The 12 Books of Christmas?

Santa Reading by a Fire

Santa Claus Gets Lost in a Good Book | Vintage Coca-Cola Ad

I realize that we’re still a full week away from Cyber Monday, but just in case you have a voracious reader on your list, I wanted to share twelve books I’ve read during the past year, that I think everyone should consider reading, too.

These are not ranked, merely listed with the most recently-read titles at the top.

  1. The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean, by Susan Casey – It’s about surfing, storm-chasing and giant waves, and even the science-y parts are really interesting.
  2. The Naked Gardener, by L. B. Gschwandtner – Delightfully funny and insightful, and full of feminine energy and woman-power.
  3. Body Work, by Sara Paretsky – the first V.I. Warshawski novel in several years, does not disappoint. Great plot, great dialogue.
  4. Under Orders, by Dick Francis – Dick Francis never disappoints, and this book is no exception. It’s not terribly recent, but it’s still a great read, especially if you follow horse-racing at all.
  5. Roast Mortem, by Cleo Coyle – coffee, romance, and murder – what else does one need?
  6. A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style, by Tim Gunn – probably the most gracious style guide ever written – and Tim Gunn can be hilarious.
  7. Lunch in Paris: a Love Story with Recipes, by Elizabeth Bard – part memoir, part cookbook, all delicious.
  8. Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, by Alison Arngrim – the funniest, most candid, celebrity biography EVER.
  9. Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin – gives you hope for the future, and provides a much-needed perspective on world events, as well.
  10. The House on First Street, by Julia Reed – a post-Katrina memoir with architectural details. Brilliant.
  11. The God of the Hive, by Laurie R. King – the most recent in her Mary Russell / Sherlock Holmes series. Intriguing. Interesting. Inspiring.
  12. Population: 485 by Michael Perry – Actually either of his other two memoirs, Truck: a Love Story or Coop would be acceptable. This man’s writing is just…brilliant.

I should note: Not all of these books were WRITTEN this year – in fact, hardly any of them were – but most are fairly recent.

Recommendation: No Impact Man, by Colin Beavan

No Impact Man

I first heard about No Impact Man through a friend who mentioned his blog at least a year ago. Now, I can’t speak with any authority on what the best fat burner might be, but I’m thinking giving up elevators, meat, cabs and cappuccinos while living in New York City is probably a pretty good alternative, and that (and more) is what No Impact Man (aka Colin Beavan) and his wife and daughter chose to do (in stages) for a year.

They began with small changes – giving up buying any new clothing or other items, eliminating the use of plastic water bottles, disposable diapers, or foods from further away than 250 miles, and even, for the last half of their year of experimentation, turning off the electricity in their apartment.

While I haven’t read the actual book, I’ve read the original blog the book is based upon, and I’ve seen the documentary (which, btw, is playing this month on the Planet Green (GRN) cable channel, and available from Netflix in DVD or streaming formats).

So, I’ve added it to my list of books to buy the next time I buy books. I’ll be getting the Kindle edition, but never fear, the paper versions are printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper.