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- October 27, 2008
- Vol. 70
- No. 17
Picks and Pans: Books
by John Grogan
REVIEWED BY NATASHA STOYNOFF
You've met the wife and dog, now meet the parents. John Grogan endeared himself to readers with his '05 bestseller Marley & Me, a memoir about life with the family's neurotic yellow Lab, who died in '03 (a film version starring Jennifer Aniston arrives Christmas Day). In this prequel the author, 52, looks back at his childhood in suburban Detroit—and proves he doesn't need a four-legged subject to write a winning book. Grogan grew up very, very Catholic (his family vacationed at miracle sites; at one point John counts 42 statuettes of the Virgin Mary at home) and more than a little confused. A scene in which his dad uses the garden hose to show how babies are made is one of many laugh-out-loud moments, but there's poignancy as well: Grogan details his own nagging questions about faith, his parents' distress at his doubts and the peace he ultimately made with his dying father. As he did in Marley, Grogan makes readers feel they have a seat at the family dinner table. He's now a nonpracticing Catholic, but here—to wonderful effect—he confesses all.
by Alice Schroeder
REVIEWED BY KYLE SMITH
On the day she wed her stockbroker beau in '52, Susie Buffett looked in his car and saw manuals and ledgers. Uh-oh. But he took her to Vegas. She hit a jackpot in slots.
Warren Buffett, the professional investor dubbed the richest man in the world, is iconoclastic, feisty and brilliant. For this biography, he apparently held nothing back about either investing or his personal life. Schroeder, a former financial analyst, has a meat-and-potatoes style that matches the homespun wisdom of her subject, who as a teen paperboy made more than his teachers. Now more than ever, Buffett's emphasis on fundamentals seems like genius. It's the perfect moment for a great book on an immensely inspiring capitalist.
by Allison Winn Scotch
REVIEWED BY LISA KAY GREISSINGER
Jillian Westfield has a lovely suburban home, an attentive husband and a daughter she adores. But after hearing that her ex-beau Jackson is getting married, she begins to question her choices. And then things get weird: Jillian wakes up one day to find herself back with Jackson, living in Manhattan and working in advertising. Will she take a different path this time or head for the future she knows? Scotch's novel is a clever, entertaining look at the compromises women make—and the dangers of getting what you ask for.
Featured in Fireproof, this Christian marriage manual is a surprise bestseller. Coauthor Alex Kendrick explains.
HOW DID THE BOOK COME ABOUT?
The divorce rate alarmed me. In the film we had a guy [Kirk Cameron] take a dare to win his wife's heart back in 40 days. He reads The Love Dare to learn how. We didn't even write the book until we'd finished the movie.
WHAT DOES TAKING THE DARE INVOLVE?
Practicing 40 unselfish principles to maintain your marriage. Most of it is straight from the Bible.
Love seeks to understand. So get a doctorate in who your spouse is.
DO YOU HAVE ONE?
I still have to get my master's before I get a doctorate. But that's my plan!
• What's the world's richest man really like? Biographer Alice Schroeder offers insights.
WHAT SURPRISED YOU?
I knew him in business as a guy with all the answers. But he's so human and vulnerable.
WILL HE REALLY LEAVE ALL HIS MONEY TO CHARITY?
He gave a billion dollars' worth of stock to his children's foundation. They can do what they want with it.
WHAT DOES HE EAT?
He says, "If a 3-year-old won't eat it, I won't eat it." We went to Olive Garden a lot.
TIPS FOR WEATHERING THE CURRENT MARKET?
He says keep your cash in FDIC-insured accounts and don't try to time the market. His advice is simple; it's just not easy.
GHOST FILES by Eugene Yelchin and Mary Kuryla-Yelchin
"How to see a ghost ... and if you're very good, how to make contact." Spooky fun with educational bits throughout. Ages 10 and up.
BOO, BUNNY! by Kathryn O. Galbraith
Venturing out on Halloween isn't as scary with a fellow bunny friend. Jeff Mack's illustrations are so furrily appealing, even first-time trick-or-treaters will be reassured. Ages 4--8.
CAT NIGHTS by Jane Manning
At age 263, Felicity Witch gets her lifelong wish: the chance to be a cat. The gently subversive message—staying who you are really isn't always best—makes this a charmer. Ages 4-8.
December 20, 2014
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