1. Hector Abad, Oblivion: A Memoir. A boy's, and then a man's, relationship with his father; it may put this bestselling Colombian author on the Anglo-American map.
2. Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. This book is very well done, but it suffers from the "I already agree with it" problem; it shows for instance that religious people make better neighbors, even after making the relevant statistical adjustments.
3. The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry, edited by Patrick Crotty. This is spectacular, covering both the medieval material (beautifully translated) and the last fifty years, and everything in between. The volume looks like it should sell for $40, yet it goes for $15 on Amazon. Definitely recommended, a real contribution and also a wonderful Christmas present.
4. Manuel de Lope, The Wrong Blood. For those who love poignant Spanish meditations on memory, at the expense of plot. I finished it, eagerly, but take the caveat seriously. One good bit: "…no one on his way to a wedding seems like a dangerous man, and experience taught that dangerous men can come from a wedding…and so the owner of Etxarri's Bar gave no thought to his loaded shotgun."