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Picks and Pans Main: Books

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The Journal of Best Practices

by David Finch |



Finch, a music engineer, was 30 years old when he learned he has Asperger’s-a discovery that went a long way to explaining why his marriage was unraveling. Qualities like empathy and reading other people’s emotions don’t come naturally to those with this autism-spectrum disorder, but relentlessness does. Which is why, as he relates in this hilarious memoir (which also gives some of the finest explications of Asperger’s out there), Finch approaches trying to be a better husband and father with the determination of Sherman marching on Atlanta. He learns to “use your words” to enter into his wife’s “girl world” (by reading Cosmo, home of “that mythical size-zero goddess from a land of orange and pink, in which creative sex positions are explored nightly”) and to control some of the inflexibility and egocentricism that make Asperger’s both fascinating and debilitating. Finch’s condition may be rare, but his “practices” shouldn’t be: The book is a primer of sorts for all of us on how to be better partners.

The Leopard

by Jo Nesbo |



When a vicious serial killer terrorizes Oslo, cops are so desperate to stop him that they turn to Harry Hole-a detective-hero more flawed than most. Harry has problems: with booze, opium and authority, for starters. He’s also brilliant. This eighth Harry Hole novel has plot twists and creepy surprises that will keep readers on tenterhooks through all 500-plus pages. Nesbo’s been called “the next Stieg Larsson”-it may be an underestimation.

The Impossible Dead

by Ian Rankin |


A stoic teetotaler, Malcolm Fox is no John Rebus. Rankin’s new cop works in Internal Affairs, and in this, his second outing, a routine investigation devolves into a nasty reopening of old wounds. Rankin’s characters and plot are as layered and satisfying as always. You may miss the moody Rebus, but you’ll relish spending time with Fox.


The Magic Room

by Jeffrey Zaslow |



Author of The Girls from Ames and a devoted father of three young women, Zaslow has written a tenderhearted portrait of a bridal store in a small Michigan town. Over 75 years, 100,000 brides and their mothers have grown teary in front of the shop’s Magic Room mirrors. In a handful of their stories, Zaslow gently delineates the changing lives of women and finds-in among the mishaps, misunderstandings and tragedies that derail many relationships-ample evidence of the enduring power of marriage.