Our indie bookstore owners are back for our annual Holiday Book Show to discuss the books that flew off the shelves in 2018, and which might make for great gift-giving or to keep for yourself! Novelists tackled the idea of American identity, with characters who don't quite fit in, while history writers revealed hidden stories from our past, from code-breakers to the Korean War. And non-fiction covered famous figures including Ronald Reagan and Michelle Obama. Scroll down for the list of books mentioned on the show.
- Dan Chartrand - owner of Water Street Bookstore in Exeter.
- Michael Herrmann - owner of Gibson's Bookstore in Concord.
Kingdom of the Blind, and others by Louise Penny
Unsheltered, by Barbara Kingsolver
Fox 8, by George Saunders
Transcription, by Kate Atkinson
Florida, by Lauren Groff
There There, by Tommy Orange
Washington Black, by Esi Edugyon
Bitter Orange, by Claire Fuller
Wade in the Water, by Tracy K. Smith
90% Mental by Bob Tewksbury
Bobby, by Bobby Orr
The Pats, by Glenn Stout
Good & Mad, by Rebecca Traister
The Fifth Risk, by Michael Lewis
The Poison Squad, by Deborah Blum (this is also in History)
Habit of Turning the World Upside Down, by Howard Mansfield
How to Be a Good Creature, by Sy Montgomery
Frederick Douglass, Prophet of Freedom, by David Blight
Becoming, by Michelle Obama
Calypso, by David Sidaris
These Truths, by Jill Lepore
The Library Book, by Susan Orlean
Books about Eric Clapton, the Beastie Boys, Led Zeppelin, a memoir by Jeff Tweedy (Wilco)
Ciao Itlaia, by Mary Ann Esposito
Milk Street, by Christopher Kimball
Solo, by Anita Lo
Top picks for middle grade:
Wundersmith, by Jessica Townsend - the second book in the outstanding Nevermoor series is outstanding. The series has large and imaginative concepts of magic that creates a rich and complex world. If you have young fans of Harry Potter looking for a new series, this is the one to start.
Monstrous Devices by Damien Love - is an adventure following Alex and his elusive grandfather through Europe in their effort to prevent an evil group from gaining control of the famous Golem of Prague. Fending off mechanical men and their tin toy creations through London, Paris and eventually a final confrontation in Prague this book has a plethora of action and an intriguing view of the fantastic.
Mascot by Anthony John - a great novel with big heart about embracing what makes you different and learning that your differences don’t have to limit you but can become your strengths. Great for fans of Wonder or Posted.
Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech - a tender story of braving the vulnerability and risks that come with allowing yourself to care for others. It is about love, letting go, breaking and being put back together.
The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron - my go-to YA recommendation recently. It’s set in a small village where every twelve years everyone’s memories are reset overnight. No one knows why, it’s just something that occurs. The main character has flashbacks from before the precious forgetting, and she sets off on an adventure to find out more about the mysterious forgetting. Great writing, strong characters, unique and interesting concept. Beautiful imagery.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is out in paperback!
Bull by David Elliot - written in verse with some PG-13 language, it’s short, fascinating, funny and at times very bittersweet and would make a great gift for fans of mythology as well as reluctant readers. Gibson's has signed copies.
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd - a great new fantasy that calls to mind the imagery of The Night Circus.
American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment; by Shane Bauer
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup; by John Carreyrou
A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety; by Donald Hall
These Truths: A History of the United States; by Jill Lepore
The Habit of Turning the World Upside Down; by Howard Mansfield
How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals; by Sy Montgomery
Becoming; by Michelle Obama
Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History; by Keith O’Brien
The Library Book; by Susan Orlean
Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth; by Sarah Smarsh
The Travelling Cat Chronicles; by Hiro Arikawa
Kudos: A Novel; by Rachel Cusk
Washington Black; by Esi Edugyan
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock; by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Scribe: A Novel; by Alyson Hagy
Crudo: A Novel; by Olivia Laing
Severance: A Novel; by Ling Ma
The Great Believers: A Novel; by Rebecca Makkai
She Would Be King: A Novel; by Wayetu Moore
Spinning Silver; by Naomi Novik
Best of New Hampshire Authors
Locked In: The Will to Survive and the Resolve to Live; by Victoria Arlen
Cruising New Hampshire History: A Guide to New Hampshire's Roadside Historical Markers; by Michael A. Bruno
Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy; by Mary Ann Esposito
Under the Starry Flag: How a Band of Irish Americans Joined the Fenian Revolt and Sparked a Crisis over Citizenship; by Lucy E. Salyer
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Bridge of Clay - Marcus Zusak (author of The Book Thief)
In Pieces by Sally Field (biography)
Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century by George Packer
Caller: Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went From the Football field to the Art Gallery by Sandra Neill Wallace. Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lita Judge
Coeli: Although it's been around for a bit, my favorite read this year was Rise of the Rocket Girls. Entertaining and amazing
Sharon: Circe by Madeline Miller a favorite
Nancy in Townshend, VT: ! I am a volunteer in a Vermont men’s prison who conducts a book discussion group. We read "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak and now will begin on "Bread and Roses, Too” by Katherine Paterson. This activity is such a treat for all of us!
