Here are some reminders of books reviewed this year that you may want to put on your Christmas list. Space limitations demand that we be highly selective, but we hope to have included a book for every taste:
Angel of Light, by Joyce Carol Oates (Dutton, $15.50). The fall of the House of Atreus retold, and set largely in Washington in the years 1947 to 1980.
Clear Light of Day, by Anita Desai (Harper & Row, $11.95). A story with "the intricacy of a nautilus shell, infinitely and exquisitely chambered," of two sisters in Old Dehli in the difficult summer of 1947, the year of partition in British India.
Dale Loves Sophie to Death, by Robb Forman Dew (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $11.95). In this intelligent novel of family life, a woman spends the summer with her three children in the Ohio town where she grew up.
Heading West, by Doris Betts (Knopf, $13.50). A spinster librarian from North Carolina is kidnapped by a stranger who takes her West in a stolen car.
If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, by Italo Calvino (Harper & Row, $12.95). This humorous, parodic novel consists of 10 first chapters to 10 different novels; each chapter breaks off at the point of greatest suspense.
July's People, by Nadine Gordimer (Viking, $10.95). The revolution comes to South Africa, and a white family finds safety among the people of its black servant.
A Mother and Two Daughters, by Gail Godwin (Viking, $15.95). A huge, and hugely successful, novel of a family in North Carolina trying to deal with the death of the father and husband.
The Men's Club, by Leonard Michaels (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $10.95). Seven men gather together to talk, mostly about women, and end up spending the whole night doing just that.
Midnight's Children, by Salman Rushdie (Knopf, $13.95). A sprawling novel of modern India that plays out the subcontinent's recent history with a large cast of characters.
Miracle Play, by Susan Richards Shreve (Morrow, $12.95). The everyday miracles in the lives of the Howells family, especially Julia, a daughter who write plays out of the family legends and tragedies.
Rabbit Is Rich, by John Updike (Knopf, $13.95). The third appearance of Updike's "Rabbit" Angstrom, now as the owner of a car dealership in Pennsylvania.
Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban (Summit, $12.95). A rich, metaphorical story of life in England after the fall of the "1 Big 1"--that is, the atomic bomb, which has sent civilization back to the Stone Age.
Take Me Back, by Richard Bausch (Dial, $11.95). The story of a woman who played rock and roll on the road before she settled down with a Vietnam vet outside Washington, where both their lives are coming apart.
Take This Man, by Frederick Busch (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $11.95). The story of a love affair between a school teacher and a misfit that halts and starts over a period of 40 years.
Tar Baby, by Toni Morrison (Knopf, $11.95). A black man who calls himself Son and a black woman named Jadine fall in love, but more importantly they illustrate Morrison's idea that black people cannot rely on white values.
Trailerpark, by Russell Banks (Houghton Mifflin, $11.95). A collection of interrelated stories about people living in a trailer park in a small mill town in New Hampshire.
The White Hotel, by D.M. Thomas (Viking, $12.95). A woman who has been a patient of Freud has fantasies of sex and death that illustrate the principle that "the aim of all life is death," set against the horrors of modern European history.
Zuckerman Unbound, by Philip Roth (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $10.95). In this sequel to Roth's The Ghost Writer, Zuckerman has become famous as a writer, and suffers the consequences.
Land of Savagery, Land of Promise: The European Image of the American Frontier in the 19th Century, by Ray Allen Billington (Norton, $18.95). How the westering experience was perceived from the Old World; or, how the image of Native Americans changed from Noble Savage to ignoble savagery.
The Hour of Our Death, by Philippe AriMes (Knopf, $20). Western attitudes toward death during the past thousand years by the magisterial French historian.
Mary Chesnut's Civil War, edited by C. Vann Woodward (Yale, $29.95). Not truly a diary, but not fictive either, Mary Chestnut's account of her life in the House Divided was called by Edmund Wilson the greatest work of literature to come out of the Civil War.
Russia's Failed Revolutions: From the Decembrists to the Dissidents, by Adam B. Ulam (Basic Books, $18.95). Russian revolutionaries typically "enter as Cassius or Brutus only to exit as Rosencrantz or Guildenstern," said Book World's reviewer. Lenin, of course, was an exception.
