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Books for Grownups - December 2010

AARP The Magazine and the Editors of Publishers Weekly have teamed up to let you know about the latest fiction, nonfiction, and how-to books of interest to you. Once you've checked out the selections below, visit Publishers Weekly's pages for reviews, author Q&As, and more.

 

editors'
picks

Books for Grownups - December 2010

The Petting Zoo

By Jim Carroll (Viking, $25.95)
The nervous breakdown of a New York City painter is tracked with frightening clarity in this rough-edged—and posthumous—novel by the author of The Basketball Diaries. It’s a heartfelt portrait of New York in the 1980s, composed by a New York original who came of age in the 1960s.

 

 

Books for Grownups - December 2010

Learning to Die in Miami

By Carlos Eire (Free Press, $26)
A stranger in a strange land, Eire (one of 14,000 children airlifted from Cuba in 1962’s Operation Peter Pan) uses observation, humor, and emotion to relate the classic American immigrant experience in Miami—and to produce this impressive memoir. Earlier generations will relate to “finding themselves at the bottom of the heap and knowing that they will climb their way back to the top, no matter what.”

 

Books for Grownups - December 2010

Let Me Tell You About Wine

By Oz Clarke (Sterling, $19.95)
The BBC wine expert’s guidance is as straightforward as his title. Part I breaks wine flavors into 18 categories: “juicy, fruity reds,” for example, or “intense, nutty whites.” A helpful “instant-recall chart” provides pithy descriptions of 23 grape varieties (“Pinotage: A love-it-or-hate-it sturdy smoky red from South Africa”). Part II covers how to buy, store, and serve wine. Part III looks at the offerings from more than a dozen countries, ranging from stalwart France to such oenological upstarts as Lebanon, Turkey, and Thailand.

Complete
Book List

Books for Grownups - December 2010

Moonlight Mile

By Dennis Lehane (Morrow, $26.99)
Twelve years ago—in Lehane’s 1998 novel Gone, Baby, Gone—Boston private eyes Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro went looking for, and found, missing four-year-old Amanda McCready. Patrick and Angie have since married and had a daughter of their own—but Amanda, now 16, has gone missing again. The dialogue is raw and real, the social commentary scalding. And in Yefim—a lovable Russian mobster with a startling mastery of American vernacular—Lehane has created a character whose threats and judgments will ring in your ears long after the last satisfying page.

Books for Grownups - December 2010

Driving on the Rim

By Thomas McGuane (Knopf, $26.95)
Small-town doctor Berl Pickett jeopardizes his livelihood when he tries to disguise the attempted suicide of an old friend. When she dies from her injuries, he’s suspended from his post and reverts to his former profession of house painter. This novel is more contemplative than dramatic. But readers who relish McGuane’s signature descriptions—of hunting, fishing, birding, and cruising around in an Oldsmobile 88—will enjoy his laid-back take on contemporary American manhood.

Books for Grownups - December 2010

Bryant & May Off the Rails

By Christopher Fowler (Bantam, $25)
London detectives-of-a-certain age Arthur Bryant and John May have just one week to capture a fugitive killer—the King’s Cross Executioner, who escaped from their grasp in the previous (and equally devious) PCU mystery, 2009’s Bryant & May on the Loose. When it comes to constructing bizarre puzzles and intricate plots—or integrating modern technology into a golden-age mystery narrative—Fowler has few peers.

Books for Grownups - December 2010

The Petting Zoo

By Jim Carroll (Viking, $25.95)
The nervous breakdown of a New York City painter is tracked with frightening clarity in this rough-edged—and posthumous—novel by the author of The Basketball Diaries. It’s a heartfelt portrait of New York in the 1980s, composed by a New York original who came of age in the 1960s.

Books for Grownups - December 2010

Busy Body: An Agatha Raisin Mystery

By M. C. Beaton (Minotaur, $24.99)
Feisty English detective Agatha Raisin struggles to balance the, er, challenges of aging with those involved in keeping her detective agency afloat. Publishing insiders would characterize this as a “cozy,” but Agatha is both fierce and formidable in her 21st outing—this one centered on the stabbing death of a grinchy Cotswolds safety official who scrubbed the annual custom of raising a Christmas tree atop a local church tower. Also getting ink are Agatha’s romantic upheavals: Will she ever marry close friend Sir Charles Fraith?

Books for Grownups - December 2010

Book Lust to Go

By Nancy Pearl (Sasquatch, $16.95)
Here’s a gem for travelers who love to roam (or simply read about) faraway places. Bolstering Pearl’s suggested readings are quick critiques and insights, classified well enough for readers to take or leave her advice. In “Africa,” for example, she includes not just the compulsory Cry the Beloved Country but also contemporary mysteries such as Kwei Quartey’s debut novel, Wife of the Gods (set in Ghana). This is a perfect roadside—or bedside—companion.

