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2021 NHPR Holiday Book Show

A photo of a person holding a stack of books in front of a shelf of books.
Dan Chartrand of Water Street Bookstore in Exeter

Ideas for gift-giving and to keep you busy reading this winter! Former Exchange host Laura Knoy will be returning for NHPR’s Holiday Book Show on Monday, November 29, at 12 noon and 9 p.m. Check below for the books recommended by our booksellers!

Winter always seems like a great time to settle in with a book, and what better gift? Former Exchange host Laura Knoy will be returning for NHPR’s Holiday Book Show on Monday, November 29, at 12 noon and 9 p.m.

A stack of YA recommendations from White Birch Books in North Conway
whitebirchbooks: Instagram
A stack of YA recommendations from White Birch Books in North Conway

Laura Knoy will be chatting with local independent booksellers about their favorites over the past year, and which new books they expect to see flying off the shelves this gift-giving season. We’ll cover the best in novels, non-fiction, biographies, cookbooks, and more, for gifting or for yourself!

Our guests include Dan Chartrand of Water Street Bookstore in Exeter, Laura Cummings of White Birch Books in North Conway, and Michael Herrmann of Gibson's Bookstore in Concord. We'll be posting all the books recommended by booksellers, listeners (and some NHPR staff!) right here following the show.

*Books mentioned during the show are marked with asterisk*

White Birch Books


*The Memoirs Of Stockholm Sven By Nathaniel Ian Miller

*The Lincoln Highway By Amor Towles

*Cloud Cuckoo Land By Anthony Doerr

Fight Night By Miriam Toews

A Thousand Ships By Natalie Haynes

Mary Jane By Jessica Anya Blau

Once There Were Wolves By Charlotte Mcconaghy

*The Blacktongue Thief By Christopher Buehlman

Under The Whispering Door By Tj Klune

The Cat Who Saved Books By Sosuke Natsukawa


Joshua Weissman: An Unapologetic Cookbook By Joshua Weissman

*Let’s Eat Italy: Everything You Want To Know About Your Favorite Cuisine By Francois-Regis Gaudry

Carnival Of Snackery By David Sedaris

Where The Deer And The Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations Of One Ignorant American Who Loves To Walk Outside By Nick Offerman

Best Wishes, Warmest Regards: The Story Of Schitt’s Creek By Eugene And Dan Levy

Leave The Gun, Take The Cannoli: The Epic Story Of The Making Of The Godfather By Mark Seal

The Double Life Of Bob Dylan: A Restless, Hungry Feeling, 1941-1966 By Clinton Heylin

Fuzz: When Nature Breaks The Law By Mary Roach

*NH Rocks That Rock By Dan Szczesny

The Third Pole By Mark Synnott

Bonus Picture Book List

Norman Didn’t Do It (Yes, He Did) By Ryan Higgins

*Chez Bob By Bob Shea

I Eat Poop: A Dung Beetle Story By Mark Pett

Water Street Books:

Top 10 Fiction

*Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel by Anthony Doerr

*The Sentence: A Novel by Louise Erdrich

A Line to Kill: A Novel by Anthony Horowitz

*Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Five Tuesdays in Winter: Stories by Lily King

Apples Never Fall: A Novel by Liane Moriarty

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Our Country Friends: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart

Fight Night: A Novel: A Novel by Miriam Toews

Harlem Shuffle: A Novel by Colson Whitehead

Top 10 Non-Fiction

Now Comes Good Sailing: Writers Reflect on Henry David Thoreau edited by Andrew Blauner

Our First Civil War: Patriots and Loyalists in the American Revolution by H. W. Brands

Powder Days: Ski Bums, Ski Towns and the Future of Chasing Snow by Heather Hansman

Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages by Dan Jones

*The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones

Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future by Elizabeth Kolbert

On Animals by Susan Orlean

*This Is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan

*Beautiful Country: A Memoir by Qian Julie Wang

All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Biggest Story Ever Told by Douglas Wolk

Great Books About Books at Water Street Bookstore

The New York Times Book Review: 125 Years of Literary History; Edited by Tina Jordan and Noor Qasim

The Library: A Fragile History by Andrew Pettegree and Arthur Der Weduwen

Great Cookbooks at Water Street Bookstore

*Black Food: Stories, Art & Recipes from Across the African Diaspora; Edited & Curated by Bryant Terry

*The Korean Vegan Cookbook: Reflections and Recipes from Omma’s Kitchen by Joanne Lee Molinaro

Great Local New Hampshire Authors at Water Street Bookstore

Exeter: Past and Present by Kathleen D. Bailey and Sheila R. Bailey

*Hiking the White Mountains: A Guide to New Hampshire’s Best Hiking Adventures by Lisa Densmore Ballard and James Buchanan

*Dead On Deadline: A Piper Greene Exeter Mystery by Lara Bricker

The Power of Energy Medicine: Your Natural Prescription for Resilient Health by Hilary Crowley

The Heirloom Gardener: Traditional Plants & Skills for the Modern World by John Forti

*Chasing Eden: A Book of Seekers by Howard Mansfield

*The Hummingbirds’ Gift: Wonder, Beauty, and Renewal on Wings by Sy Montgomery

The Unlikely Art of Parental Pressure: A Positive Approach to Pushing Your Child to Be Their Best Self by Dr. Chris Thurber and Dr. Hendrie Weisinger

Great Local New Hampshire Poets at Water Street Bookstore

We Hold on To What We Can: Poems by Sarah Alcott Anderson

Liminal: Poems by Bill Burtis

lesser case by Mark DeCarteret

Tender the River: Poems by Matt Miller

Surface Fugue: Poems by Ralph Sneeden

Loosen: Poems by Kyle Potvin

Great Sports Books at Water Street Bookstore

*The Baseball 100 by Joe Posnanski

Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics by Dan Shaughnessy

It’s Better to Be Feared: The New England Patriots Dynasty and the Pursuit of Greatness by Seth Wickersham

