sports, and The Golf Book: A Celebration of the Ancient Game (Sports Illustrated Books, $29.95, 296 pages, ISBN 9781603200851) is no exception. Typical of the book series, the sport is generally broken down into eras, with accompanying facts on achievers and achievements interspersed with articles by members of SI’s roster of past and present first-rate journalists, including Dan Jenkins, Rick Reilly, George Plimpton, Frank Deford and the legendary Herbert Warren Wind, who offers a sobering review of Arnold Palmer’s controversial antics at Amen Corner during the 1958 Masters. The photos, by SI’s many award-winners, are often breath-taking: PGA Tour rookie Tiger Woods staring meaningfully into the camera; Palmer and Jack Nicklaus sharing a poignant post-round moment; Pebble Beach’s gorgeous oceanside 18th hole; and much more. The ladies receive some coverage, too (Mickey Wright, Annika Sorenstam, Paula Creamer, etc.), plus there are endless sidebars focusing on equipment, golf in pop culture, the game as played by our presidents and, in one really surprising photo, the game as played by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro! Roy Blount Jr.’s marvelous foreword, “We’re Talking Golf,” provides etymological clarification of golf’s colorful terminology. ESPN’s Bill Simmons is a basketball freak. He’s also a lively, sharp-witted, delightfully cynical writer who has exhaustively poured his heart and soul into The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy (ESPN, $30, 736 pages, ISBN 9780345511768). This hefty tome can’t be consumed at a single sitting, but it’s damn enjoyable to start reading on any random page. Simmons is relentless, offering cogent historical views of the game’s great teams; sharp statistical analysis; smart assessments of important trades and critical big games; plus the infamous Simmons “pyramid,” which ranks the game’s best-ever 96 players. Simmons is a smart aleck, but he’s also doggedly thorough with his facts and writes with authority—and that includes his almost scholarly insistence on footnotes, which is where a lot of his wit is embedded.
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Sports on the big screen In The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies: Featuring the 100 Greatest Sports Films of All Time (Running Press, $19.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9780762435487), Ray Didinger and Glen Macnow—both Philadelphians with solid sports media backgrounds—offer descriptions of movies ranging from Rocky (#1) to The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (#100). For each film, the authors include backstory sidebars, contemporary critical reactions and evaluations of pivotal scenes. Interspersed throughout are related essays covering, for example, great sports movies for kids and rankings of actors based on their portrayals of famous athletes, plus interviews with various individuals involved in one way or another with the films, such as actors Bob Uecker (Major League) and Dennis Quaid (The Rookie). Black-and-white photos throughout enhance the already impressive coverage.
Be a know-it-all
The guy who wants to get his macho mojo back will certainly have an interest in The Indispensable Book of Practical Life Skills: Essential Lessons in Everything You Need to Be a Fully Functioning Adult (Hammond, $24.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780843716412). True, there are touchy-feely (i.e., girly) things in here, but there are also many how-tos 26 of a kind that used to define the man in our society, like jump-starting a car, splitting logs, dealing with emergencies, being handy around the house, plus outdoorsy stuff like
camping and . . . skinning a rabbit? Illustrated usefully, and with lucid, step-by-step descriptions, this guide covers a lot of other take-charge, know-how-to-git-’er-done situations. (Softer guys can use the book to learn how to bake bread.)
Big laughs from The Onion Since its founding in 1988, the hilarious satirical newspaper The Onion has gained a loyal national following and increasing cultural cachet as an outlet for scathing social and political humor. Our Front Pages: 21 Years of Greatness, Virtue, and Moral Rectitude from America’s Finest News Source (Scribner, $28, 304 pages, ISBN 9781439156926) is a terrific oversized browsing item, reprinting—mostly in full color—the front pages of every issue from inception through the 2008 presidential election. “Clinton Vaguely Disappointed By Lack of Assassination Attempts,” says one headline from February 2001, and anyone who loves The Onion—and we know you’re out there—knows that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Wrap it up and give it to the guy who knows what funny is.
Poker face Author and card player James McManus’ Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker (Farrar, Straus, $30, 528 pages, ISBN 9780374299248) is an erudite, well-researched and fully referenced history of the French parlor game that morphed into an American obsession in the mid-19th century. Ranging from the revolver-toting days of Wild Bill Hickok to smoky 20thcentury Vegas backrooms to the modern age of online gaming, McManus’ work gains broader texture in its linking of play-for-pay card games to various aspects of American society, not least of which are politics and leadership. Hence we learn, among many other things, that President Obama availed himself of poker night while a state senator in Illinois—and acquitted himself well. President Nixon was also notably good playing cards during his World War II service. McManus’ thesis connects gambling to the American character, and given the domestic millions won and lost daily in its various forms, who could say otherwise? An informative glossary of terms is appended.
Channel your inner cowboy Finally, there’s Jim Arndt’s How to Be a Cowboy: A Compendium of Knowledge and Insight, Wit and Wisdom (Gibbs Smith, $19.99, 224 pages, ISBN 9781423606420), a book with a title that speaks for itself. Gorgeous photos are the hallmark of this modest-sized gem, but Arndt, a noted commercial and art photographer, breaks his pictorial coverage down via chapters that also offer cowboy facts and lore, ranging from apparel to the cowboy milieu (ranch, range, rodeo) through cowboy music and the wit and wisdom of the great cowboy philosopher Will Rogers. Cowboys in pop culture are covered in a subsection called “The Cowboy Way,” which presents fun rundowns of great movies and novels and features cool old black-and-white photos of icons such as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. Nevertheless, it’s the rich color camerawork that really compels, and Arndt’s classy shots of elaborately designed boots, shirts, blue jeans and hats, plus peripheral cowboy gear, are enough to make a guy chuck the 9-to-5 and head out to the wild, wild West. o Martin Brady is a Nashville-based arts writer who covers theater, ballet, music and books.
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’Tis the season New Christmas stories set the holiday mood
By Amy Scribner asn’t it just Christmas 2008? How is it possible that it’s already time to haul the decorations out of the garage and begin the season of overeating and overspending again? But the holidays don’t have to be this way. Cozy up with one of these fine Christmas tales to get yourself in the right frame of mind to celebrate the real meaning of the season (or at least to postpone the gift shopping).
Laughing all the way
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We might as well call Wally Lamb the man with the golden pen.Known for such classics as She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, he serves up a treat with this holiday offering, a novella called Wishin’ and Hopin’ (Harper, $19.99, 288 pages, ISBN 9780061941009). It’s the tender, laugh-out-loud funny story of Felix Funicello, an upstanding citizen (“I have an advanced degree in Film Studies, a tenured professorship and an eco-friendly Prius. I vote, volunteer at the soup kitchen, compost, floss.”) who looks back on his fifth-grade year in a 1960s Catholic school. It was a time of immense social change, and Felix is in flux, too, on the verge of puberty with all the confusion and angst that phase of life brings for a young Catholic (or anyone, really). In one of the funniest scenes, Felix confesses to lusting after his third cousin, Annette Funicello (of Mickey Mouse Club fame), whose poster adorns the wall at the lunch counter the family runs at the local bus depot: “I was thinking, as I recited the prayer, about how my impure thoughts were really more Pop’s fault than mine. He was the one who’d led me into temptation by taping Annette’s poster above the fryolator in the first place . . . Monsignor told me to imitate Jesus and gave me his blessing.” The book culminates with . . . let’s just say an unorthodox and truly unforget-
table Christmas pageant for the ages, one that will leave you laughing and thinking nostalgically about your own school days and holidays past.
Unexpected riches The Gift (Harper, $19.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780061706264) is in itself a gift—a perfectly satisfying story of a man who works too much and enjoys life too little. Lou Suffern has always prided himself on his professional success. Being a high-powered Dublin executive is all he knows—that and his well-earned after-work drinks at the pub. His wife and young children barely see him, but Lou doesn’t see that as a problem. After all, he’s providing them with a beautiful home and luxurious life, and that means putting in long hours at the office. “This was what everybody he knew was faced with. Not enough hours of sleep and the inability to get away from work or work-related devices like laptops, BlackBerrys and mobiles: distractions that each of their family members wanted to flush down the toilet.” One freezing morning, he offers his coffee to a homeless man on the sidewalk, and they strike up a conversation. Intrigued, Lou gets Gabe a job in the mailroom of his company, and soon Gabe becomes inextricably involved in Lou’s life and teaches him some tough lessons about what’s really important. The daughter of a former Irish prime minister, Ahern wrote the best-selling novel P.S., I Love You, made into a movie with Hilary Swank. The Gift is another first-class offering that will leave you entertained and enchanted.
A spooky season If a Christmas murder mystery seems a tad macabre, well, it is. But Katherine Hall Page delivers a real treat in The Body in the Sleigh (Morrow, $15.99, 272 pages, ISBN 9780061474255), the latest entry in her Faith Fairchild Mystery series. Faith is a caterer, wife and mother by day, but she’s also an amateur detective who can’t seem to walk three blocks without stumbling over an intriguing whodunit. The Fairchilds have retreated to their cabin in rural Maine to celebrate the holidays while Faith’s husband, Tom, recovers from a frightening illness. Their plan for rest and relaxation is turned upside down when on Christmas Eve, Faith discovers the body of a local teenager in the town holiday display, dead of an apparent heroin overdose. The next day, Mary Bethany, a local cheese maker and recluse, calls Faith to report that an infant was left in her barn the night before. She asks for Faith’s help tracking down the mother, and Faith finds herself searching for answers and trying to connect the two seemingly unrelated incidents. Page is adept at mixing charming narrative with page-turning mystery. The Body in the Sleigh is a poignant reminder of the importance of savoring every moment.
A Victorian Christmas Prolific author Anne Perry writes two Victorian mystery series, a World War II series and a host of holiday mystery novels. Her newest holiday offering, A Christmas Promise (Ballantine, $18, 208 pages, ISBN 9780345510662), is a wonderful addition to her already impressive oeuvre. Two young girls from the slums of London meet each other while one of them, Minnie Maude, is looking for her donkey. Or actually, that of her uncle Alf, who was her caretaker until he was murdered and his donkey and cart stolen. Thirteen-year-old Gracie Phipps, out on an errand for her grandmother, runs into eight-year-old Minnie. She finds herself drawn to the sad young girl, and vows to help her find the donkey, the only thing she has left in the world. The pair are pulled into an unexpected adventure in this slim but satisfying novel. Every wintry detail in this story comes alive, from the girls’ hardscrabble lives to the frosty, cobbled streets of 19th-century London. Longtime Perry readers will recognize Gracie as the maid of Charlotte and Thomas Pitt in her series of the same name (Buckingham Palace Gardens, Long Spoon Lane), but even those new to Perry will enjoy this warm and ultimately redeeming Christmas tale. o Amy Scribner writes from Olympia, Washington.
Gregory Maguire revives Andersen’s classic tale By Ellen Trachtenberg airy tales are, by their very nature, magical things. But telephone interview. “Frederik is the only other child and he has something rather extraordinary happens to them after a line: ‘Here’s a cradle for my babies.’ Therefore I felt invited to they’ve been re-imagined by Gregory Maguire: they get a follow that. I began to realize who the boy was and what his parloyal following. Best known as the author of the wildly popular ticular hardships were. As sad as it is, it’s a beautiful story. There’s Wicked (adapted into a Broadway musical) and its sequels, as well this little bit of domestic magic that re-illuminates the possibility as books for both children (Leaping Beauty, What-the-Dickens) of connection between the living and the dead.” and adults (Confessions of an Ugly While “The Little Match Girl” was Stepsister, Mirror Mirror), Maguire has adored by generations past, it hasn’t lent his witty, sophisticated storytellreached as many 21st-century readers ing to some of the most beloved tales as Andersen’s other tales, which inin our collective consciousness, often clude “The Little Mermaid” and “The altering our long-held and deeply felt Ugly Duckling.” That’s one of the reareactions to notorious characters and sons Maguire selected it for the NPR infamous plotlines. While never conproject. “It struck me as being pertradicting or poking fun at the original fect,” he explains. “Though people of tale, he always adds a new dimension a certain age will remember the story, to our interpretations. it has been gradually slipping away.” All of which makes Maguire’s work But writing a story—with very little perfectly suited to adaptation for stage, lead time—intended to be read aloud screen and, most recently, radio. Each before being published was a new exyear, NPR asks a well-known writer to perience for the author. create a Christmas story for broadcast, “When you’re doing a radio story, and in 2008, Maguire was tapped. The you have to let your characters have result was Matchless, inspired by Hans individual-sounding voices,” MaguChristian Andersen’s classic story “The ire notes. “You have to roll the story Little Match Girl.” In the original work, out very quickly with just enough, translated from Danish in the midbut not too much, description so GREGORY MAGUIRE 19th century, a poor young girl dies that the listeners can learn about the alone in the night, freezing to death in environment as well as the condithe bitter cold. At the time, her dying tions. So it was very different for me. visions were widely interpreted as reliSometimes I’ll have the story idea on The author of Wicked gious metaphors. In Matchless, Magumy desk for five years before I feel ire gently shifts the focus to illuminate like I have caught the particular caimagines a new direction for a seldom-considered character. Young dence of how it should go.” Frederik, living through desperate Published for the first time this the heart-breaking story of times with his mother, is the namefall in a beautifully designed gift ediless boy from Andersen’s tale who abtion, Matchless contains Maguire’s sconds with the match girl’s shoe just own finely detailed black-and-white “The Little Match Girl.” before her death. The shoe is quite a drawings. These vignettes, each confind for Frederik, who has very little tained in a small circle as if viewed in the way of material possessions. But through a lens, show such scenes as a his intention for the shoe is unexpected. He returns home with carriage on a cobblestone street and a cozy attic room accessed his prize and quickly retreats to the attic where he has been meby a ladder. ticulously constructing a miniature island town, made from bits Maguire’s story has the weight and solidity of a treasured folk and pieces he’d collected at the docks. tale, something to be handed down and retold. It’s for children “Andersen left me a little thread to pull,” Maguire says in a at bedtime but also for their grandparents. That’s one of Maguire’s obvious strengths: the ability to write on several different levels to personally address the interests of his entire audience. He credits Andersen with a similar talent: “He had the capacity to start the story in the first sentence. He dispensed with many of the conventions of storytelling—the once-upon-a-times—and There’s more to admire from Gregory Maguire this seaspoke colloquially.” son, by way of an elegant and distinctive tribute to Maurice In Matchless, Maguire leaves open the possibility of an optiSendak, whose stories have captured the rapt attention of mistic ending, as Frederik’s family joins together with the poor children for decades. In Making Mischief (Morrow, $27.50, match girl’s. And with this retelling comes the possibility of re208 pages, ISBN 9780061689161), newed interest in the original story. But perhaps, too, the reading Maguire examines Sendak’s influof Matchless will become a new holiday tradition for many famiences—from William Blake and lies. “It’s something that all artists hope,” says the author, “that Mozart to Lewis Carroll and Walt their work will live beyond the length Disney—to explore the creative of their days.” o exchange that artists have with Ellen Trachtenberg is the author of The one another. Maguire also pays Best Children’s Literature: A Parent’s homage to the enduring magic Guide. She writes from Philadelphia. of Where the Wild Things Are by providing it with alternative illustrations, designed, he says, “to make us see the original with even more dazzle in our Matchless eyes.” Commence the wild rumpus for fans of Sendak and By Gregory Maguire Maguire. This gorgeous new book is sure to please both. o
White knights, myths, and magic abound in Believe.
