Today we tackle what turned out to be a toughie, from Jill:
Help me find something to appeal to my hubby. He's retired, loves sports(don't bother, he's read them all), recently read all the Harlan Coben books, likes some popular fiction(Stephen King,Dan Brown,John Grisham), loves the newspaper, particularly sports columnists(although not Lupica so much). He's not a fan of mysteries, historical fiction, biographies, war stories, or mystical books. Let me know if you have any ideas!
A sports fan who has read all the sports books, and who has more things he doesn't like than ones he does, kept us thinking a little longer (and I hope we're not too late--free Super Saver Shipping is still available for delivery by Christmas through Sunday!). But we have a few ideas:
- First, we took that "he's read them all" as a challenge rather than a prohibition, and have a few sports suggestions that he may not yet have gotten to (hopefully you'll be able to sort those out). My thought was for a book I've been recommending a lot this year, and that perhaps is new enough that he hasn't devoured it yet. George Dohrmann's Play Their Hearts Out is a great look into a world I didn't even realize existed (and I'm a big basketball fan): the business that has grown around even middle-school basketball stars: shoe companies, camps, tournaments, scouting services, and especially unscrupulous coaches. Dohrman paints a scathing but fascinating portrait of one such coach, and the kid whose talent he rides, and then abandons.
- Shane went in the other direction, with a classic newspaper sportswriter who your hubby might like to be reminded of: Jim Murray, who "wrote for the LA Times back when it was good." But as I post this we only have one copy left in stock of his collection, The Last of the Best!
- One of my favorite sports books of recent years, which that might be off the beaten path enough to surprise him, is David Goldblatt's The Ball Is Round, a huge but zippily written history of soccer that pretty much manages to be a history of the world in the last century as well. And Seira also thought of soccer, with the recent reissue of How Soccer Explains the World.
- And Seira and I both thought of anthologies: she the new edition of the annual Best American Sports Writing of 2010, and me, in case in his newspaper reading he's missed some of the classic pieces from the New Yorker, their anthology of sports writing, The Only Game in Town.
- Meanwhile, for his newspaper-loving side, Seira also thought of the irresistable coffee-table book, The New York Times Complete Front Pages 1851-2009.
- A book that I've been looking forward to cracking myself (after I heard a great interview with the author on Fresh Air) is Poisoning the Press by Mark Feldstein, a history (by a journalist who was there) of Nixon's battles with the muckraking columnist Jack Anderson.
- For something a little like Grisham, Seira likes Scott Turow (and I do too), and many of us in the office thought he really came through this year with Innocent, his long-awaited sequel to Presumed Innocent. And if the readers in our halls are any indication, he might get drawn quickly into Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. Reacher's a great character, and they are tight and tense stories that are definitely on the thriller side of things, rather than the mysteries he's not a fan of.
- Thinking a little less literally than these ideas, Lynette has what I think might be the best recommendation of all: David Grann's The Devil and Sherlock Holmes. Grann, a New Yorker writer, is the perfect writer for a newspaper junkie like your husband. This eclectic collection of articles is just as unexpected and fascinating as Dan Brown or John Grisham's best fiction"”and they're all true stories. (Many of us also loved his bestseller Lost City of Z last year too.)
- And in the same vein, of stories so well told that they'll draw in almost any reader, I'd suggest Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre. Even though he doesn't like war stories, this is more a spy story set in wartime, a true-life tale about a so-crazy-it-might-work caper in World War II that proved crucial to setting up the surprise of one of the war's major Allied invasions. And, sticking with the same period, there is Unbroken, one of our most popular books of the holiday season (and for good reason)--it's an unbelievable tale (by the same author as Seabiscuit) of a young Olympic runner's survival of dozens of dangerous bomber runs, a crash in the Pacific followed by 47 days adrift on a raft, and then two terrible years as a Japanese prisoner of war. My jaw spent most of the time I read it hitting the floor, and his story's athletic beginnings might appeal to your husband.
Hope you find some good prospects in there, Jill. Thanks for asking! --Tom