Friday, December 10, 2010
TEN BEST BOOKS
INNOCENT, by Scott Turow--Looking for the perfect gift for the reader who require more than popcorn for the mind? Consider this intricate story written in clear, sparkling language. In this novel, Turow revisits the territory of Rust Sabich, the protagonist of PRESUMED INNOCENT. Once again, he plunges Sabich into a love affair that brings with it cataclysmic changes. But there is nothing repetitive here. Those who enjoyed his previous work will find that Turow only gets better. INNOCENT is cleverly plotted and beautifully realized.
DARLING JIM, by Christian Moerk--As dark and complex as the best chocolate, this is a book that showcases the writer's pitch perfect voice and uncanny sense of place. Noir readers will enjoy the grittiness of this Irish tale crafted by a Dane who bends the English language to his will with amazing grace.
THE REMBRANDT AFFAIR, by Daniel Silva--Another thrilling adventure featuring Israeli spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon and his unforgettable team of Mossadniks. Now married to his Florentine sweetheart Chiara, Allon basks in domestic bliss until his London associate Julian Isherwood calls help after he
CITY OF VEILS, by Zoe Ferraris--This novel, set in Saudi Arabia, transcends crime fiction. It reveals the ugly inner workings of a theocracy where oppression is felt is the minutest aspects of daily life. Lab tech Katya's murder investigation is a dangerous experience. As so many professional women who try to be productive in a regime that has no room for dissidents, she walks the tightrope between conformism and rebellion. Ferraris makes no overt judgement on Islamic. She does not have to. Her story speaks for itself.
THE BRUTAL TELLING, by Louise Penny--Once again the Canadian novelist entices her readers into cozy Three Pines, a little town where the occasional murder jolts the residents out of their complacency. Penny balances her mastery of cozy with deft plots her hero Inspector Gamache unravels with intelligence, charm and human warmth. Any of Penny's books would make a great gift. Her entire Gamache series would satisfy the finickiest reader.
DOCTOR ZHIVAGO--a new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. Not your mom's Doctor Zhivago, this is clearer and closer to the heart of Pasternak's writing. Definitely a memorable gift.
THE GOOD DAUGHTERS, by Joyce Maynard--two babies who share a birthday move through divergent paths and each tells her stories in alternate chapters. Always a brilliant chronicler of America's rites of passage, Maynard infuses her novels with plausibility. Hers is an an unfailingly elegant and istinctive voice.
BABY, WE WERE MEANT FOR EACH OTHER, by Scott Simon. This compelling account of how he and his wife Caroline adopted their two daughters in China moved me beyond words. Simon is as witty, charming and perceptive and writer as he is a public radio commentator. If I could choose only four books to give away this season, his would be one of them.
THE WISDOM OF THE LAST FARMER, by David Masumoto. In this paen to the vanishing art of growing heirloom peaches organically, Masumoto also tells us about the history of his family. He tells of his Japanese grandparents' dream of owning land in an America whose racist laws forbid them to do so. During World War II they were classified as enemy aliens and sent to an internment camp even as two of their children served in the American army. After the war, Masumoto's father bought the land where the author grows heirloom organic peaches. These are the bare bones of the memoir and they should be enough. But there is more to Masumoto's meditative telling of what it takes to bring great tasting fruit to American tables.