The December Books Sense Picks & Notables 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. (The flier includes jacket images, bibliographic information, and bookseller quotes.)

Book Sense also sends a reminder that the November Notables flier and shelf-talkers are now available in PDF format on ABA's trade website,

The December 2006 Books Sense Picks

1. THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS: A Novel, by John Connolly (Atria, $23, 0743298853) "David, a 12-year-old mourning the death of his mother, enters another world where every fairy tale lives. A world that encompasses many things we wish for: beauty, wonder, adventure, and redemption -- as well as many of our fears: loss, danger, hopelessness. John Connolly's incredible writing draws you into this story of stories, which is ultimately about hope. --Amy Loewy, Garden District Book Shop, New Orleans, LA

AN ANTHOLOGY OF GRAPHIC FICTION, CARTOONS, AND TRUE STORIES, edited by Ivan Brunetti (Yale University Press, $28, 0300111703) "Master cartoonist Ivan Brunetti has complied a wonderfully in-depth collection of sequential art from the masters of the independent comics scene. This is a perfect primer for any new comic fan and a beautiful tome that will sit well on the shelf of any longtime connoisseur of the form. --Joe Mazel, Green Apple Books, San Francisco, CA

THE LADIES OF GRACE ADIEU: And Other Stories, by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury, $23.95, 1596912510) "Susanna Clarke -- the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell -- is back with an enchanting collection of short stories that returns the reader to world of Strange and Norrell and, most especially, to that of John Uskglass the Raven King. This is a world where charm is always tempered by eeriness and picaresque comedy is always darkened by the disturbing shadow of Faerie. --Michael Barnard, Rakestraw Books, Danville, CA

BIRD SONGS: 250 North American Birds in Song, edited by Les Beletsky (Chronicle, $45, 1932855416) "A new favorite for me is Bird Songs. What makes this unique is the audio portion provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. As you look at each page, you can call up that bird's song by pressing a button! --Liz Murphy, Learned Owl Book Shop, Hudson, OH

THE BLONDE: A Novel, by Duane Swierczynski (St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95, 0312343795) "A blonde in a bar casually mentions to journalist Jack Eisley that she has just poisoned him and he'll die within 10 hours. Cut to Mike Kowalski, a secret operative whose latest mission involves a dangerous new technology that might ultimately kill them all. This is a high-octane thriller that will satisfy both die-hard fans and newcomers. --Andra Tracy, Out Word Bound, Indianapolis, IN

AMERICAN BLOOMSBURY: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work, by Susan Cheever (Simon & Schuster, $26, 0743264614) "This is a fascinating account of the enclave of literary genius that was mid-19th century Concord, Massachusetts. If we have forgotten why these authors are the beloved paragons of American Literature, Susan Cheever reminds us. --Pepper Parker, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

THUMBS, TOES, AND TEARS: And Other Traits That Make Us Human, by Chip Walter (Walker & Company, $25.95, 0802715273) "Countless behaviors separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, but all of them can be traced one way or another to six traits that are unique to the human race -- our big toe, our opposable thumb, our oddly shaped pharynx, and our ability to laugh, kiss, and cry. --Anne Leners, Left Bank Books, Saint Louis, MO

THE HARBOR BOYS: A Memoir, by Hugo Hamilton (HarperCollins, $24.95, 0060784679) "This memoir of the summer Hamilton spent working at a harbor close to his home in Dublin is a profound work with great insights about the world. It is fantastic, and definitely made me want to read Hamilton's earlier memoir, The Speckled People. --Cecelia Ogasawara, Colorado State University Bookstore, Fort Collins, CO

CLAY: The History and Evolution of Humankind's Relationship With Earth's Most Primal Element, by Suzanne Staubach (Berkley, $14 paper, 0425212092) "Who would imagine that a book on dirt could be so interesting? Consider the potter's wheel as the first machine, which in its evolution has produced vessels for cooking and eating, tablets for recording the human story, bricks for walls and buildings, and endless other uses. You'll never look at a handful of mud in the same way again. --Fran Keilty, Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, CT

THE VIEW FROM CASTLE ROCK: Stories, by Alice Munro (Knopf, $25.95, 1400042828) "In this new collection of stories, we are transported from the bare-bones stories about Munro's Scots ancestors to stories rich with atmosphere and self-knowledge based on her recent life experiences. I will never tire of how she paints her pictures of the soul." --Karen M. Frank, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

THE BOOK THAT CHANGED MY LIFE: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them, by Roxanne J. Coady and Joy Johannessen (Gotham, $17.50, 1592402100) "Books change lives, and here are 71 testaments from distinguished authors (from Harold Bloom to Wally Lamb) about their favorites. This is a little book I will keep around to remind me of what makes reading so joyful and inspirational. --Lillian Kinsey, Bohannons' Books With a Past, Georgetown, KY

THE AMERICAN PLAGUE: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that Shaped Our History, by Molly Caldwell Crosby (Berkley, $24.95, 0425212025) "The American Plague takes you on a detailed ride through a devastating yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, Tennessee, in the late 19th century. Crosby shows through the doctors and victims that make up her main characters the same 'triumph over tragedy' attitude that permeates the country in the post-Katrina era. --Chris Burcky, Cover to Cover, Arlington, TN

LOVE IN A FALLEN CITY, by Eileen Chang (NYRB Classics, $14.95 paper, 1590171780) "Eileen Chang, said to have transformed Chinese literature in the 1930s and 1940s, writes about men, women, and the ways even the smallest actions or words can transform relationships. The cultural divide in Chinese society between ancient patriarchy and tumultuous modernity forms the vivid background. Readers will devour each of these six short stories as if they were their last meal. --Megan Sullivan, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

