BOOK REVIEWS…. In the upcoming issue of the Washington Monthly, there’s an interesting review by Jamie Malanowski of a book called Tinsel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present by Hank Stuever. Given this week’s seasonal festivities, it seems like a book that may be of particular interest right now. From the Malanowski review:

Pillar of the economy, climax of the calendar year, and wellspring of sentiment, myth, and moral teaching, Christmas is that institution which is so influential, so pervasive, so enormous that it seldom requires more than a pop lyricist to help reveal itself. A phenomenon more ripe for journalistic scrutiny, then, would be hard to find, which is why Hank Stuever, a reporter for the Washington Post, spent three Christmas seasons in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, where he was well positioned to observe suburban Americans performing their holiday rituals in their native habitat. The product of his study is Tinsel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present, a stylishly written and often delightful book that aims to capture all the things that Christmas is about — family, values, religion, ritual, celebration, kitsch.

It’s one of several worthwhile reviews in the Monthly, including:

* Amy Sullivan’s review of Jeffery L. Sheler’s Prophet of Purpose: The Life of Rick Warren.

* Joshua Green’s review of Martin Eisenstadt’s I Am Martin Eisenstadt: One Man’s (Wildly Inappropriate) Adventures with the Last Republicans.

* Charles Homans’s review of Peter Maass’ Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil.

* Paul Hockenos’ review of Gunter Grass’ On the Road From Germany to Germany.

* Michael O’Donnell’s review of Jennifer Burns’ Goddess of the Market and Anne Heller’s Ayn Rand and the World She Made.

* Jesse Singal’s review of Ethan Gilsdorf’s Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms.

* And Tim Murphy’s review of Robert W. Merry’s A country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War, and the Conquest of the American Continent.

What’s that cliche? They’re all perfect for the booklover on your holiday shopping list, or even as a gift to yourself….

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.