Photo by Andy Newman
Morrow $19.99, 112 pages ISBN 9780061913013
A beautiful skeptic. A knight in shining armor. Together they begin a quest to restore her faith in the power of love—even if it costs both their lives. www.avonbooks.com
BESTSELLER WATCH Release dates for some of the guaranteed blockbusters hitting shelves in December:
1 Comeback 2.0
By Lance Armstrong Touchstone, $27.99 ISBN 9781439173145
Relive the year that marked Armstrong’s return to competitive cycling in this photo-journal.
Cleaving By Julie Powell Little, Brown, $24.99 ISBN 9780316003360
The author of Julie & Julia turns to butchery to escape the temptation of an affair.
Divine Misdemeanors By Laurell K. Hamilton Ballantine, $26, ISBN 9780345495969
Meredith Gentry will do anything to protect her unborn twins in Hamilton’s latest.
Witch & Wizard By James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet Little, Brown, $17.99 ISBN 9780316036245
Patterson tries his hand at teen fiction with this government conspiracy thriller.
DECEMBER 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
A salute to Sendak
Finding faith Books to give (and receive) during a season of renewal
By Howard Shirley he holidays offer an opportunity to reflect on the past year, to give thanks and to consider what has gone before and what is to come. For many it is a time to renew faith, for others it is a time to celebrate faith and for some it is a time to encounter faith for the first time. Six new books approach faith—particularly faith in the Bible—in unique ways, two as studies of historical and cultural influence, and the others as personal encounters with God.
Mary Gordon. A celebrated author of both novels and memoirs, Gordon was raised Catholic, but realized that although she had heard Bible stories for years, she had never actually read the Bible herself. She resolved to encounter the gospels on her own, reading the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which begin the New Testament and contain the story of Christ, and writing
DECEMBER 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
In Walking the Bible, author Bruce Feiler followed the account of the Exodus, the founding story of Judaism, through the ancient lands where it took place. But when Feiler returned to the United States, he made a surprising discovery: during America’s own founding, the story of the Exodus played a central role. Moses, the leading character of this biblical epic, stood out as a touchstone for social movements, political ideas, even popular culture. From the shores of Plymouth Rock to the hills of Hollywood, America’s Prophet: Moses and the American Story (Morrow, $26.99, 368 pages, ISBN 9780060574888) traces the path of Moses through American history, with interesting results. Some may know that the Exodus inspired the Pilgrims of Massachusetts Bay and the marchers for civil rights, but how many know that Moses is quoted on the Liberty Bell? Or that the Founding Fathers cited Moses as their inspiration more than any other philosopher—even John Locke? As Feiler points out, Moses’ influence extends from our holidays to our architecture, while his character has defined American ideals of leadership from the earliest days. America’s Prophet is a compelling look at how our culture intertwines with one of the world’s oldest stories. The Bible’s pervasiveness in Western culture is the theme behind Timothy Beal’s Biblical Literacy: The Essential Bible Stories Everyone Needs to Know (HarperOne, $25.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780061718625). A professor of religion at Case Western Reserve University, Beal collects significant Biblical passages that are woven through our history, philosophy and art. Written as a guided tour through representative selections—“The best bits without all the boring bits,” the cover declares—Biblical Literacy offers comments and questions to help the reader consider the Bible’s connections to modern thought. As such, Biblical Literacy is not so much a religious book as an exploration of cultural influences. Though Beal has a tendency to ignore traditional interpretations of some biblical passages, he makes a well-stated case that a knowledge of the Bible is essential to understanding our culture. His book will serve as a handy first step toward that goal—especially for the reader who may feel intimidated by “the boring bits.”
Personal journeys One woman’s experience with reading the Bible for the first time is compellingly recounted in Reading Jesus: A Writer’s Encounter with the Gospels (Pantheon, $24.95, 240 pages, ISBN 9780375424571) by
about her reactions. The result is a remarkable struggle of faith, as Gordon tries to reconcile the controversial figure of Jesus with her own “postmodernist” worldview. Sometimes she succeeds, sometimes she stumbles, but her memoir of discovery remains intriguing throughout, both for the insight she gains and for the insight the reader will gain from observing Gordon in the process. For millions, of course, the Bible is more than a source of history or culture; it is a guidebook for life. Best-selling author Kathleen McGowan focuses on the lessons from the Bible’s best-known prayer in The Source of Miracles: 7 Steps to Transforming Your Life through the Lord’s Prayer (Fireside, $22, 208 pages, ISBN 9781439137659). McGowan uses a medieval labyrinth pattern from the Chartres cathedral as a guide for contemplating the Lord’s Prayer. The pattern, a six-petaled rose, represents six progressive concepts within the prayer—faith, surrender, service, abundance, forgiveness, overcoming—capped by a final seventh concept, love. Beginning with the first lines of the Lord’s Prayer, McGowan examines each idea, exploring how understanding and connection with God grows as the prayer progresses. It is a unique approach, inspiring both contemplation and reflection, and a compelling call to consider both the meaning and the power of prayer. Equally compelling is One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity (Howard, $22.99, 208 pages, ISBN 9781439108932) by beloved romance novelist Debbie Macomber. Through personal experiences and gentle stories, Macomber calls the reader to a life of generosity, both in action and in spirit. More than simply a message about material gifts, One Simple Act is a reminder that generosity is about sharing our lives, thoughts and prayers even more than our worldly goods—though that, too, has its place. It is also a reminder that the blessings of giving always outweigh the cost.
Rewriting your life story Being open to God and others is a central element of Donald Miller’s powerful new book, A Million Miles
in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life (Thomas Nelson, $19.99, 255 pages, ISBN 9780785213062). As in his wonderful memoir Blue Like Jazz, Miller once again shares his life, speaking with honesty and humor. When two filmmakers contact Miller about turning Blue Like Jazz into a movie, the author is set on an odyssey of discovery. Forced to examine his life as a story, Miller realizes that he isn’t living one—he’s watching the world go by and commenting on it, but he’s not participating. Rather than living, he’s simply existing. Sparked into action, Miller searches for a way to bring “story” into his life— to live intentionally, with purpose and meaning, guided by God. As he goes, he encounters passion and pain, love and loss, life and death, and discovers others who, like him, are pursuing that same power of story. Miller’s experiences are convincing, his words digging into the soul, forcing readers to examine themselves and ask the same question—“What story am I living?” Beautifully written with clarity and simplicity (though never simplistic), this book offers both conviction and hope. If you’ve ever wondered about the direction of your life, read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. You may find yourself, like Miller, beginning a journey you never expected. o Howard Shirley is the author of a collection of inspirational dramas, Acts for God, published by Meriwether Publishing. He can be reached through his website at www. howardshirley.com.
Savoring the moment Eckhart Tolle is a best-selling author and acclaimed spiritual teacher. Patrick McDonnell is a cartoonist best known for the comic strip MUTTS, featuring Earl the dog, Mooch the cat and all their friends. In a new collaborative effort, Guardians of Being (New World Library, $18, 128 pages, ISBN 9781577316718), Tolle and McDonnell combine their words and art in a celebration of that most magical relationship—the one between person and pet. Through Tolle’s gentle observations and McDonnell’s delightful imagery, Guardians of Being turns an animal’s instinctive approach to life into a guide for well-being and peace. The result is an enjoyable melding of zen and whimsy, an ideal gift for animal lovers and art lovers, as well as fans of Tolle and McDonnell. Tolle’s text is spare and contemplative, while McDonnell’s art mixes an old-style cartoon appeal with subtle splashes of color that turn his simple drawings into something more than a comic strip. The humor is gentle, the philosophy light, but the message is worthwhile and straightforward: from time to time, take a cue from the animals, and just be. o —HOWARD SHIRLEY
DECEMBER 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
Move over Mary Poppins By Stephenie Harrison When The Nanny Diaries was first published in 2002, the term “chick lit” was just gaining ground. Hot on the heels of Bridget Jones and the Shopaholic series, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus drew from their experiences as nannies and put their own spin on the burgeoning genre, laying bare the seedy side of childrearing in the Big Apple. The novel was a hit, shooting to the top of bestseller lists across the country and spawning a feature film. Now, in Nanny Returns, McLaughlin and Kraus revisit Nan 12 years after her disastrous fallout with the loathsome X family. Nan is blissfully married to her Harvard Hottie . . . that is until their return to New York kicks his desire to become a daddy into high gear. The problem? Nan isn’t sure that motherhood is for her. And between starting her own consulting business and trying to get their fixer-upper home in Harlem actually fixed up, Nan’s hands are full. As if that weren’t enough, one night Grayer X, now 16, shows up at her door, and before she knows it, the past is rearing its ugly head and Nan is once more tangled in the insidious web of the Xes. Sequels can be tricky, but fans of the original will likely find this reunion as amusing and diverting as the first. It’s Nanny Returns interesting to see where all the characters have ended up, By Emma McLaughlin and the situations Nan faces in her attempts to navigate and Nicola Kraus the Upper East Side as well as the Xes manage to be outAtria landish yet believable, given what we know of the charac- $25, 320 pages ters and the world they inhabit. Nanny Returns once more ISBN 9781416585671 relies on the combination of humor and heartbreaking Also available on audio truth that made the first installment of this series so successful, and McLaughlin and Kraus do a good job of examining the ways in which the rich are truly poor, as well as Nan’s attempts to make peace with her past. In the end, despite a bumpy road, Nanny Returns affords Nan—not to mention fans of the series—the closure she’s been looking for. o Stephenie Harrison writes from Nashville.
DECEMBER 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
Half-baked slices of life
By Lacey Galbraith According to Jen Yates, author of the hilarious new collection Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong, “A Cake Wreck is any cake that is unintentionally sad, silly, creepy, inappropriate.” For Yates, the pursuit of the hilariously mis-decorated cake is “about finding the funny in unexpected, sugar-filled places.” When she began blogging at CakeWrecks. com in May 2008, Yates’ intentions were modest. She wanted a place to collect photos for baking inspiration, as well as a way to share the occasional laugh with family and friends. She never imagined so many readers would respond to her signature wit, or that in less than a year, tens of thousands of people from around the world would be regularly visiting Cake Wrecks By Jen Yates her site for sugary highs (and lows). Many of the photographs in Cake Wrecks Andrews McMeel are taken “on the front lines” in bakeries and $12.99, 208 pages submitted by CakeWrecks.com readers. But ISBN 9780740785375 this book isn’t “just the blog put to paper,” Yates assures us, for there is “lots (and lots) of new, never-before-seen Wreckage” to be had—75 percent of the book, to be exact. Even better, Yates provides the history behind many of the cakes on display. There’s the story of the one that started it all—it read “Best Wishes Suzanne/ Under Neat that/We will miss you”—and this reader’s personal favorite, the sprinkled and space-age wonder that is Darth Vader cradling a sleeping and pink-ribboned baby girl. It’s all here, each wreck a disaster of hilarity. In Cake Wrecks, Yates proves there’s plenty of the weird, wonderful and truly great to go around. o
Well Read Making the most of life’s surprises Alexander McCall Smith’s hugely popular No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels are routinely classified as mysteries, yet their strength lies not in the conventions of crime fiction, but rather in their astute depiction of human nature at its best and worst. Those same subtle perceptions underpin McCall Smith’s delightful new stand-alone novel, La’s Orchestra Saves the World. Set in England before and during the Second World War, this tender, understated story explores perennial questions of personal loyalties and public responsibilities during critical times. In some ways, La (which is short for “Lavender”) is the product of her age, even if she is more independentminded than the average British woman born circa 1911. La studies literature at Cambridge University, for instance, but then disappoints her proto-feminist tutor, Dr. Price, by marrying soon after graduation. Her charming husband, Richard Stone, turns out to be a cad, running off to France to be with his mistress. Left with few opBY ROBERT tions, La is given the use of a house in the country by WEIBEZAHL her affluent in-laws, and she moves to Suffolk bent on starting afresh. But country life, for all its charms, proves less than stimulating for an intelligent, suddenly single young woman who shares little with her parochial neighbors. When Richard suddenly dies in a bizarre accident, La finds herself—at age 28— labeled a widow. Her prospects are meager, but salvation of an unexpected sort comes with the war. Intent on doing her bit, La volunteers to help a local farmer tend his chickens, and she finds the work oddly satisfying. She also meets an RAF officer, Tim Honey, whose friendship will change La’s life in two wholly unexpected ways. He introduces her to war refugee Feliks Dabrowski, a Polish pilot who, having lost the vision in one eye, can no longer fly. La secures work for Feliks as a handyman on the farm and enjoys his daily proximity. Though she soon recognizes she is falling in love with him, she has no idea if the shy, somewhat brooding Pole shares her feelings.
McCall Smith takes a break from his No. 1 Ladies and gives us a new heroine to cheer for. Tim also transforms La’s life when he suggests she start a community orchestra comprised of amateur La’s Orchestra musicians from the village, its environs and the nearby Saves the World air base. Rising to the challenge, La attempts to recruit By Alexander McCall Feliks to join the ensemble, but he protests that he has Smith no flute to play. When La buys him one, he is both gratified and embarrassed by her generous gesture, Pantheon $23.95, 304 pages which nonetheless cements their friendship. Despite ISBN 9780307378385 her growing attraction to Feliks, La begins to notice some inconsistencies in his story, and she starts to think the unthinkable: that he is not Polish at all, but a German spy. The intrigue surrounding this real or imagined betrayal, along with a number of petty crimes that disturb La’s carefully ordered life, provide the dramatic tension at the heart of the novel. Torn between her devotion to Feliks and her patriotic duty, La struggles with whether to share her concerns with Tim. As it happens, things are not as they seem, and La’s personal destiny, tied as it is to the broader sweep of history, remains largely outside her control. With La’s Orchestra Saves the World, McCall Smith tells a deceptively quiet story about what might on the surface seem a life of disappointment—a story that may remind readers of similar portraits of lonely women’s lives by William Trevor, Brian Moore or Bernice Rubens. But McCall Smith, as is his wont, puts a much less bleak spin on La’s experience than these other writers might have. La’s life, we are told in a prologue to the story, is “a very big life.” In her unassuming way, she has a lasting effect on many others at a time when the world has gone mad. This notion that each individual life, no matter how seemingly small, has value and influence is a message that literature has taught us before, but never more convincingly than McCall Smith does here. La, with or without her slightly outof-tune orchestra, saves her circumscribed world with little fanfare, one human gesture at a time. o Robert Weibezahl grew up in a suburb of New York City not unlike Round Hill.
