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Great Reads for the Holiday Season

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Lisa Sharkey: If you need guidance choosing great reads for this holiday season, I have done the work for you and highlighted the best in three categories: men, women, and children.

For the men in your life: there is everything from a hilariously inappropriate memoir by UFC fighter Forrest Griffin to a book about the Lincolns that's a dishy page-turner to a Bon Jovi fan's greatest pleasure -- and even a funny stocking stuffer with a zombie twist.

For children: there are so many options, including the number-one children's picture book in the country with a holiday theme, an audio recording of The Phantom Tollbooth that just got a Grammy nomination, a classic heartwarming book from the Betsy-Tacy series that's making a comeback, and a book that teaches girls not to judge others, in a delightful and beautifully written way.

And for the women we love, from our moms to our sisters and friends: there is something for the Red States, something for the Blue States, a few books to entertain you in the kitchen, a breathtaking memoir or two, some short stories that will dazzle you with their poignancy, and last but not least, two novels, The Help, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which left me in awe.

Check out the full list here:


Books for the Men, Women, and Children in Your Life

BOOKS FOR HUSBANDS, BROTHERS, DADS

Got Fight? The 50 Zen Principles of Hand-to-Face Combat, by Forrest Griffin and Erich Krauss

Forrest Griffin is the light heavyweight champ and star of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the most prestigious league of the fastest growing sport in the world, mixed martial arts. He also happens to have the most booming personality of any American fighter and can take a punch (or a kick) better than any of his fellow competitors. Now, the man that Mickey's Malt Liquor has dubbed -- after a national poll -- the most popular fighter in the UFC will offer personal stories from inside and outside the Octagon to give readers a glimpse into the mind of a mixed martial artist and illustrate his 50 principles of being a fighter, with topics ranging from mentally preparing before a professional fight to kicking it into high gear when your ring is the street.

BOOKS FOR HUSBANDS, BROTHERS, DADS

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, by Douglas Brinkley

From New York Times bestselling historian Douglas Brinkley comes a sweeping historical narrative and eye-opening look at the pioneering environmental policies of President Theodore Roosevelt, avid bird-watcher, naturalist, and the founding father of America's conservation movement -- now approaching its 100th anniversary.

BOOKS FOR HUSBANDS, BROTHERS, DADS

The Last Lincolns: The Rise & Fall of a Great American Family, by Charles Lachman

Most books about Abraham Lincoln end on April 14, 1865, the day he was assassinated at Ford's Theatre. But that historic event takes place very close to the start of The Last Lincolns, a singular title in the vast output of Lincolnia and a groundbreaking book on the sixteenth president and his family. Going far beyond that fateful day into uncharted territory, it's a gripping page-turner written by a TV producer with proven storytelling skills.

BOOKS FOR HUSBANDS, BROTHERS, DADS

The 10 Things You Need to Eat, by Anahad O'Connor and Dave Lieberman

With so many different health products, superfoods, and diets all vying for your attention these days, how do you know what you should really be eating?

In The 10 Things You Need to Eat, New York Times health columnist Anahad O'Connor and veteran Food Network chef Dave Lieberman team up to cut through all the claims and studies and identify ten simple foods with undeniable health benefits that you can find in any supermarket.

With wit and verve, the authors combine their individual areas of expertise to create a lighthearted yet illuminating book that presents the fascinating science behind these ten powerhouse superfoods, along with a plethora of recipes that feature them in easy-to-prepare and delicious meals.

If you are serious about living healthfully, this is the one book you won't want to live without.

BOOKS FOR HUSBANDS, BROTHERS, DADS

Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle, by Marc Gonsalves, Tom Howes, Keith Stansell, and Gary Brozek

On February 13, 2003, a plane carrying three American military contractors -- Marc Gonsalves, Tom Howes, and Keith Stansell -- crashed in the mountainous jungle of Colombia. Dazed and shaken, they awoke covered in blood with automatic rifles pointing at their faces. As of that moment they belonged to the Colombian terrorist organization known as the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), American captives in Colombia's volatile conflict that has stretched over the last half century. This harrowing crash and abduction began five and a half years of captivity at the hands of the FARC, as these three men struggled to survive the madness of their surroundings.

In Out of Captivity, Gonsalves, Howes, and Stansell recount their amazing tale of survival, friendship, and ultimately rescue in its entirety for the first time. Revealing the details of their crash, their horrific treatment at the hands of the FARC, what they witnessed as captives, and how they survived the experiences of their years, this book provides vivid firsthand accounts of their five and half years in the jungle.

BOOKS FOR HUSBANDS, BROTHERS, DADS

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies: A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols, by Michael P. Spradlin

Forget chestnuts roasting over an open fire.

Try fresh brains instead.

That's what you get when zombies write your Christmas carols.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies takes over two dozen of our most beloved Christmas carols and shreds them limb from limb, rewriting them from a zombie's point-of-view. Tiny tots' eyes are no longer aglow -- they're in a bowl. And Mommy's not kissing Santa under the mistletoe -- she's chewing his face. Nobody -- not Rudolph, Old Saint Nick, or even Grandma -- is spared when the undead come knocking.

