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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.”

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