WHODUNIT? One night in Bangkok
Mystery of the month
The Third World is a notorious landing place for all manner of loose cannons, bad seeds and “wretched refuse,” and nowhere is this more pronounced than in the steamy environs of tropical Thailand. Vincent Calvino, protagonist of Christopher G. Moore’s atmospheric Paying Back Jack (Grove, $19.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9780802119025), works at the fringes of the aforementioned groups, a disbarred lawyer scratching out a living as an ad hoc private detective in the mean streets of urban Bangkok. When a clever trick he employs to get a recalcitrant tenant to pay up backfires badly, Calvino is hustled out of the city to a nearby resort town; here, in theory, he will wait until things cool down a bit. Of course, it’s not that easy—as he nurses a drink on his hotel balcony, a beautiBY BRUCE TIERNEY ful young woman plunges past him to her death on the pavement below. Witnesses identify Calvino as having been on the balcony with her when she fell. It is all just a bit too pat, even for the notoriously look-the-other-way Thai police, but since there is no better candidate, they plan to hold him indefinitely. Fortunately for Calvino, he has some well-placed friends who are able to secure his release, but only for the time being. His temporary reprieve may be revoked at any time, so it is incumbent upon him to find some answers—and in record time. Author Moore is an old Thailand hand, having lived in Bangkok since 1988, and it shows persuasively on every passing page.
In 2004, Joseph Wambaugh was named Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America—and for good reason: he consistently turns out taut, suspense-laden thrillers, with just a touch of the craziness that seems to characterize Hollywood for the rest of the world. The manic Tinseltown vibe is never stronger than at the time of the full moon, hence the title of Wambaugh’s latest novel, Hollywood Moon (Little, Brown, $26.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780316045186). Wambaugh’s regular cast is all present and accounted for: veteran policewoman and single mom Dana Vaughn, about to be an empty-nester; aspiring actor-turned-cop “Hollywood Nate” Weiss, who volunteers for any industry-related affair, in waning hope of being “discovered”; two surfer cop partners who converse with one another in barely intelligible surfspeak; sloe-eyed Sheila Montez, the latest and greatest heartthrob of Hollywood Station; and, in spirit at least, the late sergeant known as the Oracle, who served in the LAPD for 46 years, and whose framed photograph every cop touches for good luck before embarking on each shift. As with Wambaugh’s previous novels, a central story line (or two) is interwoven with the daily routines of the department regulars, their loves, their jobs, their peccadilloes. Like life, Wambaugh’s novels are by turns comical, whimsical, tense, gripping and, in one memorable instance in the final pages of the book, tragic. For sometimes storylines intersect with much more combined force than the individual tales might generate on their own, and what might seem like simple collateral damage in one story signals a life-altering (or -ending) change in another. I started reading Wambaugh close to 20 years ago, with his groundbreaking The Golden Orange; since then I have eagerly awaited each new book, and have taken the opportunity to devour his back catalog between new releases. Wambaugh is a master of the genre, and he just keeps getting better—quite an achievement considering his work includes such classics as The Choirboys, The New Centurions and The Onion Field. o —BRUCE TIERNEY
Burn notice J.A. Jance is author of not one, but three successful mystery series, one featuring Seattle P.I. Beau Beaumont, one starring Arizona police chief Joanna Brady and one introducing the newest member of the troika, ex-television journalist Ali Reynolds. In her latest adventure, Trial by Fire (Touchstone, $25.99, 368 pages, ISBN 9781416563808), Reynolds is approached by the Yavapai (Arizona) County Police Chief with regard to an interim position as media relations officer. Somewhat at loose ends, Reynolds agrees to take the position, for a short time and on her terms. One of the first duties in her new job is to deal with the press when an unidentified woman is rescued from a house fire, burned almost past recognition and now barely clinging to life in the burn unit of the local hospital. Reynolds teams up with hospital-appointed patient advocate Sister Anselm, a strange nun with an undisclosed agenda of her own, to uncover the identity of the burned woman. Problem is, there is still a would-be killer on the loose, one who would like nothing better than to finish the job, and remove once and for all the shred of incriminating evidence that compromises an otherwise near-perfect crime. Jance proves once again that she has mastered the nigh-impossible task of writing consistently (and convincingly) in three quite different styles, one for each of her series—no easy feat!
G is for Grafton
“[A] riveting read.”
—Bookreporter on Cold Pursuit
On sale now!
DECEMBER 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
Unlike the rest of us, private detective Kinsey Millhone never gets any older. The perpetually 30-something detective is forever encased in amber in Santa Teresa, California, circa 1988. Things have changed a bit for her, to be sure: her totaled VW bug has been supplanted by a latermodel Mustang, and she has tentatively re-established relations with her estranged family, but by and large the aging process has advanced admirably slowly for Ms. Millhone. The latest installment in the popular Sue Grafton series, U is for Undertow (Putnam, $27.95, 416 pages, ISBN 9780399155970), like its predecessors, is set in a milieu free of cell phones, Internet scams, terrorism paranoia and global warming. That is not to say that there is any shortage of bad guys: consider the pair who kidnapped four-year-old Mary Claire Fitzhugh in 1972, held her for ransom, then never claimed the money and never returned the child to her distraught parents. Now, 16 years later, a possible witness has stepped forward—albeit a witness with some serious credibility issues. Kinsey Millhone agrees to look into the case, but not without reservations; her client has a limited amount of money, and Kinsey has moral compunctions about working pro bono (i.e., morals don’t put food on the table). The tension ratchets up several notches when Millhone finds herself on a remote hillside, staring down the wrong end of a gun. Sure to please her cadre of fans, and perhaps win her some new ones as well, U is for Undertow is a worthy addition to Grafton’s long list of thrillers. o
A past she wants to forget collides with a cold-blooded murder he is determined to solve….
Ha Jin on the immigrant life By Robert Weibezahl The characters who inhabit the stories in A Good Fall, a new collection by National Book Award-winner Ha Jin, are Chinese immigrants of various stripes, all living or working in the Queens, New York, neighborhood of Flushing. Like most immigrant stories, these tales are at once universal and particular—marked by the familiar adjustments needed to survive in a new place, which in this collection, are specifically Chinese in tenor. Frequent conflicts occur across generational lines, as older Chinese parents fail to accept the Americanized ways of their children. The overbearing presence of a mother visiting from China threatens to destroy a marriage, forcing the son to take extreme measures. A recently arrived grandfather cannot abide the manners of his Americanborn grandchildren and is horrified when they reject their Chinese family name. Inextricably-bound concerns over money and honor drive a Buddhist monk to attempt suicide, and motivate a young woman to grudgingly send home money she cannot spare to a sister with the finely honed sensibilities of a seasoned extortionist. Some stories, set in the 1980s—around the time that Ha Jin himself first came to the U.S. as a student—unfold under the A Good Fall shadow of the oppressive Red Chinese government. Those Ha Jin set in more recent times embrace the freewheeling capi- Pantheon talist impulses that send Chinese immigrants, both docu- $24.95, 256 pages ISBN 9780307378682 mented and undocumented, to American shores. Also available on audio Jin writes with a direct, unfussy style that captures the odd cadences of these lives lived in translation. His most memorable characters are often irrational: the professor gripped with panic because he has misspelled a word on his tenure application, the young husband convinced his homely infant daughter could not possible be his, or the suicidal monk who, at 28, thinks himself an old man ready for death. Jin tells every character’s story with a mixture of compassion and humor, conveying the validity of his or her daily worries, but showing too that, as with all human complications, and no matter our cultural heritage, we are often our own worst enemies. o
Saving literature, and eventually himself
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By Ian Schwartz In the pantheon of modern fiction, how important is Raymond Carver? Fellow writer Robert Pope once dubbed him the “salvation of American literature.” Charles McGrath, former editor of the New Yorker and the New York Times Book Review, called him the “bellwether for a whole generation.” And now Carol Sklenicka has written a wonderful biography of Carver that, at nearly 600 pages, is more than 10 times longer than anything Carver himself ever penned. Raymond Carver: A Writer’s Life (Scribner, $35, 592 pages, ISBN 9780743262453) is a dense plumbing of the often bizarre life of the man whose spare, grinding tales of the poor and working class made him the most celebrated short-story writer of our time. Sklenicka chronicles Carver’s life from his modest beginnings through his death in 1988 from lung cancer—a peripatetic whirlwind of alcohol, writing and keeping one step ahead of the debt collector. While it sometimes feels that Sklenicka offers Carver a free pass on his alcoholism—among other causes, she cites family responsibilities, heredity and even the national zeitgeist as reasons for his drunkenness—her book is a lushly researched necessity for anyone who loves literature. The story of Carver also chronicles the end of an era—the last group of authors for whom Dionysian excess was as necessary as limpid prose. The only thing Carver appeared to enjoy as much as writing was the company of writers. Sklenicka’s book is thick with insider conversations, parties and first-person observations of some of the best-known writers of the last half-century. Prominent are Carver’s second wife, poet Tess Gallagher, and dozens of authors he considered friends, including Richard Ford, Tobias Wolff and Jay McInerney. A Writer’s Life is also the perfect holiday companion to the recently released Raymond Carver: Collected Stories (Library of America, $40, 960 pages, ISBN 9781598530469). The collection includes Beginners, the original manuscript for What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. The manuscript version was nearly twice as long until pared liber34 ally by editor Gordon Lish. Carver was so unhappy with the result he begged Lish to halt publication. Now here it is in its original form for all his fans to enjoy. o
THE SPOKEN WORD Best-selling authors do Christmas Augusten Burroughs and Christmas? An odd combo, but one in which Burroughs seems to revel. You Better Not Cry (Macmillan Audio, $29.99, 6 hours unabridged, ISBN 9781427207739), read with unique Burroughsian timing and italic emphasis by the author, is a collection of seven short stories that evoke a darker side of this often candy-coated holiday. The grownup Burroughs admits that he’s always loved Christmas, openly as a kid and secretly in his super-cool, anti-Christmas 20s—but “every single one has really been kind of hideous.” And in his signature dry, edgy comedic style, he tells these tales of cataclysm, cringe moments and all, from the young Augusten’s confusion about Jesus and Santa to waking up next to an unknown raunchy, paunchy, streetBY SUKEY HOWARD corner St. Nick. Definitely not for the faint of heart, or the sexually squeamish (an unusual problem with Christmas stories), this most candid of memoirists evokes poignancy and a kind of subversive nostalgia, spiked with flaws and good intentions.
Magical memories In Wishin’ and Hopin’: A Christmas Story (HarperAudio, $19.99, 4 hours unabridged, ISBN 9780061953262), Wally Lamb’s latest, you can’t help but share the author’s evident joy and fun in this warm, charming, laugh-out-loud fictional flashback to 1964, starring Felix Funicello (yes, Annette’s cousin), an effervescent, curlyheaded parochial-school fifth-grader in blue-collar New London, Connecticut. Lamb is such a facile narrator that you forget you’re not actually hearing Felix as he describes his pranks—one causing Sister Dymphna’s major meltdown—introduces the kids in his class, including a fabulous Russian immigrant with both a talent for “bezbull” and “bodacious bazoom-booms,” and his teacher Mademoiselle Marguerite, who had a penchant for leopard-spotted high heels, and recounts the high drama that surrounded that year’s Christmas pageant. This is the happy flip-side of Augusten Burroughs’ Noël nasties.
A 21st-century Scrooge Do not wear mascara while listening to Richard Paul Evans’ The Christmas List (Simon & Schuster Audio, $29.99, 5 hours unabridged, ISBN 9780743597289), read most convincingly by John Dossett, and keep the Kleenex close. Unless your heart is made of granite, you will cry and, in the end, smile through your tears. Evans has spun a tale of a modern-day Scrooge, and replaced the Christmas ghosts with a clever device that serves the same purpose. Not many people get to read their obituaries when they are still in fine fettle, but James Kier, a fierce, ruthless businessman and real-estate mogul, does, and what he reads about himself and the legacy he’ll leave makes him look deep into his soul. Kier has treated everyone with cold-blooded disdain and an inhuman lack of concern. He’s even in the process of divorcing his long-devoted wife, now in dreadful pain and dying of cancer, and has destroyed his relationship with his only son. Like Scrooge, Kier finds the strength to attain redemption, makes reparations and discovers anew the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas romance Cassie, 33 with a loudly ticking biological clock, knows exactly what she wants for Christmas: the perfect husband, with whom she’ll produce the perfect family. Not easy to come by, and so far, nothing has worked. But super-selling Debbie Macomber is here and rescue may just be on the way. In The Perfect Christmas (Brilliance Audio, $26.99, 4 hours unabridged, ISBN 9781441805751), performed in engaging 30-something-ese by Tavia Gilbert, Macomber does what she does best and treats us to a warm-hearted Christmas romance. When Cassie’s best girlfriend suggests consulting a professional matchmaker, she balks. But then, in nothing-ventured-nothing-gained mode, Cassie goes to see Simon Beaumont, who, if he takes you on, assures a match. Simon sets out three holiday-themed tasks for his new client, promising her the prize when they’re completed. Don’t worry—a happy ending is guaranteed. o
NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR
The Long, Tall Texan you’ve been waiting to fall in love with…
THE MAVERICK Harley Fowler is in the midst of mayhem– and all he can think about is protecting Alice Jones, an investigator trying to solve a murder involving the one family Harley doesn’t want to talk about–his own. But she’s unappreciative of his efforts. What’s a confirmed maverick to do? Is seduction the solution?
ALWAYS POWERFUL, PASSIONATE AND PROVOCATIVE
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CHILDREN’S BOOKS Holiday read-alouds for making spirits bright By Joanna Brichetto Santa’s sack of winning picture books awaits choosy buyers this holiday season. Some are overtly religious, some are secular and some are a bit of both. Magic is a common thread throughout the books: the magic of the original Christmas story, of Mother Nature, anticipation, gratitude and most especially the miracle of new life. All are in the same basic age range, which is limitless if you admit that reading aloud (and being read to) is a magic we never really outgrow.
