Spring cleaning is always a good thing.
You find a lot of dirt when you’re scrubbing the corners of your house. You find a better mood when everything’s clean and tidy. And you find things you thought you’d lost and things you never remembered you even had.
Like gift certificates left over from December.
So you got a bookstore gift certificate and you don’t know how to use it. Why not check out these great books….
If a good romping romance with a dose of drama sounds good to you today, then look for “Close Quarters” by Shamara Ray. This is a book about two roommates – she’s engaged and he’s a jerk – and what happens when they realize that they really can’t live without one another.
The Underground Railroad is the setting for “The Last Runaway” by Tracy Chevalier. When a young Quaker girl moves to Ohio for a new life, she is drawn into helping the effort to spirit former slaves to freedom. And speaking of running away, check out “My One Square Inch of Alaska” by Sharon Short. It’s the story of a young girl who runs away from a life she’s yearned to escape, packs up her brother and his dog, and heads to a long-time dream way up north.
Fans of quirky mysteries will love “The Man Who Turned Both Cheeks: A Novel” by Gillian Royes. This sequel to Royes’ first book picks up with Shad Myers, unofficial lawman and bartender for Largo Bay. Shad is in the midst of turmoil that may – or may not – save his little community. You’ll find more turmoil in “The Guilty One” by Lisa Ballantyne. It’s a novel of suspense, in which a London solicitor takes on a crime that’s possibly been committed by a child. Can he keep his own bad memories from tainting the solving of this case?
One of my favorite authors has a new book out: “Live by Night” by Dennis Lehane. Set in the Roaring Twenties, this is a book about gangsters, Prohibition, and one man’s life in the underworld. Coming from Lehane, you know it’ll be good.
If you’re more of a short-story fan, then look for “Could You Be With Her Now” by Jen Michalski. This book contains two novellas: the first, a sort of mystery-thriller; the second, a story set within a relationship that raises eyebrows.
If you love a good step back in time, then look for “Successful Farming: Traditional Methods and Techniques for Every Farm” by Frank D. Gardner. This thick, thick book takes a good look at all kinds of farming and gardening, the way it was done in Grandpa’s day – which makes this book perfect for reminiscing.
Ever wonder what you’re made of? “The Violinist’s Thumb” by Sam Kean takes readers on a ride inside. You’ll learn fascinating things about genetics, DNA, and how it shapes each individual who ever lived – including you! Pair it up with “The End of Men” by Hanna Rosin, a book about how the “stronger” sex is slowly being dominated by the world’s women.
How do you keep your family safe? In “Dangerous Instincts” by Mary Ellen O’Toole, PhD and Alisa Bowman, you’ll learn a few tips straight from an FBI Profiler. This is a book for parents, businesspeople, and single folks. It doesn’t just touch upon physical safety, but decision-making and risk-taking, too. In this weird world, isn’t that info you need? Also look for “TwentySomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck?” by Robin Marantz Henig and Samantha Henig. Reading this, for parents, is just a different way of keeping your (grown) kids – and your sanity – safe.
So you say you love classic literature. But did you know that some fiction is actually non-fiction? In the book “Black Fire” by Robert Graysmith, you’ll read about Samuel Clement, the real Mark Twain, and a hundred-fifty-year-old mystery. And speaking of mysteries, how about a medical one? Look for “Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness” by Susannah Cahalan, a book about one woman’s scary illness and the doctor-sleuths who diagnosed it.
If a memoir is your thing this spring, look for “Memoir of the Sunday Brunch” by Julia Pandl, a book about growing up in a family restaurant and the life lessons learned. Or try “Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter” by Melissa Francis who, you might remember, was one of the kids on Little House on the Prairie all those years ago.
One of the things you want to do this year is to strengthen the relationship you have with your honey-bunny. That means you’ll want to find “What Makes Love Last?” by John Gottman, PhD and Nan Silver. This is a book filled with hints, science-based tips, quizzes and more. You’ll, um, love it, especially if you team it up with “Love 2.0” by Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D., which is a book about our emotions in amour and how being twitterpated changes who we are.
If you love biographies, look for “Hello, Gorgeous” by William J. Mann. It’s a big, solid, thick book about Barbra Streisand, her life, and her career. You loved her on the Oscars. You’ll love this book. Also look for “Skirt Steak” by Charlotte Druckman. It’s an anthology of memories and brief memoirs written by women chefs. No recipes, but it simmers nonetheless.
Every now and then, you like to read something that sends shivers up your spine, which is a good time to find “Restless in Peace” by Mariah De La Croix. The author is a mortician. She’s also a psychic. You can well imagine how interesting THAT can be, right? And when you’re done, read “The Metamorphosis: The Apprenticeship of Harry Houdini” by Bruce MacNab for a magical afternoon’s reading.
What would you do without your pals? In “Friendkeeping” by Julie Klam, you’ll read about good friends, better friends, and the best friends of all. And for a friend of a different sort, read “Swoon: Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them” by Betsy Priouleau.
