Skip Navigation
NPR News
'The Thirteenth Tale' ()

Books for Everyone on Your Holiday Gift List

Dec 14, 2006 (Day to Day)

See this

'Kate' 'Real Simple' 'Humankind' 'Cancer Vixen' thumbnail

Hear this

This text will be replaced
Launch in player

Share this


If you're still crossing items off your holiday gift list, remember this: You don't have to worry about the right fit or color, if you pick a book. There are plenty of titles worth adding to your shopping list, in categories ranging from novels to cookbooks. (You can print these titles, along with all our other year-end picks, using this master list.)

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Fiction

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: Jane Eyre meets Great Expectations meets Turn of the Screw! Satterfield 's protagonist, Margaret Lea, is a young woman charged with ghostwriting the biography of the august Vida Winter, one of England’s most celebrated -- and reclusive -- writers. As she writes and researches at Winter's remote estate, Margaret discovers Winter's shocking family secrets -- and a few painfully concealed facts about her own origins. This is the kind of book that will keep you reading far into the night, whether or not you intended to. (Read an excerpt of The Thirteenth Tale at the publisher's site.)   Magic Time by Doug Marlette: Cross your fingers and hope Hollywood doesn't give Russell Crowe the lead role when they make the movie that will inevitably spring from this novel. Its central character is Carter Ransom, scion of a distinguished Mississippi family and much-lauded liberal journalist. When an old investigation of the murder of four civil rights workers -- one of them Carter's first love -- reopens and results in a new trial, Carter has to reexamine everything he knows.   Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier: Nearly a decade after his National Book Award-wining bestseller, Cold Mountain, Frazier is back. In Thirteen Moons, Frazier has made the Western expansionist period of American history lively and accessible. The skein of two key relationships in the book -- pursuit of a doomed first love and the struggle to maintain community in the face of an advancing civilization that would obliterate it -- make for first-rate reading. (Read an excerpt of Thirteen Moons here.)

Nonfiction

Kate by William J. Mann: The general public knew actress Katharine Hepburn as a no-nonsense beauty not fond of publicity and a devoted partner to her one true love, frequent (married) co-star Spencer Tracy. William Mann's bio shows a completely different Hepburn: This Kate relishes the spotlight, and carefully crafts her appearances in it. She also meticulously constructs the fiction of her happy relationship with "Spence." People who revere the couple as an America's romantic ideal will bristle, but Kate does show other facets of a personality far more complex than we knew.   The Race Beat by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff: Veteran journalists Roberts and Klibanoff recall how the media covered the Civil Rights movement. Some reporters were complicit with the segregationist powers that be, and some were true heroes, relaying to the rest of America the revolution that was occurring, and bringing it into their homes via sometimes startling reportage. Roberts and Klibanoff don’t hesitate to name names in a flatly objective tone. (Read an excerpt of The Race Beat here.)   On Her Trail by John Dickerson: Nancy Dickerson's intelligence, streamlined good looks and access to men in high places (see "streamlined good looks") eventually won her a slot as television's first female national correspondent. Her son, also a journalist, has written an unsentimental portrait of his mother that offers a tantalizing glimpse into the social networks that were prominent in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. (Read an excerpt of On Her Trail here.)

Cookbooks, Entertaining

Real Simple Celebrations: This handy guide is divided into types of gatherings (Thanksgiving Dinner, Holiday Open House, Milestone Birthday, Wedding- or Baby Shower, a Dessert Party, etc.) and is complete with suggested menus (including a recipe for Beef Bourguignonne, shown at left), templates for invitations and table decorations. This is a really useful book for young people just starting out on their own, and anyone who is entertaining-impaired. (Get recipes from Real Simple Celebrations here.)   Instant Entertaining by Donna Hay: Donna Hay, food stylist turned cookbook author and kitchenware entrepreneur, is Australia's answer to Martha Stewart and Ina Garten. Instant Entertaining has the same clean look that Martha Stewart fans have come to love, with the casually delicious recipes Garten devotees have come to expect. The book is divided into occasions (Saturday Night, Drinks, Barbeques and Brunch, etc.) with several suggestions for each.