Christmas all year long Who Would Like a Christmas Tree? (HMH, $16, 32 pages, ISBN 9780547046259), written by Ellen Bryan Obed and illustrated by Anne Hunter, is a refreshingly different holiday picture book: an exploration of the flora and fauna of the Christmas tree. “Who would like a Christmas tree in January?” it begins, and the surprising answer is a black-capped chickadee, which eats “moth eggs and little spiders hidden under the bark,” and also roosts in the dense branches. Month by month, animal by animal, from aphids to wild turkeys, the whole year of a Christmas tree’s prolific usefulness is revealed. The book remains story-like enough for the very young and meaty enough for the older reader (and for the adult reader, who will learn much).
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A baby on the way Kids too excited to sleep as Christmas approaches will enjoy the lovely lullaby book Nighty Night, Baby Jesus (Abingdon Press, $14, 32 pages, ISBN 9781426700309) by Molly Schaar Idle. The combination of gentle, rhyming text; soft, curvy illustrations; and the always welcome opportunity to make animal noises should please readers and listeners. The author/ artist is a former illustrator at DreamWorks, and the influence is evident in her stylized forms (think Prince of Egypt) and cinematic treatment of light, as it originates from or above the baby and filters down and around the stable scenes. Each animal greets the newborn babe in turn and in character, until they are hushed by the mother’s gentle cooing. “Sweet dreams,” she murmurs to her son, and sweet dreams may well be likely for all who read it. What’s Coming for Christmas? (Farrar, Straus, $15.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780374399481) is another charmer from author Kate Banks and illustrator Georg Hallensleben, a duo known for conjuring intimate little worlds of word and image. “Something was coming,” the story begins, and the unnamed something heralds itself in marvelous ways: the way the snow whirls or the way icicles drip, or in the “flutter of paper snowflakes” or the “hiss of scissors cutting ribbon.” Centered on one cozy house and farmyard, the story is a survey of sounds, smells, sights and flavors that quietly builds into a gentle but insistent urgency, alerting even the smallest mouse. Happily, neither text nor picture comes right out and tells us what every tree, critter and kid is anticipating, even after it arrives. By paying us the compliment of letting us use our intuition and senses, the book sustains its spell even beyond the last page.
The fun begins
When Sam McGuffin sneaks onto Santa’s sleigh, it’s the North Pole workshop he’s after. What he finds instead is The Secret of Santa’s Island (Dial Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780803731264), a tropical paradise where the elves, reindeer and Mr. and Mrs. Claus unwind after the Christmas rush. “Unwind” may be the wrong word: they party hearty at a custom amusement park wilder than the dreams of most folks, but well within the extraordinary range of author Steve Breen, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning (and creator of the picture book Violet the Pilot). The secret island boasts life-size chocolate Christmas trees, an elvish rollercoaster and dodgeball games on flying reindeer. The best secret is revealed on the last 36 page, deftly ratcheting the take-home message from just fun to just fabulous. Sam turns out to
be the “McGuffin” (the name of a plot-enabling device in filmmaking) that puts us right where the author intends. Never didactic, the book slyly promotes the rare virtue of gratitude. Stick Man (Scholastic, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780545157612) might seem a random title in this lot, but note the best-selling team behind it: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, whose works include The Gruffalo and one of my favorite readaloud Halloween books, No Room on the Broom. Stick Man is, well, a stick, but quite an appealing one, and he’s on an odyssey to boot. Separated from his family tree (wherein dwell “his Stick Lady Love and their stick children three”), he faces peril after peril in romping rhyme: a game of fetch, a sand castle in need of a flagpole, a snowman in need of an arm, many inventive children and finally, worst of all: a fireplace. Can he make it past these sticky dangers to get home for Christmas? Will there be a tender or tinder ending? Stick around and see.
Cozy Christmas chores The Christmas Magic (Scholastic, $16.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780439774970) by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Jon J. Muth, is nothing less than magical. “Far, far north, where the reindeer are, there is a snug little house with a bright red door,” begins a tale so perfectly phrased anyone can sound like a proper storyteller reading it aloud. In only three or four cozy lines per gorgeous page, we watch Santa readying his reindeer, his sleigh, his boots, his list of children and his sack of toys, our senses vicariously alive to the textures and sounds. The sequence of the perfectly ordinary chores of this perfectly extraordinary character builds our anticipation: “Is the magic here?” the music of the reindeer bells seems to ask as Santa carefully polishes each jingle. Muth’s pastel and watercolor images of Santa’s spare, Shaker-like house and the endless horizons of snow seem to slow the story: Santa is in no hurry and neither should we be. This is a book to savor. When the magic finally arrives, making the night “thrum,” it feels just right: more shivery and intimate than ho-ho-ho, and far more satisfying. o Joanna Brichetto is grateful that part of her job involves reading aloud to children.
Have you heard the news? A welcome twist on the traditional nativity storybook, The Christmas Baby (Simon & Schuster, $15.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9781416978855) demands to be read aloud to a group of enthralled children—or just to a single, special one. Written by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Richard Cowdrey, the story is set in a “tiny town” in a “faraway country” on the night of Jesus’ birth. “Have you heard?” is asked again and again— by the father-to-be looking for room in an inn and by the stable animals— “have you heard a baby is coming?” The question is used like a refrain in a carol, building anticipation with each repetition, and then changing key when the baby arrives. “Have you heard? He is here!” cry the beasts and the angels, at once answered by the shepherds and kings. The excitement feels genuine. What could easily be cloying simply isn’t, even the surprise ending correlating the birth of the Christmas baby and the miraculous birth of every baby: “Now . . . every time a baby is born, stars and angels sing . . . ‘Have you heard?’ ” Only a grumpy innkeeper could miss the joy in this sweet tale. o —JOANNA BRICHETTO
MEET Nancy Tillman
“This is a good choice for reading aloud in classrooms studying the topic, or for children interested in the real world of pirates.”
—School Library Journal
There are famous pirates, and
then there are the rest of the pirates. All were a bunch of misfits, thugs, and ne’er-do-wells who spent most of their time bored, waiting for a few moments of excitement and rich booty that could very well get them wounded or killed, or captured and executed. But to most of those who swore the oath of the Brotherhood, it was just a job. Still, a pirate’s life was chosen by many, and this collection describes and depicts the high points, the low points, and everything in between.
Nancy Tillman is a former advertising executive whose first picture book, On the Night You Were Born, struck a chord with readers everywhere. In The Spirit of Christmas (Feiwel & Friends, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780312549657) she offers an enchanting look at the special gifts of the holiday season. Tillman and her family live in Portland, Oregon.
An Imprint of Boyds Mills Press 815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431 TOLL-FREE (877) 512-8366 www.wordsongpoetry.com
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Poetry • Ages 9–11 • $17.95 hardcover ISBN: 1-59078-455-3 • ISBN-13: 978-1-59078-455-6
CHILDREN’S BOOKS Our favorite gifts for the littlest readers on your list By Alice Cary ooks are my favorite gifts to give and receive. It’s always been that way and will no doubt remain that way (despite my continued love affair with my Kindle, a holiday gift last year). Here are some great new books to give to the children in your life.
Old favorites I’ll start with a holiday classic that’s good for all ages: Jan Brett’s delightful Snowy Treasury (Putnam, $29.99, 144 pages, ISBN 9780399254017). Here in one handy edition is a collection of four of Brett’s wonderful picture books: Gingerbread Baby, The Mitten, The Hat and The Three Snow Bears. Brett’s meticulous illustrations have long been a favorite in our house, and the stories in this volume transport readers to the snowy kingdoms of a Swiss forest, a Ukrainian woodland, Denmark and the Arctic. Put Snowy Treasury out within easy reach and you’ll see everyone from adults to preschoolers snuggle in for a warm, cozy read—preferably next to a crackling fire. Yet another treasure—literally—is a new, unabridged edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (Candlewick, $24.99, 272 pages, ISBN 9780763644451), featuring woodcuts by John Lawrence, acclaimed au-
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A book that truly stands out (and up!)
Is someone on your holiday wish list begging for a pet? Try the next best thing. Eye-Popping 3-D Pets: Phantogram Animals You Can Practically Pet (Chronicle, $19.99, 61 pages, ISBN 9780811862578), by Barry Rothstein and Betsy Rothstein, is a gift guaranteed to have tremendous appeal. Who can resist popping on a pair of 3-D glasses? (And thoughtfully, the book comes with not one but two pairs.) The book’s subtitle is absolutely correct—these glasses really do make viewers feel as though they are petting the animals. Rothstein uses a special process known as phantogram 3-D, which makes the images appear to stand up. What’s more, the book is large, so some of the animals are actually life-size. Eye-Popping 3-D Pets begins with a two-page guide to how the phenomenon works and ends with an interesting spread about another type of 3-D (stereo). The 28 pets covered include cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, potbellied pigs, fish, frogs, rosy boas, corn snakes, tarantulas and more. Each spread also contains basic information on taking care of these pets, so the book is not only fun, but a helpful guide should your family ever get the real thing. Just be forewarned: the three hairy tarantulas contained in these pages will look like they’re crawling in your living room. No screams allowed! o —ALICE CARY
thor and illustrator of books such as This Little Chick. This large-format edition with large print makes Stevenson’s swashbuckling story easily accessible for a new generation of readers. With a yo-ho-ho to Long John Silver, Lawrence’s many woodcuts and their soft pastel hues are a fine accompaniment to Stevenson’s exciting tale.
Special treats Such excitement may well work up an appetite, so consider giving your favorite little chef a copy of Paula Deen’s Cookbook for the Lunch-Box Set (Simon & Schuster, $21.99, 192 pages, ISBN 9781416982685) with Martha Nesbit, illustrated by Susan Mitchell. My 10-yearold daughters and I will definitely be trying this out soon. The colorful, spiralbound book is well written with clear, numbered directions for young cooks. It’s also attractively laid out, with labeled illustrations at the beginning of each recipe showing not only what ingredients are needed, but also what kitchen tools are required. The varied chapters include such themes as bake sales, sleepovers, family cooking night and a Christmas cooking party. My girls and I will soon be trying Stained Glass Cookies, Oreo Truffles and Cheese Bread. The recipes are kidfriendly, yet packed with Deen’s down-home style. How about treating someone special to a few of Julie Andrews’ favorite things? She and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, have collaborated on Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies (Little, Brown, $24.99, 192 pages, ISBN 9780316040495). This collection would make a great present for everyone from newborns to elementary school children, the latter of which will enjoy the wide variety here, as well as the lovely watercolors throughout by award-winning artist James McCullen. You’ll find classics from the likes of Kenneth Grahame and Robert Frost, along with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and Ira Gershwin. As Andrews explains: “I feel that many lyrics are poems in themselves. For me, it’s so hard to separate the two that I chose to make this collection embrace both.”
A pair of pop-ups Leave it to Mo Willems to do something different. This award-winning author/illustrator has created a “Pop-Out” book called Big Frog Can’t Fit In (Hyperion, $19.99, 16 pages, ISBN 9781423114369) with paper engineering by Bruce Foster. Though there are few words, this story about an oversized frog who needs the help of her friends is funny, ingenious and guaranteed to
be loved by the seven-and-under set—all typical of Willems’ work. (Be sure to note the book’s odd shape when you see it.) It’s hard to beat Mo Willems when it comes to creating laughs with simple illustrations and text. Matthew Reinhart’s A PopUp Book of Nursery Rhymes (Little Simon, $26.99, 12 pages, ISBN 9781416918257) is another small book that packs a lot of pop-up punch. Each spread has one big pop-up, such as the cow jumping over a grinning moon, along with two smaller pop-ups, much like little books that unfold on each page. This beautifully executed little gem is perfect for a short bedtime treat.
Interactive adventures Where was My Little Red Fire Truck (Simon & Schuster, $19.99, 16 pages, ISBN 9781416925224) when my son was a preschooler? Oh, how he would have adored this book! Stephen T. Johnson, the creator of My Little Red Toolbox, has produced another delight in which children can fill up the fire truck’s gas tank, check the tire pressure, drive and more. The book has built-in, removable tools (made of sturdy cardboard) so that all of these tasks can be taken care of by your busy young firefighter. He or she will love being on the job! Preschoolers will also revel in Dinosaur Park (Kingfisher, $17.99, 42 pages, ISBN 9780753463833), with illustrations by Steve Weston. This Jurassic play set includes nine press-out dinosaurs, four different play scenes, plus a field guide perfect for young dino fans. Open it if you dare! On a more graceful note, elementary-age dancers will enjoy Kate Castle’s The Ballerina’s Handbook (Candlewick, $14.99, 22 pages, ISBN 9780763645526). This compact volume contains letters, postcards, flaps and an insightful tour through the ballet world, from a beginning class through a professional company on tour. There are many clever sidebars, too, on such topics as healthy food and makeup tips for dancers, a glossary of terms and a short list of legendary dancers. Finally, older elementary students can explore the world with Philip Steele’s A Mariner’s Tale (Barron’s, $19.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780764195532). The highly interesting and illustrated text discusses the early days of exploration and includes 3-D artwork, pullout flaps, a model caravel ship and a secret mariner’s chest with a compass and telescope to construct. Readers can sail along with the world’s most famous explorers, from the Phoenician sea traders to the Vikings and Columbus. This fun package is perfect for whetting the appetites of young Marco Polos! o Alice Cary explores the world of children’s books from her home in Groton, Massachusetts.
YOUNG ADULT Capture the imagination of your book-loving teen By Kate Pritchard or those trying to select a gift for a teenager, the choice can be fraught with uncertainties. Trends among teens change quickly, and what was the must-have possession last year is now hopelessly out-of-date. But books are a timeless gift, and if chosen carefully, they will be cherished for many years to come. That’s where we come in. From vampires to sports to historical adventure, we’ve selected the best books for every teen on your list.
Creatures of the night If you know someone who’s caught the Twilight fever, you’re in luck: nothing is hotter in teen fiction right now than vampires, werewolves, zombies and other strange and spooky creatures. Assuming your giftee already owns all four books in Stephenie Meyer’s hit series, another set of teen paranormals could be just what you’re looking for. In The Van Alen Legacy (Hyperion, $16.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9781423102267), fourth in the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz, our heroine is a wealthy Manhattan teen at an elite private school—who just happens to be the latest in a long line of vampires. Schuyler Van Alen has money, privilege and power, yet all the glamour of her life may not be enough to protect her from a rival group of vampires, the Silver Bloods.
