Bullish on Books Blog

Best Books for the Holidays 2011

Books for Every Reader

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This holiday season there’s a book for every reader on your list. Some must-haves include biographies of the royals (those with blue blood and those who ruled their corporate empires), books that will forever change the way you think about money (hint: being super-rich isn’t what it used to be), books that inspired this season’s most-anticipated movies, and a book that will really make you think about how you think. Click ahead to see the best books of the holiday season.
Photo: Tiina & Geir | Cultura | Getty Images

This holiday season there’s a book for every reader on your list.

Some must-haves include biographies of the royals (those with blue blood and those who ruled their corporate empires), books that will forever change the way you think about money (hint: being super-rich isn’t what it used to be), books that inspired this season’s most-anticipated movies, and a book that will really make you think about how you think.

Click ahead to see the best books of the holiday season.

By Gloria McDonough-Taub
Posted 16 November 2011

“Steve Jobs”

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By Walter Isaacson 656 pages Publisher: Simon & Schuster List Price: $35 Walter Isaacson has put together the ultimate biography of the technology and design genius. Drawn from interviews with more than 100 family members, friends, critics, competitors, colleagues, and Steve Jobs himself, Isaacson has given us the insider’s look at the masterful inventor who revolutionized six industries. Isaacson has brilliantly captured the roller-coaster ride that was the life and career of Steve Jobs—a ride

By Walter Isaacson
656 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
List Price: $35

Walter Isaacson has put together the ultimate biography of the technology and design genius. Drawn from interviews with more than 100 family members, friends, critics, competitors, colleagues, and Steve Jobs himself, Isaacson has given us the insider’s look at the masterful inventor who revolutionized six industries.

Isaacson has brilliantly captured the roller-coaster ride that was the life and career of Steve Jobs — a ride millions of us enjoyed with his stunningly beautiful products.

“I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution"

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By Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum 608 pages Publisher: Dutton Adult List: $29.95 This is a perfect gift for business lovers, music lovers, baby boomers, and anyone who loves great storytelling. In this behind-the-scenes look, readers are treated to rollicking stories of the sheer brilliance and plain ol’ dumb luck that made MTV into a global brand. Full of rock stars, celebrities and jaw-dropping stories about feuding and foolish executives, this book captures the magic and the music that change

By Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum
608 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult
List: $29.95

This is a perfect gift for business lovers, music lovers, baby boomers, and anyone who loves great storytelling. In this behind-the-scenes look, readers are treated to rollicking stories of the sheer brilliance and plain ol’ dumb luck that made MTV into a global brand.

Full of rock stars, celebrities and jaw-dropping stories about feuding and foolish executives, this book captures the magic and the music that changed and reinvented the music industry.

“In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin”

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By Erik Larson 464 pages Publisher: Crown List: $26 “The telephone call that forever changed the lives of the Dodd family of Chicago came at noon on Thursday, June 8, 1933, as William E. Dodd sat at his desk at the University of Chicago.” The call was from the White House. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was offering Dodd, a professor with no political or diplomatic history, the ambassadorship to Germany. It should have been a great job for Dodd, who spoke German and received his graduate degree

By Erik Larson
464 pages
Publisher: Crown
List: $26

“The telephone call that forever changed the lives of the Dodd family of Chicago came at noon on Thursday, June 8, 1933, as William E. Dodd sat at his desk at the University of Chicago.”

The call was from the White House. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was offering Dodd, a professor with no political or diplomatic history, the ambassadorship to Germany. It should have been a great job for Dodd, who spoke German and received his graduate degree in Germany. But in 1933, Germany was unstable and violent — Adolf Hitler was beginning his war — though as we all know now, no one then realized it.

In “Garden of Beasts,” Larson chronicles Dodd’s time in Germany, where he witnessed Hitler’s terrifying rise, his own daughter's flirtations with the sadistic leader of the Gestapo, and the world’s painfully slow realization that it was up against pure evil.

“Who’s in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain”

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By Michael S. Gazzaniga 272 pages Publisher: Ecco List: $27.99 From one of the world’s leading thinkers comes a thought-provoking book on how we think and how we act. At issue, that age-old question: Do we humans actually have free will? For ages, most scientists believed that our lives were determined by fixed physical laws, and that free will was in fact, meaningless. Michael Gazzaniga wasn’t convinced. In “Who’s in Charge,” he sets out to discover what makes us tick – why we do what we do. Do

By Michael S. Gazzaniga
272 pages
Publisher: Ecco
List: $27.99

From one of the world’s leading thinkers comes a thought-provoking book on how we think and how we act. At issue, that age-old question: Do we humans actually have free will? For ages, most scientists believed that our lives were determined by fixed physical laws, and that free will was in fact, meaningless. Michael Gazzaniga wasn’t convinced. In “Who’s in Charge,” he sets out to discover what makes us tick — why we do what we do.