Gibson’s Bookstore:


*The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

Bewilderment by Richard Powers

*The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

*Matrix by Lauren Groff

*Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

*Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris


Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

Animal by Lisa Taddeo

No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood


*Donald Hall, Old Poets

* Limits of Limelight by Margaret Porter

Ernie Hebert’s Darby novels all republished by Wesleyan U. Press this year

Authors we have talked about on the show before: Sy Montgomery, Howard Mansfield, Virginia Macgregor, Dan Sczcesny


The Storyteller by Dave Grohl

My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

The Lyrics by Paul McCartney

Debut memoir:

*Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford


*The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber

*The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones

Gift books

Renegades by Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen

*Gastro Obscura by Cecily Wong & Dylan Thuras

Trees and nature

Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard

Toadstool Bookshops

The Lyrics - Paul McCartney

The Storyteller - Dave Grohl - there were a limited number of signed copies that were available - truly the hottest request while they lasted

*Deep Presence: 13000 Years Of Native American History in New England - lots of local sites - by Robert Goodby

The 1619 Project from the NYT and Nikole Hannah-Jones

Chasing Eden: A Book Of Seekers by Howard Mansfield of Hancock NH

Hummingbirds' Gift by Sy Montgomery also from Hancock

Cokie: A Life Well Lived by Steven Roberts

*New England Roadside Ecology by Thomas Wessels

two long awaited new novels from favorite authors:

*Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

*Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

*The Sentence by Louis Erdrich

*Memoirs Of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller - a personal favorite!

*Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman's still forthcoming collection of poems

*Baseball 100 by Joe Posnaski on the lives of baseballs 100 greatest players

graphic novels for kids are in great demand

The Nutcracker - retold and fully illustrated by Jan Brett

Also mentioned:

My Shadow is Pink by Scott Stuart

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

Anthony and the Gargoyle by Jo Ellen Bogart

New Hampshire's 52 with a View by Ken MacGray

The AMC White Mountain Guide

The Four thousand Footers of New Hampshire by Mike Dickerman

Listener Recommendations:

Sue Lamb: Welcome to Frost Heaves - it’s a great book

Cathleen Toomey: I got an early copy of a fantastic book that she recommends for anyone on the other side of 60 – From Strength to Strength – Finding Success, Happiness and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life by Arthur Brooks, a Harvard professor, columnist forThe Atlantic columnist, and podcaster. This is an eminently readable guidebook on how to start crafting a life of purpose and happiness right now. He incorporates St. Thomas Aquinas, Buddha, the Dali Lama, David Foster Wallace and the newest psychological research into his thinking to create a clear point of view from which to take stock of your life, and how to intentionally shift direction. It’s a great gift.

Bryce Morales: I'm excited to give my dad The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow this holiday season. It just came out, and I haven't quite finished it, but I can already tell it will shake up many of our longstanding beliefs about early human history. I would be surprised if it didn't ultimately settle alongside (if not surpass) such recent hits as Sapiens and Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Lundy Smith: I highly recommend Gordo by Jaime Cortez. A brilliant collection of short stories that explore the lives of migrant workers living in the central coast of California. The stories are poignant, funny, and present the dark side of being a migrant/Mexicano/Chicano in America. The best work of fiction I read in 2021.

Vicki Brown: I will be giving all my friends two books this season! Finding the Mother Tree by Dr. Suzanne Simard and New England's Roadside Ecology by Thomas Wessels. I love both so much, and they are accessible to all, even if they aren't nature geeks!

Laurie Zwaan: Stop whatever you’re doing and read the Lincoln Highway. Amor Towles' writing is exquisite, as we know from his previous novels. The characters are beautifully developed. The story is so compelling you will not be able to stop reading. There's something for everyone: Greek mythology, adventure, travel, suspense, murder.... gah! If I were a bookseller I would insist that anyone who walked into my store buy this book immediately!

Sarah McCraw Crow says: I loved Lauren Groff’s latest novel The Matrix (12th-century young French woman is sent to run a floundering abbey—it’s so good, so unexpected and yet believable. And somehow a page turner.) And I’m looking forward to reading Elizabeth Strout’s new novel Oh, William!

Rachel Young: I recommend Trace by Melanie Figg who graduated from Hanover, NH, High School in 1986. It’s a full-length poetry collection, winner of the Many Voices Project.

Nancy Hammond: Point of Graves by J Dennis Robinson - a great “New England History Mystery”! Set in Portsmouth with a lot of factual historical detail. Highly recommended.

Cathy Joly: My absolute favorite one is Dara McAnulty’s Diary of a Young Naturalist, which I am giving to young adults and adults even though it is written by a 14-year-old. The writing carries my heart into Dara’s world, I feel the beauty, the pain, the passion. Dara’s exquisite attention to details and his crystal clear descriptions of his world make it impossible to put down, and I find myself reading it over and over.

Grace Dugan: There are a few books that I am really excited to get this holiday season: A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger who wrote Elatsoe, which is a favorite of mine. I also am excited for Jen Campbell’s creepy illustrated book of fairytale retellings: The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers.

Sarah Cleaver: I highly recommend Dan & Uma Szczesny's field guide, NH Rocks that Rock. It's a great guide to getting out and exploring new areas of our beautiful little state!

gibsonsbookstorenh: Instagram
Some recent releases at Gibson's Bookstore in Concord

In addition to hosting Weekend Edition (and occasionally Morning Edition or other programs), Jessica produces Something Wild and Check This Out.
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