Worlds of wonder
Danger on the high seas If your teen likes swashbuckling adventure, narrow escapes and sea monsters, these two books will be a surefire hit. In Roland Smith’s Tentacles (Scholastic, $16.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780545166881), the sequel to Cryptid Hunters, Marty and Grace O’Hara go along for the ride when their uncle rents a freighter and sets off for New Zealand in search of a giant squid. But will a
The best-laid plans Of course, there are plenty of teens who don’t care for vampires and want to read a story set in the real world. In Peter Lerangis’ wtf (Simon Pulse, $8.99, 272 pages, ISBN 9781416913603), six teens make plans for a wild night, but it soon gets much wilder than any of them expected. On the back roads of Westchester County and in the pulse-pounding clubs of Manhattan, they follow one another through a complex and twisting plot. From the shocking beginning to an ending that still manages to surprise, this is one book readers won’t be able to put down. Cat Locke, heroine of Robin Brande’s Fat Cat (Knopf, $16.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780375844492), makes herself the subject of an experiment that will be sure to win top honors at the science fair, and show up her rival (and former best friend) Matt McKinney in the process. Her project—she resolves to live like Homo erectus, giving up everything from driving to hair products to artificial sweeteners—is brilliant, but will Cat manage to pull it off? And how will her friends and family, not to mention Matt, respond to the new Cat she is becoming? Sharp writing and fully realized characters propel the story and make the resolution both sweet and satisfying.
On and off the court Sports play a major part in the lives of many teens, and this pair of sports-themed novels will surely find many fans among not just basketball and football stars, but anyone who enjoys a heartwarming story. In Front and Center (HMH, $16, 272 pages, ISBN 9780618959822), third in the Dairy Queen trilogy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, D.J. Schwenk has spent the past five months as the center of attention, first when she went out for the boys’ football team, and then when her brother was seriously injured. Now that Win is home from the hospital and basketball season has started, D.J. is happy to be in the background again. But between a budding romance,
college recruiters and the expectations of her basketball coach, she won’t be able to stay out of the spotlight for long. Murdock’s sense of humor and pitch-perfect ear for dialogue make D.J.’s story as compelling as any Big Ten showdown. Thirteen-year-old Nate Brodie, hero of Mike Lupica’s Million-Dollar Throw (Philomel, $17.99, 244 pages, ISBN 9780399246265), has the best throwing arm his football coach has ever seen. When he wins the chance to throw a pass through a target on live television—even better, at a Patriots game, Nate’s favorite team—for a million-dollar prize, it could be exactly what his family needs to get them through some tough financial times. But Nate worries that he’ll let his family down if he fails to make the pass. And if that’s not enough, his best friend Abby is going blind, and he doesn’t know how to help her. Nate is a wholly likeable character, and the support he receives from his parents and friends helps him to make the right choices when it really counts. o
History comes to life In Rebecca Barnhouse’s The Book of the Maidservant (Random House, $16.99, 240 pages, ISBN 9780375858567), Dame Margery Kempe is the most pious woman in Lynn, a natural candidate for undertaking a pilgrimage to Rome. The only problem is that her teenage serving girl Johanna must accompany her—and Johanna knows she won’t be a pilgrim, just a maidservant. She has never been far from the home she loves, and she has misgivings about traveling with Dame Margery, who is prone to lamentations and caterwauling, and insists that there be no laughing or joking. When Dame Margery abandons Johanna in Venice, she must summon the strength to continue on to Rome and find a new place in the world. It is Johanna’s voice—at times longing for home, at times angry, fearful or sad— that will draw readers in and make them care about this memorable character. Johanna really did exist, though not by that name, in The Book of Margery Kempe, the first autobiography written in English. Barnhouse has taken the essence of Kempe’s story of the 1413 pilgrimage and brought it to life with sensory details about the journey across the Alps and the sights and smells of the markets of Venice. This moving volume may well lead interested readers to other excellent tales of medieval life, including two Newbery Medal-winning tales—Karen Cushman’s The Midwife’s Apprentice (1995) and Amy Laura Schlitz’s Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village (2007). o —DEAN SCHNEIDER
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There’s no shortage of well-written and engaging fantasy and science fiction books for teens; in recent months, BookPage has reviewed such excellent titles as Suzanne Collins’ edge-of-your-seat Catching Fire (sequel to The Hunger Games, this reviewer’s pick for the best book of 2008), Scott Westerfeld’s steampunk adventure Leviathan and Kristin Cashore’s gripping Fire (prequel to Graceling). Another series not to be missed is the Chaos Walking books by Patrick Ness. Last year’s The Knife of Never Letting Go introduced Ness’ truly imaginative setting, a world in which something called the “Noise germ” has killed all the women and caused the thoughts of both men and dogs to be broadcast aloud ceaselessly—and where 12-year-old Todd Hewitt may have discovered a very dangerous secret. Now, in the recently released The Ask and the Answer (Candlewick, $18.99, 528 pages, ISBN 9780763644901), Todd must face a new set of challenges and decide where his loyalties lie.
mysterious saboteur end their journey before they can find the creature? The fascinating science of cryptids (animals thought to exist only in myth) and Smith’s fast-paced story will capture the imagination of any action-loving reader. Seventh in the Bloody Jack series, L.A. Meyer’s Rapture of the Deep (HMH, $17, 464 pages, ISBN 9780152065010) continues the story of Jacky Faber, a young woman who was once a homeless orphan on the streets of late-18th-century London, but has since been a sailor, a pirate and a spy, among other occupations. Now Jacky is about to marry her true love, Jaimy—but her plans are foiled when the two are kidnapped by the British Navy and packed off to Florida to search for sunken treasure. Jacky’s many adventures may strain credulity, but readers will be too engrossed in the story to mind.
A globetrotter’s delight Experience the world’s treasures, real and imagined
By Alison Hood his holiday season, armchair travelers and active trekkers alike can revel in Planet Earth’s marvelous destinations with an eclectic collection of big, gorgeously photographed and finely penned travel books. From Kenya’s magical island of Lamu to the dusty expanses of the American Southwest and on to exotically mapped places that exist only in the imagination, the world, dear reader, will be laid at your feet.
Worth a thousand words
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In Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town (Welcome, $50, 176 pages, ISBN 9781599620725), filmmaker, photographer and writer Douglas Gayeton has created an unusual visual foray into Pistoia, a small Italian town near Florence where he went in search of a soulful connection with the culture, the people, the land—and his own life. With introductions by Carlo Petrini (founder of the Slow Food movement) and renowned chef Alice Waters, Gayeton’s personal photographic journey comprises sepia-toned images of Pistoia’s people, places and food—pictures that are layered composites of multiple photographs taken over minutes and hours. Compressed in this way, Gayeton’s insightful pictures form a timeline and tell a story more effectively than any single still photograph could do. The images are made even more powerful and memorable through the author’s moving, often amusing anecdotal essays and the captions, quotes, commentary and recipes that are hand-scrawled upon the photos. Slow celebrates an intimate connection with a rural Italian landscape and the people living upon it, who are engaged in the timeless pleasures of growing, preparing and eating good, wholesome food. Many roadside icons of rural American life—the rusting relics of old cars, abandoned motels and storefronts, gas stations, signs and billboards—are rapidly vanishing from the national landscape. In photographer Rob Atkins’ vibrant yet strangely haunting book, Neon Mesa: Wonders of the Southwest (Bunker Hill, $39.95, 144 pages, ISBN 9781593730680), we get a ghostly glimpse of the American Southwest of yesteryear. The subjects of Atkins’ bold color photographs—neon signs, crumbling building facades, odd larger-than-life objects such as arrows, missiles and totems—are juxtaposed to poignant effect against the presence of the Southwest’s natural wonders and omnipresent ocean of blue sky. From the perceptive and poetic introduction by filmmaker Godfrey Reggio (Koyaanisqatsi) and the brief, story-like captions that contain enticing tidbits of local history and lore, to the book’s penultimate image (a stop sign fashioned in the form of an Indian thunderbird), Neon Mesa is an intimate homage to what Atkins feels is “a very special place.” To pick up this book is to be transported into a regional patchwork of America’s indigenous past, studded with portents of its atomic 40 future.
The publishing house of Rizzoli, with its reputation for visually stunning, high-quality books, never fails to please, and their new offering, Lamu: Kenya’s Enchanted Island (Rizzoli, $65, 280 pages, ISBN 9780847832767), by George and Lorna Abungu, will definitely not disappoint travelers in search of a glimpse of paradise. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Lamu Archipelago, off the northern Kenyan coast, is the cradle of the Swahili culture and “a crossroad of civilizations.” With sumptuous color photography by Carol Beckwith, Angela Fisher, David Coulson and Nigel Pavitt, Lamu outlines the history of this slice of Africa in seven chapters (each introduced by couplets of Swahili poetry) that offer essays on its Indian Ocean environs, architecture and arts, weddings and festivals and its traditions and modernity. A glossary of African terms is included, along with a comprehensive African bibliography and a contact list for visiting Lamu’s distinctive mansions and houses. Clive Limpkin, a British photojournalist who has logged more than 35 years as a staff photographer for such U.K. papers as The Sun and the Daily Mail, has now turned his lens and considerable wit toward India in India Exposed: The Subcontinent A–Z (Abbeville, $29.95, 216 pages, ISBN 9780789209948). Limpkin initially was not keen on the country, but after a first trip there in 2005, he returned with a different view—definitely not in denial about the country’s drawbacks and hassles, but realistic about the “chaotic mishmash of languages, religions, philosophies, tribes, castes and people that somehow works.” Limpkin shows the “mishmash” of this multiethnic and often puzzling society through superlative color photographs and accompanying short essays on iconic Indian topics from A to Z. There are entries on everything from India’s army and auto-rickshaws to cremation, overload (one of the wittiest entries), poverty, snake charmers, yoga and zebu (you’ll find the definition on page 213). For both the fainthearted, who might wish to view India through the framework of the printed page, and the lion-hearted, who wish to walk its dusty valleys and crowded streets, Exposed is just the ticket for a fully informed passage to India. Remarkable: That is my one-word review of Galápagos: Preserving Darwin’s Legacy (Firefly, $49.95, 240 pages, ISBN 9781554074846), edited and (mostly) photographed by Tui de Roy. This book on the flora and fauna, geology, history and culture, ecosystems and conservation of the Galápagos Islands is an incomparable collection of breathtaking photography and essays on the wonders of these islands. Beginning with resident Tui de Roy’s heartfelt essay and an introduction by Charles Darwin’s great-greatgranddaughter, Sarah Darwin, Galápagos encompasses the “newest knowledge, recent discoveries and break-
throughs in applied conservation science.” The islands, a World Heritage UNESCO site, are a model site for conservation efforts, and nearly every essay speaks to the need to preserve this world-class treasure. Appendices include an excellent “further reading” resource as well as a list of all of the Galápagos fauna (vertebrates). This fervent, passionate collaboration between photographers and scientists makes an indelible portrait of a wild, unique place that we must cherish and protect.
The roads less traveled Writer-journalist and trivia-lover Frank Jacobs, creator of the popular Strange Maps blog (get thee to Google now!), is a map geek. As proof positive, consider Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities (Viking Studio, $30, 256 pages, ISBN 9780142005255), a truly out-of-the-ordinary collection of maps both real and imagined (and sometimes a combination of the two). This is an atlas of sorts—one that presents and explains more than 100 unusual maps that reflect mankind’s centuries of endeavors, ideas, artistry and struggle for sovereignty. From the depiction of Brazil as an arugula-garnished steak-on-a-plate to literary maps (the world of Orwell’s 1984), parody maps (“Jesusland”) and downright puzzling cartographic inaccuracies (one of which shows California as an island), Jacobs wittily, often eruditely, explains his collection of “curiosities”—a narrative that makes for smart, hip and often bizarre social commentary. With a foreword by the inimitable Bill Bryson, the bold and beautiful Off the Tourist Trail: 1,000 Unexpected Travel Alternatives (DK Travel, $40, 336 pages, ISBN 9780756653996) is a superlative guide to Earth’s less-sullied sights and destinations. Of the many options listed in the book, Bryson reports, somewhat woefully, that “there are more fantastic things in the world to see than you can ever possibly hope to get to. You are just not going to live long enough. Sorry.” But with this book on your coffee table (it is not a packable guide), you may be tempted to visit many of these more uncharted destinations. Organized into nine categories, including historical sites, natural wonders, sports, arts and cities, Off the Tourist Trail lists the iconic destinations and gives comparable alternatives. Why go to crowded, touristy Niagara Falls when you can go to South America’s stunning Iguacu Falls instead? Tired of battling the lines at the major city sights in Paris? This book has the more secret sites. Each chapter features eye-popping color photography, small inset maps and excellently written descriptions and practical information for planning your trip (and even includes information on the more-visited sites, should you decide to brave them). Off the Tourist Trail is an absolute must-have for anyone who longs to put on traveling shoes and amble around where (almost) no man has gone before. o Alison Hood writes from Marin County, California.
ROMANCE Under the mistletoe Two holiday offerings will give readers a burst of Christmas spirit, while a medieval romance and a rollicking tale of suspense provide plenty to enjoy by the fireside. Susan Wiggs bestows a delightful gift in Lakeshore Christmas (MIRA, $21.95, 384 pages, ISBN 9780778326892). Avalon’s Heart of the Mountains Church is the site of the annual Christmas pageant and the town’s librarian, Maureen Davenport, is director. The prim woman loves the holiday season and she’s paired in her new duty with someone who claims to dislike it—child-star-all-grown-up Eddie Haven. He’s to provide help as part of a court order, and handsome, charismatic Eddie seems too much man for Maureen. They bump heads over everything from Christmas songs to dating, because, inexplicably to the buttoned-up librarian, BY christie ridgway heartthrob Eddie wants to take her out . . . and make out, too. Wiggs tells a sweet and poignant tale about risk and reward that incorporates characters from previous books in the series. As an extra sweet treat, an appendix of recipes is included.
The science of love In Janet Chapman’s A Highlander Christmas (Pocket, $7.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9781416595458) heroine Camry MacKeage’s family wants her home for the holidays, but that’s not a simple wish to grant. A rocket scientist now turned dog-sitter, Camry is reluctant to face her parents and siblings with the truth that she has left her prestigious job. When work rival Luke Pascal Renoir shows up at her parents’ house in a snowstorm, he is sent back out into the cold to return Camry to the family fold. No easy task for Luke, who must face down a bar fight, rambunctious dogs and a distrustful and disgruntled woman in order to fulfill his assignment. But there’s help along the way in the kind of magic the MacKeages are known for, as well as from the elemental attraction Camry and Luke feel for each other. Can two science-minded, fact-based personalities believe in something as ephemeral as love? A humorous plot line, self-deprecating characters and a decided dose of enchantment make this a warm read for the season.