The Winning Weapon: The Atomic Bomb in the Cold War, 1945-1950, by Gregg Herken (Knopf, $15). The early years of the balance of terror, when the United States had the upper hand.
When Harlem Was in Vogue, by David Levering Lewis (Knopf, $17.95). A brilliant account of the neighborhood and the renaissance.
Ethnic America: A History, by Thomas Sowell (Basic Books, $16.95). The Hoover Institution economist takes aim at some of the cherished assumptions of liberal sociologists.
Warriors at Suez: Eisenhower Takes America Into the Middle East, by Donald Neff (Simon and Schuster, $17.95). Ike and John Foster Dulles put the kabosh on the Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt in 1956.
The Gate of Heavenly Peace: The Chinese and Their Revolution, 1895-1980, by Jonathan D. Spence (Viking, $19.95). A highly original and fascinating account of the Chinese revolution, which dwells on the personality conflicts, sexual weaknesses and irrational rages of its leaders.
The Soul of a New Machine, by Tracy Kidder (Atlantic-Little, Brown, $13.95). The gripping story of competition between two companies to be the first on the market with a new mini-computer.
Earthly Pleasures: Tales From a Biologist's Garden, by Roger B. Swain (Scribners, $10.95). Horticultural observations which combine barnyard wisdom with sophisticated biology watching.
The Comet Is Coming!: The Feverish Legacy of Mr. Halley, by Nigel Calder (Viking, $12.95). History, folklore and speculation on the subject of that spectacular lightshow due to arrive in 1986.
Genes, Mind and Culture: The Coevolutinary Process, by Charles J. Lumsden and Edward O. Wilson (Harvard, $20). Biology is destiny, argue these authors, as genes determine the development not only of our brains but therefore our societies.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Physical, Medical, and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings, by the Committee for the Compilation of Materials on Damage Caused by the Atomic Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Basic Books, $37.50). Required reading in this atomic age.
Governing America, by Joseph A. Califano (Simon and Schuster, $16.95). The former secretary of health, education and welfare tells how he administered "the most treacherous turf in Washington."
National Defense, by James Fallows (Random House, $12.95). Does higher spending "buy" more defense? Does more defense necessarily mean more security?
The Greatest Power on Earth: The International Race for Nuclear Supremacy, by Ronald W. Clark (Harper & Row, $13.95). A history of nuclear swords and nuclear plowshares. The two are sometimes indistinguishable.
Wealth and Poverty, by George Gilder (Basic Books, $16.95). The poor would be rich if only they worked harder, and other homilies of supply- side economics.
The Reagan Revolution, by Rowland Evans and Robert Novak (Dutton, $12.50). The Gipper comes east.
e Blue Smoke and Mirrors: How Reagon Won and Why Carter Lost the Election of 1980, by Jack W. Germond and Jules Witcover (Viking, $14.95). The making of the president, 1980.
Paper Money, by Adam Smith (Summit Books, $13.95). The whys of inflation explained in a tone of civilized irony, because, said Book World's reviewer, the alternative is acute melancholia.
MX: Prescription for Disaster, by Herbert Scoville Jr. (MIT Press, $15; paperback, $6.95). Building the MX could present the Soviets with a first-strike threat, increasing the accidental chances of nuclear war.
The Road From Here: Liberalism and Realities in the 1980s, by Paul Tsongas (Knopf, $12.95). The junior senator from Massachusetts, a liberal Democrat, says that the liberals' traditional compassion for the weak must be tempered by a realization of the hard economic realities.
The Rise of the Political Consultants: New Ways of Winning Elections, by Larry J. Sabato (Basic Books, $20.95). Elections will more and more repel voters if they are conducted as exercises in manipulation by persons oriented to winning a particular contest.
Noble House, by James Clavell (Delacorte, $19.95). Family matters in Hong Kong.
Cujo, by Stephen King (Viking, $13.95). A killer pup on the loose.
The Care of Time, by Eric Ambler (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $11.95). Of shieks and spies et al from the pen of a master.
Trade Wind, by M.M. Kaye (St. Martin's, $15). Romance and the slave trade on Zanzibar.
Brain, by Robin Cook (Putnam, $11.95). Artificial intelligence, radiological sleuthing, and a brain snatcher make up the ingredients of this thriller.
