New Titles on the New York Times Bestseller List (12/18/05)

There was only one new title this week and again it is from an author who is no stranger to the list.

Coming in at #4 is Forever Odd by Dean Koontz: this popular and prolific writer brings back Odd Thomas who uses his ability to communicate with the dead to search for his missing friend.

A Toast to This Year’s Wine Books

Enjoy some good reading as you sip your wine:
from primer: The Wine Guy: Everything You Want to Know About Buying and Enjoying Wine from Someone Who Sells It by Andy Besch
to the process of winemaking: A Very Good Year: the Journey of a California Wine From Vine to Table by Mike Weiss
to the memoir of a new vintner: My First Crush: Misadventures in Wine Country by Linda Kaplan
to the arrival of American wine on the world scene: Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine by George Taber
to one person’s choices of the best current wines of America: The Great Wines of America: the Top Forty Vintners, Vineyards, and Vintages by Paul Lukacs
to the melding of travel, wine, and art: Untrodden Grapes by Ralph Steadman

Gnat Stokes and the Foggy Bottom Swamp Queen

Welcome to Foggy Bottom where nightmarish swamps swarm with hordes of gruesome, bewitched creatures, sweethearts are tragically separated by Zelda, the evil Swamp Queen, Eatmore Beans, a talking cat bears an enchanted locket and feisty, 12-year-old Gnat Stokes longs to be a hero. She must rescue her beloved Goodnow from the malevolent Swamp Queen, who is also her lost mother. In the end, she learns she must give up Goodnow in order to save him. Lots of humor and great characters make Gnat Stokes and the Foggy Bottom Swamp Queen by Sally Keehn a great read-aloud. For ages 9-12.

This American [Literary] Life

At his lecture last weekend, Ira Glass forecast that this coming week's episode of This American Life will be one of the best ever. The contributors are so good, he said, that he might as well quit now.

In case that isn't enough for you, check out this list of some of our favorite books by TAL contributors:

Found : the best lost, tossed, and forgotten items from around the world and
The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas by Davy Rothbart
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
Fraud by David Rakoff
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
Lenny Bruce is Dead by Jonathan Goldstein
Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage
God Said "Ha!" by Julia Sweeney
Beware of God by Shalom Auslander

Trevanian, 1931-2005

Trevanian, author of The Eiger Sanction, Shibumi, and several other titles considered the thinking man’s airport fiction, died December 14, 2005 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Eiger Sanction, published in 1972, was a spoof on the James Bond novels. One critic declared that Trevanian’s first novel was “…more intelligent, witty, and stylish” than the original 007 tales.

Trevanian was one of at least five pseudonyms that Rodney Whitaker used to write on a wide variety of topics, including the law, religion, and the movies.

History Bits: 1915 Historical Fiction

Lizzie Bright And The Buckminster Boy tells a little-known piece of early 20th century history and race relations through the eyes of two children in a small town in Maine. Lizzie lives on a small island which has been inhabited by ex-slaves for generations. The Parson has a son referred to as the the Buckminster Boy. The Buckminster family is new to the coastal town of Phippsburg. Although there is profound impact on the island residents, the characters are deep and surprising. Hope and redemption remain a possibility beyond the end of the story.

What's a six letter word for.....?


Did you know that December 21 is the anniversary of the first crossword puzzle ever printed? It was compiled by Arthur Wynne for the New York World newspaper in 1913. And that was the beginning of an addiction that drives spouses mad and squanders hours of time perhaps better spent washing the kitchen floor. But we love them and so does Marc Romano, author of Crossworld:One Man's Journey into America's Crossword Obsession. Romano gives us an entertaining history of this pasttime and also gives us a bird's eye view of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament hosted by Will Shortz, creator of the New York Times puzzles. He meets the quirky players, and enters himself the next year. He provides anecdotes, gives tips on competing and even lets us in on the little know fact that Shortz has the only degree in "enigmatology." I don't have a clue.

The Winter Battle: Remembering the Bulge

On December 16, 1944 eight German armored divisions and a total of 250,000 men launched a surprise attack in foggy, rainy weather in the Ardennes Forest initiating what became known as the ‘Battle of the Bulge.’ Ultimately, more than a million men were involved, with nearly 200,000 total casualties inflicted. It was Nazi Germany's last major offensive campaign on the Western Front and briefly succeeded in penetrating up to 65 miles into the allied lines, the so-called 'bulge,' before it was stopped, reversed and the original lines were reestablished by January 21, 1945.

Superhero by Marc Tauss

Maleek loves comic books. He is also a superhero. When the city parks disappear Maleek puts on his superhero costume and sets out with his trusty robot Marvyn to find a way to restore the parks. Black and white real life photos capture the wonder and adventure of childhood.

New Titles on the New York Times Bestseller List (12/4/05 and 12/11/05)

Outside of four new books by well-known authors, there was little movement on the list the last two weeks. 'Tis the season to be scary.

On the 12/4/05 list:
At #1 is Mary, Mary by James Patterson: another nursery rhyme title with Alex Cross chasing an email killer in Hollywood.

At #6 is The Regime:Evil Advances by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins: the second prequel in the Left Behind series continues its harrowing story of the Antichrist.

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