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.
- Dan Chartrand, owner of Water Street Bookstore in Exeter
- Michael Herrmann, owner of Gibson's Bookstore in Concord
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
- Marilynne Robinson, another Iowa-based writer
- 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:
- Listener: books like Erik Larsen? (Dead Wake)
- Mary Beard, SPQR: History of Ancient Rome: first book Dan will read after the holiday rush – famous Cambridge classicist gives a new take on ancient Rome. Mary Beard was interviewed on Fresh Air last week.
- Flora Fraser, The Washingtons: George and Martha: Join’d by Friendship, Crown’d by Love: amazing relationship, the novel goes past the wooden way Washington is usually depicted
- Stacy Schiff, The Witches: Salem, 1692: close as anyone has come to explaining (still some mystery)
- another listener rec - Jill Lepore, Secret History of Wonder Woman
- Howard Frank Mosher, God’s Kingdom: set in Northeast kingdom of Vermont, coming-of-age novel
- Edie Clark, As Simple As That: Collected Essays: collection of essays she has written for Yankee Magazine over the years
- Richard Adams Carey, In the Evil Day: look at the 1996 Colebrook shooting; gained trust of the community to report the story
- Caller: more books by Dave McCullough?
- his newest book The Wright Brothers is out this year
- also try Ian W. Toll’s The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944
More Local Writers:
- Larry Cultrera, New Hampshire Diners: history of classic granite state eateries
- Helen Brody and Leslie Tuttle, New Hampshire Women Farmers
- Becky Field, Different Roots, Common Dreams: NH’s Cultural Diversity
- Donald Hall, Selected Poems
- David Orr, The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong: cultural biography of the Robert Frost poem
- Listener email: local writer Maryann Cocca-Leffler writes to mention her new Christmas book, A Homemade Together Christmas
- She was also the author and illustrator of Clams All Year
- 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
- 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
- Listener recommendation - LE Hastings, All the King's Houses: great book for a person in recovery
- Warren Zanes, Petty: the Biography: Zanes is a musician and academic, grew up in Concord
- Robert Galbraith’s detective series: it’s as if Hagrid went to London to be a hard-boiled detective. (JK Rowling’s pen name)
- Sarah Vowell, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States: first book on Michael’s list
- Brady Carlson, Dead Presidents: NHPR’s own Brady Carlson’s first book will be out in February
- Katherine Towler, Penny Poet of Portsmouth: local writer, memoir of place, solitude, and friendship