I’m back with more books that may be perfect for the reader on your Christmas list. In a year when traveling was less of an option a little armchair jaunt may be more welcome than ever!
Pulling from her decades of research, Goodwin presents an exploration of leadership and how it develops. She does this by pulling from the lives of four presidents – Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Leadership has been a dominant topic over the past year and a review of leaders from our past may be a welcome exercise.
Who doesn’t love a good spy story? While Macintyre usually focuses on British spies of World War II, here he tells the story of Ursula Burton, aka Agent Sonya, a high-ranking Soviet intelligence officer who helped plunge the world into a decades-long Cold War. A wonderful page-turning history.
This book makes a brilliant gift because if the recipient is a math nerd, they will enjoy hearing and understanding these stories of mathematical mayhem. And if they are not a math nerd, they will find comfort in knowing they are not alone and everyone makes mistakes. I am not a math nerd and I loved the funny stories and the delightful voice of the author as he explores a topic he obviously loves.
This is technically a book about the Galvins and their 12 children. But the Galvins’ story illuminates much deeper themes and social issues. Half of the children born to Don and Mimi would eventually be diagnosed as schizophrenic. Their journeys tell of the frightening world of institutionalization and lobotomies and shed light on the genetics and nature of schizophrenia itself. A fascinating scientific family biography.
This past year has left many of us looking for a little peace and healing and you may be able to gift a little bit of that with this heartfelt memoir. Subtitled ‘The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People” this book tells of just that. Jeannie survived a pear-sized brain tumor and lived to tell the tale. She is honest, encouraging and filled with timely wisdom.
Kuzmic shares “Hope and Humor from My Seriously Flawed Life” in this funny and hope-filled memoir. Sometimes we need someone to remind us that no one is perfect, most of us doubt our abilities to adult, and we need to be way less hard on ourselves. Kuzmic’s message may be just what is needed as we start a new year.
Wilkerson’s recent book argues that there is a powerful caste system in the United States and that this system shapes national behavior toward race and class differences. Her exploration takes readers back to the founding of our nation and on through to the present day. This would be a wonderful gift for someone wanting to delve deeper into some of the social issues that filled the news throughout 2020.
Based on a podcast of the same name, this book discusses what it is like to suffer from depression. Moe tells of his own mental illness and shares stories of friends and guests who have also struggled in a society that is often reluctant to understand them. Both funny and sincere, THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION is a look inside a fight that is very real, very common, and very inspiring.
Published just before his recent death, THE ANSWER IS… was written by Trebek in part to thank his many fans for their support throughout his career and especially during his fatal battle with cancer. He shares some great stories as he travels through his career along with a lot of wisdom and insight. If your list contains any fans of Jeopardy and the late, great, Alex Trebek, this would be a wonderful gift to wrap up.
This memoir focuses mainly on the last decade of the actor’s life and it is honest and sad and joyful all at the same time. He discusses illness and aging and the great power that supportive friends and family have to lift us when things get hard.
Well, it’s been a year. 2020 has given us a lot. It hasn’t all been bad, but it has definitely been a ride. The good news is the year is almost over and it is Christmas Time! Everything is better with carols playing in the background. One potentially stressful holiday activity is the selection of thoughtful gifts. It shouldn’t surprise you that I’m in favor of giving books to all the people you love most. Finding just the right book can be a tricky, but I’m here to help. Here are some suggestions for the fiction readers in your life. I’ll follow it up later with a list of nonfiction.
Regency romance is very popular right now and if you are looking for a new title to gift, Sarah Eden’s new book may fit the bill. The plot can be summed up as two childhood friends who have grown apart marry thanks to an arrangement by their parents. But true love can only be won through the rebuilding of their relationship and the establishment of a new foundation of trust. This is book one in a series though it ties in as a prequel series to Eden’s popular Jonquil series.
I love introducing people to Sophie Kinsella’s charming brand of romcom novels. I OWE YOU ONE is now available in paperback and tells the story of Fixie Farr whose good deed earns her an IOU from a (single and handsome) stranger. You will never guess what happens. Just kidding. You will totally guess what is going to happen, but getting there is so much fun.
If you are looking for a more literary book, try Yaa Gyasi’s TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM or her previous novel HOMEGOING (both are wonderful). Gifty, a PhD student studying neuroscience narrates this novel which tells of her family’s move to the United States from Ghana and her drive to do the research she has dedicated her life to. Gyasi write beautifully and I loved Gifty’s voice and story. This novel provides plenty for the reader to ponder while enjoying storytelling at its best.
First of all, Choo’s novel has a simply beautiful cover. Fortunately, the cover is not deceptive and the story within is perfectly matched. Here, a young woman living in 1930s Malaysia accidentally acquires a detached finger with unknown origin. At the same time an orphaned houseboy embarks on a mission to fulfill his master’s dying wish that the finger he lost years earlier be located and buried with him. It sounds a bit gruesome but the story is lyrical, moves quickly, and is entirely entertaining.
I already knew I liked Naomi Novik as an author. Her SPINNING SILVER and UPROOTED are two previous examples of her amazing talent. But I absolutely loved DEADLY EDUCATION. El is a student at the Scholomance, a school designed to educate witches and wizards to be. But this is no Hogwarts. There are no teachers, no supervision, no escape before graduation. Requirements to graduate are simple: survive. I can’t praise this book enough!
