Lots of great books came out this year. I’ve already written a blog on my favorite, And the Mountains Echoed by Khalid Hosseini. Second would be Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (review below). Here are a few that I think you would enjoy reading or giving as a gift. I’ve marked the
one’s I’ve read with an *. So, here we go…
Furious Cool, Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him by David and Joe Henry- If you like Richard Pryor and want to know what made the guy tick, then this book will enlighten you. I’ve seen Pryor live in concert and have also wondered what warped that mind.. This book gives you great insight into what did.*
Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin. Yes, the great Bushkin, Carson’s lawyer finally writes a tell all about his life with Johnny. Mainly about their building a financial empire but also about Johnny’s great love/hate relationship with his mother, what an SOB he could be and also what a charitable man he could be. Not well written but a good insight into Johnny’s world.*
Still Foolin’em; Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going and Where the Hell Are My Keys by Billy Crystal. An autobiography which moves between the life of Billy Crystal growing up and into the now but these chapters are sandwiched between Billy’s funny rantings. Very, very funny. *
A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout. The hubris of the young. Lindhout begins traveling the world in her early 20’s. She mainly backpacks with friends or by herself. She travels to some very dangerous locations simply because she wants to go there, places like India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. She gets it in her mind that she could become a war correspondent. Lindhout is from Canada and she meets a fellow traveler, Neil, who is from Australia. She talks Neil into going into worn torn Somalia to try to get some war torn footage. Big mistake. She and Neil are captured by radical Muslim Somali war lords and held captive in and around Mogadishu for 18 months. She and Neil go through a very harrowing ordeal at the hands of their very young guards. Because Amanda is a woman she, in particular, is the victim of the majority of the abuse. A story that won’t easily leave your mind.*
Other non fiction I have yet to read: Charles Krauthammer’s Things That Matter, Tim Conway’s What’s So Funny, Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, Bill Bryson’s One Summer America, 1927 and Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Louisa, a girl with an ordinary life with an ordinary family and an ordinary boyfriend, takes a much needed job as a care giver to a Master of the Universe type. Will Traynor, who has always lived life to the extreme, extreme in sports, extreme in work and extreme in love, he is now a quadriplegic living the rest of his life in a wheelchair barely capable of moving. Will has plans that only his family know about. But they hire Louisa to try and help him understand that life, even his kind of life, is worth living. Don’t read this book if you’re at a bad time in your life. Read Billy Crystal’s if you are. But it is a book that makes you question what is life and does it ever happen that it is no longer worth living. * (My daughter asked me what I was doing reading “chick lit”? To my friends and I, well, we dismissed the love aspect of it, our age I guess, and focused on the “right to die” part.)
Sycamore Row by John Grisham. I swear every time I see he has a new book out that I won’t buy it. No! No! No! I buy it and, at least for the last 10 books, I should have saved my money. I knew where this one of going almost immediately and that’s no fun. A lawyer in a small Mississippi town (surprise) is mailed the will of a person he does not know. The person sends a hand written will leaving 90% of his money to his black house keeper because of something he and his brother saw when they were little. The mystery is why? * (OK, so I don’t like John Grisham anymore but he is #1 on the best seller list. You decide.) (Update 1/22/14…this book was selected as one of the best books in 2013 and my husband liked it. Go figure…)
Cuzco by Alex Walker. The sequel to Toltec, Cuzco takes us on another wild filled ride with the cousins Simon and Elijah 15 years after the American Civil War. They are once again dispatched by the US government on a top secret mission. This time to South America and the Andes and…Cuzco. We are again merging the old “west” with space travel. The guys are chased by blood thirsty Indians, wild chases with ruthless Frenchmen at their heels and have the inevidible meeting with the space aliens. You might shake your head a little about the concept but it’s always fun to watch the old world collide with the future. Mr. Walker is a master of detail and you’ll have fun time with his Cuzco.*
The Police by Jo Nesbo. If you’re a fan of Scandinavian murder mystery writers, then you’ll love Jo Nesbo. His protagonist/antagonist is the very damaged Harry Hole who was shot in the head in The Phantom. The important question to Harry Hole fans is…is Harry really dead? Once again you’ve got a great cat and mouse game going on. The minor players now stand out and toward the end, we do learn Harry’s fate. Gritty and violent, dark snowy nights with drug dealers and murderers as well as scheming policemen…what more could you want?*
Other’s to read: Amy Tan’s The Valley of Amazement, Fannie Flagg’s The All Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, Scott Turow’s Identical and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.
Enjoy your holiday season with a great book in front of the fire, on a white sandy beach or waiting for the slow foursome at some great golf course. Happy Holidays!