Risking it all Christie Craig writes a story of fast-paced romantic suspense in Divorced, Desperate and Deceived (Dorchester, $6.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780505527981). The last unmarried member of the Divorced, Desperate and Delicious club, Kathy Callahan has a month to fill while her young son vacations with her ex. Finally, she decides, she’ll go for that hot fling she’s fantasized about with the hunky neighborhood plumber. But after two years of flirtation, the plumber seems plumb uninterested. Before Kathy can absorb this change of affairs, she and the plumber are caught up in a wild adventure involving stolen cars and men with guns. As they flee for their lives, secrets are shared, and they find time to experiment with the attraction that’s simmered between them from the beginning. But can Kathy learn to trust a man who is not exactly as he seems? And what about her heart? She’s made mistakes before and maybe Luke Hunter isn’t a safe bet. But love seldom is, and readers will root for these two likeable characters to take the risk anyway. o Christie Ridgway’s latest contemporary love story, “Original Zin,” is published in the anthology Double the Heat, out this month.
antastic F ICT ION by abulous AUTHORS Blue Christmas
By Mary Kay Andrews $7.99, 9780061782985 It’s the week before Christmas, and antiques dealer Weezie Foley is in a frenzy to garnish her shop for the Savannah historical district contest. The results are stunning. Then things start to go missing from her display, and there’s a mysterious midnight visitor to her shop. Throw in Weezie’s recalcitrant boyfriend Daniel, her decidedly odd family, a little help from the King himself (Elvis, that is) and maybe there will be a pocketful of miracles for Weezie this Christmas Eve.
True Confessions By Rachel Gibson $7.99, 9780380814381 When an L.A. girl with attitude has a run-in with the sheriff of Gospel, Idaho, true confessions about love start getting told all over the place. Don’t miss this fan-favorite from New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson.
The Sweethearts’ Knitting Club By Lori Wilde $7.99, 9780061808890 Welcome to Twilight, Texas, where pretty Flynn McGregor has always done just what she’s supposed to do...until Jesse Calloway comes roaring back into her life. The first in a a brand-new series by Lori Wilde.
Born to Run By James Grippando $7.99, 9780061556111 Danger-prone Miami lawyer Jack Swyteck is back in action in author James Grippando’s New York Times bestselling series. Swyteck is embroiled in shady Washington D.C. politics when his father is selected by the President to replace the Vice President, who has been killed in a hunting accident. Born to Run crackles with suspense, surprises and razor sharp wit and serves as indisputable evidence, as crime fiction superstar Harlan Coben attests, that “Grippando grips from page one.”
White Witch, Black Curse By Kim Harrison $7.99, 9780061138027 Rachel Morgan, witch and bounty hunter, has taken her fair share of hits, but when her lover was murdered, it left a deeper wound than Rachel ever imagined, and now she won’t rest until his death is solved—and avenged— whatever the cost. Yet the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and when a new predator moves to the apex of the Inderlander food chain, Rachel’s past comes back to haunt her—literally.
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A Storm of Passion (Brava, $14, 320 pages, ISBN 9780758235169) by Terri Brisbin is the first of a trilogy set in medieval Scotland. Hero Connor is honored and rewarded as a seer in Lord Diarmid’s household. His visions are used to cement Diarmid’s power, and Connor is content with the situation until a certain woman visits his chamber. While no stranger to the way his special power draws women to him, Connor’s experience with this one is different. And Moira proves just how different she is when she attempts to assassinate the seer for his alleged role in the massacre of her family. Connor survives the attempt and Moira survives the consequential rapes and beatings she receives at the order of Lord Diarmid. Rescued by Connor yet chained in his chamber, Moira comes to learn more about the man— and out of enmity grows a much softer emotion. Can she forgive him? Will Connor and Moira outlast the power struggles swirling about Diarmid? There’s violence and earthy sex in this gripping story that speaks to the redeeming power of truth and love.
SCIENCE & NATURE
Exploring the wonders of the natural world By Joanna Brichetto he holiday season is not only a good time for a festival of lights, but also a good time to feast on enlightenment. These new books—which offer exciting perspectives on subjects ranging from birds to the brain—would make excellent gifts for nature lovers or scientifically minded readers.
Science through the ages A one-volume reference simply entitled Science may sound like a children’s book—grownup books are usually about something a bit more specific—but this 512-page tome is no lightweight: it really is about science, as in the whole history of the subject from prehistory to the present. Science: The Definitive Visual Guide (DK, $50, ISBN 9780756655709), edited by Adam Hart-Davis, presents the grand sweep of scientific discovery era by era, beginning each section with an introduction and timeline and pulling out key concepts, Eureka moments, important people, applications and consequences. The “visual” part of the title is achieved in typical DK style, which means stunning photos, illustrations, charts, tables and the like in great quantity and quality. Especially handy are the before-and-after sections on particular subjects; for example, the section on steam power is flanked by marginalia outlining power sources in use before the invention of the steam engine and power sources that succeeded it, like internal combustion and electricity. After the chronological survey comes a practical reference section with quick facts about astronomy and space, earth sciences, biology, chemistry, physics and math.
When nature calls Even the most casual birdwatcher would be tickled to receive Laura Erickson’s Bird Watching Answer Book: Everything You Need to Know to Enjoy Birds in Your
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Beauty on the wing
Here’s a chance to give a budding lepidopterist— or lover of abstract art—a collection of the most exquisite butterflies in the world, but without any of those nasty specimen pins. One Hundred Butterflies (Little, Brown, $50, 128 pages, ISBN 9780316033633), the newest gorgeous gift book from photographer Harold Feinstein, has other advantages over an ordinary collection: the butterflies are larger than life, implausibly vivid against a dramatic black background, and are shown from both top and underside if the pattern and color demand it. A foreword by butterfly conservatory curator Fred Gagnon introduces viewers to the functions behind the forms: how wing shape and coloration have evolved to deter predators and attract mates. Central America’s Owl Butterfly, for example, sports markings that mimic two enormous, staring owl eyes, strategically positioned to startle a would-be predator. They startle the human viewer as well, as do all of the butterfly portraits in this book: shocking in their frozen, outrageous perfection. These ephemeral beauties must be seen to be believed. o —JOANNA BRICHETTO
Backyard and Beyond (Storey, $14.95, 400 pages, ISBN 9781603424523). The author has fielded many a question through her birding blog, her public radio program (“For the Birds”) and her previous book (101 Ways to Help Birds), and if this wasn’t street cred enough, she’s also enlisted the aid of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Although the guide is organized by categories like feeding, vocalization, bird problems (when starlings move in, for example), nesting, migration and the concisely titled “how birds work,” it is still surprisingly fun to ignore the subject headings and start reading at a random page. Should you heat a birdbath in winter? How often should you clean your feeder? What should you do when you find an injured bird? Can birds sleep during flight? Is there anything good about pigeons? This friendly and practical book answers a wide range of the most common (and compelling) questions. Another bird expert, David Allen Sibley, author of the best-selling reference The Sibley Guide to Birds, has branched out into a different subject with The Sibley Guide to Trees (Knopf, $39.95, 426 pages, ISBN 9780375415197). Although the new direction may surprise some fans, Sibley has been working on the book for seven years, having long ago learned to appreciate the intimate link between bird and tree. The introduction is an admirable crash course in the basics of tree identification, taxonomy and types of leaves, flowers, fruit, twigs, buds and bark. It also includes notable advice to those just getting started, such as the invitation to employ pattern-recognition skills and to “practice observing,” two simple yet rather profound methods that can make recognizing species easier and more “natural.” The tree identification section is, of course, the heartwood of the guide, and this is where Sibley’s characteristically precise artwork shines. Details are rendered far clearer in his paintings than in photographic field guides, and the types of variations—in leaf, color, fruit, habit, etc.—are more apparent. Over 600 trees are presented in taxonomical groups with all related species together, a system which he believes to be key in developing a “deeper understanding” of trees and the landscape around us.
Billions and billions At a time when some schools are considering adding Creationism to their curricula, it may be an opportune moment to take stock of the genuine miracle of the living universe without the intrusion of either theology or ideology. Evolution: The Story of Life (University of California Press, $39.95, 384 pages, ISBN 9780520255111), by Douglas Palmer, illustrated by Peter Barrett, gives readers just such a reference. The book’s
main contribution is its timeline: 3.5 billion years of life on Earth presented in 100 pictorial “site reconstructions.” The consistent double-page layouts make it easier for readers to compare and contrast different eras, while smaller boxes below the main frame give concise summaries and identifications. At first the illustrations may seem a bit old-fashioned and “textbook,” but then again, having meticulous hand-painted panoramas in this digital age is a treat. Evolution was published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species.
Mind games Not often are we able to read a book that shows how we are able to read a book in the first place, but The Human Brain Book (DK, $40, 256 pages, ISBN 9780756654412) shows exactly that and so much more. Rita Carver, author of the popular Mapping the Mind and Consciousness, makes the latest developments in neuroscience accessible to the average curious reader, despite the overwhelming amount and scope of material presented. This is due in part to DK’s visual format—thousands of illustrations, photographs and specially commissioned brain scans—and the presiding influence of Carter’s ability to communicate complex information with the finesse of a TV broadcaster (her former occupation). After a pictorial timeline of brain exploration and a quick journey through the brain itself, chapters cover brain anatomy, the senses, movement, emotions, language, memory, thinking, consciousness, development, disorders and more. Answers large and small are everywhere: why it isn’t safe to drive and talk on a cell phone at the same time, what consciousness is, how memory works (or doesn’t), what constitutes intelligence, what happens when we dream, how autism spectrum disorders “look” on brain scans and, on a much lighter note, what might be the six worst smells in the world. The book includes an interactive DVD of brain areas and processes. The Human Brain Book promises to be a stellar family reference.
Icy wonders This enthralling new book of oversized photographs is for all of us who can’t seem to keep straight the North Pole from the South—and which animals belong to each. But Paul Nicklen’s Polar Obsession (National Geographic, $50, 240 pages, ISBN 9781426205118) actually has far higher aspirations: the photojournalist author hopes his stunner of a book wakes us all to the endangered Antarctic and Arctic ecosystems. Polar ice is melting faster than scientific models ever predicted and may, in fact, be entirely gone within five to 20 years. Nicklen’s photographs of this threatened land- and seascape are utterly amazing. He exposes a world none of us ever sees: we are face to face with a bowhead whale, a newborn walrus pup, the very pupil of the eye of a macaroni penguin. Text is spare, informative and thrilling: his adventures in the below-freezing waters are as fascinating to read as they are to view. Not to be missed are the close-ups of an enormous leopard seal that tries (unsuccessfully) to feed the photographer a penguin underwater. A more gorgeous and compelling invitation to conservation efforts is difficult to imagine. o
Preserving America’s wild spaces, one park at a time timber. Owing his life to the wilderness, he joined the movement to save what was left. He was rewarded in 1934, when another President Roosevelt signed the law creating the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. When the authors refer to “the scripture of nature,” it becomes clear that their journey to make this stunning book was very much like a pilgrimage—and we are the richer for it. o
The National Parks By Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns Knopf $50, 432 pages ISBN 9780307268969 Also available on audio
Jove, $7.99, 9780515147186
Signet, $9.99, 9780451228567
Signet Eclipse, $7.99, 9780451228635
Berkley, $7.99, 9780425231463
Ark of Fire Photographer Edie Miller witnesses a murder and the theft of an ancient Hebrew relic. She turns to a historian for help. Neither realizes the breadth of the crime, its ties to a government conspiracy, or its connection to the most valuable relic in history—until they are both marked for execution.
The Captive Heart In 1461, Alix Givet, the daughter of Queen Margaret’s physician, is forced intoaloveless marriagewithabaron’s cruel son. Whenhe unexpectedly dies, she flees to Scotland and is at the mercy of a brooding laird. If she can warmhis cold heart, it might provide the everlasting love of her dreams.
Loitering with Intent Key West is a great place to unwind, unless you’re looking for someone who doesn’t want to be found. When Stone Barrington and his buddy Dino Bacchetti arrive, it appears that someone is lying in wait. Now Key West looks less likeMargaritavilleandmore like the mean streets of New York.
The Lost Four New York Times bestselling authors, including J. D. Robb, Patricia Gaffney, Mary Blayney andRuth Ryan Langan, venture into a world where the rules of love, of time, and of place canbeforeverlost. Fourall-newstories of paranormal desire and suspense, designed to keep you up at night.
Berkley, $9.99, 9780425231449
Onyx , $7.99, 9780451412812
Lover Avenged Rehvenge is used to dealing with the roughest night walkers around. But when his secret identity as a sympath is threatened, he turns to the only light in his ever darkening world— a female vampire untouched by corruption, who’s the only thing standing between him and eternal damnation.
The Rook Afireripsthroughatop-secret research facility, and Special Agent Patrick Bowers is called in to investigate. He discovers what the arsonists were really after. Now, with a lethal power inthe wronghands, Bowers must stop them and save those he loves from a trap fromwhich there is no escape.
Scorched: The Dark Forgotten Ex-detective Macmillan has a taste for bad girls, but his last lover turned him into a half demon. When Constance, a strangely innocent vampire, hands him a case to work, he’s led deep into the darkness, where cracking the case will cost him his last scrap of humanity.
TomClancy’s Splinter Cell: Endgame Operative Sam Fisher knows that recent disastrous missions have depleted the Splinter Cell ranks. What he doesn’t know is that a stunning piece of evidence has been uncovered that points to the mole who sold out his government. And that man is him.
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But wait, there’s more!
Signet Eclipse, $7.99, 9780451228642
INTERNET ENVY Head over to BookPage.com for more reviews and interviews. Exclusive to our site this month: a new novel from Stanley Weintraub, a holiday romance roundup and interviews with British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and Southern storyteller Madison Smartt Bell. And don’t forget to check our blog, The Book Case, for up-to-the-minute book news.
Jim Summerville writes from Dickson, Tennessee.