Spring Moon, by Bette Bao Lord (Harper & Row, $14.95). A family saga of 20th-century China.
Love Dad, by Evan Hunter (Crown, $12.95). A father and daughter struggle with their relationship in the troubled '60s.
Gorky Park, by Martin Cruz Smith (Random House, $13.95). A Soviet detective solves a strange triple murder in a Moscow amusement park.
An Indecent Obsession, by Colleen McCullough (Harper & Row, $13.50). A military nurse confronts duty and finds love in a South Pacific hospital ward after World War II.
Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris (Putnam, $13.95). A psychopathic mass-murderer leaves his distinctive mark on his victims in this grisly novel of suspense.
Collected Stories, by Frank O'Connor (Knopf, $20). Here's a far different Ireland from Joyce's Dublin, from one of the finest short story writers of our time.
The Collected Short Stories of Elizabeth Bowen (Knopf, $17.95). Born in Ireland, Bowen wrote brilliant stories of the English upper and upper-middle class.
The Collected Stories of Caroline Gordon (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.95). A writer's writer and an important figure of the Southern Renaissance, Caroline Gordon, who died this year, ought to garner with this volume the wider audience she deserves.
Sixty Stories, by Donald Barthelme (Putnam, $15.95). A generous story sampler from the unconventional author of Sadness and Snow White.
Ellis Island and Other Stories, by Mark Helprin (Delacorte/Seymour Lawrence, $10.95). Richly plotted, inventive, moving stories; the title story is of a Jewish immigrant to America who survives by assuming different personalities.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, by Raymond Carver (Knopf, $9.95). Stories of despair over the absence of love, sketched in a spare prose style.
The Southern Reporter and Other Stories, by John William Corrington (Louisiana State University, $9.95). A new and fresh voice from the South, but firmly in the tradition of the great Southern writers.
Liars in Love, by Richard Yates (Delacorte/Seymour Lawrence, $14.95). New stories from the author of Eleven Kinds of Loneliness and A Good School.
Outside Over There, by Maurice Sendak (Harper & Row, $12.95. All ages). In this magnificently illustrated tale by the author of Where the Wild Things Are, goblins steal a baby and leave a child of ice in her place.
Jumanji, by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin, $9.95. All ages). Polished illustrations in Cont,e pencil accompany a story of children who find a magical board game that fills the house with jungle creatures.
A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers, by Nancy Willard; illustrations by Alice and Martin Provensen (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, $10.95. All ages). Lyrical nonsense poems inspired by Blake's Songs of Innocenc, richly illustrated in the manner of American primitivist Edward Hicks.
On Market Street, by Anita Lobel and Arnold Lobel (Greenwillow, $8.95. Ages 4-8). An ABC book featuring a 19th-century boy's visit to Market Street on a shopping spree, becoming in the bright illustrations a boy made of what he finds there--apples or eggs or quilts.
The Gathering Room, by Colby Rodowsky (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $9.95. Ages 8-12). In this novel, the child of a family living in the gate house of a cemetery talks among the tombstones to its permanent guests.
Little, Little by M.E. Kerr (Harper & Row, $8.95. Ages 12-up). The amusing and sensitive story of two dwarfs, Little, Little and Sydney Cinnamon, who fall in love and face the big world hand in tiny hand.
Frontier Wolf by Rosemary Sutcliff (Dutton, $11.50. Ages 12-up). An historical novel set in Roman Britain about a centurion patrolling the territory beyond Hadrian's wall.
Washington Post staff members wrote the following books in l981.
The Wounded Generation: America After Vietnam, edited by A.D. Horne (Prentice-Hall, $12.95; paperback, $5.95). Looking back on the war that America tried to forget but can't.
The Nine Nations of North America, by Joel Garreau (Houghton Mifflin, $14.95). Regional differences--their character and import.
The Essential Earthman: Henry Mitchell on Gardening, by Henry Mitchell (Indiana University Press, $12.95). A prose stylist in overalls.
Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way: The Story of Ted Turner, by Christian Williams (Times Books, $15.50). A biography of a real-life Cash McCall--sportsman, media mogul, personality.