Coffee-Table Books

Humankind by Yoshio Komastu and Eiko Komatsu: This thick photography book is dedicated to the proposition that we may be separated by geography, ideology, race and class; but the world's peoples, no matter who or where they are, all share a common wellspring of experiences. The portraits are surprisingly intimate. People who remember The Family of Man will find familiar echoes.   The Life Platinum Anniversary Collection: Seventy years of modern history, focused through an American lens and reflected in the pages of Life magazine. Everyone from Charlie Chaplin to the late Princess of Wales. Everything from Auschwitz to Woodstock. Every cover since the magazine's publication in 1936 through 2005. Everything.   Chairs: A History by Florence de Dampierre: Dampierre spent eight years researching the beginnings of this particular piece of furniture. What emerges is a richly illustrated socio-anthropological study that will give your head a lot to contemplate about where the other end likes to park itself. Perfect for the design and decorating mavens on your list.   Mexican Calendar Girls by Angela Villalba: Calendars were prevalent in both city and rural life in Mexico, and advertised everything from beer to fruit products to cigarettes. They became popular after the Mexican Revolution, and were a way to celebrate national and cultural pride. If you look carefully at the reproductions in this large-format book, you’ll see many items in everyday Mexican life (tableware, saddles, tapestries) exalted and beautifully captured for posterity.

Graphic Novels

Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto: Marchetto loved the New York high life, loved her job as a cartoonist for The New Yorker and Glamour magazines, loved pasta and most things Italian, and loved her fiancé, whom she found after years of dating and whom she was three weeks away from marrying. Then she found a lump in her breast. Marchetto's illustrated chronicle is as much about the support and love she received as it is about her fight against the disease. Cancer Vixen is definitely an encouragement tool for women who are waging the same battle.   Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi: Author of the best-selling graphic novels Persepolis and Embroideries, Satrapi is back again with an illustrated tale of modern Iranian life. This time, it's the tale of Nassar Ali Khan, who in 1958 was the Iranian equivalent of a rock star -- only his instrument of choice was not a guitar, but the tar (it looks like a mandolin with a really long neck…) When Nassar Ali's tar is broken by his irate wife, he takes to his bed, determined to die. Before he does, he looks back on his youth, and revisits roads not taken.

Read full story transcript

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
'The Thirteenth Tale' ()

Big Advances Win Publicity for Books, Authors

Oct 3, 2006 (Morning Edition)

See this

'Kate' 'Real Simple' 'Humankind' 'Cancer Vixen' thumbnail

Hear this

This text will be replaced
Launch in player

Share this


Charles Frazier, the author of the blockbuster book Cold Mountain, earned an astronomical $8.25 million advance on his second novel. Thirteen Moons hits bookstores on Oct. 3, during a crowded fall season. Deborah Amos talks with Charlotte Abbott of Publishers Weekly.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Fiction

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: Jane Eyre meets Great Expectations meets Turn of the Screw! Satterfield 's protagonist, Margaret Lea, is a young woman charged with ghostwriting the biography of the august Vida Winter, one of England’s most celebrated -- and reclusive -- writers. As she writes and researches at Winter's remote estate, Margaret discovers Winter's shocking family secrets -- and a few painfully concealed facts about her own origins. This is the kind of book that will keep you reading far into the night, whether or not you intended to. (Read an excerpt of The Thirteenth Tale at the publisher's site.)   Magic Time by Doug Marlette: Cross your fingers and hope Hollywood doesn't give Russell Crowe the lead role when they make the movie that will inevitably spring from this novel. Its central character is Carter Ransom, scion of a distinguished Mississippi family and much-lauded liberal journalist. When an old investigation of the murder of four civil rights workers -- one of them Carter's first love -- reopens and results in a new trial, Carter has to reexamine everything he knows.   Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier: Nearly a decade after his National Book Award-wining bestseller, Cold Mountain, Frazier is back. In Thirteen Moons, Frazier has made the Western expansionist period of American history lively and accessible. The skein of two key relationships in the book -- pursuit of a doomed first love and the struggle to maintain community in the face of an advancing civilization that would obliterate it -- make for first-rate reading. (Read an excerpt of Thirteen Moons here.)

