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26 Books You Should Read or Give as Last-Minute Gifts

By / 12.23.11

Fiction

Art of Fielding

“The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach
When a shortstop of a small college's baseball team makes an off-the-mark throw during a game, it results in more than just an error in the scorebook. One of the most-recommended novels of the year.
Buy now on Amazon!

The Postmortal

“The Postmortal” by Drew Magary
Magary is one of the best writers on the Internet these days (you probably know him best from his work on Deadspin) and J. Camm loved his debut novel about what happens when a cure for aging is discovered.
Buy now on Amazon!

The Hunger Games

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
This book about a futuristic post-America America came out in 2008, but it's what got AlwaysBeChaying through the slow points of his tailgate tour this fall. Many other friends also raved about it and the movie version hits theaters in March (watch the trailer here). “The Hunger Games” of the title is a kill-or-be-killed made-for-television event that pits teenagers against each other.
Buy now on Amazon!

Targets of Opportunity

“Targets of Opportunity” by Jeffrey Stephens
If you're a fan of Jason Bourne or Jack Ryan thrillers, you'll love this second installment of CIA agent Jordan Sandor's efforts to stop terrorism from striking in the United States. “Opportunity” globe-trots at a breakneck speed from the Middle East to St. Barth's to North Korea and packs in all the action you could want in a thriller.
Buy now on Amazon!

Game of Thrones

“A Game of Thrones” series by George R.R. Martin
If you're counting the days until the second season of “Game of Thrones” premieres on HBO, why not read the original books in the meantime? If knowing the source material didn't ruin anything for “Lord of the Rings” it's not going to for “Thrones.”
Buy now on Amazon!

Matterhorn

“Matterhorn” by Karl Marlantes
Don't let the name confuse you: This is an epic novel about the Vietnam War that took the author 30 years — yes, that's right, three decades — to write. Marlantes doesn't ease the reader or the boys of Bravo Company into battle: he just drops them suddenly into the middle of mountain jungle.
Buy now on Amazon!

Full Dark

“Full Dark, No Stars” by Stephen King
Because you probably haven't been scared shitless by any of the text books you've read in a long time. This collection, now in paperback, includes six short stories from the master.
Buy now on Amazon!

The next four novels aren't exactly “Bro” books, but they're some of the best reviewed, most recommended books of the year:


Marriage Plot

“The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides
Eugenides is the author of “The Virgin Suicides” and “Middlesex,” two of those Oprah Book Club-type books that turned out, despite all the hype, to be really f*cking good. One of the fall's most buzzed-about novels.
Buy now on Amazon!

Goon Squad

“A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan
Hailed as one of the best books of the year by umpteen critics, this is a must-read especially for any music lover out there.
Buy now on Amazon!

Tiger's Wife

“The Tiger's Wife” by Tea Obreht
Obreht was the youngest member of the New Yorker's “20 under 40″ list of top young writers, and with her debut novel, “The Tiger's Wife,” already a finalist for the National Book Award, you can understand why. (And by the way, this isn't a book about Elin.)
Buy now on Amazon!

Sarah's Key

“Sarah's Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay
In 1942, a Jewish girl tries to protect her younger brother during a raid by French police by locking him in a bedroom cupboard. Sixty years later, a journalist investigates the roundup — and the story of Sarah and her brother. This was made into a little-seen, but acclaimed film that opened this summer.
Buy now on Amazon!

Click to the next page to see the non-fiction selections!{pagebreak}


Non-Fiction


Open Agassi

“Open: An Autobiography” by Andre Agassi
Agassi's autobiography got raves when it came out earlier this year, and not just because of the revelations that he used to wear wigs out on the court. Turns out the best serve returner in tennis history can wield his words as well as he can his racket.
Buy now on Amazon!

Steve Jobs

“Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson
Whether you're an Apple disciple or a PC guy, Isaacson's not-always-so-nice biography of the man who thought “different” is a must-read for anyone with an entrepreneurial streak in him.
Buy now on Amazon!

badasses

“Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden's Oakland Raiders” by Peter Richmond
Now out in paperback, “Badasses” tells the story of the 1970s-era Oakland Raiders, who won six division titles and a Super Bowl under John Madden and Al Davis. This will get you primed for the playoffs.
Buy now on Amazon!

