HOLIDAY BOOKS….MY TURN….Jeez, all those holiday book recommendations from other bloggers, but I forgot to offer any of my own. So here are a few semi-timely picks from my bookshelf.

Charlie Wilson’s War, by George Crile

This is a terrific book on too many levels to count. On a substantive level, it’s a terrific account of the covert U.S. war in Afghanistan in the 80s ? and how the Reagan team really wasn’t all that interested in it. On a storytelling level, it’s a fascinating look at how things in Washington (and the rest of the world) really work. And on a personal level, it’s a riveting portrait of the eccentric cast of characters who made it all happen. It’s the kind of mile-a-minute book that’s hard to put down once you start.

Taxing Ourselves, by Joel Slemrod and Jon Bakija

OK, this is a book about tax policy ? and that means there’s a limit to just how fascinating it can be. On the other hand, it’s relatively short, it covers a lot of ground, it’s surprisingly brightly written considering the subject matter, and it’s a great, fairminded primer on what can and can’t be done in the realm of taxes. If you want to understand the ins and outs of taxation, this book is about the best starting place I know.

Twins, by Lawrence Wright

What makes us who we are? Nature or nurture, genes or environment? Both, of course, and if you’re only going to read one book on the subject you could do worse than Twins, a brief, elegantly written essay about how twins are alike and how they aren’t, and what they tell us about ourselves.

Need more recommendations? Here’s a list of my favorites that I put together a few years ago.