Nonfiction

Kate by William J. Mann: The general public knew actress Katharine Hepburn as a no-nonsense beauty not fond of publicity and a devoted partner to her one true love, frequent (married) co-star Spencer Tracy. William Mann's bio shows a completely different Hepburn: This Kate relishes the spotlight, and carefully crafts her appearances in it. She also meticulously constructs the fiction of her happy relationship with "Spence." People who revere the couple as an America's romantic ideal will bristle, but Kate does show other facets of a personality far more complex than we knew.   The Race Beat by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff: Veteran journalists Roberts and Klibanoff recall how the media covered the Civil Rights movement. Some reporters were complicit with the segregationist powers that be, and some were true heroes, relaying to the rest of America the revolution that was occurring, and bringing it into their homes via sometimes startling reportage. Roberts and Klibanoff don’t hesitate to name names in a flatly objective tone. (Read an excerpt of The Race Beat here.)   On Her Trail by John Dickerson: Nancy Dickerson's intelligence, streamlined good looks and access to men in high places (see "streamlined good looks") eventually won her a slot as television's first female national correspondent. Her son, also a journalist, has written an unsentimental portrait of his mother that offers a tantalizing glimpse into the social networks that were prominent in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. (Read an excerpt of On Her Trail here.)

Cookbooks, Entertaining

Real Simple Celebrations: This handy guide is divided into types of gatherings (Thanksgiving Dinner, Holiday Open House, Milestone Birthday, Wedding- or Baby Shower, a Dessert Party, etc.) and is complete with suggested menus (including a recipe for Beef Bourguignonne, shown at left), templates for invitations and table decorations. This is a really useful book for young people just starting out on their own, and anyone who is entertaining-impaired. (Get recipes from Real Simple Celebrations here.)   Instant Entertaining by Donna Hay: Donna Hay, food stylist turned cookbook author and kitchenware entrepreneur, is Australia's answer to Martha Stewart and Ina Garten. Instant Entertaining has the same clean look that Martha Stewart fans have come to love, with the casually delicious recipes Garten devotees have come to expect. The book is divided into occasions (Saturday Night, Drinks, Barbeques and Brunch, etc.) with several suggestions for each.

Coffee-Table Books

Humankind by Yoshio Komastu and Eiko Komatsu: This thick photography book is dedicated to the proposition that we may be separated by geography, ideology, race and class; but the world's peoples, no matter who or where they are, all share a common wellspring of experiences. The portraits are surprisingly intimate. People who remember The Family of Man will find familiar echoes.   The Life Platinum Anniversary Collection: Seventy years of modern history, focused through an American lens and reflected in the pages of Life magazine. Everyone from Charlie Chaplin to the late Princess of Wales. Everything from Auschwitz to Woodstock. Every cover since the magazine's publication in 1936 through 2005. Everything.   Chairs: A History by Florence de Dampierre: Dampierre spent eight years researching the beginnings of this particular piece of furniture. What emerges is a richly illustrated socio-anthropological study that will give your head a lot to contemplate about where the other end likes to park itself. Perfect for the design and decorating mavens on your list.   Mexican Calendar Girls by Angela Villalba: Calendars were prevalent in both city and rural life in Mexico, and advertised everything from beer to fruit products to cigarettes. They became popular after the Mexican Revolution, and were a way to celebrate national and cultural pride. If you look carefully at the reproductions in this large-format book, you’ll see many items in everyday Mexican life (tableware, saddles, tapestries) exalted and beautifully captured for posterity.

Graphic Novels

Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto: Marchetto loved the New York high life, loved her job as a cartoonist for The New Yorker and Glamour magazines, loved pasta and most things Italian, and loved her fiancé, whom she found after years of dating and whom she was three weeks away from marrying. Then she found a lump in her breast. Marchetto's illustrated chronicle is as much about the support and love she received as it is about her fight against the disease. Cancer Vixen is definitely an encouragement tool for women who are waging the same battle.   Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi: Author of the best-selling graphic novels Persepolis and Embroideries, Satrapi is back again with an illustrated tale of modern Iranian life. This time, it's the tale of Nassar Ali Khan, who in 1958 was the Iranian equivalent of a rock star -- only his instrument of choice was not a guitar, but the tar (it looks like a mandolin with a really long neck…) When Nassar Ali's tar is broken by his irate wife, he takes to his bed, determined to die. Before he does, he looks back on his youth, and revisits roads not taken.