Good Not Great

“God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” by Christopher Hitchens
A reader recommended this one in my Facebook poll before Hitch died this week, so I thought it worthy to include. If a treatise on atheism isn't exactly your idea of a fun read, try “Hitch 22,” his recent memoir, instead.
Buy now on Amazon!

Basketball Junkie

Basketball Junkie: A Memoir by Chris Herren and Bill Reynolds
If you saw and loved the “30 for 30″ installment about basketball player Chris Herren's struggle with drugs, you'll definitely want to read the memoir that inspired it.
Buy now on Amazon!

Mark Cuban

“How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It” by Mark Cuban
Cuban's a Bro business legend (and now an NBA world champion) and we'd read any business advice he's willing to dish out.
Buy now on Amazon!

These Guys Have All the Fun

“These Guys have All the Fun” by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales
We're getting a little sick of oral histories, but this behind-the-scenes look at ESPN is worth a read for anyone who's watched four SportsCenter episodes back-to-back-to-back-to-back without moving an inch.
Buy now on Amazon!

Stories I Tell My Friends

“Stories I Only Tell My Friends” by Rob Lowe
These days we all know Rob Lowe as the idealistic pretty boy on “Parks & Recreation” and “The West Wing” but back in the '80s, he was the hard-partying pretty boy of the Brat Pack. His autobiography offers a rare first-person account of what it's like to be a young kid in Hollywood surrounded by a lot of girls, drugs, and fellow (enabling) celebs.
Buy now on Amazon!

The Extra 2 Percent

“The Extra 2%” by Jonah Keri
We all know the “Moneyball” story by now, but we also know that Billy Beane's Oakland A's never exactly hung any banners of meaning in their stadium. Financial journalist and sportswriter Keri instead sheds light on the Wall Street-inspired strategies that took the Tampa Bay Rays from last place to 2008 American League Champions.
Buy now on Amazon!

scorecasting

“Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports are Played and Games are Won” by Tobias Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim
Another book about the numbers behind sports, but this one focuses on the inherent truths (or untruths) in factors like home-field advantage, umpire bias in calling balls and strikes, and the idea that defense wins championships.
Buy now on Amazon!

aerotropolis

“Aerotropolis: The Way We'll Live Next” by Greg Lindsay and John D. Karsarda
Lindsay and Karsarda persuasively argue that the cities of the future — the ones that will best capitalize on globalization and the “flattened” Earth — will be the ones that are built around airports. That's right: airports. If you're an econ major, work at a Fortune 500 company, or just want to better understand the ever-shifting forces of our global economy, you need to read “Aerotropolis.”
Buy now on Amazon!

December 1941

“December 1941: 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World” by Craig Shirley
This past December 7 marked the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and Shirley's book examines the events that precipitated America's entrance into World War II. Another good one for war buffs.
Buy now on Amazon!

civilization

“Civilization: The West and the Rest” by Niall Ferguson
You've heard of “killer apps” for pieces of technology, but what about for entire nations and empires? Ferguson argues that competition, science, the rule of law, consumerism, modern medicine, and the work ethic are all what allowed Western Civilization to overtake Eastern Civilization on the global stage. But is the era of the West's dominance over? This is the book that will spark a million conversations between poli-sci and economics professors and those of their students who are angling for a better grade.
Buy now on Amazon!

nudge

“Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness” by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein
If you liked “Blink,” “Outliers,” “Sway,” “Drive,” “Switch,” and other books that attempt to boil down the entire human experience into one-word titles, “Nudge” is the next one on your list.
Buy now on Amazon!

blood bones

“Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef” by Gabrielle Hamilton
If your mom loves to cook, grab this book for her (or yourself if you can wield a spatula with the best of them). Hamilton is the chef at Prune, one of New York's best brunch spots. This autobiography retraces her life through the many kitchens she's lived and worked in and was about as widely praised as Prune's bloody marys.


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