Everything factual I know I learned from books. Non-fiction teaches us, entertains us, and sometimes, even makes us think.
Love him or hate him, you can’t call Penn Jillette wishy-washy. Even the title of GOD, NO! is enough to turn off a lot of people. This giant of a man (he lists his height as 6 foot 6.5 inches) is an avowed Libertarian, Atheist, and free trade advocate. He’s fearless; why else would he have appeared on Dancing With the Stars? He’s extremely outspoken about everything, including sex, magic, and of course, religion. He begins his diatribe with a question which may provoke a great deal of thought and some high octane arguments: If God told you to kill your child, would you do it?
If there’s one must have book for every fashionista (and fashionisto) this season, it has to be IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DRESS, by fashion icon Vicky Tiel. Part autobiography, part style manual, part juicy gossip reveal all, this book is just yummy. After all, if Kim Kardashian chooses Vicky, so must we. Personally, I immediately sought the section that promised to teach me how to dress like a sex goddess.
This would probably be a good time to recommend a book for the guys. George Vecsey, sports columnist for no less than The New York Times, has penned a biography of STAN MUSIAL that’s so good, you don’t even need to like baseball to enjoy it. Musial has long been regarded as one of the most neglected baseball stars. Thanks to Vecsey, this is no longer true.
PROJECT REBIRTH, by Dr. Robin Stern and Courtney E. Martin, is a companion book to the documentary “Rebirth.” Included here are accounts by those who were not featured in the film, as well as those who were. What happened to individuals who lost a loved one on September 11, 2001? After the Twin Towers fell, thousands of people had to rebuild their lives. This is the journey of eight of them, through the last ten years.
Rebuilding marriages is the theme of Pamela Haag’s MARRIAGE CONFIDENTIAL. Through a great deal of research, the author comes to the conclusion that in fact we can’t have it all, especially in terms of blending work, marriage, and parenthood. What to do about this melancholy state, according to Haag, may very well change people’s lives.
I’m not sure if GLOBISH, by Robert McCrum, can teach people how better to communicate, but it certainly is an interesting read. How did English become “the world’s language?” Crum explores the ways our native tongue has gone far beyond its origins on a tiny island on the western fringe of Europe.
John D. Barrow thinks even bigger in THE BOOK OF UNIVERSES. Without breaking the laws of physics, Barrow presents universes that exist with time travel, unusual magnetism, and features which strike us as chaotic in nature. Not a beach book, but pretty mind blowing.
Come back to earth with a sweet little handbook about the song of birds, AAAAW TO ZZZZZD, by John Bevis. I love the William Gass quote on the back cover, which informs us that “every bird lover should possess a copy of this book, but so should every bird.” Just can’t say it better than that.
I just bought in hard cover two sensational books which are now also available in paperback. Rebecca Skloot’s THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS is a factual tome which reads like fiction. A multimillion dollar industry was created from the cells of a woman who never benefitted financially; her children were not even told of their mother’s contribution.
The Comanches and their last chief, the mixed race Quanah Parker, are at the center of S.C. Gwynne’s EMPIRE OF THE SUMMER MOON. This slice of American History should be required reading for all those studying how our country was formed.
There’s nothing more thrilling to me than to discover and pass along terrific books. No matter how many gadgets may be invented, for many of us nothing can compare to the real thing.
To purchase any of the featured books on Amazon click on the title.
Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist and an avowed bibliophile.. She writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. Michall is a voting member of National Book Critics Circle. www.michalljeffers.com