Sunday, December 9, 2012

Nick's Picks, the 100 Most Notable Books of 2012 - 81, 80, 79...

#81:  Defending Jacob, by William Landay.  Delacorte Press.  $26.

You know those cliches that booksellers use?  Gripping.  Riveting.  Page turner.  The problem is sometimes they're true - we just get lazy and instead of telling you why we liked the book, we resort to these shortcuts.

Sorry about that.

This, then, would be the wrong time to tell you that William Landay's Defending Jacob is a page-turner that is at turns riveting and gripping.  Nicholas Sparks called it amazing, and Mr. Sparks hardly ever uses cliches, so can we call it good?

If not, let's just say that Mr. Landay reinvigorates the courtroom thriller.  Andy Barber, a District Attorney investigating the brutal murder of a teenage boy, has to confront the awful fact that his son is fast becoming the prime suspect.

Through it all, Mr. Landay believably shows the disintegration of Andy's marriage, and the chinks in the armor of Andy's belief in the innocence of his son.  And before I use any more cliches, I'll just say that this is one courtroom drama you don't want to miss.

#80:  Let's Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson.  Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam.  $25.95.

Do I need to say anything besides this is the funniest book I read all year?

There are so many things I love about Ms. Lawson.  First, she doesn't mind the word blog.  Me?  I hate it.  I'm uncomfortable saying, Hey, I write a blog.  Wanna read it?  Or have a cookie?

She?  She makes it her own and calls herself The Bloggess - not ironically.  I think.

I'm never sure when Ms. Lawson is joshing and when she's not.

Please, though - just trust me.  Ms. Lawson follows that old writer's saw and writes about what she knows - in this case, her family.  Her totally psychotic and disturbed family.  But you know what?  Well balanced families aren't funny!  So, ha!

Just read it, for me?  Then we'll talk.

Oh, and that mouse on the cover?  Hamlet Mouse?  I own him.  So there's that, too.

#79:  The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman.  Knopf.  $35.

Do you eat?  If you eat, you want this cookbook.

What do you want in a cookbook?  Beautiful pictures?  Check.  Delicious recipes?  Check?  A cook with a personality?  Check.  Someone who's funny and who can write and who, through her words and pictures, makes you want to immediately begin cooking her food?  Check check check.

The "her" in this scenario is Deb Perelman, creator of the Smitten Kitchen.  Ms. Perelman's food?  Well, it's not necessarily for the faint of heart - not because it's intimidating - no, it's so inviting, you'll be pulling up a chair in no time.  It's because it's easy to become obsessed with her creations - to the detriment of any relations you may have with family and friends.  Unless they eat, too, and if that's the case, you're golden.

I wonder if it's too late to make her Emmentaler on Rye with Sweet and Sour Red Onions...

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