Read full story transcript

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
Cover of '13 Moons' by Charles Frazier ()

Excerpt: 'Thirteen Moons'

by Charles Frazier
Oct 2, 2006

See this

'Kate' 'Real Simple' 'Humankind' 'Cancer Vixen' thumbnail

Hear this

Launch in player

Share this


Chapter One

PART ONE

...

bone moon

1

There is no scatheless rapture. Love and time put me in this condition. I am leaving soon for the Nightland, where all the ghosts of men and animals yearn to travel. We're called to it. I feel it pulling at me, same as everyone else. It is the last unmapped country, and a dark way getting there. A sorrowful path. And maybe not exactly Paradise at the end. The belief I've acquired over a generous and nevertheless inadequate time on earth is that we arrive in the afterlife as broken as when we departed from the world. But, on the other hand, I've always enjoyed a journey.

Cloudy days, I sit by the fire and talk nothing but Cherokee. Or else I sit silent with pen and paper, rendering the language into Sequoyah's syllabary, the characters forming under my hand like hen-scratch hieroglyphs. On sunny days, I usually rock on the porch wrapped in a blanket and read and admire the vista. Many decades ago, when I built my farm out of raw land, I oriented the front of the house to aim west toward the highest range of mountains. It is a grand long view. The river and valley, and then the coves and blue ridges heaved up and ragged to the limits of eyesight.

Bear and I once owned all the landscape visible from my porch and a great deal more. People claimed that in Old Europe our holdings would have been enough land to make a minor country. Now I have just the one little cove opening onto the river. The hideous new railroad, of which I own quite a few shares, runs through my front yard. The black trains come smoking along twice a day, and in the summer when the house windows are open, the help wipes the soot off the horizontal faces of furniture at least three times a week. On the other side of the river is a road that has been there as some form of passway since the time of elk and buffalo, both long since extinguished. Now, mules drawing wagons flare sideways in the traces when automobiles pass. I saw a pretty one go by the other day. Yellow as a canary and trimmed with polished brass. It had a windshield like an oversized monocle, and it went ripping by at a speed that must have been close to a mile a minute. The end of the driver's red scarf flagged straight out behind him, three feet long. I hated the racket and the dust that hung in the air long after the automobile was gone. But if I was twenty, I'd probably be trying to find out where you buy one of those fast bastards.

The night has become electrified. Midevening, May comes to my room. The turn of doorknob, click of bolt in hasp. The opening door casts a wedge of yellow hall light against the wall. Her slender dark hand twists the switch and closes the door. Not a word spoken. The brutal light is message enough. A clear glass bulb hangs in the center of the room from a cord of brown woven cloth. New wires run down the wall in an ugly metal conduit. The bare bulb's little blazing filament burns an angry cloverleaf shape onto my eyeballs that will last until dawn. It's either get up and shut off the electricity and light a candle to read by, or else be blinded.

I get up and turn off the light.

May is foolish enough to trust me with matches. I set fire to two tapers and prop a polished tin pie plate to reflect yellow light. The same way I lit book pages and notebook pages at a thousand campfires in the last century.

I'm reading The Knight of the Cart, a story I've known since youth. Lancelot is waiting where I left him the last time. Still every bit as anguished and torn about whether to protect his precious honor or to climb onto the shameful cart with the malefic dwarf driver, and perhaps by doing so to save Guinevere, perhaps have Guinevere for his own true love. Choosing incorrectly means losing all. I turn the pages and read on, hoping Lancelot will choose better if given one more chance. I want him to claim love over everything, but so far he has failed. How many more chances will I be able to give him?

The gist of the story is that even when all else is lost and gone forever, there is yearning. One of the few welcome lessons age teaches is that only desire trumps time.

A bedtime drink would be helpful. At some point in life, everybody needs medication to get by. A little something to ease the pain, smooth the path forward. But my doctor prohibits liquor, and so my own home has become as strict as if it were run by hard-shell Baptists. Memory is about the only intoxicant left.

I read on into the night until the house falls quiet. Lancelot is hopeless. I am dream-stricken to think he will ever choose better.

At some point, I put the book down and hold my right palm to the light. The silver scar running diagonal across all the deep lines seems to itch, but scratching does not help.

Late in the night, the door opens again. Scalding metallic light pours in from the hallway. May enters and walks to my bed. Her skin is the color of tanned deerhide, a mixture of several bloods — white and red and black — complex enough to confound those legislators who insist on naming every shade down to the thirty-second fraction. Whatever the precise formula is for May, it worked out beautifully. She's too pretty to be real.

