This time of year, you start seeing places to clean.

Any other time, there can be a whole warren of dust bunnies living with you, but that restless last part of summer?

Nope, gotta clean — which leads you to this year’s big discovery: a Christmas bookstore gift certificate that you forgot but that you found.

So what to do with it? Why not use it on any of these great reads?


A forced suicide, a powerful family, and a long-buried secret are at the heart of “What We Lost in the Dark” by Jacquelyn Mitchard.

When a young woman with a devastating disease loses her best friend, she knows who forced the girl into suicide. She knows, but what can she do?

What can you do but read the latest novel from this beloved author?

You might also like “Dirty Copper” by Jim Northrup.

It’s the story of a Native American Marine who returns to the Rez after a stint in Vietnam and becomes a lawman.

Needless to say, that’s not exactly what his fellow citizens want.

If a little fantasy is to your liking, then try “Killer Frost” by Jennifer Estep.

This latest installment of the Mythos Academy features a little bit of romance, a little bit of humor, and a lot of darkness — which will please current fans and make new ones. Yes, you can read this book all by itself, but you’ll be happier with at least one earlier one, to get you a bit more up to speed.

Mystery mavens might enjoy “Rivers to Blood” by Michael Lister. It’s a noir-ish whodunit featuring a unique sleuth with an equally unique tie to crime.

Here, he desperately tries to find a maniacal escaped prisoner and a killer with a penchant for cruelty.

This is the sixth book with this crime-solving character, so beware: It might propel you to find the other five in this series.


Are you hooked on leaving your status? Can’t get enough of the memes your friends are posting? Then you’ll enjoy “Fakebook: A True Story. Based on Actual Lies” by Dave Cicirelli, a book about a Facebook experiment and what happens when a virtual life separates from the real one.

And if that quirky book piques your interest, then you should also look for “A People’s History of the Peculiar” by Nick Belardes. It’s filled with quick-to-read entries about the weird, freaky, and unusual among us.

World War II buffs will surely want to read “Under the Eagle” by Samuel Holiday, Navajo Code Talker, and Robert S. McPherson. It’s the story of Holiday’s life, his childhood, his culture, and his service in the war. This decorated veteran’s tale is one you won’t want to miss.

History fans won’t want to miss “Tudor: The Family Story 1437-1603” by Leanda De Lisle. It’s a thick book about Henry and Louis, Thomas Cromwell, Mrs. Henry I through VIII, Elizabeth I, and her sister Mary. It’s deliciously scandalous, wonderfully detailed, and irresistible, if you’re a British history buff.

If you’re an animal lover — the wild kind or the wild-at-heart ones — you’ll enjoy “Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed” by Marc Bekoff.

This anthology of quick-to-read chapters takes a look at the emotional lives, friendships, and intelligence that animals possess, and what you can do to observe and preserve it.

For skeptics and believers alike, this is an eye-opening, thought-provoking book.

Another interesting book by an author you won’t expect: “Myths of Love” by Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer and Jerome E. Singerman.

It’s a book about ancient mythology and what it has to do with love and romance today.

BOOKS for Little Kids

For children who like to help others, “Ferry Tail” by Katharine Kenah, illustrated by Nicole Wong is a cute book about a dog who gets lost and an unlikely hero who helps him get home. Yes, it’s a little scary, but it has a happy ending.

If you are a biography fanatic, then get your preschooler on the same path with “Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything” by Maira Kalman. This is a small-child-friendly introduction to our third president, his life and his work. It also offers a basic introduction to the Declaration of Independence.BOOKS for Big Kids

Older kids who loved Waldo years ago might get a kick out of “Where’s the Zombie?” by Jen Wainwright, illustrated by Paul Moran. The Zombie Apocalypse is nigh and the undead are hiding amongst the people in one large town. It’s up to your 12-and-older reader to find them before the zombies make more zombies.

Curious kids will find all kinds of answers in “Why? Answers to Everyday Scientific Questions” by Joel Levy. Why is there rain? Why does it appear that we’re running out of oil? Why do some things float (while others don’t)? Children 10 and older who want to know will want this book, too.

I also really liked “Buried Beneath Us” by Anthony Aveni, illustrated by Katherine Roy.

It’s a book for budding archaeologists and kids who just plain like to dig.

Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was 3, and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

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