Book Talk: Winter Reading Roundup

Cozy up with recent releases, from political tell-alls to fictional escapes.

VANITY FAIR DIARIES
By Tina Brown
The drama and triumphs of resurrecting a failing “Vanity Fair” in the 1980s are described in delicious detail by longtime editor in chief Tina Brown. (Henry Holt & Co.)

THE WARBIRD
By Tara Copp
Military Times’ Pentagon bureau chief Tara Copp’s book details her grandfather and grand uncle’s experiences during World War II as well as her own experiences in Iraq. She journeys to recover the details of her grandfather’s war story while revealing her own story of life in a warzone. (Squadron Books)

FRESH COMPLAINT
By Jeffrey Eugenides
Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides’ first collection of short stories is a treat. Two new tales join older ones from 1989 on (including one that informed his novel “Middlesex”) that treat themes of greed, obsession and money. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

THE NAUGHTY NINETIES
By David Friend
The 1990s marked the dawn of reality TV, when scandal was everywhere and the “tabloidization of pop culture” was just beginning. Vanity Fair writer David Friend’s cultural study of the decade includes first-person accounts from scandalous key players including Monica Lewinsky and the inventor of Viagra. (Hachette Book Group)

THE WEDDING DATE
By Jasmine Guillory
Two high-powered young professionals find themselves as each other’s wedding dates after being stuck on an elevator together. The first novel by Stanford Law grad Guillory is hilarious, heartfelt and romantic. (Berkley)

STICKY FINGERS
By Joe Hagan
Rolling Stone founder Jean Wenner’s biography is an in-depth and at times brutally honest portrait of the man who revolutionized music journalism. (Alfred A. Knopf)

UNCOMMON TYPE
By Tom Hanks
Is there anything Tom Hanks can’t do? It doesn’t seem so. His debut book of short stories reveals the actor’s talents on the page, with original, humorous, intelligent tales in an easy-to-read style. Vintage typewriters make an appearance throughout and connect the stories. (Knopf Canada)

LEONARDO DA VINCI
By Walter Isaacson
This 600-plus page, #1 New York Times bestseller has been hailed as a masterpiece. You’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about one of the most famous and influential artists of all time written by one of the country’s most celebrated biographers. The secret behind Mona Lisa’s smile remains unsolved. (Simon & Schuster)

THE LEAVERS
By Lisa Ko
Lisa Ko’s debut novel received the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction. She tackles both the immigrant and the adoptee experience in alternating narratives of an undocumented Chinese woman and her American-born son. (Algonquin)

NO TIME TO SPARE
By Ursula K. Le Guin
Science fiction heavyweight Ursula Le Guin shares wisdom on topics ranging from aging, literature and the state of the nation in her new collection of essays. It’s like reading the best of her personal blog. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

HIDDENSEE
By Gregory Maguire
The bestselling author of “Wicked” and “After Alice” has penned an enchanting tale to get you in the holiday spirit. Maguire blends the origin legend of the famous Nutcracker with Drosselmeier, the curious toymaker who carves him to bring the story to life. (William Morrow)

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF GUCCI MANE
By Gucci Mane and Neil Martinez-Belkin
Gucci Mane, the prolific hip-hop artist from rural Alabama tells the compelling story of his radical transformation from incarcerated drug dealer to rap superstar. His sense of humor keeps it from becoming overly earnest. (Simon & Schuster)

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE
By Celeste Ng
A picture perfect family in the progressive suburban neighborhood of Shaker Heights, Cleveland begins to crumble when a bohemian mother and daughter move into their guest house. Questions of class, conformity and the American Dream are front and center in this thrilling read. (Penguin Press)

THE GIRL OF THE LAKE
By Bill Roorbach
These nine stories are imaginative, funny and filled with unforgettable characters, including a tech genius out to avenge his cheating wife, three sisters fighting over the same man and a couple whose relationship comes to a head on a hiking trip. (Workman Publishing)