How did I not know Earnest Cline was working on a sequel to READY PLAYER ONE? The truth is that I am only about one quarter the way through this novel as I type and I am loving it. I can’t make any guarantees, but it appears Wade Watts’ next adventure will be as fun as his first and just as filled with delightful 80’s pop culture.
Nora Seed finds herself in a magical library that exists in the moments between life and death. Here she has access to books that contain all the possibilities her life contained and she is free to explore the ‘could haves’ and ‘should haves’ that haunt her. Her story is fairly simple but Haig’s storytelling makes the reader ask what they would do with endless opportunities to make different choices and undo any regrets. What life would you choose if all paths were open?
Ruth Ware is my new favorite mystery writer. Think a wonderful collaboration of Liane Moriarty and Agatha Christie. This release from last year is now available in paperback and is the suspenseful story of Rowan, who is writing a request to a lawyer hoping to convince him to represent her in court because “I did not kill that child.” THE TURN OF THE KEY is creepy, mysterious and keeps the read on the edge of his or her seat until the very last page!
If you need to find something that goes a little beyond creepy and edges on the horrific, try MEXICAN GOTHIC. Noem’ has been sent by her father to check in on her cousin who lives in an isolated mansion with her new husband’s mysterious family. It takes very little time for her visit to turn from strange to deadly and Noem’ must fight unseen forces to keep herself and her cousin from a fate worse than death. A really wonderfully terrifying novel.
Evangeline, a governess in early nineteenth century London, is falsely accused of theft and sent to prison and is eventually place on a boat headed to a penal colony in Australia. If you know someone that loves historical fiction, Evangeline’s story is sure to be a hit. This is a lesser known period and place and Kline has a gift for telling the story of women fighting to survive in a world overwhelmingly designed to destroy them.
The author of THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY recently released this new novel that follows the story of Margery Benson, a spinster schoolteacher. At the end of a particularly trying day at school, Miss Benson snaps to such a degree that she abandons her job and decides to pursue her childhood dream of finding the golden beetle of New Caledonia. As you would expect, her life is never the same and her adventures are many. A heartwarming quest by two endearing heroines.
One of the best things to witness is the learning process. People learn step by step, but before you know it, each step has turned into a mile of progress. Reading is a step by step process too, and a great stepping stone to that learning goal is practicing phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is manipulating letters and sounds within a word to better hear the individual phonemes. The most common way that you probably see phonemic awareness practiced is in the element of rhyming. Rhyming allows those learning this ability to hear the individual sounds of a word by comparing other words that have the same sounds in part. Here are a couple of great books to check out to practice phonemic awareness.
Edward the Emu decides that his life at the zoo is boring, so he decides to become different zoo animals until he finds a more exciting enclosure where he can be happy.
In this charming book, explore the life of a honeybee by following it through its daily routine.
Bear can’t fall asleep for winter, so his friends work together and try different bedtime routines to help Bear get sleepy.
This inspiring book focuses on the importance of each individual person and what they can contribute to the world.
Scarecrow feels lonely and useless in his field. One day an injured crow steps into Scarecrow’s life and they become the most unlikely friends when Scarecrow decides to takes care of the crow.
The native peoples of North America have made significant contributions to the history, culture, and growth of the United States, and they continue to do so today. Yet they continue to face threats to their sovereignty, economic well-being, and languages. Some of the works below shed light on activism, culture, and history. Others expose the challenges of life on reservations or of establishing of an identity in the modern world. Broaden your perspective and learn more about the rich heritage of our continent’s indigenous peoples with these recent releases.
This post is the fifth installment of Diverse Reads, a series that gathers books with diverse characters or authors: people who are LGBTQIA+, Native, people of color, gender diverse, people with disabilities, or ethnic, cultural, or religious minorities. I hope that these books help open a window for you into other worldviews.
This novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all travelling to the Big Oakland Powwow, and all of them connected in ways they may not yet realize. Their voices combine to tell the plight of the urban Native American, showing that indigenous peoples are not a monolith, not a stereotype, and not neatly gathered together under a single identity, showing an America that many have never seen before.
With most of the world drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, the Navajo Nation is reborn as Dinétah. When a small-town girl goes missing, a supernaturally gifted monster hunter joins forces with an unconventional medicine man to find her. The pair unravels clues from ancient legends, trades favors with tricksters, and battles against dark witchcraft in a world of deteriorating technology.
Set in rural Oklahoma in the late 1980s, this coming-of-age story features a fifteen-year-old Cherokee boy names Sequoyah. With his single mother in jail, Sequoyah enters foster care, scarred by his unstable upbringing and keeping his emotions deep below the surface. He connects with another Native foster child, and they bond over their common pasts. But the precariousness of their lives and the pain of the past threatens to tear them both apart.
This strident, brilliant collection of poetry boldly confronts the almost threatening language that the United States government has used in its responses, treaties, and apologies to Native American peoples and tribes. As a citizen of both the United States and the Oglala Sioux Tribe of Oglala Lakota Nation, Long Soldier discusses the predicament of dual citizenship within her national affiliations and the immense strain this places on everyday life.
On a South Dakota reservation, Virgil Wounded Horse delivers punishment when justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council. When heroin makes its way to the reservation and Virgil’s own family, his determination to put an end to it uncovers uncomfortable truths about money and power within the tribal council. Virgil must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity, realizing the cost of being a Native American in the 21st century.