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Books For Last Minute Gifts

Some picks for last minute book gifts from Writer’s Voice — even if the gift is just for you.

Fiction

A Banquet of Consequences by ELizabeth George : a brilliant exploration of character and psychological dysfunction, George’s latest novel absorbs the reader from the first page to the last. (Listen to the interview.)

Memoir

In A Dark Wood by Joseph Luzzi. A Dante scholar’s  moving memoir of loss, grief and redemption guided by lessons gleaned Dante’s Divine Comedy. (Listen to the interview.)

History

All The Wild That Remains by David Gessner melds history, environmental writing, literary criticism and memoir in a powerful ode to the legacy of two of America’s greatest environmental writers and activists: Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey. (Listen to the interview.)

Biography

Stalin’s Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan explores the enigma of  Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva, daughter of one of the most malignant dictators of modern times. It limns her struggle to escape the shadow of her father’s legacy to create a life of her own — and the psychological burdens she carried to the end. (Listen to the interview.)

Science & Nature

In a crowded field of excellent science books, Beyond Words: What Animals Think And Feel by Carl Safina stands out for its eloquent writing and profound insights on an issue of vital importance. The book is an impassioned plea for humanity to get over its narcissism and realize that the other creatures we share the planet with are as fully realized beings as we are (and maybe even more) and worth protecting. (Listen to the interview.)

How To

10% Happier by Dan Harris is the meditation guide for the rest of us. Harris de-mystifies the practice of mindfulness mediation in an engaging and information packed way that both encourages action and inspires laughter. The book also gives a fascinating peek into the pressures of the high-profile television new business (Listen to the interview.)

Pogue’s Basics Life: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) for Simplifying Your Day by David Pogue. From the Explainer In Chief of All Things Tech comes this concise little volume packed with surprising and useful tips to making life in general a lot easier (the companion book is Pogue’s Basics: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) for Simplifying the Technology in Your Life.) WIth advice on everyday problems like how to tell whether the next highway exit will be on the left or right, how to scoop out ice cream without spraining your wrist and how to keep your flip-flop plug from popping out, Pogue seems to have noticed every little annoyance of life and discovered the solution.

Kids

Middle Readers

The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (listen to the interview.) Told from the gorilla’s point of view, this moving story of cross species friendship and cruelty contemplates the responsibility humans have toward the other creatures who share our planet. Based on a true story of a gorilla who was rescued from a mall zoo, The One And Only Ivan is a charming tale for readers of all ages.

The Green Bicycle by Haifaa Al Mansour: It’s not often that  a good film becomes an even better book, but that’s the case with Al Mansour’s The Green Bicycle. It tells the story of 11-year-old Wadjda of Saudi Arabia who defies social convention and parental disapproval in her quest to get the green bicycle of her dreams.

Young Adults and Up

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson shows the power of music and art to change history in a time of crisis. Beautifully written and produced, the book tells the story of how a great composer overcame danger from within and without Stalin’s Russia to inspire the resistance of the beleaguered citizens of Leningrad to the Nazi onslaught. (Listen to the interview.)

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