KAFKA'S SOUP: A Complete History of World Literature in 14 Recipes, by Mark Crick (Harcourt, $14.95, 0151012830) "What a delightful gift this will be for everyone whose interests include both books and food! (That's my entire list...) Brilliant voices and real recipes: Irvine Welsh's 'cook up' of chocolate cake, Raymond Carver's noir knifework, Austen's ostentatious biddies ... all delicious! Crick is truly a literary ventriloquist with a great wit. --Carla Jimenez, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

ESOPUS 7, by Tod Lippy (Esopus Foundation, $10 paper, 0976164140) "This beautifully bound publication displays the working methods and creative processes of a number of writers, thinkers, and artists. A delight. --Douglas Singleton, McNally Robinson Booksellers, New York, NY

BLUE CHRISTMAS, by Mary Kay Andrews (HarperCollins, $14.95, 0060837349) "Andrews again uses antiques to draw the drama out of lives in the South in a hilarious pseudo-mystery surrounding the origins of a piece of costume jewelry. The dinner party culmination ends in a hysterical trip to the hospital after a raucous family finally gets its due. --Charity McMaster, Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, MI

THE FEW: The American "Knights of the Air" Who Risked Everything to Fight in the Battle of Britain, by Alex Kershaw (Da Capo, $25, 0306813033) "The Battle of Britain is masterly evoked and detailed in Alex Kershaw's vivid, moving, and cinematic narrative. Among the fearless pilots were a handful of Americans who chose to fight alongside the British even while the U.S. was still neutral. Kershaw has written an affecting tribute to these few men whose character and admirable skills should never be forgotten. --Marie du Vaure, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, CA

THE ANDROID'S DREAM, by John Scalzi (Tor, $24.95, 0765309416) "Channeling Philip K. Dick, Scalzi tells the story of Harry Creek, a mid-level diplomat trying to save the last known creature to have the Android's Dream DNA, and it is not a sheep but a human. This book is very sharp and very funny. Scalzi is a fantastic new voice in speculative fiction. --Jason Kennedy, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, Milwaukee, WI

ONE HIDDEN STUFF, by Barbara Ras (Penguin, $16 paper, 0143037854) "Ras' poetry catches so much of this wacky, ferocious world in the net of her long lines. Her subjects include the wind (with its 'swanky rapture') clouds, dogs, and gardens. But the real theme is the remarkable secrets hidden behind, underneath, and above us, which are unavailable because we haven't pushed back hard enough against experience. These poems, with their wry humor and startling clarity, are a gift. --Karl Pohrt, Shaman Drum Bookshop, Ann Arbor, MI

THE WOMAN AT THE WASHINGTON ZOO: Writings on Politics, Family, and Fate, by Marjorie Williams (PublicAffairs, $14.95 paper, 1586484575) "What a tragedy that this fresh, original, witty woman has died. The most compelling chapters are the previously unpublished ones about her mother and about Williams dealing with her cancer diagnosis and looming death. --Karen Allman, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

The December 2006 Notables


GREYWALKER, by Kat Richardson (Roc, $14 paper, 045146107X)
THE HALF LIFE OF STARS, by Louise Wener (HarperCollins, $14.95 paper, 0060841737)
HALF OF A YELLOW SUN, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf, $24.95, 1400044162)
MILLERSBURG, by Harry Cauley (Permanent Press, $26, 1579621333)
QUEEN OF SHADOWS: A Novel of Isabella, Wife of King Edward II, by Edith Felber (NAL, $14 paper, 045121952X)
THE RULES OF SEDUCTION, by Madeline Hunter (Dell, $6.99 paper, 0553587323)
THE SAINT OF LOST THINGS, by Christopher Castellani (Berkley, $14 paper, 0425211738)


ALL THE FISHES COME HOME TO ROOST: An American Misfit in India, by Rachel Manija Brown (Rodale, $14.95 paper, 1594865264)
GALEN ROWELL: A Retrospective, by Galen Rowell (Sierra Club Books, $50, 1578051150)
HOME GROUND: Language for an American Landscape, edited by Barry Lopez, Debra Gwartney, managing editor (Trinity University Press, $29.95, 1595340246)
LETTERS OF E.B. WHITE, Revised Edition, by E.B. White (HarperCollins, $35, 0060757086)
PRISONERS: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide, by Jeffrey Goldberg (Knopf, $25, 0375412344)
THE ROSARY, by Garry Wills (Penguin, $15 paper, 0143037978)
THE SCHOOL OF WAR, by Alexandre Najjar (Telegram, $11.95 paper, 1846590094)
SETTING THE TABLE: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, by Danny Meyer (HarperCollins, $25.95, 0060742755)
TRAIL OF FEATHERS: Searching for Philip True, by Robert Rivard (PublicAffairs, $15.95 paper, 1586484559)


THE CLEANUP, by Sean Doolittle (Dell, $6.99 paper, 0440242827)
FIRE WITH FIRE, by Allan Kahane (Pyro, $24.95, 0978520203)
THE HIDDEN ASSASSINS, by Robert Wilson (Harcourt, $25, 0151012393)
UNDER ORDERS, by Dick Francis (Putnam, $25.95, 0399154000)

Bird Songs: 250 North American
Birds in Song,
Les Beletsky
(Chronicle Books)

  • Special offer: Buy 8, Get 1 Display Copy free!
    ISBN: 1-932855-54-8 * Retail price: $360 * Cost: $180

  • To order, contact your Chronicle Books sales rep or call us directly at (800) 722-6657.

Fire With Fire by Allan Kahane