I knew her grandfather back in slavery days. Knew him and also owned him, if I'm to tell the truth. I still wonder why he didn't cut my throat some night while I was asleep. I'd have had it coming. All us big men would have. But through some unaccountable generosity, May is as kind and protective as her grandfather was.

May takes the book as from a sleepy child, flaps it face down on the nightstand, blows out the candle with a moist breath, full lips pursed and shaped like a bow. I hear a hint of rattle in the lungs as the breath expires. I worry for her, though my doctor says she is fine. Consumption, though, is a long way to die. I've seen it happen more than once. May steps back to the door and is a black spirit shape against the light, like a messenger in a significant dream.

— Sleep, Colonel. You've read late.

Funny thing is, I actually try. I lie flat on my back in the dark with my arms on my chest. But I can't sleep. It is a bitter-cold night and the fire has burnt down to hissing coals. I don't ever sleep well anymore. I lie in bed in the dark and let the past sweep over me like stinging sheets of windblown rain. My future is behind me. I let gravity take me into the bed and before long I'm barely breathing. Practicing for the Nightland.

Survive long enough and you get to a far point in life where nothing else of particular interest is going to happen. After that, if you don't watch out, you can spend all your time tallying your losses and gains in endless narrative. All you love has fled or been taken away. Everything fallen from you except the possibility of jolting and unforewarned memory springing out of the dark, rushing over you with the velocity of heartbreak. May walking down the hall humming an old song — "The Girl I Left Behind Me" — or the mere fragrance of clove in spiced tea can set you weeping and howling when all you've been for weeks on end is numb.

At least that last one is explainable. Back in green youth, Claire became an advocate for flavored kisses. She would break off new spring growth at the end of a birch twig, peel the dark bark to the wet green pulp, and fray the fibers with her thumbnail — then put the twig in her mouth and hold it there like a cheroot. After a minute she'd toss it away and say, Now kiss me. And her mouth had the sweet sharp taste of birch. In summer, she did the same with the clear drop of liquid at the tip of honeysuckle blossoms, and in the fall with the white pulp of honey-locust pods. And in winter with a dried clove and a broken stick of cinnamon. Now kiss me.

At may's urging, I recently agreed to buy an Edison music machine. The Fireside model. It cost an unimaginable twenty-two dollars. She tells me the way it works is that singers up North holler songs into an enormous metal cone, whereupon their voices are scarified in a thin gyre on a wax cylinder the size of a bean can. I imagine the singers looking as if they are being swallowed by a bear. After digestion, they come out of my corresponding little cone sounding tiny and earnest and far, far away.

May is relentlessly modern, which makes me wonder why she takes care of me, for I am resolutely antique. Her enthusiasm for the movies is beyond measure, though the nearest nickelodeon is half a day's train ride away. Sometimes I give her a few dollars for the train ticket and the movie ticket, with some money left over for dinner along the way. She comes back all excited and full of talk about the thrill of the compact narratives, the inhuman beauty of certain actresses and actors, the magnitude of the images. I have never witnessed a movie other than once in Charleston, when I dropped a nickel into the slot of a kinetoscope viewer and wound the crank until the bell rang and put the sound tubes like a stethoscope to my ears and then bent to the eyepieces. All I perceived were senseless blurs moving tiny across my mind. I could not adjust my eyes to the pictures. Something looked a little like a man, but he seemed to have a dozen arms and legs and seemed not to occupy any specific world at all but just a grey fog broken by looming vague shapes. For all I could determine of his surroundings, the man might have been playing baseball or plowing a cornfield, or maybe boxing in a ring. I lost interest in the movies at that point.

But I understand that a movie has been made about my earlier life, and May described it to me in enthusiastic detail after it played in the nearest town. The title of it is The White Chief. I didn't care to see it. Who wants every bit of life you've ever known boiled down to a few short minutes? I don't need prompting. Memories from those way-back times flash up with great particularity — even individual trees, dead since long before the War, remain standing in my mind with every leaf etched distinct down to the pale palmate veins, their whole beings meaningful and bright with color. So why choose to enter that distressing grey cinema fog only to find some lost unrecognizable phantom of yourself moving through a vague and uncertain world?

