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Books for Grownups December 2008

Here is 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.


The English Major
By Jim Harrison (Grove, $24)
Harrison’s middle-aged teacher-turned-cherry-farmer narrator ambles through the American Midwest and West in this lusty, invigorating road novel.

The Widows of Eastwick
By John Updike (Knopf, $24.95)
Quintessential boomer author Updike checks in on the witches of Eastwick and finds them older, but no less crafty and bawdy.

Read Updike's essay "The Writer in Winter" in our November & December 2008 issue

November 22, 1963
By Adam Braver(Tin House Books, $14.95 )
Braver mixes fact and fiction in this captivating look at the day JFK was assassinated. Where were you?

The Messengers of Death: A Mystery in Provence
By Pierre Magnan (Martin’s Minotaur/Dunne, $24.95)
A crime offering delicate soupcons of passionate desires and outrageous sex lures former Commissaire Laviolette out of retirement in this stylish investigation set in boomer paradise.

Paris Noir
Edited by Aurélien Masson (Akashic, $15.95)
The 12 stories in this all-original anthology play out in a kind of darker parallel universe to the tourist mecca that’s the City of Lights. Another side to the city where we all (hopefully) once fell in love.


Amarcord: Marcella Remembers
By Marcella Hazan (Gotham, $27.50)
Hazan’s memoir is a terrific history of the expansive postwar period when Americans were still learning the difference between linguine and Lambrusco, and also an engaging chronicle of professional perseverance, chance, and culinary destiny.

Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth
By Margaret Atwood (Anansi, $15.95 )
Perennial favorite Atwood has written a book that’s a weird but wonderful mélange of personal reminiscences, literary walkabout, moral preachment, political argument, economic history, and theological query, all bound together with wry wit and careful, though casual-seeming, research into the role of debt in literature and life.

The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters
By Rose George (Metropolitan, $26)
An irreverent investigation into the economic, political, social, and environmental challenges of human waste disposal. Full of fascinating facts about the evolution of material culture as influenced by changing mores of disgust and decency (the popularity of high-heeled shoes dates back to the time when chamber pots were emptied into the streets), this book is an entertaining journey through the public consequences of this most private behavior.

The Glory Game: How the 1958 NFL Championship Changed Football Forever
By Frank Gifford with Peter Richmond (HarperCollins, $25.95)
Gifford, the 78-year-old former star for the New York Giants and later an icon on Monday Night Football, tells the story of this much-chronicled game between his Giants and Johnny Unitas’s Baltimore Colts from both his perspective and through interviews with teammates and opponents.

Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam
By Gordon M. Goldstein (Times Books, $25)
McGeorge Bundy was one of Kennedy’s best and brightest, and an architect of America’s Vietnam policy. In this complex portrait of Bundy, Goldstein reveals that late in life Bundy came to regret his hawkish ways, calling it “overall, a war we should not have fought.”


Cuisine à Latina: Fresh Tastes and a World of Flavors from Michy’s Miami Kitchen
By Michelle Bernstein and Andrew Friedman (Houghton Mifflin, $30)
For those in search of a unique culinary voice, Bernstein is the one to tune in to. A Jewish Latina who studied classical French technique, worked in several four-star restaurants, danced ballet on a professional level, and now runs Michy's restaurant in Miami, she is a multicultural force to reckon with.

Urban Italian: Simple Recipes and True Stories from a Life in Food
By Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman (Bloomsbury, $35)
In one of the more creative yet accessible Italian cookbooks to come along, Carmellini (formerly chef of A Voce in New York City) presents spectacular recipes while opening a window onto his life with food, from his Italian-American boyhood and cooking school to revelations while traveling in Italy and being a top New York chef.

The Smart Cookies’ Guide to Making More Dough: How Five Young Women Got Smart, Formed a Money Club, and Took Control of Their Finances
By The Smart Cookies with Jennifer Barrett (Delacorte, $24)
The enterprising authors address the nitty-gritty of goal-setting, raise negotiations, debt management, and mortgages. Their plainspoken, encouraging style and helpful breakdown of information make this the perfect gift for recent grads—or anyone who needs convincing in these trying times that financial health is attainable.

The Self Sufficient-ish Bible: An Eco-living Guide for the 21st Century
By Andy and Dave Hamilton (Hodder & Stoughton, $34.95)
This inspiring blueprint for eco-living is an elegantly produced guide that provides hundreds of suggestions in four general areas (home, garden, food, and lifestyle) to help readers live more harmoniously with Mother Earth and leave her intact for future generations.

The Overflowing Brain: Information Overload and the Limits of Working Memory
By Torkel Klingberg; foreword by Elkhonon Goldberg (Oxford University Press, $21.95)
Klingberg, a cognitive neuroscientist, warns that the huge burden of information overload and multitasking can exceed the limits of our slowly evolving “stone-age” brain, leading to memory malfunctions. Klingberg also offers a keen examination of the impact on working memory of problem-solving, meditation, computer games, and caffeine. And who among us is not thinking about our memories?

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