Books for Grownups - December 2010

Learning to Die in Miami

By Carlos Eire (Free Press, $26)
A stranger in a strange land, Eire (one of 14,000 children airlifted from Cuba in 1962’s Operation Peter Pan) uses observation, humor, and emotion to relate the classic American immigrant experience in Miami—and to produce this impressive memoir. Earlier generations will relate to “finding themselves at the bottom of the heap and knowing that they will climb their way back to the top, no matter what.”

Books for Grownups - December 2010

You Had Me at Woof

By Julie Klam (Riverhead, $24.95)
Klam recounts touching and often hilarious tales of her life with three Boston terriers—spirited Hank, chubby Sherlock, adorable Moses. Each dog has its own special needs, idiosyncrasies, and “teachable moments.” Her book overflows with lessons on trusting one’s instincts, achieving balance, helping others, finding contentment, loving fiercely—and letting go.

Books for Grownups - December 2010

Portrait of Camelot

By Richard Reeves with Harvey Sawler, Photos by Cecil W. Stoughton (Abrams, $35)
Stoughton, the first official White House photographer, captures the 1,036 glamorous days of John F. Kennedy’s presidency in a moving mélange of intimate snapshots and formal portraits—all culminating, of course, in that tragic denouement. This informative and beautiful “coffee-table book” will find its way to many a lap. Includes a DVD with film footage of a vacationing clan Kennedy.

Books for Grownups - December 2010

Pat Cooper: How Dare You Say How Dare Me!

By Pat Cooper, with Rich Herschlag and Steve Garrin, foreword by Jerry Lewis (Square One, $24.95)
This spirited memoir covers Cooper’s Brooklyn childhood, radio debut, early work as a longshoreman, stint in the Army, big break—at age 32, on The Jackie Gleason Show—and performing career as an “angry comic” in Rat Pack–era Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Beneath the bright shtick lurks the darker side typical of many funny men. It’s a warts-and-all autobiography—but then, Cooper’s fans have been conditioned to expect nothing less.

Books for Grownups - December 2010

Around My French Table

By Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40)
Yes, America, there is life after Julia Child: Writer/baking wizard Greenspan celebrates French home cooking in this visual stunner. A part-time Paris resident for more than a decade, she focuses on what French people really eat at home: easy-to-prepare yet flavorful dishes that are suitable for almost any time of day. A feast for eyes and palate alike.

Books for Grownups - December 2010

The Last Boy

By Jane Leavy (Harper, $27.99)
Leavy—a tomboyish “Mickey guy”—spent her childhood in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, listening to the roar of the crowd from across the Grand Concourse. She grew up to become a sportswriter for The Washington Post, enabling her to interview Mantle on the eve of a celebrity golf tournament in 1983. What happened that day and night in Atlantic City between the fading, embittered Mantle and the former fan girl trying to do her job is the drama that drives Leavy’s narrative with the energy of a Mantle blast to the upper deck. She has never reported the truth till now—and she does so without judgment.

Books for Grownups - December 2010

Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous

By Joan Nathan (Knopf, $40)
Is it a mystery, a history, or a cookbook? Whatever, this fascinating tome captures two millennia of Jewish history in France. Nathan, the James Beard Award–winning doyenne of Jewish cooking, applies her culinary detective skills to tease out the Jewish influence on French cuisine—and vice versa. Her multilayered approach makes this treasury of tempting flavors an entertaining and compelling read.

Books for Grownups - December 2010

Previvors: Facing the Breast Cancer Gene

By Dina Roth Port (Avery, $16)
For women with an elevated risk of breast cancer, Port provides an excellent guide to the means and methods of assessing that hazard (such as the test for the breast-cancer gene). She also lays out the difficult choices for preventive action faced by women at high risk of breast cancer; these include “chemoprevention” (via tamoxifen or other drugs) as well as prophylactic mastectomy. Crucially, the author also investigates the physical, sexual, and psychological impact of each choice.

Books for Grownups - December 2010

Let Me Tell You About Wine

By Oz Clarke (Sterling, $19.95)
The BBC wine expert’s guidance is as straightforward as his title. Part I breaks wine flavors into 18 categories: “juicy, fruity reds,” for example, or “intense, nutty whites.” A helpful “instant-recall chart” provides pithy descriptions of 23 grape varieties (“Pinotage: A love-it-or-hate-it sturdy smoky red from South Africa”). Part II covers how to buy, store, and serve wine. Part III looks at the offerings from more than a dozen countries, ranging from stalwart France to such oenological upstarts as Lebanon, Turkey, and Thailand.

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