The December 2007 Book Sense Picks & Notable Preview

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Here is the full listing of December Book Sense Picks, with booksellers' comments, as well as a preview of the month's Notables. Independent booksellers in the Book Sense program will be receiving their December Picks fliers in the November Red Box.

1. BORN STANDING UP: A Comic's Life, by Steve Martin (Scribner, $25, 9781416553649 / 1416553649) "A thoroughly enjoyable and revelatory read, this memoir of Martin's early days as a hard-working, budding comedian reminds us he was the originator of a comedy style we now take for granted: absurd, ironic, and full of non sequiturs. This book is yet more proof of Martin's incredible talent." --Marie du Vaure, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, CA

GODS BEHAVING BADLY, by Marie Phillips (Little, Brown, $23.99, 9780316067621 / 0316067628) "The gods of Greek mythology are living together in a shabby house in London: Aphrodite's a phone-sex operator, Apollo is a TV psychic, Artemis is a dog-walker, and Zeus is suffering from dementia. Things have definitely gone downhill for the former inhabitants of Olympus. It takes a couple of mortals to bring the gods back to fighting form in this funny, most unusual novel." --Barbara Hoagland, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT

THE ART OF THE SNOWFLAKE: A Photographic Album, by Kenneth Libbrecht (Voyageur Press, $30, 9780760329979 / 0760329974) "Beautifully illustrated and full of the most interesting facts you'd ever want to know about the delicate snowflake. Highly recommended." --Jennifer Lehman, Bloomsburg University Store, Bloomsburg, PA

T IS FOR TRESSPASS, by Sue Grafton (Putnam, $26.95, 9780399154485 / 0399154485) "Just when you're thinking Grafton's Kinsey Millhone surely must be running out of steam, you'll find yourself reading the whole darn 400 pages in one sitting. Kinsey begins to suspect her elderly neighbor's new caregiver, Solana Rojas, may not be the compassionate professional she appears to be. Unfortunately, Kinsey and her landlord don't realize what a cunning, evil foe Rojas really is." --Karen Spengler, I Love A Mystery, Mission, KS

REMEMBERING THE BONES: A Novel, by Frances Itani (Atlantic, $24, 9780871139771 / 0871139774) "Georgie is on her way to London for lunch with the queen, as one of 99 lucky Commonwealth residents born the same day as Elizabeth II. Her car slips off the road and she is trapped at the bottom of a ravine. As she wills herself to stay alive, she takes a poignant and comic journey through her 80 years, proving there is no such thing as an insignificant life." --Marian Nielsen, Orinda Books, Orinda, CA

THE REDBREAST, by Jo Nesbo (HarperCollins, $24.95, 9780061133992 / 006113399X) "Norwegian detective Harry Hole is immersed in a mystery with roots in World War II in this brilliant evocation of how the tentacles of the past cling to the present, and are the true instigators of action. This powerful novel delves into the complexity of belief and collaboration, and rises above the genre." --Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI

NIGHT TRAIN TO LISBON, by Pascal Mercier (Grove, $25, 9780802118585 / 0802118585) "This novel taps into some of the oldest veins of story, the primal ones of night journeys, of being stuck in place, yet adrift, and confused about life's purpose. It is full of people who have lived, even as the fullness of that is revealed only in the protagonist's drawing out of their stories. I'm not sure how much this book might teach us how to live, but it has reminded me of what it is to really read." --Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

THE HEARTS OF HORSES, by Molly Gloss (Houghton Mifflin, $24, 9780618799909 / 0618799907) "Gloss does for our dreams of being horse-taming cowgirls what Sara Gruen did for our dreams of running away with the circus -- making them wonderful and real, while teaching us what it was like to live in America's recent past. Martha Lessen dreams of living as a wandering cowboy -- but, then, she is transformed by her love for the people and horses of an Oregon ranch community. I loved this book." --Andy Lillich, University of Oregon Bookstore, Eugene, OR