Biography and Autobiography
Faces in My Time,, by Anthony Powell (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, $13.95). Readers of Powell's fictional A Dance to the Music of Time will find the originals for many of his characters in this the third volume of his autobiography, which covers the World War II years and soon after.
A Life in Our Times: Memoirs, by John Kenneth Gailbraith (Houghton Mifflin, $16.95). The Harvard economist gives an account of his life which is not only entertaining and anecdotal but also full of ideas.
The Sage of Monticello, Volume VI of Jefferson and His Time, by Dumas Malone (Little, Brown, $19.95). The final volume of this monumental study of the man who probably represents the best that American public life has brought forth.
W.H. Auden: A Biography. By Humphrey Carpenter (Houghton Mifflin, $15.95). A very personal, rather than critical, account of Auden's life and work.
Grant: A Biography, by William S. McFeely (Norton, $19.95). The story of a man who seemed to find himself only when he was in uniform, leading an army.
Edith Sitwell: A Unicorn Among Lions, by Victoria Glendinning (Knopf, $17.95). A sympathetic treatment of the female in that famous trio of Sitwells.
Anne Thackeray Ritchie: A Biography, by Winifred G,erin (Oxford, $29.95). The gifted biographer, Winifred G,erin, traces the relationship of a woman to her famous father, to her generation and to the literary world of late Victorian England.
The Enigma of Felix Frankfurter, by H.N. Hirsch (Basic Books, $14.95). The moving story of an often churlish but always brilliant man who left his indelible stamp not only on his fellow Supreme Court justices but on presidents and politicians as well.
Waldo Emerson: A Biography, by Gay Wilson Allen (Viking, $25). The latest study of the "sage of Concord" forces a reappraisal of Emerson, patron of the Transcendentalists and one of the most original of American thinkers.
George Orwell: A Life. By Bernard Crick (Atlantic-Little Brown, $17.95). The first full biography of the man V.S. Pritchett called "the conscience of his generation."
Matthew Arnold: A Life, by Park Homan (McGraw-Hill, $19.95). An engaging combination of clear-headed analysis of Arnold's work and a straightforward account of his life.
The Life of John O'Hara, by Frank MacShane (Dutton, $15.95). Tracing O'Hara's fortunes from his Pennsylvania-Irish origins to critical success and finally to notoriety as author of From the Terrace.
The Eisenhower Diaries, edited by Robert H. Ferrell (Norton, $19.95). Notes from the White House in the '50s.
The Heart of a Woman, by Maya Angelou (Random House, $12.50). This, the third volume of Angelou's compelling and unfailingly honest autobiography, takes us through the '50s when she was working as a dancer, and into the angry '60s when Angelou was deeply involved in the Harlem Writers Guild and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Clifford Odets: American Playwright, The Years from 1906 to 1940, by Margaret Brenman- Gibson (Atheneum, $30). Odets, playwright and angry genius, in all his complexity and confusion, as he built a new era in American theater.
The Lord God Made Them All, by James Herriot (St. Martin's, $13.95). Remember the vet.
Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey, by V.S. Naipaul (Knopf, $15). Slamming Islam.
The Shock of the New: Art and the Century of Change, by Robert Hughes (Knopf, $29.95). Art attacks.
Old Glory: An American Voyage, by Jonathan Raban (Simon and Schuster, $16.95). Life on the Mississippi.
Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, by James H. Jones. (The Free Press, $14.95) "First, do no harm"--Hippocratic hypocrites wrecking the health of the ignorant.
The Return to Camelot: Chivalry and the English Gentleman, by Mark Girouard (Yale, $29.95). Etiquette quest.
Encyclopedia of Black America, edited by W. Augustus Low and Virgil A. Clift (McGraw-Hill, $49.50) Achievements to honor.
The Washington Reporters, by Stephen Hess (Brookings, $17.95; paperback $6.95). Investigating the people behind the bylines.
Alone: Surviving as a Widow, by Elizabeth C. Mooney (Putnam, $13.95). Life after death.
Minnesota Rag: The Dramatic Story of the Landmark Supreme Court Case That Gave New Meaning to Freedom of the Press, by Fred W. Friendly. (Random House, $12.95). Preserving the First Amendment.