Don’t be afraid of this book — you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to understand his complex theory. “Who’s in Charge” is an exciting, stimulating, and at times even funny read that helps us further understand ourselves, our actions, and our world.

“The High-Beta Rich: How the Manic Wealthy Will Take Us to the Next Boom, Bubble, and Bust”

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By Robert Frank 256 pages Publisher: Crown Business List: $26 You’ve got to give it to Robert Frank — he knows how to pick ‘em. His previous book, “Richistan” got us talking and envying the “Richistanis,” with their mega-yachts and sprawling mansions. Well, I guess my mother was right when she said, “Just because they’re rich, doesn’t mean they’re happy,” because in this new book, Frank paints a brutal picture of the new world of the megamonied, a world that Robin Leach never, ever, evah could h

By Robert Frank
256 pages
Publisher: Crown Business
List: $26

You’ve got to give it to Robert Frank — he knows how to pick ‘em. His previous book, “Richistan” got us talking and envying the “Richistanis,” with their mega-yachts and sprawling mansions.

Well, I guess my mother was right when she said, “Just because they’re rich, doesn’t mean they’re happy,” because in this new book, Frank paints a brutal picture of the new world of the megamonied, a world that Robin Leach never, ever, evah could have dreamed of — one built on bravado and lies.

Frank says the megarich are now “the most unstable force in the economy,” adding “the rich are not only getting richer, they are becoming more dangerous.” And that’s not good for them or for the rest of us “little people.”

The book is full of examples of billionaires gone broke, such as the couple that blew their fortune trying to build America’s biggest house — 90,000 square feet, with 23 full bathrooms, and a 6,000-square-foot master suite. Or how the repo men are now busy picking up private jets, helicopters, yachts, and racehorses, and why California’s budget crisis is due in large part to reliance on the volatile incomes of the state’s tech tycoons.

Frank offers no easy fix for our love-hate/lopsided dependence on the rich, but he does offer some survival tips, including some common sense, saying “wealth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” Now that would make my mother proud.

Royal Subjects

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Three new books deliver new information, new stories, and new insights on a queen, a prince, and America’s royal family. By Robert K. Massie 656 pages Publisher: Random House; List: $35 In 1981, Robert Massie won the Pulitzer Prize for his book “Peter the Great,” and now returns with another masterpiece — the story of how Catherine, a 14-year old German princess, went to Russia and rose to become one of the most extraordinary women in history. This portrait of Catherine is, indeed, great. By Phi

Three new books deliver new information, new stories, and new insights on a queen, a prince, and America’s royal family.

“Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman”
By Robert K. Massie
656 pages
Publisher: Random House;
List: $35

In 1981, Robert Massie won the Pulitzer Prize for his book “Peter the Great,” and now returns with another masterpiece — the story of how Catherine, a 14-year old German princess, went to Russia and rose to become one of the most extraordinary women in history. This portrait of Catherine is, indeed, great.

“Prince Philip: The Turbulent Early Life of the Man Who Married Queen Elizabeth II”
By Philip Eade
368 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
List: $28

It even sounds like a Greek tragedy: A young Greek princeling loses his family, his name, his home, his job, his identity, and agrees to marry a woman who, for the rest of his life, he must always, always walk a few paces behind.

Such is the life of Prince Philip. Long before he was considered a cold fish and took that lifelong supporting role behind his wife Queen Elizabeth II, the young prince was the catch of all catches: “Girls fell at his feet, and the princess who would become his wife was smitten from the age of thirteen.” Yes, he looked like a Greek God!

This is the first official biography of the 90-year-old prince. So if you’re heading to London for the 2012 Olympic Games, or to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, why not learn something new about this unique royal. Though he’s often considered the royal fuddy-duddy, he has also been seen as crucial to HRH’s success.

“Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F. Kennedy”
By Jacqueline Kennedy, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Michael Beschloss, Caroline Kennedy
400 pages
Publisher: Hyperion; Har/Com
List: $60

Four months after her husband’s assassination, Jacqueline Kennedy sat down for a series of taped interviews with friend, aide, and historian, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. The tapes were kept under seal at the Kennedy Library and were only recently released by her daughter, Caroline Kennedy, for this deluxe, illustrated book and eight-CD set. It’s all part of an ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s first year in office. This collection brings to life a woman we all know — but never really knew. It’s a treasured gift for anyone who loves American history, American politics, and even American love stories.

"Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty"

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By Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo 320 pages Publisher: PublicAffairs List: $26.99 “Poor Economics” won the 2011 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. It’s the result of more than 15 years of global research from the authors, who are both professors of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. An important book, it takes readers on an epic journey into the complex lives of the poor, to help us better understand the specific problems that come with

By Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo
320 pages
Publisher: PublicAffairs
List: $26.99

“Poor Economics” won the 2011 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. It’s the result of more than 15 years of global research from the authors, who are both professors of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. An important book, it takes readers on an epic journey into the complex lives of the poor, to help us better understand the specific problems that come with poverty — and hopefully to find proven solutions.

“Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World”

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By Michael Lewis 224 pages Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co. List: $25.95 A must read for anyone who wants to know more about what caused the global financial meltdown and how we are all affected by what happens “over there.” Written by the acclaimed author of "Moneyball," "The Big Short," "The Blind Side," and the iconic "Liar's Poker," this book is based on articles Michael Lewis wrote for Vanity Fair covering "financial disaster tourism, traveling to Iceland, Ireland, Greece, and beyond." Brillia

By Michael Lewis
224 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.
List: $25.95

A must read for anyone who wants to know more about what caused the global financial meltdown and how we are all affected by what happens “over there.” Written by the acclaimed author of "Moneyball," "The Big Short," "The Blind Side," and the iconic "Liar's Poker," this book is based on articles Michael Lewis wrote for Vanity Fair covering "financial disaster tourism, traveling to Iceland, Ireland, Greece, and beyond." Brilliantly written, and at times sadly hilarious knowing what we know now about just how little we knew about our money and those people we trusted.

The Reel Deal

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Hollywood is again drawing inspiration from books for some of this season’s most-anticipated blockbusters. Here are a few:By John Le Carre’ 400 pages Publisher: Penguin List: $16 Starring top British actors Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, and Tom Hardy, and based on John Le Carre’s novel by the same name, this is the book to read if you want to know what being a spy is really like. LeCarre worked for M15 and has written some of the best books out there on the underground world of espionage. By Stieg L

Hollywood is again drawing inspiration from books for some of this season’s most-anticipated blockbusters. Here are a few:

“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
By John Le Carré
400 pages
Publisher: Penguin
List: $16

Starring top British actors Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, and Tom Hardy, and based on John Le Carré’s novel by the same name, this is the book to read if you want to know what being a spy is really like. Le Carré worked for M15 and has written some of the best books out there on the underground world of espionage.

“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
By Stieg Larsson
480 pages
Publisher: Knopf
List: $26.95

I’m a huge fan of "The Millennium Trilogy" by Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson and “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is the book that got it all started. This is the first English-language movie based on the books and it stars Daniel Craig. The series is a global sensation and if you’ve been hiding under a rock missing all the hype, pick this one up.

“War Horse”
By Michael Morpurgo
176 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
List: $17.99

A word of warning on this one — get your tissues ready. Based on the children’s novel of the same name, “War Horse” is an epic drama directed by Steven Spielberg and set in Europe during World War I. Adapted for the theater, “War Horse” has been performed in London and in New York City to grateful audiences. This is a novel whose themes of love and devotion are universal, and a great read for all ages.

“The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Short Stories” (2 Vol. Set)
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
1878 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.; Slip Cased Edition
List: $95

Who would have thought the pairing of Robert Downey, Jr., and Jude Law would be so endearing and magical? But under the direction of Guy Ritchie, this pair as Sherlock Holmes and his dear Watson is sheer genius. This is the trio’s second run at Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic, and if you haven’t done so yet, now is the best time discover the true glory that is “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.”

“Hiring for Attitude: A Revolutionary Approach to Recruiting and Selecting People with Both Tremendous Skills and Superb Attitude”

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By Mark Murphy 240 pages Publisher: McGraw-Hill List: $28 According to their well-documented study, Leadership IQ found that 46 percent of newly hired employees would fail within 18 months. The three-year study uncovered a bonanza of reasons of why a whopping 89 percent of new hires fail because of attitude. Twenty-six percent fail because they can't accept feedback, 23 percent because they can’t manage emotions, and 17 percent lack motivation. Surprisingly only 11 percent of new hires fail beca

By Mark Murphy
240 pages
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
List: $28

According to their well-documented study, Leadership IQ found that 46 percent of newly hired employees would fail within 18 months. The three-year study uncovered a bonanza of reasons of why a whopping 89 percent of new hires fail because of attitude. Twenty-six percent fail because they can't accept feedback, 23 percent because they can’t manage emotions, and 17 percent lack motivation.

Surprisingly only 11 percent of new hires fail because they lack the necessary technical skills.

In this book, Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, offers a guide to finding today’s most-wanted employees — those with fantastic attitudes and great chemistry.

