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Best Books for the Holidays, 2015

It’s our annual holiday book show: two N.H. independent booksellers give us their picks for the best reads of 2015. 


Books mentioned during the show:

  • Victoria Jamieson, Roller Girl: graphic novel about joining roller derby, good for young adults
  • Zachary Golper, Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread: new technique for baking bread, beautifully put together book


  • Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies: about newly married Lotto & Mathilde, with the story from each perspective. It was also President Obama’s favorite novel of the year.
  • Elena Ferrante, Neapolitan Novels: greatest Italian writer right now, although no one knows who she really is. The 4-book series is about friends who grow up outside of Naples in the 1950s – the last one is out this year.
  • Bill Clegg, Did You Ever Have a Family: novel by a publishing industry insider, first novel
  • Michel Houellebecq, Submission: satire, smart critique, set in the future in France
  • Jane Smiley, Golden Age: new book is the final volume in the Last Hundred Years Trilogy, each book follows a generation of the Langdon Iowa farm family, same set of characters through generations
  • Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life: long book, dark story about four classmates from college who move to New York after graduation. The book has gotten so much attention from the book community, fallen in love with the characters. 

Short Story collections:

  • Lucia Berlin, A Manual for Cleaning Women: short stories by a writer who died last year - possibly the ‘best writer you've never heard of’, sparse & unadorned - think Chekhov set in the slums of Oakland
  • Colum McCann, Thirteen Ways of Looking: title story is about final day of a Brooklyn judge assaulted on way out of restaurant on snowy afternoon
  • Joy Williams, The Visiting Privilege: Stories: a good read for a writer


  • Zen Cho, Sorcerer to the Crown: fantasy has become more mainstream, more serious. Regency-era fantasy novel, Britain is suffering lack of magical resources, on the brink of war with France.
  • Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant – great novel, fantasy elements (a little controversial because Ishiguro said he didn't want it to be misconstrued as a ‘genre novel’)
  • Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: one of the best books ever about magic – and it’s sorted in fiction


  • Nina McLaughlin, Hammer Head: Listener recommendation - “It's her memoir about leaving a career as a journalist and becoming a carpenter. Really well written, and she shares her story of personal growth and a new career as a woman in a predominately male field. She is from Boston, so a lot of the places she mentions or works at are familiar.”
  • Gloria Steinem,My Life on the Road: memoir
  • Oliver Sacks, On the Move: A Life: author passed away this year, was the famous neurologist who wrote The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat. The book covers his motorcycle enthusiasm, drug-use, difficult relationship with brother.
  • Stefany Shaheen, Elle & Coach: about a girl with Type-1 diabetes and her service dog

Listener-recommended local authors:


Local authors:

More Local Writers:


  • Rick Riordan: started a new mythology series called Magnus Chase. He was also the author of the Percy Jackson series (loved by Laura’s son).
  • Mo Willems, The Story of Diva and Flea: about a dog and cat in Paris who become friends
  • Drew Daywalt, The Day the Crayons Came Home: younger kids, picture book
  • Adam Rubin, Robosauce
  • Lora Koehler, The Little Snowplow: picture book
  • JK Rowling, Harry Potter & The Sorceror’s Stone: new illustrated edition, JK Rowling says the illustrations come closest to how she saw it in her mind
  • Listener recommendation - Paula McLain, Circling the Sun: novel based on the real life of pilot and writer Beryl Markham

More non-fiction:

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me: it’s a letter to his son about racism in this country, how to defy and not accommodate. Exeter chose it as its One Town, One Book choice
  • Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric: poetry, also addresses the experience of being black

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