BOOKS FOR HUSBANDS, BROTHERS, DADS

Come Back, Como: Winning the Heart of a Reluctant Dog, by Steven Winn

Steven Winn wanted a dog for his family -- for companionship, for laughter, for holidays together, and stories to tell. But when his daughter fell in love with a scraggly, man-hating terrier mix named Como from a local animal shelter, Winn got far more than he'd bargained for. Traumatized, single-minded, and clever, Como was bent on breaking Winn's sanity, his bankbook, and his heart.

Come Back, Como is the story of a unique journey: one man's valiant quest to win the love of a truly one-of-a-kind dog, a creature usually thought of as man's best friend. With humor and pathos, Winn describes the exasperating but ultimately rewarding effects Como had on his family, the ordeals he and his dog endured together, and the greatest lesson Como taught him: that loving a dog can somehow make us more human.

BOOKS FOR HUSBANDS, BROTHERS, DADS

Bon Jovi: When We Were Beautiful, by Bon Jovi

After 25 years together, Bon Jovi is more popular than ever. But for all their hits and sold-out concerts, fans have been offered few glimpses of the band members up close and personal. To commemorate its 25th anniversary, the musicians gave filmmaker and photographer Phil Griffin unprecedented access to their lives, onstage and off, during the 2008 Lost Highway tour. This insider's portrait of one of America's best-loved rock bands is the subject of a major documentary and this extraordinary book. You think you know Bon Jovi, but you don't until you open this book.

BOOKS FOR KIDS

Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas, by Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser

Festive, fabulous, and full of tinsel! Christmas is Fancy Nancy's favorite time of the year. There are presents with elegant wrapping paper, festive decorations, Christmas cookies with sprinkles -- and who could forget the tree? Ooh la la! This year, Nancy is especially excited about decorating the Christmas tree. She bought a brand-new sparkly tree topper with her own money. But when things don't turn out the way Nancy planned, will her Christmas still be splendiferous?

In this merriest of stories from bestselling duo Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser, Nancy proves once again that a little fancying up can go a long, festive way!

BOOKS FOR KIDS

Betsy-Tacy, by Maud Hart Lovelace and Lois Lenski

The classic, much-loved tale of a girl named Betsy who finds a friend when a new little girl moves in across the street. Her name is Tacy, and she likes to listen to Betsy's stories -- wonderful stories that the girls love, and that they keep as their own special secret. After a while, it's hard to remember a time when Betsy and Tacy weren't best friends.

BOOKS FOR KIDS

Warriors: The New Prophecy, Book 5: Twilight, by Erin Hunter

New territory brings new troubles for the fierce cats of the warrior Clans. Dangers they have never faced before are lurking in the twilight shadows, and former allies are acting strangely hostile.

As divisions between the Clans grow deeper, Firestar's daughters face troubling decisions. The choices they make now could affect ThunderClan for generations to come ... and with an unexpected enemy preparing to attack, their courage and strength will be needed more than ever if the Clan is to survive.

BOOKS FOR KIDS

The Hundred Dresses, by Eleanor Estes and Louis Slobodkin

Wanda faces mockery at school, both because of her "funny" last name (Petron-ski) and her claims that she has 100 dresses at home even though she wears the same one to school each day.

BOOKS FOR KIDS

The Phantom Tollbooth [Unabridged] (Audio CD), by Norton Juster, read by David Hyde Pierce

"It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time ... [T]here's nothing for me to do, nowhere I'd care to go, and hardly anything worth seeing."

Milo, the young protagonist of this classic tale by Norton Juster, can't seem to find the point to anything, until one day a mysterious tollbooth appears in his bedroom. Deciding that driving through the tollbooth is less boring than not driving through it, Milo dusts off his toy car and finds himself on the road to Dictionopolis -- a world in which everything is anything but dull. His journey into this world of words is punctuated by one odd character after another -- a time-conscious watchdog named Tock, a curmudgeonly, but loyal insect named Humbug, and the dastardly Dischord and Dynne. By the time Milo and Tock set off toward the Mountains of Ignorance to rescue the twin Princesses, Rhyme and Reason, Milo realizes that with a little imagination, he'll never have to twiddle his thumbs through another humdrum day.

BOOKS FOR TEENS

L.A. Candy, by Lauren Conrad

In L.A. CANDY, nineteen-year-old Jane Roberts moves to L.A. and unexpectedly becomes the star of a reality TV show. With fame comes wealth, hot clothes, and even hotter love interests -- and Jane's lapping it all up with her eclectic entourage of pals who are always up for a wild night out and the chance to get a piece of her spotlight. But soon Jane realizes everyone wants something from her, and nothing is what it seems to be.

L.A. CANDY is a fast-paced, honest, and entertaining fictional account of what it's like to come of age in Hollywood while starring in a reality TV show, written by a girl who has experienced it all firsthand: Lauren Conrad.

