Don’t want to get burned by a brain-deadening beach novel that’s so dumb, you can almost feel your IQ dropping in the sun? Try a smart-but-entertaining nonfiction book instead. All of these are new and widely available enough that if your holiday plans call for a flight instead of a car trip to the beach, you should be able to find them in any airport bookstore:
The Birthday Party: A Memoir of Survival (Putnam’s, $24.95). By Stanley Alpert. You think a book about getting kidnapped can’t be funny? Try this memoir by a former federal prosecutor who was abducted on the eve of his 38th birthday on a Manhattan street. With a gang-that-couldn’t- shoot-straight ineptitude, his captors kept him blindfolded for 25 hours in a car and Brooklyn tenement as they tried to figure out how to lift the $100,000 in his bank account. http://oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/01/30
Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog (Morrow, $21.95 regular edition, $29.95 gift edition). By John Grogan. A columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer remembers a lovable but incorrigible dog in a bestseller about a yellow lab that was kicked out of obedience school. HarperCollins has just published a companion picture book for preschoolers, Bad Dog, Marley! (Harper Collins, $16.99, ages 3 and up), by Grogan and Richard Cowdrewy. http://oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2006/12/11/
A Star Is Found: Our Adventures in Casting Some of Hollywood’s Biggest Movies (Harcourt, $25). By Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins with Rachel Kranz. Hollywood casting directors tell how they matched stars like Julia Roberts and Tom Cruise with roles, and found Daniel Radcliffe for Harry Potter. A book for adults that would also appeal to many high school and college students. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2006/11/13/ and www.janeandjanet.com
Stuart: A Life Backwards (Delta, $12, paperback). By Alexander Masters. One of the best memoirs of 2006 has just arrived in paperback, not long after after it was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. If you don’t think anybody could tell a charming story of the life an “ex-homeless, ex-junkie psychopath,” this book could change your mind. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/03/22/.
Summer at Tiffany (Morrow, $14.95). By Majorie Hart. Hart looks back on her work as one of the first female pages at the Fifth Avenue jewelry store in this lovely memoir of the summer of 1945, a gardenia on the lapel of the season’s nonfiction. She tells lively stories of seeing Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich at Tiffany’s, falling in love with a midshipman and visiting places like the Stork Club. But her book is equally memorable for its poignant account of how New Yorkers celebrated V-J Day, which occurred while she was working in the city. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/07/02/.
[Click on "Children's Books" under the "Categories" heading on the right-hand side of your screen for ideas on what children might enjoy reading on vacation.]
(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.