"Daily Meditations (with Scripture) for Busy Dads" by Patrick Reardon ($8.95, ACTA Publications, 4848 N. Clark St., Chicago IL, 60640, 1995). I wouldn't normally have picked up a copy of this book, but Pat, urban affairs reporter for The Chicago Tribune, is a friend of mine. I'm glad that connection led me to this bittersweet book, which manages the difficult task of bridging the gap between our chaotic 20th century lives and the Scriptures. Done with humor and heart.
"Sagebrush and Cappuccino: Confessions of an L.A. Naturalist" by David Wicinas ($13, Sierra Club Books, 1995). Non-fiction. Wicinas moved to L.A. in 1982 from the Midwest. He brings a fresh eye to a tarnished area once known for its natural beauty. He tramps past freeways, strip malls and bulldozers to describe the issues at stake in the remnants of wild lands he explores. Lovely and unusual.
"Vision and Revision" by Wayne Thiebaud ($19.95, Chronicle Books, 1991). This is a well-priced paperback art book featuring hand-colored prints by a famous local artist. Thiebaud is only going to become better known in the area since his latest gift to the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento and here's a good opportunity to become familiar with his work. Or share it with someone else.
"A People's History of the United States From 1492 to Present" by Howard Zinn ($15, HarperPerennial, 1992). If you want to sneak some history into someone's stocking, this is a good way to do it. Or perhaps you want to brush up on a few historical facts? Read this book.
"Savages" by Joe Kane ($25, Knopf, 1995). I met Joe a few years ago when he came up to Davis to give a slide show and promote his first book, "Running the Amazon." This book, parts of which ran in The New Yorker, is a firsthand account of how a small band of Amazonian warriors defended their territory against oil companies, missionaries and environmentalists. He's a good writer.
"Woodland, City of Trees" (Yolo County Historical Society, 1995) is the latest local history by Shipley Walters of Davis. If you want something unique to Yolo County, this is it. Natives will love it. [Web editor's notes: This book can be purchased at the gift shop of the Yolo County Historical Museum at 512 Gibson Road in Woodland, CA. You can call 916-666-1045 for further directions on getting to the museum or for more information Ry].
"Snow Falling on Cedars" by David Guterson ($12, Vintage, 1995) is definitely my favorite novel of the year. I received "Snow" for Christmas last year and I'm only sorry it took me almost a year to read it. It's now out in paperback. It's the story of a newspaperman in the Pacific Northwest of the 1950s who, recovering from an unhappy love affair with a Japanese woman, has to decide whether or not to do the right thing when her husband is accused of murder. A really good read.
"The Dog Who Rescues Cats: The True Story of Ginny" by Philip Gonzalez and Leonore Fleischer (HarperCollins, $16) falls into the aw-shucks department. It's the story of a steamfitter injured in an accident who, as part of his therapy, adopts a dog, Ginny. The dog turns out to be a canine social worker who seeks out and adopts disabled cats. Sweet.
"People Have More Fun Than Anybody" by James Thurber ($15, Harvest/Harcourt Brace, 1994). Thurber (1894-1961) wrote and drew humor pieces for The New Yorker and published more than 30 books for adults and children. Michael J. Rosen edited this collection of 100 or so never before collected drawings and writings. Rosen, literary director of the Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio, also wrote the introduction.
"In the Cut" by Susanna Moore ($21, Knopf, 1995). An erotic thriller. This novel takes place in New York City and features an English teacher utterly unprepared for the danger that awaits her when she decides to take a walk on the wild side. Hard to put down.
"Day in September" by Yan Nascimbene ($17, Harcourt Brace, 1995). This children's picture book for all ages will delight adult readers with Nascimbene's wonderful illustrations. Kids will like the story of loneliness and separation because it is made complete with a happy ending. A winner.