Bookshelf December 2019

GREAT GIFT BOOKS

Biblio-Style: How We Live at Home with Books, by Nina Freudenberger

This is the book you might actually buy for yourself at Christmas. Freudenberger is an interior designer whose first coffee table book, Surf Shack, was a great success. She brings us fantastic homes of people surrounded by what they love, and this time it’s their books. The people and homes are an eclectic mix of booklovers — from writers, to a prince, to a fashion designer and everything in-between. She features bookstores, libraries and collections periodically throughout like little gifts. It’s a wonderful present for anyone who loves to read. 

On Flowers, by Amy Merrick

This lovely coffee table book is a treasure. Beautifully designed, it’s as fun to read for its transformative ability and its flower arranging tips as it is to look at. Written with a sense of whimsy and a slightly ’50s lilt, the book is peppered with cleverly titled lists, coupled with sweet paintings of flowers and beauty shots of arrangements. It’s the perfect gift for Southerners who love flowers and nature and find themselves living in the city, or anyone who enjoys flower arranging.

Half Baked Harvest Super Simple: More Than 125 Recipes for Instant, Overnight, Meal-Prepped, and Easy Comfort Foods, by Tieghan Gerard

This is a great cookbook. There are loads of pictures, and easily accessible recipes that are familiar, yet, somehow slightly new. Some recipes come with three different ways to cook it (slow cooker, pressure cooker or stovetop). Inventive dinners like browned sage butter chicken potpie or spiced lamb hummus (it can exist as an appetizer, too) accompany delightful breakfasts, side dishes and dessert options. A great gift for anyone who is cooking for a family, especially someone working on integrating pressure cooking into a busy lifestyle. 

Lush: A Season-by-Season Celebration of Craft Beer and Produce, by Jacquelyn Dodd

A celebration of fruit, vegetables and craft beer, this latest book from the author of The Craft Beer Cookbook features 80 produce-forward recipes, all made with seasonal craft beer. Ciara hop and basil pesto, Mexican street corn beer cakes with chipotle crema, and roasted cabbage wedges with feta-mustard beer vinaigrette are just three of the dazzling dishes. Recipes are measured both by cup and weight. A holiday favorite might be mushroom- and Gouda-stuffed barley wine onions. It is true that this book has no meat recipes. It is also true that you will be so captivated you might not notice. A gift for anyone who likes to be in the kitchen and is looking for new ideas, you might even include a pint or two.

Close to Birds: An Intimate Look at Our Feathered Friends, by Mats and Asa Ottosson, photographs by Roine Magnusson

Intimate photographs by Magnusson, an award-winning photographer and National Geographic contributor, capture the beauty and detail of each bird’s form, as well as their unique character and personality. The accompanying essays by the Ottossons share charming and often hidden details from birds’ lives. Discover why robins sing so early in the morning, and learn the science behind the magical iridescence of mallard feathers. A wonderful gift for your bird-watching aunt. 

The Envious Siblings and Other Morbid Nursery Rhymes, by Landis Blair

Heralding a brilliant new cartooning talent, Envious Siblings will captivate readers who have thrilled to the lurid fantasies of Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake, Charles Addams, Shel Silverstein and Tim Burton. Blair interweaves absurdist horror and humor into brief, rhyming vignettes at once transgressive and hilarious. In Blair’s surreal universe, a lost child watches as bewhiskered monsters gobble up her fellow train passengers; a band of kids merrily plays a gut-churning game with playground toys; and two sisters, grinning madly, tear each other apart. These charmingly perverse creations take ordinary settings — a living room, a subway car, a playground — and spin them in a nightmarish direction. For the brother or sister you never buy a present for.

50 Things that Aren’t My Fault: Essays from the Grown-up Years, by Cathy Guisewite

From the creator of the iconic “Cathy” comic strip comes her first collection of funny, wise, poignant, and incredibly honest essays about being a woman in what she lovingly calls “the panini generation.” Guisewite found her way into the hearts of readers more than 40 years ago, and has been there ever since. Her hilarious and deeply relatable look at the challenges of womanhood in a changing world became a cultural touchstone for women everywhere. Now Guisewite returns with her signature wit and warmth in this debut essay collection about another time of big transition, when everything starts changing and disappearing without permission — aging parents, aging children, aging self stuck in the middle. For the woman who read Cathy aloud every morning from the paper or has cut at least one of her comics out. 

Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It, by Patricia Marx

Marx, a New Yorker writer, has never been able to get her mother’s one-line witticisms out of her brain, so she’s collected them in a book, accompanied by full color illustrations by New Yorker staff cartoonist Roz Chast. These snappy maternal cautions include: If you feel guilty about throwing away leftovers, put them in the back of your refrigerator for five days and then throw them out; if you run out of food at your dinner party, the world will end; when traveling, call the hotel from the airport to say there aren’t enough towels in your room and, by the way, you’d like a room with a better view. Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now is a perfect gift for Mom! 

Surf Like a Girl, by Carolina Amell

This coffee table book is a collection of photographs and interviews with 30 girl surfers from all over the world. Perfect for surfing enthusiasts, this unique compilation of stunning pictures and hard-won wisdom proves that the thrill of catching a wave, riding it, and kicking out belongs to everyone.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Ho Ho Homework, by Mylisa Larsen

Everyone wonders just what Santa does the 364 days a year he isn’t in the spotlight, and Jack wonders if he just might have found out when the substitute teacher eats reindeer cookies, knits stockings and teaches the class how to make snowflakes. A fun new look at Old Saint Nick, Ho Ho Homework is sure to be a hit this holiday season. (Ages 3-6.)

If I Could Give You Christmas, by Lynn Plourde

Pops of red on green, the taste of the very first snowflake, choruses of chirping carolers . . . the gifts of Christmas that mean the very most are the things that just can’t be wrapped up in a box. This fun read-together title features delightful illustrations of animals found in the author’s home state of Maine and is a wonderful celebration of the natural world at Christmastime. (Ages 3-6.)

Bear is Awake: An Alphabet Story, by Hannah Harrison

Absolutely adorable, this unique alphabet book tells a beautiful story of friendship, kindness and the value of research with a text simple enough for the youngest reader yet rich enough for a family read-together. An absolute must-have for holiday giving. (Ages 3-6.)

Saving Fable, by Scott Reintgen

Indira has been a character-in-waiting all her life when she’s finally chosen to attend the great Protagonist Preparatory in Fable, a school known for producing heroes. Or at least that is the way it is suppose to go. But after a failed audition, Indira discovers an evil protagonist might be to blame. Fable is under siege and everything she believes in is under threat. Can a side character save the day? Readers of The Land of Stories and the Inkheart Trilogy will find themselves drawn in to this exciting new series. (Ages 9-13.)

Legacy, by Shannon Messenger

It has been a long time since a series has come along with such a rapidly growing dedicated fan base as the Keepers of Lost Cities series. Messenger’s unique blend of fun and fantasy have young readers literally jumping up and down and hugging each new book. Readers will be waiting at the door the day Legacy arrives. (Ages 10-14.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally

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