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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Holiday book list aims to entertain

Allan Fallow McClatchy-Tribune

Is there a better holiday gift than a good book?

The recipient will still be turning its pages long after the lights and tinsel have been taken down, savoring the story it tells – and thinking fondly of the giver.

Like Santa, we’ve been making a list, and now we’ve checked it twice to make sure it contains gift-book ideas for every personality you may be shopping for this holiday season – and into the New Year.

FOR YOUR FAVORITE FOODIE: Nothing says “home for the holidays” more than homemade chocolate pudding, and Clio Goodman’s “Puddin’ ” lets you bring the hottest new dessert shop in New York City into your own kitchen – or under the tree of your favorite foodie.

Goodman, the owner of hipster mecca Puddin’ by Clio in the East Village, offers “foolproof recipes” for everything from beloved standards (butterscotch pudding, tapioca) to more ambitious fare (dulce de leche, banana upside-down cake).

FOR THE UNRECONSTRUCTED ROCKER: Rock fans are guaranteed to eat up the arrestingly intimate portraits that leap from the pages of photographer Lynn Goldsmith’s “Rock and Roll Stories.” (There’s a young Bruce Springsteen on the cover.)

There’s a candid close-up of Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger in 1977; there’s Keith Richards, cradling his Stratocaster (and wearing a T-shirt owned by singer Rachel Sweet); and on yet another page is an injured Patti Smith, being loaded into an ambulance after a fall from a Tampa stage that broke several neck vertebrae. From her stretcher, Smith urged: “Lynn, take pictures.”

Man, did she!

FOR THE YOUNG READER (OR LISTENER): True believers will be charmed by the picture book “My Pen Pal, Santa” in which Melissa Stanton imagines what might happen when a 6-year-old girl named Ava decides to write Santa Claus a thank-you note after Christmas – and whaddya know, he writes back!

The exchange of handwritten letters continues once a month throughout the year, culminating in Santa’s assurance to Ava that “I’m real to the people who believe in me – like you.” Artist Jennifer A. Bell’s kinetic illustrations add to each month’s holiday joy.

FOR THE MYSTERY LOVER: Way too many choices will confront you in a year when every thriller writer from Heather Graham and Marcia Clark to Lawrence Block and Mary Higgins Clark brought out new novels.

Option 1: Buy a book written by all four of them – plus 16 of their closest writer-friends!

The new “Inherit the Dead” is billed as “One chilling mystery. 20 thrilling writers,” with each author contributing a chapter to this tale of an Upper East Side socialite and her missing wayward daughter.

Option 2:If this mosaic approach intrigues you but you want something more seasonal, pick up a copy of “The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries,” edited by titan-of-the-field Otto Penzler.

Touting his anthology as “the most complete collection of Yuletide whodunits ever assembled,” Penzler invites the reader to “have yourself a crooked little Christmas” with these tales of “festive felonies, unscrupulous Santas and misdemeanors under the mistletoe.”

Contributors include Agatha Christie, Ed McBain, Sara Paretsky and more than 50 other legends.

FOR THE BON VIVANT: The South is back in style – have you noticed?

How else to explain why “Hipsters from Brooklyn now descend on our mountain precincts in search of chocolate gravy,” writes John T. Edge in “The Southerner’s Handbook.”

Compiled by the editors of Garden & Gun magazine, this “guide to living the good life” will teach the bon vivant on your holiday list how to brew a Bloody Mary, bake perfect biscuits or find the best peach stand on the back roads of South Carolina. And – crucially – how to season “the almighty cast-iron skillet.” The secret, all you auslanders, is with lard.

FOR THE WANNABE COMEDIAN: Is there one in your family?

Does he haunt your holiday gatherings?

Keep him quiet – for a while, at any rate – by gift-wrapping him a copy of “I’m Not Gonna Lie (And Other Lies You Tell When You Turn 50)” by stand-up comic and talk-show host George Lopez.

His 40s were “a touch-and-go decade,” says Lopez: divorce, kidney disease, two canceled shows.

And though Lopez used to “lie to survive,” when he hit 50 in 2011 he vowed: “I’m not gonna lie. Anymore. Not at my age. I don’t have that good a memory.”