Packed with pop culture, feminist history, and a lot of good humored snark, The Book of Jezebel (Grand Central, $27) is an excellent companion to the popular website Jezebel.com. Want to know about Bella Abzug, Planned Parenthood, or Zits? The information is right here. We dare you to find better entries for Tube Tops, Sheryl Sandberg, or Xena, Warrior Princess. Nothing is sacred, and Lady Gaga shares the page with Gaia, Gardasil, and Indira Gandhi. With witty illustrations and photographs throughout, this encyclopedia, edited by Jezebel founder Anna Holmes, is the perfect gift for ladies of all ages.
With his fourth book in the help-for-writers series, Roy Peter Clark, “America’s Writing Coach,” has given us another indispensable guide to the written word, one especially suited to today’s under-140-characters attitude. In How to Write Short (Little, Brown $20) Clark, never the stern grammarian, gives invaluable instruction on the best ways to communicate a lot of information with few words. His guide for short-form writing, from Tweets to headlines to dating profiles, will be a useful tool for all writers.
The term “boomerang generation” is common fodder for New York Times trend pieces, but in The Smart One (Knopf, $24.95), the first novel by local author Jennifer Close, the Coffey family, with its trio of grown children, is anything but common. Claire, the middle sister, has just cancelled her wedding and left her life in New York City. Martha, a registered nurse and the eldest of the siblings, has been home for seven years, working at J. Crew. Their mother, Weezy, oversees the family while keeping a secret from her husband and her children. Adding to the mix is the return home after college of Max, the youngest, with his intimidatingly beautiful girlfriend and secrets of his own. Close tells the Coffeys’ story with pathos, just as she did those of the Girls in White Dresses, her earlier story collection. A talented writer, Close imbues her characters with humor and insight, sometimes hard-earned.