While there are times that I’m disappointed to be on the non-fiction panel for Elle magazine’s reader’s jury, the December books this year were completely engrossing. Better yet, they cited my reviews for all three books this month on the website — and I think this was the first month that I’ve contributed where my rankings matched the status quo.

  • I would highly recommend the memoir by Richard Russo, Elsewhere. Like many writers, he had a difficult childhood, but I was impressed that the scope was wide (covering his childhood through the last couple of years), yet never overwhelmed me as a reader.

  • The memoir by Melissa Francis, Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter, was impossible to put down. Whether you were stunned at her mother’s actions or impressed by her fortitude, it was a compelling tale.

  • The last book, The Girl Who Fell to Earth, was my least favorite by far. As I mention in the review, I was left wanting more analysis of her experiences and a better ending to tie the book together.