In summer I still rally myself to go to the Warm Springs Hotel, a place I have frequented for more than half a century. Sometimes at the Springs I'm introduced to people who recognize my name, and I can see the incredulity on their faces. This example I'm about to tell happened last summer and will have to stand as representative for a number of similar occurrences.

A prominent family from down in the smothering part of the state had come up to the mountains to enjoy our cool climate. The father was a slight acquaintance of mine, and the son was a recently elected member of the state house. The father was young enough to be my child. They found me sitting on the gallery, reading the most recent number of a periodical — The North American Review to be specific, for I have been a subscriber over a span of time encompassing parts of eight decades.

The father shook my hand and turned to his boy. He said, Son, I want you to meet someone. I'm sure you will find him interesting. He was a senator and a colonel in the War. And, most romantically, white chief of the Indians. He made and lost and made again several fortunes in business and land and railroad speculation. When I was a boy, he was a hero. I dreamed of being half the man he was.

Something about the edge to his tone when he said the words chief, colonel, and senator rubbed me the wrong way. It suggested something ironic in those honorifics, which, beyond the general irony of everything, there is not. I nearly said, Hell, I'm twice the man you are now, despite our difference in age, so things didn't work out so bright for your condescending hopes. And, by the way, what other than our disparity of age confers upon you the right to talk about me as if I'm not present? But I held my tongue. I don't care. People can say whatever they want to about me when I've passed. And they can inflect whatever tone they care to use in the telling.

The son said, He's not Cooper, is he? He blurted it out and was immediately sorry to sound completely ridiculous.

Even to me it sounded ridiculous. Almost as if the boy had asserted that Daniel Boone or Crockett yet lived. Perhaps Natty Bumppo. Some mythic relic of the time when the frontier ran down the crest of the Blue Ridge and most of the country was a sea of forest and savanna and mountains prowled by savage Indians. A time of long rifles and bears as big as railcars. Bloodthirsty wolves and mountain lions. Days of yore when America was no more than a strip of land stretching a couple of hundred miles west of the Atlantic and the rest was just a very compelling idea. I represented an old America of coonskin hats erupting into the now of telephones and mile-a-minute automobiles and electric lights and moving pictures and trains.

Maybe there is an odor of must and camphor about me. But I live on. My eyes are quick and blue behind the folded grey lids. I am amazed by their brightness every time I gather courage to look in the mirror, which is seldom. How possible that any living thing from that distant time yet survives?

I could see in the son's expression that he was doing the arithmetic in his head, working the numbers. And then his face lit up when he realized that it summed.

I am not impossible, just very old.

I reached out my hand to shake and said, Will Cooper, live and in person.

He shook my hand and said something respectful about my awfully long and varied life.

Excerpted from Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier Copyright 2006 by Charles Frazier. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Fiction

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: Jane Eyre meets Great Expectations meets Turn of the Screw! Satterfield 's protagonist, Margaret Lea, is a young woman charged with ghostwriting the biography of the august Vida Winter, one of England’s most celebrated -- and reclusive -- writers. As she writes and researches at Winter's remote estate, Margaret discovers Winter's shocking family secrets -- and a few painfully concealed facts about her own origins. This is the kind of book that will keep you reading far into the night, whether or not you intended to. (Read an excerpt of The Thirteenth Tale at the publisher's site.)   Magic Time by Doug Marlette: Cross your fingers and hope Hollywood doesn't give Russell Crowe the lead role when they make the movie that will inevitably spring from this novel. Its central character is Carter Ransom, scion of a distinguished Mississippi family and much-lauded liberal journalist. When an old investigation of the murder of four civil rights workers -- one of them Carter's first love -- reopens and results in a new trial, Carter has to reexamine everything he knows.   Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier: Nearly a decade after his National Book Award-wining bestseller, Cold Mountain, Frazier is back. In Thirteen Moons, Frazier has made the Western expansionist period of American history lively and accessible. The skein of two key relationships in the book -- pursuit of a doomed first love and the struggle to maintain community in the face of an advancing civilization that would obliterate it -- make for first-rate reading. (Read an excerpt of Thirteen Moons here.)