“Drinking from the Fire Hose: Making Smarter Decisions Without Drowning in Information”

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By Christopher Frank and Paul Magnone 256 pages Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover List: $26.95 Information is supposed to make us smarter, right? D’uh not when you’re drowning in it – and that’s what is happening to all of us now. We’re being bombarded with so much information to the point that we can’t make smart decisions. In this book, the authors topple conventional wisdom to teach readers how to ask for, receive, and manage the right information, so that it can help you and your company.

By Christopher Frank and Paul Magnone
256 pages
Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover
List: $26.95

Information is supposed to make us smarter, right? D’uh not when you’re drowning in it — and that’s what is happening to all of us now. We’re being bombarded with so much information to the point that we can’t make smart decisions. In this book, the authors topple conventional wisdom to teach readers how to ask for, receive, and manage the right information, so that it can help you and your company.

For the Sports Fan

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Three books here for the sports fan: The man everyone loves to hate, the man the world knew as “sweetness,” and one that will get you out to the ballpark – even in the dead of winter. By Tim Tebow 216 pages Publisher: Zondervan List $16.99 What is it about Tim Tebow that everyone loves to hate – or just plain hates? One of the greatest quarterbacks in college history, and now playing for the Denver Broncos, Tebow tells his story – how he lives his life on and off the field, with no apologies to

Three books here for the sports fan: The man everyone loves to hate, the man the world knew as “Sweetness,” and one that will get you out to the ballpark — even in the dead of winter.

“Through My Eyes: A Quarterback's Journey”
By Tim Tebow
216 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
List $16.99

What is it about Tim Tebow that everyone loves to hate — or just plain hates? One of the greatest quarterbacks in college history, and now playing for the Denver Broncos, Tebow tells his story — how he lives his life on and off the field, with no apologies to anyone.

“SWEETNESS: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton”
By Jeff Pearlman
496 pages
Publisher: Gotham
List: $30

Walter Payton was arguably the greatest running back in National Football League history, and a force on and off the field. Based on interviews with more than 700 people, as well as the legend himself, Jeff Pearlman, one of the best sports biographers in the country, offers this definitive biography.

“Ballparks — Then and Now”
By Eric Enders
160 Pages
Thunder Bay Press and Graphic Image
Neiman Marcus
List: $125

The boys of summer may be wearing their parkas — but this will surely warm the hearts of any baseball fan. This special edition offers a nostalgic look at America's favorite pastime and its iconic ballparks.

Impressive Covers

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Looking for that perfect gift that will just look great on the coffee table? Here are three impressive covers for that fashion, celebrity, or Trekkie devotee in your life. By Norman Mailer, Bert Stern 278 pages Publisher: Taschen America List: $1,000 Three legends in one book: the star, the biographer, and the photographer. This book is just breathtakingly beautiful. Mailer’s original 1973 biography is paired with Stern’s intimate photographs to produce a fitting tribute to all three artists. Th

Looking for that perfect gift that will just look great on the coffee table? Here are three impressive covers for that fashion, celebrity, or Jedi devotee in your life.

“Norman Mailer, Bert Stern: Marilyn Monroe”
By Norman Mailer, Bert Stern
278 pages
Publisher: Taschen America
List: $1,000

Three legends in one book: the star, the biographer, and the photographer. This book is just breathtakingly beautiful. Mailer’s original 1973 biography is paired with Stern’s intimate photographs to produce a fitting tribute to all three artists.

The photographs of Monroe (considered her most intimate) were taken over three days at the Bel-Air Hotel in 1962. Six weeks later, she was dead.

“Chanel Book Set”
By Francois Baudot and Francoise Aveline
3 Books, each 80 pages
Publisher: Assouline Publishing
List: $2,500
Available from: Neiman Marcus

This set of three books devoted to chronicling the legendary Coco Chanel brand is a must-have for any fashionable reader. The gift set covers the fashion designer’s life and legendary brand, and includes the titles “Chanel Fashion,” “Chanel Perfume,” and “Chanel Fine Jewelry” all presented in a signature tweed slipcase.

“Star Wars: The Blueprints” [Deluxe Edition]
By J.W. Rinzler
336 pages
Publisher: Epic Ink Books
List: $500

A must-have for the ultimate Skywalker fan!

For the first time, this collector’s edition brings together the original blueprints created for the film. The book stands tall at nearly 19 inches high and is filled with more than 250 blueprints, 500 photographs and illustrations, and includes a hand-numbered title page. Make sure your galactic hero can handle it — this collection weighs in at a whopping 22 pounds. With only 5,000 hand-numbered English language copies available, however, you better move to get it before some Stormtrooper beats you.