Basin and Range, by John McPhee (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $10.95). Travels with a geologist.
Sand Rivers, by Peter Matthiessen (Viking, $19.95). Safari through an African wildlife preserve.
Psychoanalysis: The Talking Cure, by Janet Malcolm (Knopf, $9.95). In dreams begin responsibilities.
Ambition: The Secret Passion, by Joseph Epstein (Dutton, $13.95). Up, up, and away!
Masters: Portraits of Great Teachers, edited by Joseph Epstein. (Basic, $13.95).
Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden, by Eleanor Per,enyi (Random House, $15.50). Vegetable love.
The Breaks of the Game, by David Halberstam (Knopf, $15). Basketball hoopla.
Reflex, by Dick Francis (Putnam, $11.95). Non-stop action, in the darkroom and around the track, with a photo-finish.
Free Fall in Crimson, by John D. MacDonald (Harper and Row, $10.95). The latest Travis McGee--a modern knight without armor in a savage land.
The Trials of Rumpole, by John Mortimer (Penguin, $2.95). A crotchety, loveable barrister, as seen on TV.
Going for the Gold, by Emma Lathen (Simon and Schuster, $11.95). Suave financial whiz John Putnam Thatcher solves a murder at the Winter Olympics.
The Mordida Man, by Ross Thomas (Simon and Schuster, $13.95). Tangled allegiances, superb dialogue and the CIA--by the best American thriller writer.
The Complete Poems, by Anne Sexton (Houghton Mifflin, $20). The course of despair.
The Collected Poems, by Sylvia Plath (Harper & Row, $17.50). Ending in earnest.
Brotherly Love, by Daniel Hoffman (Random House, $10; paperback, $5.95). William Penn and the American dream.
Shadow Train, by John Ashbery (Viking, $8.95; paperback, $4.95). Poems knotty and naughty.
Descending Figure, by Louise Gluck (The Ecco Press, $9.95). Viel Gluck.
Poems 1965-1975, by Seamus Heaney (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $12.95). An Irish poet who's learned his trade, to much acclaim.
The Claw of the Conciliator: Volume Two of The Book of the New Sun, by Gene Wolfe (Simon and Schuster/Timescape Books, $12.95). Science fantasy, beautifully written.
Valis (Bantam, $2.25) and The Divine Invasion (Timescape/Simon and Schuster, 12.95), by Philip K. Dick. Two new novels, by the Borges of sf writers.
Little, Big, by John Crowley (Bantam, $8.95). A fairy tale about Oberon, the clockwork universe, and the door into summer.
Early Auden, by Edward Mendelson (Viking, $20). A masterly account of the poetic and intellectual development of Auden up to his emigration to the United States in 1939.
The Art of Biblical Narrative, by Robert Alter (Basic Books, $13.95). Reading the Bible as literature.
First Reactions: Critical Essays 1968- 1979, by Clive James (Knopf, $12.95). Sprightly reviewing, by an aspirant to the man-of-letters mantle, best known for his jocular TV criticism.
Stephen King's Danse Macabre, by Stephen King (Everest House, $13.95). The anatomy of horror--in comics, movies, and books--by one who should know.
The Geography of the Imagination: Forty Essays, by Guy Davenport (North Point Press, $20; paperback, $10). Learned, witty reflections on poetry, modernism and creativity by an encyclopedic mind.
Lectures on Russian Literature, by Vladimir Nabokov (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich/Bruccoli Clark, $19.95). The gospel of art according to the author of Lolita and Pale Fire.
Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters, 1917-1961, edited by Carlos Baker (Scribners, $27.50). From Paris to Papa, from serious artist to macho myth.
Isak Dinesen: Letters From Africa 1914-1931, edited by Frans Lasson (University of Chicago Press, $25). The real story behind the classic Out of Africa.
Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Humphrey Carpenter (Houghton Mifflin, $16.95). His passion was philology, his hobby hobbits.
Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler, edited by Frank MacShane (Columbia University Press, $19.95). Notes on the craft of detective fiction and screenwriting, by a master of hardboiled lyricism.
Selected Letters of James Thurber, edited by Helen Thurber and Edward Weeks (Atlantic-Little, Brown, $15). Missives of solemn merriment from the creator of "Walter Mitty."