BOOKS FOR SISTERS, GIRLFRIENDS, MOMS

HappyBaby: The Organic Guide to Baby's First 24 Months, by Robert W. Sears

Happy Baby, the organic baby food company, and Dr. Robert Sears, best-selling author and renowned pediatrician, have teamed up to bring green parenting to the mainstream, making it more than just a trendy movement, but by far the healthiest way to raise happy babies with lasting results.

BOOKS FOR SISTERS, GIRLFRIENDS, MOMS

Going Rogue: An American Life, by Sarah Palin

One year ago, Sarah Palin burst onto the national political stage like a comet. Yet even now, few Americans know who this remarkable woman really is.

In this eagerly anticipated memoir, Palin paints an intimate portrait of growing up in the wilds of Alaska; meeting her lifelong love; her decision to enter politics; the importance of faith and family; and the unique joys and trials of life as a high-profile working mother. She also opens up for the first time about the 2008 presidential race, providing a rare, mom's-eye view of high-stakes national politics -- from patriots dedicated to "Country First" to slick politicos bent on winning at any cost.

BOOKS FOR SISTERS, GIRLFRIENDS, MOMS

Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box, by Madeleine Albright

The story and celebration of how one woman's jewelry collection was used to make diplomatic history.

Madeleine Albright was the first female Secretary of State of the United States and, at that time, the highest ranking woman in U.S. history. Like most women, she had occasionally worn pins before entering public service, but it was when she took office as America's Ambassador to the United Nations, and then as Secretary of State, that she came to understand how powerful a symbol a simple piece of jewelry could be. When she wore a snake pin after Saddam Hussein's press called her a serpent, and then a pin of a doomed bird after Cuban-American pilots were shot down in international waters, the world's press took notice, showing that while the pin is an expression of femininity and fashion, it can also be a badge of individuality, a vibrant and witty vehicle for telling a story, and can be a diplomatic tool for delivering messages to world leaders, politicians, the public, and beyond.

BOOKS FOR SISTERS, GIRLFRIENDS, MOMS

My Journey with Farrah: A Story of Life, Love, and Friendship, by Alana Stewart

Farrah Fawcett's longtime friend Alana Stewart shares her personal diaries from her three years by Farrah's side, as she helped her friend try to defeat cancer. A celebration of their incredible bond, the power of Farrah's spirit, and the memories from their thirty years together, this book is a tribute to an amazing woman and an amazing friendship.

BOOKS FOR SISTERS, GIRLFRIENDS, MOMS

Notes Left Behind, by Brooke Desserich and Keith Desserich

The heartbreaking and true story of young Elena Desserich's battle with brain cancer told through the eyes of the parents who survived her, and whose mission it has become to share their daughter's inspiring message and to remind other parents to cherish the moments they have with their own children.

BOOKS FOR SISTERS, GIRLFRIENDS, MOMS

Love Begins in Winter: Five Stories, by Simon Van Booy

Van Booy's first story collection was hailed as "breathtaking ... chillingly beautiful, like postcards from Eden ... Van Booy's stories are somehow like paintings the characters walk out of, and keep walking" by the Los Angeles Times. Love Begins in Winter picks up right where he left off, offering intimate scenes of tragic loss, redemptive tales of unlikely connection, and breathtaking moments that never really end. These stories, set around the world, are a perfect synthesis of grace, intensity, atmosphere, and compassion.

BOOKS FOR SISTERS, GIRLFRIENDS, MOMS

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town ...

BOOKS FOR SISTERS, GIRLFRIENDS, MOMS

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared off the secluded island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger family. There was no corpse, no witnesses, no evidence. But her uncle, Henrik, is convinced that she was murdered by someone from her own deeply dysfunctional Vanger clan. Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomqvist is hired to investigate.

BOOKS FOR SISTERS, GIRLFRIENDS, MOMS

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, by Ree Drummond

Paula Deen meets Erma Bombeck in this #1 New York Times Best Seller, which colorfully traces one woman's transition from city life to ranch wife through recipes, color photography, and hilarious anecdotes.

Based on Ree Drummond's popular, award-winning blog, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, this gorgeous book takes readers on a voyeuristic journey through the life of a girl who once believed a grande latte from Starbucks was the key to all happiness, but who ultimately finds utter contentment, even bliss, in the arms of a cattle rancher.

BOOKS FOR SISTERS, GIRLFRIENDS, MOMS

More Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: A Drop-Top Culinary Cruise Through America's Finest and Funkiest Joints, by Guy Fieri and Ann Volkwein

Join New York Times best-selling author Guy Fieri, host of the hugely popular Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, as he takes you on a tour of 60 more of the best local restaurants across America, as featured in his very favorite episodes. Bursting with his iconic personality, the book follows his hot-rod trips around the country, mapping out the best places you've never heard of. Wherever he goes, Guy showcases the amazing personalities, the fascinating stories, and most important, the outrageously good food provided by these American treasures.



next: Yes, I Pack My Hubby Condoms: Part Two
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