Praiseworthy Gift Books For Adults

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Books make great gifts because you can zero in on a person's specific interests and the possibilities are endless.

Dennis Moore, the entertainment editor of USA Today, has an eclectic list of eight books he's recommending for holiday giving. They include a mystery/thriller, a fiction title, a nonfiction, two biographies, and four books that are in the coffee table/gift category.

    Moment Of Truth by Lisa Scottoline
    "I was taken in from the beginning sentence - it's just masterful," said Moore. "Every legal thriller has to have a twist and right from the beginning this one does. The main character has to convince everyone he killed his wife, even though he didn't. The book is a great ride. She paints great human characters. After reading this book you feel like you have an understanding of how the Philadelphia justice system works." Scottoline is an Edgar award winner.
    Smokeout by S.V. Date
    Moore loves this "wicked" book about the tobacco industry. "It's not a mainstream book at all. It's written in the vein of Carl Hiassen, and it's cynical, skeptical and filled with black humor. It's very topical, set in Florida - and we know how bizarre things can be in Florida."

    "This book isn't for the faint of heart. It's the perfect gift for the twenty-something-year-old niece or nephew or the risque aunt or uncle."

    Second Opinion by Jerome Groopman
    This book is a compilation of eight clinical dramas. "We all wish Jerome Groopman was our doctor," said Moore. "He's compassionate and kind. As we step into the medical world we're intimidated. It's reassuring that there is still someone like him who tells us to trust our own instincts. For those who love Gideon's Crossing, it's worth noting that the series is based on Groopman and his writings. The character Gideon is based on Groopman, and Groopman is a consultant for the program."
    Elizabeth by David Starkey
    "We've seen the Elizabeth movies, but still didn't know much about the early life of Elizabeth. This book vividly describes her life," says Moore. The book relies on historical texts but "moves fast and smoothly. This is also going to be a PBS series sometime next year."
    America's Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Sarah Bradford
    "Jackie is our royalty," said Bradford. "And in many ways she was just as mysterious and compelling as Elizabeth. Bradford is also a British historian. The Jackie book was easier to research than the Elizabeth book. This book has lots of on-the-record interviews. What I loved was the early life of Jackie and how it colored her later existence. She was not what her public persona was."
    Jazz: A History of America's Musi by Ken Burns and Geoffrey C. Ward
    This book is a companion to the upcoming PBS series of the same name. "It's classic Ken Burns style. It traces an art form, but tells American history - the parts we never ever learned in our 8th grade history text. If we had, we would have enjoyed it more than we did," said Moore. "This is a great family gift and you don't have to be a jazz fan to enjoy it. Once you do read the book you will be a jazz fan."
    Hidden Treasures: Our Lifelong Search for Masterpieces of American Furniture by Leigh Keno and Leslie Keno
    Dennis says, "These are the twin brothers of "Antiques Roadhog and they are charming in this book." They tell wonderful tales and take you on treasure hunts. You discovery treasures with them and are thrilled when Clare of Mahwah, N.J. finds a table at sells it for $540,000 at auction. The book teaches you to start looking at everything differently. It's well-paced. At the end of each story you feel like you really know the table or chair you've just read about."
    Crowns: Portraits of Black Women In Church Hats by Michael Cunningham & Craig Marberry
    "This book has a special place in my heart," said Moore. "When I was young we would go to church and I would see a real fashion show. Black women believed they weren't dressed properly to worship the lord without their hats and finery,...fur, ribbons, lace and bows. These hats and the wearing of them are truly an art form. The stories in the book are touching."