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10 Books to Give as Gifts This Holiday Season

For the chef, child, rocker and assorted bookworms on your list

Inherit the Dead by multiple authors (Courtesy Simon & Schuster)

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, $25.99

For the Mystery Lover

Way too many choices will confront you in a year when every thriller writer from Heather Graham and Marcia Clark to Lawrence Block and Mary Higgins Clark brought out new novels.

Option 1:

Buy a book written by all four of them — plus 16 of their closest writer-friends!

You read that right.

The new Inherit the Dead is billed as "One chilling mystery … 20 thrilling writers," with each author contributing a chapter to this tale of an Upper East Side socialite and her missing wayward daughter.

The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries by Otto Penzler (Courtesy Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)

Publisher: Vintage, $25

Option 2:

If this mosaic approach intrigues you but you want something more seasonal, pick up a copy of The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries, edited by titan-of-the-field Otto Penzler.

Touting his anthology as "the most complete collection of Yuletide whodunits ever assembled," Penzler invites the reader to "have yourself a crooked little Christmas" with these tales of "festive felonies, unscrupulous Santas and misdemeanors under the mistletoe."

Contributors include Agatha Christie, Ed McBain, Sara Paretsky and more than 50 other legends.

The Southerner's Handbook by John T. Edge (Courtesy Harper Wave)

Publisher: HarperCollins, $29.99

For the Bon Vivant

The South is back in style — have you noticed?

How else to explain why "Hipsters from Brooklyn now descend on our mountain precincts in search of chocolate gravy," writes John T. Edge in The Southerner's Handbook.

Compiled by the editors of Garden & Gun magazine, this "guide to living the good life" will teach the bon vivant on your holiday list how to brew a Bloody Mary, bake perfect biscuits or find the best peach stand on the back roads of South Carolina. And — crucially — how to season "the almighty cast-iron skillet." The secret, all you auslanders, is with lard.

I'm Not Gonna Lie (And Other Lies You Tell When You Turn 50) by George Lopez (Courtesy Celebra Hardcover)

Publisher: Celebra, $25.95

For the Wannabe Comedian

Is there one in your family?

Does he haunt your holiday gatherings?

Keep him quiet — for a while, at any rate — by gift-wrapping him a copy of I'm Not Gonna Lie (And Other Lies You Tell When You Turn 50) by stand-up comic and talk-show host George Lopez.

His 40s were "a touch-and-go decade," says Lopez: divorce, kidney disease, two canceled shows.

And though Lopez used to "lie to survive," when he hit 50 in 2011 he vowed: "I'm not gonna lie. Anymore. Not at my age. I don't have that good a memory."

Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure by Artemis Cooper (Courtesy New York Review Books

Publisher: The New York Review of Books, $30

For the Armchair Traveler

You know you've led an exciting life when your biography is subtitled An Adventure — and that's just what your favorite armchair traveler is in for when he opens your gift of Patrick Leigh Fermor by Artemis Cooper.

Fermor's life (1915-2011) overflowed with travel, romance and derring-do.

He walked from Holland to Istanbul in 1934 (and later wrote three books about it), fell in love with a Romanian countess, and abducted a German general from Crete in WWII.

No wonder Welsh historian and travel writer Jan Morris calls this book a "magnificent biography [of] one of the very best of men."


Allan Fallow writes about books for AARP Media.

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