If you’re in the mood for something a little on the spiritual side, then look for “Imperfect Spirituality” by Polly Campbell. This is a book that teaches you to find and get in touch with the inner you by learning new techniques and methods to increase personal growth and spirituality. Team it up with “Nurturing the Soul of Your Family” by Renee Peterson Trudeau.
So you’ve vowed this year to stay green, and “Eco Thrifty” by Deborah Niemann is going to help you do that. This is a book that will take you around your home and vehicle to show you how to save the earth while you’re saving money. What’s not to love about that? Team it up with “The American Dream” by Lawrence R. Samuel, a pop-culture book about the history of Having It All.
If you’ve got a stack of books on your shelf that you haven’t read since high school, “Practical Classics” by Kevin Smokler will give you a good reason to change that. This book looks at those old classics, how they’re relevant, and how you’ll probably enjoy them more now than you ever did back in class. And speaking of class, check out “No Hugging in China” by Florida’s Felicia Brings. She was a middle-school teacher at a private school in Guandong Province, China. This is her story. You’ll like it.
Loss is never easy and if you faced one last year, then “Happily Even After” by Carole Brody Fleet may need to be next to your easy-chair. This is a book specifically for widows and widowers, written to help you get beyond grief and back to a new normal – whatever that is. Another book to find is “Mom’s List” by St. John Greene. It’s a memoir written by his wife, who was dying and wanted to be sure that her family remembered certain life lessons. Buy them – and a box of tissues to go.
Finally, you saw the movie, so you know Lincoln was assassinated. But did you know that there was an attempt on his life years before that? In “The Hour of Peril” by Daniel Stashower, you’ll read about that almost-crime and the man who saved Lincoln’s life by foiling a plot that most certainly would’ve changed history.
If you’re a “cat person,” you’ll want to find “Another Insane Devotion” by Peter Trachtenberg. This is a book about a man’s search for his lost kitty, and the cool things he found while looking for her.
You already probably know that American soldiers often rely on dogs while at war. You might even know a former working dog – or you may have one yourself. In “Dogs of Courage” by Lisa Rogak, you’ll read about more of them: police dogs, therapy pups, service dogs, and more.
Your dog or cat has the best life. So have you ever wondered about the lives of farm animals? In the new book “The Lucky Ones” by Jenny Brown, you’ll read about one woman’s fight for better lives for those critters. Be aware that this book could be very controversial but that’s never stopped any animal lover I know… You also might like “Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man” by Brian McGrory. That’s a story of a man who marries a woman and gets kids and a fowl-mood fowl in the package.
And if your pets run a little big and it’s wild around your house, look for “Of Moose and Men” by Dr. Jerry Haigh. That’s a book by a Canadian veterinarian who cares for wildlife; in particular, moose. Or would that be “mooses?”
If you simply can’t get enough of politics or if you’re fierce about social justice, then look for “Irresistible revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics” by Urvashi Vaid. This book, written by a social justice leader, is heavy and serious, but it’ll make you think and it’ll start a lot of conversation.
So you’re looking for something a little bit different? Then look for “The Missing Myth: A New Vision of Same-Sex Love” by Gilles Herrada. This book examines homosexuality in the context of psychology, history, mythology, culture, spirituality, and meaning through human experience. It’s deep, it’s thought-provoking.
It’s no secret that gay men and lesbians have served in the military since there’s even been a military. In “Fighting to Serve” by Alexander Nicholson, you’ll read about one man’s discharge under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and how he organized a group to fight DADT.
And here’s something fun: “Land of 10,000 Loves: A History of Queer Minnesota” by Stewart Van Cleve. This book, filled with pictures and a ton of history is easy-to-read, and just a little scandalous, in a time-gone-by way.
If the gift certificate belongs to your young’un, then look for “The Art of Clean Up: Life Made Neat and Tidy” by Ursus Wehrli. This is a cute (but unusual) book in which a messy situation is made neat by lining up all the things that made it a mess. It’s very different, and could be used as a counting book for kids who need practice with higher numbers.
If your 9-to-12-year-old is concerned about being kind to the Earth, then introduce him (or her!) to “Darius Bell and the Crystal Bees” by Odo Hirsch. This is a book about a boy who learns that something bad is happening to bees and it won’t just mean no more honey. What he does in this honey of a book is for your child to find out…
For a great read-aloud that grade-schoolers will love, look for the Deputy Dorkface books by Kevin D. Janison, illustrated by Eldon Doty. These books teach kids manners, hygiene, and eating right, but not in a preachy way that kids hate. Nope, these books are laugh-out-loud, and kids will love them.
And there you are. You found a gift certificate, and that’s a good thing. If these books don’t sound very appetizing to you, be sure to ask your bookseller for even more ideas. They like to talk about books. Really, they do.
Disclaimer: The views expressed on this weblog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of PBG Lifestyle Magazine.