If you like the idea of reading dozens of interesting life stories in one manageable volume, I recommend "The Socialite Who Killed a Nazi with Her Bare Hands and 143 Other Fascinating People Who Died This Past Year." This second annual compilation of selected New York Times obituaries includes deaths that occurred from August 2011 through July 2012. The eye-catching title is a vast improvement over last year's compilation which was simply titled "The Obits 2012."

These diverse personalities are linked only in that they were all notable, and that they all died in the same twelve-month period. The profiles include newsman Mike Wallace, entertainer Andy Griffith, dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi, and St. Louis' own Bob Cassilly.

The articles range in length from two to five pages and include photographs. Because the entries are arranged chronologically, there are some surprising pairings. After reading about Christopher Hitchens, readers encounter the obituary for Kim Jong-Il. Several pages on children's book artist Maurice Sendak are followed by an article on disco queen Donna Summer.

Although all of the people included are well-known, readers are bound to learn something new in these pages.

--Jennifer A., Headquarters



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