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Christmas Book Bag

The gift giving season is upon us and I think that books are a gift worth giving. According to a recent report, reading novels can both entertain and delight us. Reading non-fiction can expand our sense of ourselves and the world we live in. Books allow us the opportunity to loose ourselves in the words and stories of others. Here’s my short list of resent “reads” that both swept me away, enlightened, and delighted me. Happy Holidays! Enjoy!

1) Michael Connelly, The Wrong Side of Goodbye
This is Connelly’s 28th novel and 23rd Harry Bosch book. Bosch is now a retired LA detective who works as a PI and as a part time voluntary detective for the understaffed San Francisco police force. Harry is a cop’s cop. Tough, determined, and living by the principal that every victim of murder deserves justice, that is, every murder should be solved. All the Bosch novels are tight, realistic, believable stories about big city crimes, criminals, and cops. Try this one or any of the Bosch novels and you’ll be hooked!

2) Elizabeth Brundage, All Things Cense to Appear
This is my favorite book of the year written by an author I knew nothing of. This is a story of love, mystery, and suspense. And it is all based around characters that are beautifully developed and portrayed. It’s a story of anger, ambition, marriage, careers, guilt, and the deranged mind of a cleverly covert sociopath. (If you like this book, and you will, she has three others waiting!)

3) Emma Cline, The Girls
A first time author who hits a home run in her first time at bat. This is a story of a Charlie Manson like cult hero who leads his devoted followers into drugs, madness, and murder. This is also a story of lost “kids” just wanting something to believe in. But more than the story, the book is beautifully written. It’s prose boarder on lyric poetry.

4) Michael Krasny, Let There Be Laughter
This is a book about Jewish humor, its history, its purpose and its impact on the lives of Jews and anyone who enjoys humor and joke telling. And much more than just a history, it is a readable celebration of humor and it includes over 100 of the funniest Jewish Jokes of all time. It’s just plain fun!

5) Douglas Abram, editor, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
This book is a series of conversations between his holiness the Dalai Lama and Arch bishop Deomund Tutu. These two octogenarians and nobel peace laurates meet in Dharamsala India to celebrate Tutu’s 80th birthday. In their time together they look back on their lives and try to answer the ultimate philosophical/theological question: How do we find joy in the face of inevitable suffering? With candor and simplicity, both men assert their profound belief in hope, love, and joy in spite of the long history of human suffering and despair. This book will make you smile and offer you hope.

6) Ronald C. White, American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant
Most only know Grant as the general who won the civil war and the second successor to Abraham Lincoln. This engrossing book does to Grant what Ron Chernow did to Alexander Hamilton. That is, White brings Grant to Life. He paints him as a competent, dutiful individual (not a drunk), who through circumstances and training was thrust into public life. Grant did not have flash or ego or a “spit-and-polish” presence, but he was talented, prepared, determined and fearless in the pursuit of his duty both as a General and President of the United States. This is not just a didactic history text, it is a clear, well written narrative about a man who is worth getting to know.

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