Story last updated at 12/31/2008 - 11:46 am
This holiday, you got a bookstore gift certificate. That means two things: one, that somebody knows you well and knows you love books. And two, you have to get to a bookstore, pronto! So many books, so little time, right? To make it easy, here are some of my Top Picks, the books you can't miss, have to read, shouldn't pass up. Of the over-300 books I read in 2008, these are the cream of the crop.
"Assisted Loving" by Bob Morris. When Morris' mother dies, his father goes on a dating rampage and drags his son along by pushing Morris to find True Love. This book made me laugh and there was a passage that still brings me to tears when I think about it. It's a great read for anyone who has a parent who's experimenting anew with the dating pool or anyone who's looking for love in all the wrong places.
"Deconstructing Sammy" by Matt Birkbeck. This bio is a fascinating look at singer Sammy Davis, Jr., his widow, and the man who took on the project of untangling the mess that was Davis' estate. I enjoyed this book because it's a peek at stardom gone wrong, a story of obsession and responsibility, and a nostalgic trip back in time for anyone who remembers the Rat Pack days.
"After River" by Donna Milner. When a young Canadian girl's mother hires an American draft dodger to work on their farm, it causes turmoil in the entire family that resonates for years. This debut novel is beautifully written; one of those curl-up-on-the-sofa books to savor.
"Cake" by D. Conversely, this book is NOT for everyone. It will curl Grandma's hair with the language and violence, but I raced through it in an hour. "Cake" is a page-turning story about a man who reluctantly gets involved in a drug deal gone bad, even though he's desperately trying to live straight. It's hip, urban, and with an ending that will make you scream. Again, it's not for everybody - there are things in here that aren't "nice" - but I loved, loved, loved this book.
"Angel Girl" by Laurie Friedman, illustrated by Ofra Amit. As if the story (boy in Concentration Camp meets girl who saves his life and he finds her, years later, and marries her) isn't heart-rending enough, the illustrations will bring you to tears in this picture book. Be aware that, even though this is a book for little kids, you might want to read it yourself first to be sure it's not going to scare sensitive listeners.
"Pete & Pickles" by Berkeley Breathed. A pig with a predictable life meets an escaped circus elephant who messes with things in this charming, adorable book with illustrations that adults will love as much as the kids will love the story.
Terri Schlichenmeyer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.