Well, here we are, with our last Ask the Editors requests of 2010. We've had a great time thinking about books for the folks on Omni readers' lists--thanks for sending us the fun inquiries and thoughtful comments.
First up is Liz:
I'm looking for books for my younger sister. She's a voracious reader, and a self professed snob. (That means nothing that could be described as "pink cover books" - again, her words.) A mixture of S.A.D and work/grad school demands mean that her concentration has suffered. Are there any short story collections, essay collections (nothing too heavy) or novellas that I could buy her for Christmas? Her guilty pleasure is crime novels and true crime, but she seems to have read everything I recommend.
Second, we have Patty-Leigh looking for a gift for her husband:
For my husband: loves a thrilling plot, especially war-related. He loves all Tom Clancy, some Clive Cussler. He also enjoys non-fiction action such as Blackhawk Down and Roberts Ridge (Afghanistan stories have a particular draw since he worked there as a humanitarian aid worker for a couple years). He hasn't read much in the last four years or so, being busy as a student so anything in that timeframe I'm sure he won't have read. Also, it would be great to get something in a Kindle edition since we're getting a Kindle. Thanks so much!
And last but not least, we have Karin, also looking for a book for her husband:
Any suggestions for my husband, 43 years old who is a commodities trader? He Loves playing poker, trivia, puzzles, watching movies (independent films) stories of survival (ex. mountain climbing). He enjoys reading the New Yorker along with an occasional Entertainment Weekly. Thomas Wolfe, Katherine Dunn, Benjamin Black and Dave Eggars are all authors he enjoys reading. He has a great sense of humor, dry and sarcastic and appreciates well written books.
Liz: For a short story and crime novel combo, I suggest Patricia Highsmith: Selected Novels and Short Stories Stories, which just came out this month, so hopefully your sister hasn't gotten to it yet. For essay collections, Barbara Kingsolver's Small Wonder is lovely; Darryl recommends The Memory Chalet and All Art is Propaganda; and Mari thinks the latest essay collection from Sloane Crosley, How Did You Get This Number, makes a good grad school antidote. Darryl also suggests the short story collections Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpentersby Salinger, and The New Yorker's 20 Under 40.
- Tom loves "The Possessed, a great reader's book that's full of good book talk and, even, better, superb and strange characters, and just the right thing to jump into and out of when you get a chance, and to give her some perspective on whatever grad school she's enmeshed in. And if she likes true crime, she might go for a slightly higher-brow guilty pleasure with Deborah Blum's The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York."
- Daphne recommends Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie novels, the latest is When Will There Be Good News?, and Mari suggests a fan favorite around here, Faithful Place.
Patty-Leigh: You asked for books available on Kindle, so I've included the link to the Kindle editions here as well.
- For your husband, Tom recommends Sebastian Junger's WAR (WAR - Kindle) as "an obvious (too obvious?) pick, an immersive look at what makes an Airborne brigade in Afghanistan tick."
- From Mari: "The Forever War (The Forever War - Kindle) will arguably be the classic account of our time in Afghanistan. And even though we've already suggested them to several others (and celebrated them in the top 5 of our Best of 2010 list), Unbroken (Unbroken - Kindle)(a biography of Louie Zamperini's WWII odyssey) and Matterhorn (Matterhorn - Kindle) (a novel based on Karl Marlantes's tour of Vietnam) are worth motioning again. For fans of thrilling combat stories looking to be blown away with something new, these belong on the top of the stack."
- For something like Clive Cussler or Tom Clancy, you husband might enjoy Vince Flynn's latest American Assasin (American Assasin - Kindle) or books by Brad Thor. Darryl recommends Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series, with Sharpe's Enemy (Sharpe's Enemy- Kindle) being his pick of the series so far.
Karin: One of the funniest books I read this year (and beloved by many around the office) is Jonathan Tropper's hilarious novel, This is Where I Leave You, and from last year, the equally funny paperback original by Steve Healy, How I Became a Famous Novelist.
- From Tom: "with his sense of humor, I'd recommend two scathingly hilarious novels, Sam Lipsyte's The Ask and Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story, or, if he's up for something equally funny but with a little more heart, Brady Udall's The Lonely Polygamist."
- Daphne recommends two highly anticipated and much adored novels that came out this year, Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, and Joshua Ferris' The Unnamed.
- Tapping into a love of poker, Darryl reminds us of Bringing Down the House which became the hit movie "21", and Mari suggests "James McManus's colorful Cowboys Full, the story of why poker's the great American pastime." I loved McManus's previous book, Positively Fifth Street, a fascinating look at the origins of the World Series of Poker.
- Mari and Tom also really like Blind Descent, which Mari calls, "a captivating account of the world's greatest cavers on a mission to find the world's deepest place."
With that, we've reached the end of this year's Ask the Editors. Here's wishing all our readers many hours of book-induced bliss in the year ahead.