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Books for Grownups June 2009

What Our Generation Wants to Read!

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

FICTION

Hello Goodye
By Emily Chenoweth (Random House, $25)
When her boomer mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, college student Abby and her family spend a week at a swanky hotel to stage a combination wedding anniversary/goodbye bash. Chenoweth's poignant, unsentimental take on living and dying rings true. Her exploration of coming-of-age—and coming to terms with mortality—adds weighty pleasure.

Please Step Back
By Ben Greenman (Melville House, $16.95)
New Yorker staffer Greenman pens a dynamite account of fictional 1970s rock and soul star Rock Foxx, whose crazy ride to the top ends with a classic crash-and-burn. Greenman knows his turf—and loves the music of the era. Use this to tide you over until the next Funkadelic tour.

The Scenic Route
By Binnie Kirshenbaum (Ecco/Harper Perennial, $13.99)
This one's both of the moment and timeless: a 42-year-old divorcée loses her job and lights out for Europe, where she embarks on an affair and a road trip. En route there are memories, regrets, passion, and a signature cocktail made with cola and white wine. A wonderful story, masterfully told, that speaks to the adventure lust in us all.

The Stalin Epigram
By Robert Littell (Simon and Schuster, $26)
Littell, a master of the Cold War spy novel, trades espionage for interwar Russian poets with this story of real-life poet Osip Mandelstam, whose mockery of Stalin landed him in the Gulag. Unflinching in its portrayal of Osip's tragic arc, the book richly re-creates a troubled era of Russian history.

Italian Shoes
By Henning Mankell (New Press, $26.95)
We're not fans of May-December romance unless it's tragic (see Elms, Desire under the), but for a writer of Mankell's gifts we'll make an exception. After an operating-room accident costs surgeon Fredrik Welin his career, he retreats to the physical and emotional isolation of an island off the coast of his native Sweden. There, with the arrival of a youthful love, he finds redemption at age 66.

NONFICTION

But Wait…There's More! Tighten Your Abs, Make Millions, and Learn How the $100 Billion Infomercial Industry Sold Us Everything but the Kitchen Sink
By Remy Stern (Collins Business, $24.95)
A $300 billion industry, the direct-response marketing business (which includes infomercials and home-shopping networks) is larger than the film, music, and video-game industries combined. In this lively exposé, journalist Stern dissects the proceedings. Guilty-pleasure scandals abound, and the author explains why you fall for tricks late at night in your recliner that you never would by day in the store.

Old World Daughter, New World Mother: An Education in Love and Freedom
By Maria Laurino (Norton, $23.95)
In a memoir that combines the personal and the political, Laurino documents her journey from a childhood spent in the embrace of a traditional Italian family to becoming a mother herself. Laurino marvels at the many differences that distinguish her mother’s life from her own.

The Match King: The Financial Genius behind a Century of Wall Street Scandals
By Frank Partnoy (PublicAffairs, $26.95)
A thrilling account of the grandfather of all Ponzi and Madoff schemes. Ivar Kreuger made his fortune in the 1920s by raising money from American investors, then loaning it to European governments in exchange for match monopolies. Chilling are the echoes of conditions today: a speculative real estate bubble, unbridled consumer spending, and a Wall Street playing by rules of its own.

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