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Books for Grownups — February 2011

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 for reviews, author Q-and-A's and more.


Book List

Books for Grownups (Feb 2011)

The Officers' Club

By Ralph Peters (Forge, $25.99)
The murder of a promiscuous female first lieutenant kick-starts this provocative thriller about a group of hedonistic Army officers making all the wrong decisions in the era just after the Vietnam War.

Books for Grownups (Feb 2011)

I'm a Fool to Kill You

By Robert J. Randisi (Severn, $28.95)
Celebrity gossip from the early 1960s imparts a nostalgic sheen to Randisi's latest, the fifth installment in his "Rat Pack" mystery series. This one centers on Frank Sinatra's ex-wife, Ava Gardner — who wakes from a drunken binge to discover she's drenched in someone else's blood.

Books for Grownups (Feb 2011)

The Year of the Hare: A Novel

By Arto Paasilinna, foreword by Pico Iyer (Penguin, $14)
First published in 1975 at the height of the back-to-nature movement, this charming parable follows Finnish journalist Kaarlo Vatanen, who, approaching middle age, abandons his life in Helsinki for the companionship of a rabbit he accidentally hit while driving. From a remote cabin in the wilds of Lapland, Vatanen scrutinizes various facets of modern society — and finds each one lacking.

Books for Grownups (Feb 2011)

The Reckoning

By Howard Owen (Permanent, $28)
The time: 2004. The place: Richmond, Virginia. The protagonist: Jake James, 16, who is dealing with both his first serious love affair and his mother's recent death when his father George's college roommate, Freeman Hawk, reappears after decades as a draft dodger in Canada. Turns out Hawk's problems are not in the safely distant past but in Montreal's criminal underworld of the present — and they have followed him back to Virginia.

Books for Grownups (Feb 2011)

The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe

By Andrew O'Hagan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24)
Marilyn Monroe's lapdog (a gift from Frank Sinatra) narrates this insightful romp through American history of the 1950s and '60s. Maf accompanies his owner everywhere, from sessions with her therapist to performances by Sammy Davis Jr., wittily ruminating on his adventures as he goes. The point? People project onto animals, just as they do onto celebrities.

Books for Grownups (Feb 2011)

As Always, Julia: Letters Between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto

Edited by Joan Reardon (Houghton Mifflin, $26)
Culinary historian Reardon’s collection of the correspondence between Child and her pen pal, Avis DeVoto (portrayed by Deborah Rush in the film Julie & Julia), bubbles over with intimate insights into their friendship. Witty, enlightening, entertaining, these letters serve as a compelling companion volume to Mastering the Art of French Cooking, tracing that cookbook’s evolution from inception to éclat.

Books for Grownups (Feb 2011)

Chinaberry Sidewalks: A Memoir

By Rodney Crowell (Knopf, $24.95)
The singer-songwriter’s Houston childhood had all the requisite elements of a hard-luck country-music tale: drink, guns, fistfights, infidelity, Pentecostal preachers, fishing, love, hate, laughter, tears, sex, drugs — oh, and music. But this is no ordinary music memoir. At the heart of the book are his loving and turbulent relationships with his parents, and their oft-strained but ever-deep love for one another.

Books for Grownups (Feb 2011)

Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood

By Richard Settersten and Barbara E. Ray (Delacorte, $24)
Settersten and Ray present a panoramic portrait of a generation. “Slaying misperceptions,” they show that young people are some of the most debt-phobic individuals in the country; that they are delaying but not abandoning marriage; and that they regard having children as meaningful, “even salvation."

Books for Grownups (Feb 2011)

Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche

By James Miller (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, $28)
Miller casts a welcome light on the flawed, all-too-human aspects of 12 famed moralists whose personal lives were far more chaotic than the philosophies they espoused. His compelling book elegantly exposes the gulf between the abstract formulation of right action and its actual achievement, signaling that the lives of deep thinkers can indeed be exemplary — but not always in the ways they might have hoped.

Books for Grownups (Feb 2011)

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

By Sherry Turkle (Basic, $26.95)
Amid the growing clamor about what the digital age is doing to our brains comes this chilling examination of how it may be degrading our relationships. Humans still need one another, Turkle reaffirms. But as new technologies and increased connectivity push people closer to their machines, they threaten to drive us farther apart.

Books for Grownups (Feb 2011)

Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work

By Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot (Clarkson Potter, $25)
It’s less an all-purpose cookbook than an everyday reference tool, but this volume by the “Ideas in Food” bloggers (they’re also the “Kitchen Alchemy” columnists for Popular Science) will furnish go-to recipes for anyone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen. The recipes are accessible, so the subject and tone never get too lofty.

Books for Grownups (Feb 2011)

The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy

By Liz Weston (Penguin/Hudson Street, $25.95)
Weston guides readers to create a “real world” budget, design a survival plan with cash and credit, pay off debt, embrace risk sensibly, plan for retirement and communicate about finances within a marriage and a family.

Books for Grownups (Feb 2011)

Planet Home: Conscious Choices for Cleaning and Greening

By Jeffrey Hollender with Alexandra Zissu (Clarkson Potter, $19.99)
Hollender, co-founder of eco-friendly company Seventh Generation, offers a detailed “road map for anyone who wants to green and clean a home.” The book helps busy or disorganized readers clean up their houses, nook by nook. It may also inspire them to view the world in a new — and neater! — light.

Books for Grownups (Feb 2011)

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find — and Keep — Love

By Amir Levine, M.D., and Rachel S. F. Heller (Tarcher, $24.95)
Psychiatrist Levine and psychologist Heller show how childhood patterns of attachment get hardwired in our brains, dictating the nature of our adult relationships. Understanding your own patterns — and those of your partner — can help defuse conflicts and enhance intimacy.

Books for Grownups (Feb 2011)

Beautiful Brain, Beautiful You

By Marie Pasinski with Jodie Gould (Hyperion/Voice, $15.99)
Using a measured, seven-step plan, Harvard neurologist Pasinski connects brain health and beauty for women seeking to age well without resorting to plastic surgery or cosmetic treatments. Flaky title aside, the book offers creative ideas aplenty to clear your mind, strengthen your body and feel good.

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