Okay, you guys are surely far better people than yours truly and therefore completed all Christmas shopping in April, but in case there are any deadline-pushing junkies like me (it's a newspaper thing, I tell my friends and family, don't blame me, blame the business) I'd offer a few recommendations from my year's reading list. I'm at 98 books so far this year, my annual goal of 100 likely to be conquered again, and then it's on to 2010 and back to zero, which hopefully means a lot of great reading ahead. I've already listed my favorites from the front half of the year, now here are some from the back half.
1) Columbine, by Dave Cullen. Not exactly high on the cheer list for Christmas, but it is a magnificent piece of journalism, painstakingly researched and beautifully written. A story that everyone should understand better.
2) Ravens, by George Dawes Green. Cool concept, great cast, wonderful read.
3) Under the Dome, by Stephen King. If you like his door-stopper epics (and we always do) you're in for a treat.
4) What the Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell. Collection of ingenious pieces from one of our most fascinating writers.
5) The Glister, by John Burnside. Dark, creepy, captivating.
6) The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters. See above, and amplify. This one does Henry James and Shirley Jackson proud.
7) The Signal, by Ron Carlson. Hike-in-the-woods-goes-bad storyline isn't anything special, but the prose and the characters and the beautifully handled emotions are.
8) More Than a Game, by Brian Billick. Not really a coaching memoir, but an extremely insightful insider's account of the NFL, and why we should worry for its future.
9) The Good Soldiers, by David Finkel. Up there with Dexter Filkins and "The Forever War." Powerful on-the-ground war reporting.
10) Sag Harbor, by Colson Whitehead. This coming-of-age account of black teens in a Long Island summer community was one of the funniest, sharpest novels I read this year.