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'The Thirteenth Tale' ()

Books for Everyone on Your Holiday Gift List

Dec 14, 2006 (Day to Day)

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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.)

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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.

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