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Books for Grownups April 2009

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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

We'll Always Have Paris
By Ray Bradbury (Morrow, $24.99)
Bradbury's nostalgic and easy-reading stories will take you back to simpler times. The focus is on small, telling moments in his characters' lives. A book to kick back with—and a dynamic change of pace from that intense experience of reading Fahrenheit 451 in high school.

The Help
By Kathryn Stockett (Putnam/Amy Einhorn, $24.95)
In her first novel, Stockett effortlessly evokes early 1960s Mississippi, where a white college student and budding civil-rights activist records the stories of the black women in her life.

The Believers
By Zoë Heller (Harper, $25.99)
1960s countercultural idealism sours in Heller's hilariously sharp novel about a dysfunctional family's attempts to stay together when the patriarch suffers a stroke just after 9/11.

Read a full review of this book.

Bruno, Chief of Police
By Martin Walker (Knopf, $23.95)
Baby boomers with fond memories of France will enjoy this tale of a provincial police chief with a taste for leisurely lunches who gets caught up in a murder investigation involving anti-immigrant violence.

A Reliable Wife
By Robert Goolrick (Algonquin, $24.95)
Everyman's dream? In this darkly nuanced psychological tale, set in 1907 Wisconsin, a well-to-do middle-aged businessman advertises for "a reliable wife" in the newspaper. He gets a lot more than he bargained for—but don't we all?

NONFICTION

The Man with Kaleidoscope Eyes: The Art of Alan Aldridge
By Alan Aldridge (Abrams, $35)
Alan Aldridge (the man who illustrated the Beatles' lyrics), his psychedelic sensibility, and his outsize personality are all vividly displayed in this book featuring 421 color illustrations and remembrances of Paul McCartney, Salvador Dalí, and others.

Equal: Women Reshape American Law
By Fred Strebeigh (Norton, $35)
In a keen, fascinating history, journalist Strebeigh reviews how the law has changed women's lives in the areas of abortion, employment, rape, and more, and how boomer women have led these changes, enabling growing numbers of women to become lawyers, judges, and academics.

The Sisters Antipode: A Memoir
By Jane Alison (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23)
Alison's compelling memoir recounts the strange reconfiguration of her family in the mid-20th century, when her parents broke up and switched partners—and children!—with another couple they met in Australia. Novelist Alison (Natives and Exotics) deftly delineates the treacherous forms of jealousy that resulted in this harrowing journey of identity.

 

The Weight of a Mustard Seed: An Iraqi General's Moral Journey during the Time of Saddam
By Wendell Steavenson (Collins, $24.95)
The life of General Sachet—from his humble beginnings to his rise in the Iraqi army and his growing closeness with Saddam Hussein—is the subject of this timely biography. Sachet's life was one of service to his country, but as his revulsion for Saddam's paternalistic sadism grew, fear for the welfare of his family paralyzed the general from taking action.

Levittown: Two Families, One Tycoon, and the Fight for Civil Rights in America's Legendary Suburb
By David Kushner (Walker, $25)
A mesmerizing account of the efforts to integrate America's most famous suburb, led by two black families who challenged Levittown's segregationist policy and brought down the nation's most powerful real-estate titan.

LIFESTYLE/SELF-HELP

Healing through Exercise: Scientifically-Proven Ways to Prevent and Overcome Illness and Lengthen Your Life
By Jorg Blech (Da Capo Lifelong, $26)
There is no fountain of youth, but Blech (Inventing Disease and Pushing Pills) presents research from the U.S. and Europe and opinions of medical professionals pointing to exercise as the key to health and longevity—and a powerful way to cut health-care costs. The good news? Half an hour of moderate, daily walking can make a big difference.

'wichcraft: Craft a Sandwich into a Meal—and a Meal into a Sandwich
By Tom Colicchio (Clarkson Potter, $27.50)
When Colicchio (a restaurateur and head judge of the TV show Top Chef) turned his attention to sandwiches, chances were slim that the result would look much like the pathetic specimens in those brown bags we carried to school. This book features some of 'wichcraft's more unusual creations, such as the ravioli-inspired, roasted-pumpkin-with-mozzarella-and-hazelnut-brown-butter sandwich. Oh, and forget the cookie: Try an unexpectedly luscious dessert sandwich instead.

Getting Naked Again: Dating, Romance, Sex, and Love When You've Been Divorced, Widowed, Dumped, or Distracted
By Judith Sills (Springboard, $24.99)
Known for her psychologically perceptive relationship books, Sills here turns her attention to dating for women of a certain age, especially those recently ejected or escaped from long marriages. The author advises older women how to get back "out there"—and how to contend with the anxiety that can ensue.

Rule Your Freakin' Retirement: How to Retire Rich by Actively Managing Your Assets
By Michael Parness (St. Martin’s, $25.95)
The horse may be out of the investment barn, but Parness highlights safe, simple strategies to actively manage retirement resources—crucial now more than ever. Along with profiles of individuals at various stages of life and financial responsibility, he offers practical advice for handling retirement savings. This jargon-free book will interest anyone hoping to regain control of their retirement future.

Essential Herbal Wisdom: A Complete Exploration of 50 Remarkable Herbs
By Nancy Arrowsmith (Llewellyn, $29.95 paper)
Carlos Castaneda aside, herbs can be used in hundreds of practical ways: Arrowsmith gives tips on planting, gathering, drying, and storing; preparing tinctures, teas, salves, beauty treatments, and special cures; treating humans and animals; cooking and baking; and creating nurturing environments. She also describes the magical powers attributed to various herbs, and includes poems, quotes, legends, and recipes (sorrel fritters, anyone?).

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