Novelist Jessica Anya Blau recommends her current five favorite books to give and receive this holiday season — Jessica is the author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties and Drinking Closer to Home. We heartily recommend her books for reading and gifting, too.

1. Deliriously Happy and Other Bad Thoughts by Larry Doyle. This collection of essays is wickedly funny and hilariously fun. If a dog who thinks his testicles are a tumor is something that makes you laugh then don’t pass up “Simpsons” writer and producer Larry Doyle’s latest.

2. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Even if you saw the movie, read the book! Written in 1955, this gripping thriller will inspire you to run out and buy everything Highsmith wrote. Fans of Hitchcock films and Mad Men will enjoy the breathless chase across Europe before Eurrail passes, Starbucks and H&M showed up on every corner.

3. The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson. Wilson’s first novel is great, fast, fascinating, and wonderfully bizarre. Like a Wes Anderson film in book form—but even more wild!

4. The Devil All The Time by Donald Ray Pollack. This grisly, gothic novel is not for those who can’t handle a little blood, serial killing, or spider swallowing. It’s beautifully written and moves with bullet speed.

5. The Glen Rock Book of the Dead by Marion Winik. Fans of Winik’s Fishbowl column (and everyone else, too!) will not want to miss this collection of short, witty, sometimes sad, often profound, and always engaging essays about all the people she’s known who have died. It’s not a downer, rather an uplifting read that reminds us how great it is to be among the living.

One reply on “Baltimore Novelist Jessica Anya Blau on Five Great Books to Gift and Get!”

  1. I second “The Devil All the Time,” by Donald Ray Pollock! It’s amazing. Add Jessica’s own book to the list — “Drinking Closer to Home.” It’s wonderful — funny, heartbreaking, everything you’d like a story to be. And also add Julian Barnes’ “A Sense of an Ending” — one of the best novels I’ve ever read. It’s brilliant.

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