THE FOUR TENDENCIES
By Gretchen Rubin
We are all looking to be more productive and creative, aren’t we? Gretchen Rubin aims to facilitate this in her self-help book, “The Four Tendencies.” More than one million people have taken her personality quiz, which fits people into four categories, or “tendencies”: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers and Rebels. (Harmony)

THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR
By Jennifer Ryan
District-based author Jennifer Ryan’s debut novel follows a group of women living through World War II in the village of Chilbury, England in 1940. This simultaneously funny and heartwrenching read is told in the form of diaries and letters from the point of view of the various women characters. (Crown)

THE BETTENCOURT AFFAIR
By Tom Sancton
Former “Time” Paris bureau chief Tom Sancton takes on the outrageous life story of L’Oreal heiress Lillian Bettencourt, who was the richest woman in the world. Bettencourt’s daughter sued her mother’s much younger male friend for exploitation of weakness. This well-researched book offers a peek inside the French judicial system and the private lives of a scandal-ridden family. (Dutton)

IMPROVEMENT
By Joan Silber
Silber’s concise and lyrical writing is at its best in her latest novel, “Improvement.” Her story of a young single mother in New York and her relationship with her eccentric aunt demonstrates how seemingly small decisions can have unexpected consequences. (Counterpoint Press)

MY ABSOLUTE DARLING
By Gabriel Tallent
Stephen King has called Gabriel Tallent’s debut novel “a masterpiece” and others are following suit. Told from the perspective of an abused teenage girl, Tallent never uses her suffering as a plot point or to reduce her to a stereotype. The result is an original and multi-faceted character study. (Hachette Books)

SING, UNBURIED, SING
By Jesmyn Ward
A family in rural Mississippi takes a road trip to pick up their father from a state penitentiary in Jesmyn Ward’s award-winning third novel that brings to mind Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying.” It’s an intense and rewarding exploration of family — what bonds us and what tears us apart. (Scribner)

COMING TO MY SENSES
By Alice Waters
Self-described “counterculture cook” Alice Waters is known for her activism as much as her food. Set against the backdrop of 1960s San Francisco, her memoir traces how she “came to her senses” by deciding to forge her own path in the culinary world with a focus on organic food. (Penguin Random House)

POLITICAL PICKS

OBAMA: AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT
By Pete Souza
Relive eight years of Barack Obama’s historic presidency with White House photographer Pete Souza’s official book on the Obama years. The heartwarming and tearjerker pics are all there: Obama holding adorable babies, dancing with Michelle at inaugural balls and deep in thought conducting business in the Oval. (Little, Brown & Company)

PROMISE ME, DAD
By Joe Biden
Former Vice President Joe Biden is known for wearing his heart on his sleeve, and “Uncle Joe” exposes his vulnerability in a powerful new memoir. In 2013, his son Beau was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died within the year. Biden takes us inside this unprecedented period in his life, from grieving his son to finding renewed purpose in his work. (Flatiron Books)

BOBBY KENNEDY
By Chris Matthews
MSNBC host Chris Matthews’ eighth book is an extensive look at the lesser-known Kennedy brother. Matthews illuminates moments in Robert Kennedy’s life that had a lasting impact on American politics, demonstrating how the family underdog was behind JFK’s successes. (Simon & Schuster)

HACKS
By Donna Brazile
For those still reeling over Hillary Clinton’s surprise loss to Donald Trump, there’s a new book that might provide some answers. Democratic operative Donna Brazile’s controversial memoir suggests that the DNC had indeed rigged state primary elections to swing in Hillary’s favor. Whether you believe it or not, it’s a juicy read. (Hachette Books)

LOSING AN ENEMY
By Trita Parsi
This one’s for the foreign policy wonk on your list. Former Obama advisor Trita Parsi has penned the “definitive book on the historic nuclear deal with Iran.” (Yale University Press)

This roundup appeared in the Holiday 2017 issue of Washington Life Magazine.  

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