Signet, $7.99, 9780451228574
By James Summerville Once, back when conservation was taught in schools, every youngster heard the teacher say, “To see what man has wrought, go to Europe. But to see what God has wrought, come to America.” While the Old World has its palaces and cathedrals, Americans have Yosemite, Yellowstone and the nearly 60 other national parks that comprise our “empire of grandeur.” A sumptuous new book, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, recounts the history and preservation of these treasured places. The book is a visual adventure, like its companion, the recently aired PBS production of the same name. Ken Burns and crew shot 150 hours of film and collected 12,000 archival photographs, distilling their work here. Of course they include such iconic places as the sun-splashed Grand Tetons of Wyoming and the valley of the Colorado River. Less well known but equally breathtaking are Oregon’s Crater Lake in winter and the Dakota badlands. Some of the historic pictures—chiaroscuro studies—feel nearly three-dimensional. Others touch the heart, including one of John Muir as an old man, broken by the loss of his beloved Hetch Hetchy Valley, flooded for a reservoir. Filmmaker Burns’ works are abundant with characters. This story of “America’s best idea” is likewise a story of people: those who first saw these spirit-lifting landscapes, reported on them to the world and fought for their protection—or tried to destroy them for profit. Theodore Roosevelt inevitably bestrides these pages. Muir, a close friend, called him “the most vital man on the continent,” and with good reason: during his presidency (1901-09), more than 280,000 square miles—a total area larger than Texas—were placed under protection of some kind. Less famous heroes also gave their working lives to the conservation cause, writing articles, making speeches and lobbying politicians to save places with canyons, glaciers and giant trees. After an early life of dissolution, Horace Kephart took refuge in the mountain fastness of eastern Tennessee in 1904, where he witnessed logging companies laying waste to vast tracts of ancient
Expert advice for moms-to-be By Rebecca Steinitz Oprah calls him “America’s Doctor.” He has his own talk show. With Dr. Michael Roizen, he’s the author of the best-selling YOU series of health books, CDs and DVDs. Now, in YOU: Having a Baby, Dr. Mehmet Oz tackles pregnancy. Unlike the pregnancy books that “tell you what to do,” YOU: Having a Baby seeks to “explain why.” This “ ‘just say know’ mantra” is the book’s strength. As in the other YOU books, Drs. Roizen and Oz make the science of the body clear, accessible and fascinating. The first five chapters alone contain more useful information about genetics, placentas, Rh factor, miscarriages and brain development than the entire pregnancy section at your neighborhood bookstore. Alongside the science, YOU: Having a Baby provides the usual pregnancy advice. Pregnant women should sleep on their sides, exercise, gain a moderate amount of weight and talk to their babies in utero. There is a diet plan with recipes, a workout routine (with cutesy exercise names like “Car Seat Reaches” and “Soccer Mom”), descriptions of anesthesia options for labor and lists of what to purchase for your new YOU: Having baby and pack in your hospital bag. a Baby What distinguishes these fairly straightforward pieces of By Michael F. Roizen, advice is the book’s emphasis on the “cutting-edge field” M.D., & Mehmet C. of epigenetics, or how environment shapes the expression of genes. According to Drs. Roizen and Oz, a pregnant Oz, M.D. Press woman’s actions program the genes of her unborn child, Free $26.99, 464 pages determining everything from future weight to intelligence. ISBN 9781416572367 This means that “your responsibility for creating a healthy Also available on audio environment for your offspring is bigger than you may have even thought.” For some women, this exhortation will be reassuring; for others, it may feel burdensome and oppressive. But all women can certainly benefit from learning about how and why their bodies and babies experience the dramatic physical and mental developments of pregnancy and birth. o Rebecca Steinitz is a writer in Arlington, Massachusetts.
DECEMBER 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
The foodie’s favorite companion
By Lacey Galbraith For more than a decade, The New Food Lover’s Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst has been the definitive food reference book. It has sold more than a million copies, received praise from Julia Child, been cited on the quiz show “Jeopardy” and is employed as an official source on major websites such as Food Network, Recipes.com and the Culinary Institute of America’s Tavolo. Now, just in time for the holidays, a redesigned and updated version has been released: The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion, by Herbst and her husband, Ron Herbst. This impressive makeover of a classic book is sure to please longtime Food Lover fans and novice chefs alike. Retaining its predecessor’s alphabetical format, The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion now supplements the 6,700 cross-referenced entries with 40 different glossaries ranging from apéritifs and artificial sweeteners to grains, meats and cheeses. There are glossaries for desserts, fruits and vegetables, even kitchen tools and cookware, and definitions are given in clear, concise prose. The many charts and direc- The Deluxe Food tories—especially the ones decoding food additives Lover’s Companion and food labels—give clarity to what is oftentimes By Sharon Tyler Herbst downright confusing. The appendix alone contains more than most cookbooks, including a list of in- and Ron Herbst gredient substitutions, fatty acid profiles of popular Barron’s $29.99, 794 pages oils and comparisons of British and American food ISBN 9780764162411 and cooking terms. To say The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion is comprehensive is an understatement. With its hundreds of illustrations, plethora of fun facts, cooking tips and howto steps, The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion is the latest must-have culinary guide—and its reasonable price makes it this year’s bookstore bargain. o
COOKING Learn from the masters Cookbooks by renowned chefs make fabulous presents and, in this season of giving and getting, a wonderful way to solve your gift list quandaries.
Nigella Lawson The lovely Nigella Lawson, though a self-described happy heathen, loves the social festivities of Christmas and revels in their exuberance and excess. She understands the joys and stresses of holiday entertaining and can help anyone get through it with grace and good cheer. Her very practical coping skills and easy-to-follow recipes, many with make-ahead advice, are accompanied by lots of BY SYBIL PRATT full-color photos and all wrapped up in Nigella Christmas (Hyperion, $35, 288 pages, ISBN 9781401323363). Nigella’s prescription for maintaining seasonal sanity begins with cocktails and canapés for a cozy few or a bustling crowd, goes on to ideas for simple, no-fuss suppers for casual evenings, then gets to the Main Event: feasts for Christmas Day, pulled off with elegant élan and backed up with good planning strategies, menus and detailed recipes.
Thomas Keller Keller cooks at home! Hard to believe that the high priest of haute cuisine in the U.S. (and author of three cookbooks that are the quintessence of chic, sophisticated armchair cooking) has put together a collection of approachable family meals. Ad Hoc at Home (Artisan, $50, 368 pages, ISBN 9781579653774) has over 200 recipes that you and I can cook without a battalion of sous-chefs and cutting-edge culinary equipment—a slice of the sublime accessible to mere mortals. It’s a gorgeous book, wonderfully designed, with 250 color photographs and charmingly marked “lightbulb moments” offering instructional tips and Keller-kitchen wisdom. The recipes, inspired by Ad Hoc, Keller’s most casual eatery, will take your everyday dinners up a big notch: Keller brines his chicken and pork, adds pistachios to sautéed cabbage, caramelizes sea scallops and serves peaches with mascarpone cream.
Michael Symon If your giftees might prefer a cookbook with the knife-twirling, pot-swirling high energy hoopla of an Iron Chef, Michael Symon’s Live to Cook (Clarkson Potter, $35, 256 pages, ISBN 9780307453655) is it. Filled with dishes that reflect Symon’s MediterraneanEastern European heritage, plus his blue-collar Cleveland distaste for pretension, the book lets polenta and pasta share center stage with pork, pierogies, potato pancakes and pickles. Symon’s food isn’t fussy, but his zest for “big, big flavors and soul satisfaction” produces innovative pairings, simple but surprising, like Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup, Scallops with Lamb Sausage and Beans, Pork Cheek Chili or Grilled Radicchio with Orange and Balsamic Vinegar. Symon’s cooking, garnished with his gusto and flair, is simple enough for the home cook and simply fun.
Julia Child Middle-aged, hefty, bathed in butter and cream, with a trove of recipes that are time- and labor-intensive, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in a new, slipcased, two-volume edition (Knopf, $89.95, ISBN 9780307593528), is again, thanks to the silver screen, the must-have cookbook of the year. After 48 years, it remains the source for Americans who want to cook French food, a masterpiece of instruction that organizes this classic cuisine into a logical sequence of themes and variations. You can almost hear Julia’s lilting alto as you follow the steps she and her co-authors so carefully detailed, and you’ll surely share her consummate joy in the end product, whether it’s the Boeuf Bourguignon, Céleri-Rave Rémoulade or Pots de Crème au Chocolat. Truly a great cookbook and a great gift to get and to give. o
Form follows function in these stylish tomes By Jillian Quint rivolous pragmatists, rejoice! This season’s design books are all about utility and style, and it turns out the two are not mutually exclusive. Take a gander at our holiday picks to see how design takes cues from simplicity and durability to make for classic and enduring looks.
Green house effect Terence Conran has been on the home design scene for more than 40 years, and his previous books have all been markers of his revolutionary and modern style. His latest, The Eco Housebook (Conran Octopus, $45, 300 pages, ISBN 9781840915228), brings this same aesthetic and utilitarian sensibility to the subject of eco-friendly home design and living—and the good news is that, quite often, it’s simply a matter of working with what you’ve already got. In this exquisite, full-color coffee table book, Conran shows ways to improve energy efficiency, save water and reduce waste—most of them easy on the wallet, all of them easy on the eyes. From better insulating your home to enhancing natural light to using natural plasters and paints, The Eco Housebook provides real solutions for people concerned with both beauty and sustainability.
Looking back on a century The transient and à la mode nature of design often makes it difficult to distinguish fad from classic. Fortunately, antique expert Judith Miller’s 20th Century Design: The Definitive Illustrated Sourcebook (Miller’s Buying Guides, $34.99, 304 pages, ISBN 9781845335168) helps distinguish the major from the minor players, the lasting looks from the passing fancies. Organized by period (Modernism, The Craft Movement, Art Deco, etc.), this full-color handbook featuring over 1,000 specially commissioned photographs shows what to look for across categories, from furniture and silverware to sculpture and industrial design. Each entry—say, Mid-Century Modern Murano Glass—includes a detailed account of the movement’s identifying features, history and important designers, as well as photos of sample and iconic pieces. This is a must-have for collectors and 20th-century art enthusiasts alike.
Tracing the stories of structures
A guide for the domestically challenged
By Anne Bartlett The Parthenon in Athens is inarguably one of the most famous buildings in the world. We think of it as the epitome of classical Greek culture. But the Parthenon was a Christian church for nearly as many centuries as it was a pagan temple. And for centuries after that, it was a mosque, complete with minaret. Yet we have chosen to restore the Parthenon as it was for only a portion of its history, largely because the men who made the decision in the 19th century had been educated to be Hellenophiles. As first-time author Edward Hollis, an architect specializing in altering historic buildings, demonstrates with much charm in The Secret Lives of Buildings, any structure is a cultural product. As the culture changes, so does the structure’s meaning, appearance and use. The Parthenon’s shape-shifts are a leitmotif for Hollis as he takes the reader through the lively stories of a dozen other structures—not buildings per se, because he includes two walls (Berlin and Western) and a sculpture (the Four Horses in Venice). Each chapter illustrates a particular theme, from the “evolution” of Gloucester Cathedral through the work of masons riffing on their teachers’ legacies, to the “misun- The Secret Lives derstanding” that caused Charles V to build an unlovable of Buildings Renaissance palace next to his beloved Moorish Alhambra. By Edward Hollis This is not “just the facts” history. Hollis begins most of his chapters with “Once upon a time,” and deliberately Metropolitan $28, 352 pages gives them a fairy tale feel. The fascinating chapter on the ISBN 9780805087857 “Santa Casa” of Loreto does not scientifically challenge the religious belief that it was miraculously transported from the Middle East to Italy, via Croatia. In fact, he uses such legends to help make his case. A couple of interesting stories stray into more offbeat locales. The ghastly Hulme Crescents project in Manchester, England, was a 1970s public housing complex, a catastrophe from day one. It was eventually demolished, but not before becoming a birthplace of punk rock and rave parties. As the innumerable chunks of the Berlin Wall sitting on coffee tables around the world show, even bad structures can have interesting afterlives. o
By Joanna Brichetto For years, the author of How to Sew a Button never needed to know how to sew a button. After all, as a senior staff writer at SELF magazine, Erin Bried interviews celebrities around the globe, and her every mundane need—from a mani-pedi to house-cleaning, laundry and meals—is taken care of by people who are paid to do so. Gradually, however, came the realization that through neglect, her practical life skills had dwindled to nil. She found herself afflicted with a classic case of domestic incompetence. Sensing rightly that she was far from alone, she wrote this guide to help the similarly challenged. Her argument is that all of us are capable of making a decent pie crust, doing our own nails, hanging a picture and hemming a pair of trousers, and that surely we’d feel better if we tried. Why farm out daily details to specialists if we can take care of them ourselves? We’d save money and self-respect. And it isn’t as if we have to do it all, all the time. The goal is to know how to do a few crucial things here and there, and to know when to ask for help. If you can roast a chicken, unclog a toilet, iron a shirt, balance a checkbook, How to Sew introduce people, swaddle a baby and keep houseplants a Button alive, you qualify as a Domestic Goddess by any reasonable By Erin Bried standards. And standards are kept reasonable by the influence of Ballantine $15, 304 pages a unique panel of experts behind each of the many topics. ISBN 9780345518750 The author interviewed 10 grandmothers who survived the Great Depression with a “make do or do without” attitude, and whose collective wisdom weeds the necessary from the nonsense. Readers are honorary heirs to these balabustas (Yiddish for masterful homemakers), and can approach each gentle lesson as the need arises. Combating domestic illiteracy one button at a time, How to Sew a Button is a refreshing take on DIY and self-care, valuable for women at any stage of life. o 45 Joanna Brichetto uses her grandmother’s old sewing box regularly.
DIY with an eye
DECEMBER 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
For aspiring decorators sick of all the pricey, oversized design tomes boasting glossy pics of way-too-perfect homes, Elaine Griffin’s Design Rules: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming Your Own Decorator (Gotham, $25, 272 pages, ISBN 9781592405060) will prove a welcome respite. Ranked as one of House Beautiful’s Top 100 American Designers, Griffin has always brought a sensible, budget-friendly and chic approach to her work, and now she shows readers how to do the same. Design Rules provides practical tips for do-it-yourself endeavors. For instance, did you know that the top of your coffee table should always be an inch or two lower than the height of the sofa’s seat cushion? Or that any powder room should have two light sources in order for a lady to properly check her makeup? With Griffin as your guide, you’ll learn all this and a whole lot more.
Restoring a House in the City (Artisan, $40, 288 pages, ISBN 9781579653507), by Ingrid Abramovitch, is as much for realestate dreamers and voyeurs as it is for those looking to renovate. After all, just a peek at the pages of exposed brick and coffered ceilings will have any lover of interior design drooling with jealousy. Taking readers inside some of America’s most exquisite antique townhouses, Abramovitch teaches the ABCs of restoration, from hiring a contractor to properly preserving a brownstone. The homeowners here include fashion designers, artists, conservationists and even a famous actress (Julianne Moore, whose luxurious Manhattan apartment will make jaws drop), and their approaches to restoration diverge: some prefer to keep design authentic to the building’s time period, while others add daring dashes of modern flair. But one thing they can all agree on is the importance of restoring these often failing or dilapidated homes to their former glory. Full of tips for working within a budget and timeframe, Restoring a House in the City is a lush, practical guide for the urban dweller—celebrity or otherwise. o Jillian Quint is a stylish assistant editor at the Random House Publishing Group.