Nonfiction

Kate by William J. Mann: The general public knew actress Katharine Hepburn as a no-nonsense beauty not fond of publicity and a devoted partner to her one true love, frequent (married) co-star Spencer Tracy. William Mann's bio shows a completely different Hepburn: This Kate relishes the spotlight, and carefully crafts her appearances in it. She also meticulously constructs the fiction of her happy relationship with "Spence." People who revere the couple as an America's romantic ideal will bristle, but Kate does show other facets of a personality far more complex than we knew.   The Race Beat by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff: Veteran journalists Roberts and Klibanoff recall how the media covered the Civil Rights movement. Some reporters were complicit with the segregationist powers that be, and some were true heroes, relaying to the rest of America the revolution that was occurring, and bringing it into their homes via sometimes startling reportage. Roberts and Klibanoff don’t hesitate to name names in a flatly objective tone. (Read an excerpt of The Race Beat here.)   On Her Trail by John Dickerson: Nancy Dickerson's intelligence, streamlined good looks and access to men in high places (see "streamlined good looks") eventually won her a slot as television's first female national correspondent. Her son, also a journalist, has written an unsentimental portrait of his mother that offers a tantalizing glimpse into the social networks that were prominent in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. (Read an excerpt of On Her Trail here.)

Cookbooks, Entertaining

Real Simple Celebrations: This handy guide is divided into types of gatherings (Thanksgiving Dinner, Holiday Open House, Milestone Birthday, Wedding- or Baby Shower, a Dessert Party, etc.) and is complete with suggested menus (including a recipe for Beef Bourguignonne, shown at left), templates for invitations and table decorations. This is a really useful book for young people just starting out on their own, and anyone who is entertaining-impaired. (Get recipes from Real Simple Celebrations here.)   Instant Entertaining by Donna Hay: Donna Hay, food stylist turned cookbook author and kitchenware entrepreneur, is Australia's answer to Martha Stewart and Ina Garten. Instant Entertaining has the same clean look that Martha Stewart fans have come to love, with the casually delicious recipes Garten devotees have come to expect. The book is divided into occasions (Saturday Night, Drinks, Barbeques and Brunch, etc.) with several suggestions for each.

Coffee-Table Books

Humankind by Yoshio Komastu and Eiko Komatsu: This thick photography book is dedicated to the proposition that we may be separated by geography, ideology, race and class; but the world's peoples, no matter who or where they are, all share a common wellspring of experiences. The portraits are surprisingly intimate. People who remember The Family of Man will find familiar echoes.   The Life Platinum Anniversary Collection: Seventy years of modern history, focused through an American lens and reflected in the pages of Life magazine. Everyone from Charlie Chaplin to the late Princess of Wales. Everything from Auschwitz to Woodstock. Every cover since the magazine's publication in 1936 through 2005. Everything.   Chairs: A History by Florence de Dampierre: Dampierre spent eight years researching the beginnings of this particular piece of furniture. What emerges is a richly illustrated socio-anthropological study that will give your head a lot to contemplate about where the other end likes to park itself. Perfect for the design and decorating mavens on your list.   Mexican Calendar Girls by Angela Villalba: Calendars were prevalent in both city and rural life in Mexico, and advertised everything from beer to fruit products to cigarettes. They became popular after the Mexican Revolution, and were a way to celebrate national and cultural pride. If you look carefully at the reproductions in this large-format book, you’ll see many items in everyday Mexican life (tableware, saddles, tapestries) exalted and beautifully captured for posterity.

Graphic Novels

Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto: Marchetto loved the New York high life, loved her job as a cartoonist for The New Yorker and Glamour magazines, loved pasta and most things Italian, and loved her fiancé, whom she found after years of dating and whom she was three weeks away from marrying. Then she found a lump in her breast. Marchetto's illustrated chronicle is as much about the support and love she received as it is about her fight against the disease. Cancer Vixen is definitely an encouragement tool for women who are waging the same battle.   Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi: Author of the best-selling graphic novels Persepolis and Embroideries, Satrapi is back again with an illustrated tale of modern Iranian life. This time, it's the tale of Nassar Ali Khan, who in 1958 was the Iranian equivalent of a rock star -- only his instrument of choice was not a guitar, but the tar (it looks like a mandolin with a really long neck…) When Nassar Ali's tar is broken by his irate wife, he takes to his bed, determined to die. Before he does, he looks back on his youth, and revisits roads not taken.

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR

Visitor comments

on:

NCPR is supported by:

This is a Visitor-Supported website.