Holiday Gift Picks of the Week

It’s Gift Book Tuesday once again, friends.  Here are this week’s picks from Yours Truly (shhhh! Elves have favorites, too!)

* The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History by Jill Lepore:  By now you’ve seen the reviews everywhere so I’ll spare you the singing of praises and get right down to the nitty-gritty.  This book is simultaneously hilarious and terrifying.   Jill has the rare ability to make you laugh out loud with wry observations (see the sections where she’s meeting with real, live Tea Partiers in Boston’s Green Dragon Tavern) while on the next page, she’s slapping you gently in the face by making you confront the extent of your own ignorance about our nation’s founding.   She’s a professor.  She can do this with ease and the effect is genuinely staggering.  Highly recommended for anyone seeking to brush up on American history and current events without being bored to death.  It’s a quick read, delightful and thought-provoking – don’t miss this one.

*Dracula In Love by Karen Essex:  Before you judge, consider this: the vampire bubble may be bursting (Seriously.  I’m so ready to move on to Banshees or Hobgoblins.  Anything but Zombies, please!)  but this book stands apart from the “what’s hot in pop culture” sphere.  Why?  It’s decked out, grown up, literary revisionist, pedigreed fanfic.  Heck yeah!   You’ve got the original cast of characters with some pleasant feminist twists, plus some outrageous bits of meta fiction that I won’t divulge here but if you love camp, you’ll eat this up.  Oh, and when I say it’s  “grown-up”  I mean this one is not for anyone too young for the original novel.  (The blood is the life…and so much more.)   The perfect winter read for any discerning historical drama buff with a Gothic sensibility.  Essex is a masterful storyteller and she weaves a bodice-ripping good yarn full of suspense, social commentary, and sensuous detail.

*Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach: I would expect nothing less from the author of Stiff and Spook and Roach more than delivers the goods.  No topic is taboo here.  Again, maybe not the best gift for little nephew Ned (also a bit risky for the in-laws and casual work acquaintances) but this is popular science writing at its best: mind-blowing and fun.  Roach actually signs on as a test subject for several experiments and my reactions to some of these trials ranged from “good for her!” to “never in a million years.”  By diffusing the initial subject-related awkwardness with humor, she is able to answer all of those questions you’ve been dying to ask.  Three cheers for fieldwork!

Stay tuned for our next installment on Tuesday, November 23.

© iStockphoto.com