SOMEONE KNOWS MY NAME: A Novel, by Lawrence Hill (Norton, $24.95, 9780393065787 / 0393065782) "This book is astonishing for its compelling storyline: A young girl is stolen from her African homeland, enslaved in America in the mid-1700s, freed by the British during the Revolution, sent to Nova Scotia, returned to Sierra Leone, then brought to England to testify in the efforts to abolish slavery. An exciting introduction to a brilliant Canadian writer." --Willard Williams, The Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH

THE ROWING LESSON, by Anne Landsman (Soho, $23, 9781569474693 / 1569474699) "At the bedside of her dying, irascible father, a daughter recreates his life in South Africa in language so fearless and original that it is startling. From fragments of memory emerges a vibrant, lyrical portrait of a man and a landscape." --Mary Benham, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

A SLAVE NO MORE: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation, by David Blight (Harcourt, $25, 9780151012329 / 0151012326) "These narratives by former slaves Wallace Turnage and John Washington are gifts to 21st-century writers and historians. The power and rawness of the stories moved me. I appreciate those who preserved the narratives for us, and, also, Blight for bringing them out in such a wonderful way." --Keri Holmes, The Kaleidoscope: Our Focus Is You, Hampton, IA

THEM, by Nathan McCall (Atria, $25, 9781416549154 / 1416549153) "Barlowe Reed is a single, hardworking guy on the cusp of middle age. In a twist on the neighborhood-busting and white flight of the 1950s and '60s, his African-American neighborhood in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward is invaded by moneyed white folk. McCall brings the neighborhood to vivid life in this entertaining, provocative first novel." --Daniel Goldin, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, Milwaukee, WI

LAST NIGHT AT THE LOBSTER, by Stewart O'Nan (Viking, $19.95, 9780670018277 / 0670018279) "I'm a sucker for books that invite me into the world of someone trying to live a decent life in difficult circumstances. Manny DeLeon is the manager of a Red Lobster next to a rundown mall in snowy New England. He and his staff know the restaurant will be shut down, but they need to put on a good show for their customers -- and themselves -- one last night, during a major blizzard. I highly recommend this gem of a book!" --Leslie Graham, DIESEL, A Bookstore, Oakland, CA

GENTLEMEN OF THE ROAD: A Tale of Adventure, by Michael Chabon (Del Rey, $21.95, 0345501748/9780345501745) "Once again, something entirely different from one of the country's most respected writers. A swashbuckling, plot-twisting, soul-searching good time." --Joe Foster, Maria's Bookshop, Durango, CO

THE GHOST: A Novel, by Robert Harris (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781416551812 / 1416551816) "I never thought about ghostwriting until I read this book, and now I'm really intrigued. I like the way Harris blends ghostwriters' experiences into the book and makes them real to a layperson. This political thriller is a well-written, thought-provoking, and fun read." --Ellie Joubert, Bear Pond Books of Montpelier, Montpelier, VT

DIE WITH ME, by Elena Forbes (MacAdam/Cage, $24, 9781596922778 / 159692277X) "A traditional police procedural brought to a higher level via interesting detectives and a fiendish killer. When a string of suicides gets reclassified as the work of a serial killer, Detective Tartaglia has to deal with a demanding public, cautious administrators, and a tangled love life before he can solve the case. I can't wait for the sequel." --Laura Lucy, White Birch Books, North Conway, NH

BLESS THIS FOOD: Ancient and Contemporary Graces From Around the World, by Adrian Butash (New World Library, $17, 9781577315919 / 157731591X) "Not since Earth Prayers From Around the World have I seen such a wonderful collection of graces. The words come from many traditions, from cultures past and present, but they all find a way to say in heartwarming language, 'For this meal, for this company, for our gifts, thank you.'" --Eric Robbins, Apple Valley Books, Winthrop, ME

SUPER AMERICA: Stories, by Anne Panning (University of Georgia Press, $24.95, 9780820329963 / 0820329967) "This edgy collection is a wonder. You'll fall in love with Panning's characters -- and be maddened by their heartlessness. She employs a variety of settings, from a Mexican monastery to an Oregon Laundromat. 'Hillbillies' exemplifies her skill and wit: It's up to the hillbillies who live next to a custom-homes development to tell their new neighbors their homes are sinking into the swamp they're built on." --Archie Kutz, Lift Bridge Book Shop, Brockport, NY

