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Books for Grownups February 2009

Online Extra...

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.


Lima Nights
By Marie Arana (Dial, $25)
Set in Peru's capital city in the mid-1980s and 2006, this unsentimental novel examines the far-reaching and life-changing consequences of what happens to a middle-aged man when he takes a teenager as a mistress. Hmmmm… The finely tuned human drama and subversion of happily-ever-after make this not-quite-romance a standout.

A Day and a Night and a Day
By Glen Duncan (Ecco, $24.99)
Duncan's propulsive seventh novel digs with philosophical intensity into the timely question of what makes both a terrorist and a torturer tick. The story follows the arc of an African-Italian-American former journalist turned successful New York restaurateur from late-1960s radicalism to his war-on-terror imprisonment at Guantánamo. Duncan even manages to weave a wondrous love story into the tragic happenings.

The Impostor
By Damon Galgut (Grove/Black Cat, $14 paper)
This anti-pastoral, post-apartheid noir centers on boomer-age Adam Napier, a depressed poet who retreats to a rural South African town to write, but ends up wallowing in drinks and depression until he happens across a former schoolmate who regards him as a personal hero. A transcendent loser, Adam is a contemporary cousin to Saul Bellow's magnificent Tommy Wilhelm in Seize the Day.

Honestly Dearest, You’re Dead
By Jack Frederickson (St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne, $24.95)
Estate planning takes center stage in this second entry of Frederickson's series featuring private investigator Vlodeck "Dek" Elstrom, who finds an important clue in an old Underwood typewriter in a deceased woman's house.

Never Tell a Lie
By Hallie Ephon (William Morrow, $24.99)
A happily married couple who were high school sweethearts put on a yard sale, which draws an old high school classmate who disappears during the sale. Boomers will have fun watching comfortable middle-class people get into big trouble in the first solo thriller by one of the noted Ephron clan.


Reborn: Journals & Notebooks 1947–1963
By Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25)
The first volume of her private journals is extraordinary for the teenage Sontag's precocious ferocity of intellect, hunger for experience and culture, and youthful vulnerability.

In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past
By Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Crown, $27.50)
This companion book to a two-part PBS series combines rigorous historical research with DNA analysis to recreate the family trees of African American celebrities, intellectuals, authors, comedians, musicians, and athletes—and proves how powerfully the past bears on the present.

Elsewhere, U.S.A.
By Dalton Conley (Pantheon, $24)
Conley makes a prescient analysis of how technology has transformed American life, comparing the mid-20th-century American with the present-day incarnation. A chilling cautionary tale, an exercise in contemporary anthropology, and a spiritual and emotional audit of the 21st-century American.

How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People (While They Are Still on This Earth)
By Henry Alford (Twelve, $23.99)
Alford recognizes that the elderly have been through more in their lives than the rest of us, and talks to some of them to see if they have any meaningful advice to impart.

Wishful Drinking
By Carrie Fisher (Simon & Schuster, $21)
Fisher has fictionalized her life in several novels (notably Postcards from the Edge), but her first memoir (she calls it a really, really detailed personals ad) proves that truth is stranger than fiction. There are more juicy confessions and outrageously funny observations packed in these honest pages than most celebrity bios twice the length.

Read a full review of this book.


Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide
By Caroline Adams Miller and Dr. Michael B. Frisch (Sterling, $19.95)
An examination of the mutually reinforcing benefits of goal setting and positive psychology, this book directs readers to such "life lists" as "100 Things to Do Before I Die," mood boosters that bring "Jolts of Joy," and a "Web of Influence Map" where readers can chart how the closest people in their lives reflect their values.

The Secret Currency of Love: The Unabashed Truth about Women, Money, and Relationships
Edited by Hilary Black (William Morrow, $24.99)
These revealing essays examine women's complex money relationships with partners, parents, children, and other loved ones. Contributors, including authors Kathryn Harrison and Julia Glass, offer intimate glimpses into the shame, fear, insecurities, power struggles, and psychological evolutions surrounding earning, spending, sharing, and managing finances inside and outside of romantic relationships.

The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50
By Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25)
According to sociologist Lawrence-Lightfoot, rich opportunities for creativity and self-fulfillment await men and women between the ages of 50 and 75. The author profiles individuals who have kept evolving, learning, and contributing to society.

The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: A Delicious Alternative for Lifelong Health
By Nancy Harmon Jenkins (Bantam, $35)
Jenkins, an American who has lived in Italy, France, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Spain, zeroes in on the dietary patterns that link these nations. She is an effective ambassador for this way of thinking about food, and her cookbook is a wonderful resource.

Magnificent Mind at Any Age: Natural Ways to Unleash Your Brain’s Maximum Potential
By Daniel G. Amen, M.D. (Harmony, $24.95)
"A magnificent mind starts with a healthy brain," says psychiatrist Amen. His explanation of basic neurological physiology will help readers understand why they act as they do and how they can recover—and develop—motivation, creativity, and good social skills to boot. Full of point-by-point lists of factual information, worksheets, self-tests, FAQs, and patients' stories.

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