Hitting the high notes Photos, bios and untold stories in the season’s best music books
By Ron Wynn usic lovers have always welcomed the chance to read about their favorite musicians and the sounds they create. Though newspaper and magazine coverage of music has declined, those outlets are now augmented by a seemingly endless array of websites and blogs devoted to music reviews, critiques, commentary, gossip and profiles. For more in-depth appraisals, readers turn to books, and the six in this sampling represent various approaches to writing about music. Some lean toward technical appraisal, while others represent fond appreciations or reflective treatises, but they’re all informative, valuable and enjoyable treats for music lovers.
A fresh look at famous men
DECEMBER 2009 BOOKPAGE = www.bookpage.com
Current Wall Street Journal drama critic and former jazz musician Terry Teachout’s superb biography Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong (HMH, $30, 496 pages, ISBN 9780151010899) mixes sociological observation, analytical examination and psychological portrait, while correcting inaccuracies and offering new, often stunning information about the man considered by many critics the greatest jazz soloist of all time. Teachout rejects that claim, instead labeling Armstrong the greatest “influence” in jazz history, citing him as the figure numerous other players, regardless of instrument, credited with championing the value of artistry, developing a personalized sound and being both innovative and entertaining. Indeed, his showmanship frequently led to vicious criticism of Armstrong by more militant blacks, who felt his mugging and clowning on stage were a throwback to the Jim Crow and minstrel eras. Drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished material, including letters, private recordings and backstage conversations and accounts, Teachout shows that Armstrong was a driven, sophisticated performer with a quick-trigger temper and penchant for denouncing conduct by both blacks and whites as counterproductive. Teachout also brings more perspective to events only briefly or incorrectly covered in previous biographies. These range from Armstrong’s longtime love of marijuana (something that got him arrested in 1930) to the simmering quarrel with President Dwight Eisenhower that encompassed more than just his anger at Eisenhower’s reluctance to protect the rights of black students trying to integrate Central High School in Arkansas. The book contains so many new bits of information—such as the revelation that his embouchure (the way he held his lips to the trumpet) was incorrect—that even the most ardent fan might be surprised. Teachout has crafted a definitive work that dissects the personality and motivations of a genius. Journalist and filmmaker Antonino D’Ambrosio’s exhaustive A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears (Nation, $26.95, 296 pages, ISBN 9781568584072) is equally thorough, though it mainly sticks to one subject. Widely considered exclusively a country musician, Johnny Cash had a range, thematic impact and sound that were much broader. He was politically farther to the left than many industry 46 comrades, and one subject close to his heart was the na-
tion’s history and treatment of Native Americans. Cash joined forces with folk artist Peter LaFarge in 1964 to create the striking, unforgettable album Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian. As D’Ambrosio’s work shows, the eight-song LP brought Cash some of the fiercest attacks and criticism he’d ever received. When the controversial album was released squarely in the middle of a turbulent era, Cash was called “unpatriotic” in some circles and the Ku Klux Klan even burned a cross on his lawn. But he stood resolute against the pressure, even as Columbia pulled its advertising for the album and retail stores quietly and quickly took it off their shelves. D’Ambrosio adds numerous interviews with Cash’s bandmates, associates and friends while telling a story of corporate cowardice and artistic integrity that remains remarkable 45 years later. Bob Dylan Revisited (Norton, $24.95, 104 pages, ISBN 9780393076172) isn’t nearly so encyclopedic or socially powerful, though it still proves compelling. A much shorter book than the others described here, it contains 13 graphic interpretations of vintage Bob Dylan tunes, among them “Blowin’ In The Wind,” “Positively 4th Street,” “Desolation Row” and “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” Each song’s lyrics are matched with a graphic artist who creates a visually provocative viewpoint to embellish the text. Personal favorites include Thierry Murat’s interpretation of “Blowin’ In The Wind,” Benjamin Flo’s colorful treatment of “Blind Willie McTell” and Francois Avril’s dashing illustrations for “Girl Of The North Country,” but all are delightful. This is a book with special appeal for hardcore Dylan fans.
Capturing a moment Sam Stephenson’s The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith from 821 Sixth Avenue, 1957-1965 (Knopf, $40, 288 pages, ISBN 9780307267092) covers an art form whose greatest stars were unknown to most music fans. Even within the notoriously insular jazz universe, the style known as “loft jazz” never had a wide following. The music was made by instrumentalists coming to New York from many places, including the West Coast, as well as some city residents. They found artistic solace and living space in previously abandoned buildings like the one at 821 Sixth Avenue, which was the
home of photojournalist W. Eugene Smith. Stephenson’s book focuses on the exhaustive materials Smith amassed between 1957 and 1965. Musicians well-known (Thelonius Monk) and obscure (David X. Young, Hall Overton) recorded there, while Smith took their pictures in all manner of situations. Some accounts are funny, others sad or odd, but all are intriguing and memorable. Part of an ongoing research project conducted by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University (there’s also a radio series and photographic exhibition), the book spotlights a valuable collection of vignettes and snapshots that chronicle an underreported, vital part of jazz and cultural history. There’s not exactly a wealth of unknown material or lack of familiar faces in our final pair of books. Indeed, top photographer Jim Marshall proclaims in the introduction to Gail Buckland’s Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photographic History 1955-Present (Knopf, $40, 336 pages, ISBN 9780307270160) that “too much [expletive] is written about photographs and music.” While the accounts of great people manning the camera are often quite entertaining, it’s famous shots like Johnny Cash flipping the bird at San Quentin in 1969 (taken by Jim Marshall) or David Gahr’s picture of Janis Joplin leaning off to the side in 1968 that make Who Shot Rock and Roll far more than simply another photo book. Rather than a collection of pictures by a multitude of photographers, Elvis 1956 (Welcome, $29.95, 128 pages, ISBN 9781599620732) is a showcase for the dazzling, frequently surprising photos of Alfred Wertheimer, whose majestic work is also featured in the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition “Elvis at 21.” Rather than just gathering concert footage (though the book contains incredible on-stage shots of Presley, Scotty Moore and company doing acrobatics and charismatic maneuvers), Wertheimer sought places and situations that conveyed the attraction of Presley and his magnetism off the bandstand. These great scenes include one of an elderly black woman poised right behind Presley at a Southern restaurant at a time when segregation was a fact of life. Her presence, and Presley’s easy, nonchalant manner sitting a few feet away, speaks volumes about the simmering racial explosion on the horizon. Likewise, shots of him with Steve Allen or sequences showing waves of girls fighting to touch him at shows convey the enormous sex appeal of the youthful Elvis. While no book will ever be a worthy substitute for the thrill of hearing great music or the sense of achievement felt by those who play it, these volumes effectively communicate the sense of community among music lovers and the importance it holds in our lives. o Ron Wynn writes for the Nashville City Paper and other publications.
Through an artist’s eyes New books provide inspiring forays into the visual world
By Linda M. Castellitto hough pointing, clicking and sharing by people of all ages and skill levels has never been easier or quicker, thanks to the digital technology available these days, it’s still a wonderful thing to experience works by an accomplished artist, to page through a large-format book featuring images by someone who has made it their vocation to convey an emotion or capture something new or unexpected, beautiful or thought-provoking—whether in paint or on film. This quartet of coffee-table books offers the opportunity to take just that sort of foray into the world of visual art.
Photorealism, revisited Norman Rockwell’s paintings—vibrant slice-of-life creations— are essential to any study of American pop culture. But while Rockwell’s illustrative talents are well-known, an important aspect of his process is perhaps less so: any paintings done from 1930 on were first photographs. Ron Schick’s Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera (Little, Brown, $40, 224 pages, ISBN 9780316006934) is filled with images of the people and places that served as inspiration (and models) for the artist’s work. Many of those models were friends and neighbors; it’s fun to spot Rockwell himself mugging for the camera here and there, too. Thoughtful, detailed text by Schick provides fascinating, often humorous behind-the-scenes tidbits about each photo-turned-painting, plus information about everything from his advertising clients to lighting techniques. For example, when creating “Maternity Waiting Room, 1946,” Rockwell couldn’t find sufficiently stressed-out models, so he visited a Manhattan ad agency, where he found plenty of anxiety-ridden men to photograph. Paging through Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera is a smile-inciting, nostalgia-inducing experience that surely will inspire renewed admiration for Rockwell’s skill: the finished works are all the more realistic when viewed in concert with their photo counterparts.
An anglophile’s delight
A portrait of the maritime artist John Singer Sargent, a painter in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is best known for his portraits, but as Richard Ormond explains in the introduction to Sargent and the Sea (Yale University Press, $50, 192 pages, ISBN 9780300143607), written with Sarah Cash, his marine-life and seascape paintings have until recently been just a “forgotten episode of Sargent’s art.” When he was in his late teens and early 20s, the artist produced a number of works—in oil, charcoal and watercolor—depicting the sea, ships and other maritime topics: “scenes from the seashore and rustic subjects from the countryside.” Sargent and the Sea was conceived and created in concert with a Corcoran Gallery of Art exhibit that will travel to Houston and London in 2010. Paging through this handsome volume gives readers the opportunity to observe and experience Sargent’s evolution as an artist and a person, to read and marvel as his detailed charcoal renderings of ships give way to lushly colorful paintings of children at the beach and languorous nudes—a fascinating preview of the style and subjects to come. o Linda M. Castellitto takes (amateur) photos in North Carolina.
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An extraordinary museum tour In celebration of the reopening of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Medieval and Renaissance Galleries, Medieval and Renaissance Art: People and Possessions (V&A Publishing, $80, 320 pages, ISBN 9781851775798), by V&A curators Glyn Davies and Kirstin Kennedy, takes readers on a personal tour of the museum’s objects and role in European art and history. The book’s chapters include Makers and Markets (about the working and trading conditions for artists in medieval and Renaissance Europe), Devotion and Display (religious objects and rituals) and People and Possessions (weaponry, music, “self-expression through ownership”). There are colorful photos on nearly every page, many of them close-ups; the ones in the Ornaments section are particularly fascinating in terms of opulence and detail.
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Mary Miers, a writer who specializes in architecture and formerly worked in the field of architectural conservation, puts her experience and expertise to excellent use in The English Country House: From the Archives of Country Life (Rizzoli, $85, 484 pages, ISBN 9780847830572). The book is a feast of photos, and a tribute to the fine homes that have been featured in Country Life, a U.K.-based magazine that’s been published since 1897. The 400-plus images of 62 homes ranging from medieval castles to modern mansions frequently offer closeup shots of sumptuous details. For example, the Claydon House in Buckinghamshire is a Rococo delight, complete with carved chimney-pieces and colorful friezes. East Barsham Manor, in Norfolk, is a castle of molded brick, complete with gatehouse and three-story tower. And then there’s Baggy House in Devon, a cliff-top villa that’s thoroughly modern. Essays by British architectural historians provide additional detail and help to make this book a fine reading and viewing experience for aficionados of design, architecture, history, the U.K., the art of photography or some combination of the above. The English Country House is a gorgeous tour that’s sure to inspire craving for a hot cuppa, if not a trip to the emerald isle.
Those who have visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London will surely find this a worthy souvenir of a visually thrilling trip through art and history; those who haven’t will get a rare opportunity to live with the museum’s pieces and scrutinize them to their hearts’ content.
By the editors of Merriam-Webster
Rags to riches Dear Editor: Why are bad newspapers called rags? C. J. Houma, Louisiana This slang term for a newspaper arose from the longestablished practice of tagging low-quality items made from textiles with the derogatory label rag. Over the years, these so-called rags have included theater-curtains, flags and, of course, clothes. (“What, this old rag?”) Items made from paper have also been labeled rags, probably because of the early paper-making process. Before the development of a process for making paper from wood pulp, rags were the principal source of fiber for paper. Just as with cloth products, items made of paper, including paper money and, as you suggest, newspapers, earned the nickname rag. This was particularly true of items considered to be of little value, such as depreciated bank notes and newspapers with questionable journalistic standards. The idea of a rag as a worthless fragment of cloth undoubtedly influenced the derogatory connotation of rag as applied to paper. As far as we know, the first printed example of rag used to refer to a low-quality newspaper appeared around 1734. Although modern newsprint is made chiefly from wood pulp and only better-quality paper is made with cloth fibers, the derogatory term rag remains popular. And the type of stories printed by such publications has apparently not changed much, although what passed for a scandal in previous centuries may seem pretty mild to
modern readers. We have in our files a magazine article on early American newspaper publishing which states that “some Philadelphia rag accused John Quincy Adams of going to church in his bare feet.”
Where’s the beef? Dear Editor: We are wondering where the corned part of corned beef comes from. Can you help? D. T. Spokane, Washington Contrary to what you might imagine, there has never been any corn in corned beef. Nor does this product necessarily come from “corn-fed” cattle. In fact, the yellow grain that we call corn has almost nothing to do with corned beef. When the word corn first entered the language in the 12th century, it was used to refer to any small, hard particle, such as a grain of salt. We still hear the echoes of this use today in words like barleycorn and peppercorn. Corned beef is beef that has been corned, which means cured in a brine containing preservatives, sweetening and sometimes spices. This process became known as corning because corns, or grains, of salt were sprinkled over the meat before curing and used in preparation of the brine. Salt is the most common and important ingredient used in corning, as it is an effective preservative. Sweeteners improve the flavor and texture of the meat, and other ingredients give additional flavor and help the meat keep its color. But there’s no corn involved.
Curing in various ways is an ancient practice that was used to keep meat from spoiling up until the last century. These days modern techniques of refrigeration make curing unnecessary, so cured meats such as corned beef are used mainly to provide a change of pace in the daily diet.
Coming up roses Dear Editor: When I look up the word rosary in my dictionary, it says rosary comes from the Latin word for “rose garden.” Can you explain in more detail? P. O. Canton, Connecticut Rosary is from the Medieval Latin word rosarium, which in earlier Latin had meant literally a rose garden. It was used metaphorically to refer to a series of prayers, perhaps thought of as a garden of prayers and influenced by the Christian symbolism that associates the rose with the Virgin Mary and the rose garden with Paradise. The sense of rosary was applied by extension to the string of beads as well as to the prayers themselves. These senses of rosary first appeared in English in the 16th century. Incidentally, the word bead has a similar history. In Middle English, bede, from the Old English gebed, originally meant “a prayer.” The number and order of a series of prayers are often kept track of with a rosary. Because each of the balls on the rosary stands for a particular prayer, the name bede, in Modern English bead, was transferred to the balls themselves. Please send correspondence regarding Word Nook to:
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