SMALL-BATCH BAKING: When Just Enough for 1 or 2 ... Is Just Enough! by Debby Maugans Nakos (Workman, $13.95 paper, 9780761130352 / 0761130357) "Go on, admit it. Now that the kids are out of the house, when you bake a cake, you eat the whole thing. Not all at once, but every time you pass by, you take a bite. Then you have to neaten up the edges. Soon, crumbs are the only evidence there ever was a cake. This book helps bakers avoid temptation, with recipes for small batches of everything from Bundt cakes to biscuits." --Deb Hunter, Chicklet Books, Hillsborough, NJ

THE LOST SAILORS, by Jean-Claude Izzo (Europa Editions, $14.95 paper, 9781933372358 / 1933372354) "Three men aboard an impounded freighter ponder their options, and their life choices. Like a classic French noir, this waterfront homage to Marseilles could have been written by Joseph Conrad and Albert Camus -- great characters, great writing!" --Nick DiMartino, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

The December 2007 Book Sense Notables


BROKEN COLORS, by Michele Zackheim (Europa Editions, $14.95 paper, 9781933372372 / 1933372370)

EGRETS TO THE FLAMES, by Barbara Anton (Oceanview, $23.95, 9781933515113 / 1933515112)

GHOST, by Alan Lightman (Pantheon, $23, 9780375421693 / 0375421696)

GOD'S DEMON, by Wayne Barlowe (Tor, $24.95, 9780765309853 / 0765309858)

THE LADIES OF GRACE ADIEU AND OTHER STORIES, by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury, $13.95 paper, 9781596913837 / 1596913835)

LAST RITUALS: An Icelandic Novel of Secret Symbols, Medieval Witchcraft, and Modern Murder, by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Morrow, $23.95, 9780061143366 / 0061143367)

MALVINAS REQUIEM: Visions of an Underground War, by Rodolfo Enrique Fogwill (Serpent's Tail, $14.95 paper, 9781852429652 / 1852429658)

RUN IN THE FAM'LY, by John J. McLaughlin (University of Tennessee Press, $32.95, 9781572335950 / 1572335955)

THE STEEP APPROACH TO GARBADALE, by Iain M. Banks (MacAdam/Cage, $25, 9781596922716 / 1596922710)

STICKLEBACKS AND SNOW GLOBES, by B.A. Goodjohn (Permanent, $26, 9781579621551 / 1579621554)

WAITING TO SURFACE, by Emily Listfield (Atria, $24.95, 9781416537830 / 141653783X)


BAD DOGS HAVE MORE FUN: Selected Writings on Family, Animals and Life, by John Grogan (Vanguard, $18.95, 9781593154684 / 1593154682

BOONE: A Biography, by Robert Morgan (Algonquin, $29.95, 9781565124554 / 1565124553)

HOW IT IS: The Native American Philosophy of V.F. Cordova, by Kathleen Dean Moore, Kurt Peters, Ted Jojola (Eds.) (University of Arizona Press, $19.95 paper, 9780816526499 / 0816526494)

MIRAGE: Napoleon's Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt, by Nina Burleigh (Harper, $25.95, 9780060597672 / 0060597674)

RULE NUMBER TWO: Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital, by Dr. Heidi Squier Kraft (Little, Brown, $23.99, 9780316067904 / 0316067903)

SWITCHING TIME: A Doctor's Harrowing Story of Treating a Woman With 17 Personalities, by Richard Baer (Crown, $24.95, 9780307382665 / 0307382664)

THE TERROR DREAM: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9 / 11 America, by Susan Faludi (Metropolitan, $26, 9780805086928 / 0805086927)

THE TREE: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live, and Why They Matter, by Colin Tudge (Three Rivers, $14.95 paper, 9780307395399 / 0307395391)

A VINEYARD IN TUSCANY: Shooting for the Moon, by Ferenc Mate (Norton, $24.95, 9780920256565 / 0920256562)