Michele, Hudson: This fall a middle school literature teacher asked me to make custom curtains for her classroom....with the theme of the book "Freak the Mighty" by Rodman Philbrick. I'd never heard of it so I read it before creating the curtains. It's a book geared to middle schoolers but I've got to say I was riveted. Stayed up well past midnight to finish it. Cried. It was a good story & quite powerful.
Don, Londonderry: Rule of One by the Saunders Sisters
Audrey, Hancock: Don’t forget audiobooks! My 10-year old son and I are listening to the “How To Train Your Dragon” series for the 4th time. Meanwhile, he’s reading the “Warriors” series on his own and “Star Wars” backstory novels. My husband is reading the “Harry Potter” series aloud to him, while I’m reading him “The Hobbit.” Books are just A LITTLE important in our household. And, please, give a shoutout to our favorite book sellers, Willard and Holly, owners of the Toadstool Bookstores in Peterborough, Keene and Milford.
Polly, Cornish Flat: “Watching The Lights Go Out,” by Tom Farmen is a lovely book. It is about a dog who is loosing her sight and how she impacted her owners in thoughts of growing older. I highly recommend this book to all readers.
Nick, Keene: I just read, and really enjoyed, Sue Prideaux’s new biography of Friedrich Nietzsche, I Am Dynamite. Like Sarah Bakewell, Prideaux does a nice job presenting the history of ideas in a way that is accessible to a broad audience.
A listener: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
Ellis, Grantham: I’m always looking for well-written non-fiction, especially in the genre of Erik Larson. This year’s favorites include “The Great Quake” by Henry Fountain about the 1964 Alaska earthquake (especially timely) and “The Widow Cliquot” by Tilar Mazzio.
Tom, Rye: I would like to mention a memoir “Keeping At It” by Paul A. Volcker, a personal hero of mine, and our nation’s premier public servant. At a time when we are losing so many esteemed leaders, George H. W. Bush and John McCain most recently, it is refreshing to read of someone’s commitment to serving the public. Volcker could have easily used his talents to make billions on Wall Street and instead chose to follow his father’s path and serve our nation.
Geoff: Elisabeth Hyde grew up in Concord, still comes back here fairly often. Her 2018 book is Go Ask Fannie.
Rachel: I love taking about books and trying to pick just one is so hard! I started an Instagram, @mylibrarybag, to share all the books we read. I mostly read YA, MG, or younger both by myself and with my 3 young children:
- Orphan island by Laurel Snyder (Gasped at the ending)
- Nutcracked by Susan Adrian
- Spinning Silver by Naomi Novak
- Rebel the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
A listener: For those (women) out there looking for an inspiring memoir for yourself or as a gift, I’d like to recommend “Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over” by award winning historian Nell Irvin Painter. Painter left a chaired professorship at Princeton to go to art school — embracing a new field and a new life at the age of 64. Not only is it a fun read, it proves you’re never too old to learn and try something new in your life. Also great for book groups!
I often give picture books as gifts—to adults! The new one that I have given this year is the beautiful “Julian Is a Mermaid” by Jessica Love.
Cindy, Harrisville: I recently started a PhD program, and made the decision at the start to make sure I read for pleasure alongside the thousands of pages of academic reading I need to be doing. When I did my undergraduate degree, the volume of academic reading really soured my relationship with the written word, and it took me years to repair it. I didn’t want that to happen this time! I’ve enjoyed “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi and, similarly “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee. I’m looking forward to a collection of poetry, “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur next.
Garrett, Londonderry: So many good books this year! One of my favorites was Where You’ll Find Me, by Ty Gagne. A compelling non-fiction book of tragedy and heroism, set in the White Mountains.
Kathy in Wilmot: My favorite book of the year was "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles. It was a great story as well as well written. The determination of the main character to endure and flourish was remarkable. The civility that he maintained was a true vacation from our national scene. For anyone looking to escape.
New York Times: "100 Notable Books of 2018"
Publishers Weekly: "Best Books of 2018"
Washington Post: "Best Books of 2018"
Libro.fm: "Top 10 Audiobooks"