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Holiday Book Show: December 6, 2016

Christina Phillips; NHPR

Our popular holiday tradition takes place on December 6.  We look at the top books of 2016 and discuss best books for gift-giving...and receiving.  Let us know what books you've enjoyed this year by email, by tagging us in a tweet, or sending a message to our Facebook page.

This show originally aired on December 6, 2016. 


  • Dan Chartrand, owner of Water Street Bookstore in Exeter
  • Donna Dunlop, Library Director of the Hopkinton Town Library
  • Michael Herrmann, owner of Gibson's Bookstore in Concord

Our guests began by discussing their favorite reads of this year:
Dan: This House of Sky by Ivan Doig Ivan Doig grew up along the rugged rims of the Rocky Mountains in Montana with his father, Charlie, and his grandmother, Bessie Ringer. His life was formed among the sheepherders and characters of small-town saloons and valley ranches as he wandered beside his restless father. The prose of this memoir is as resonant of the landscape of the American West as it is of those moments in memory which determine our lives (from the publisher's website). 

Michael: The Nix by Nathan Hill A novel about family and home set in the late 1960s.

Donna: The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley The story of a relic hunter in 1517 who deals with elite clintele like Frederick the Wise and is on a mission to retrieve the most important relic in Europe: she Shroud of Chambery, Christ's burial cloth. 

Listen to NHPR's Word of Mouth interview with Christopher Buckley.

Listen to the 10-Minute Writers Workshop interview with Buckley. 

New Fiction

The Mothers by Brit BennettSet within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition (from the publisher's website). 

News of the World by Paulette Jiles The story of a retired Captain who travels the country to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in 1870's Texas. 

Today Will be Different by Maria SempleA day in the life of a woman named Eleanor Flood, from the bestselling author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette. 

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett The acclaimed, bestselling author - winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize - tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families' lives (from the publisher's website). 

The Underground Railroad by Colson WhiteheadThe National Book Award Winner and #1 New York Times bestseller from Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid from freedom in the antebellum South (from the publisher's website). 

Listen to NHPR's Word of Mouth interview with Colson Whitehead.

Listen to the 10-Minute Writers Workshop interview with Colson Whitehead. 

Nutshell by Ian McEwan A fantastical retelling of Hamlet by William Shakespeare through the eyes of an unborn child as his mother plots the murder of her husband. 

LaRose by Louise ErdrichThe accidental death of a five-year-old binds two families together through ancient Native American tradition. 

New Nonfiction

Born To Run by Bruce SpringsteenThe much-discussed memoir from the musician inspired by his Super Bowl Halftime show with the E Street Band. 

The General vs. The President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War by H.W. Brands An in-depth look at the face-off between President Harry Truman and General Douglas MacArthur during the second World War. 

Hillybilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis byJ.D. Vance A Yale graduate and former marine revisits his childhood in the Rust Belt to understand the challenges faced by the white working class. 

Testimony: A Memoir by Robbie RobertsonReflections from a musician who worked with some of the greatest in rock 'n' roll. 

Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, A Daring Escape, And The Making of Winston Churchill byCandice Millard A thrilling narrative of Winston Churchill's extraordinary and little-known exploits during the Boer War (from the publisher's website). 

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi CoatesToni Morrison calls this letter from a father to his adolescent son "required reading" for its examination of race in the United States. 

Too Dumb to Fail by Matt K. Lewis From a leading voice among young conservatives, an impassioned argument that to stay relevant the Republican party must look beyond short-term electoral gains and re-commit to historic conservative values (from the publisher's website). 

Listen Liberal or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People? byThomas Frank An examination of the Democratic party in the current political climate. 

Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good by Chuck Collins.

Books from New Hampshire Authors

Sheds by Howard Mansfield A charming tour of the structures that define New England towns and country sides, perfect for the coffee table. 

N is for New Hampshire by Rebecca Rule, Illustrated by Scott SnyderAn alphabet book that spans the state, great for kids and adults. 

Black Trumpet: A Chef's Journey Through Eight New England Seasons by Evan Mallett The chef of the renowned Portsmouth restaurant bring readers on a tour through the distinct New England seasons that inform their menu, with more than 250 recipes. 

Moments of Seeing: Reflections from an Ordinary Life by Katrina Kenison A collection of essays excerpted from Kenison's popular blog for women. 

The Penny Poet of Portsmouth: A Memoir of Place, Solitude, and Friendship by Katherine TowlerA collection that embodies the New England spirit and the charm of small towns. 

Listen to NHPR's Word of Mouth interview with Katherine Towler.

Mount Washington: The Crown of New England by P. Andrew Spahr, Karen E. Quinn, Inez McDermott, and Peter Crane In conjunction with the Currier Museum of Art exhibit of the same name, this catalogue explores the development of Mount Washington's tourism. 


Dinner Pies: From Shepherd's Pies to Pot Pies to Tarts, Turnovers, Quiches, Hadn Pies, and More, with 100 Delectable and Foolproof Recipes byKen Haedrich.

Appetites: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever To feed his eight-year-old daughter, Bourdain uses his expertise in world cuisine to appeal to a younger audience, with simplicity and accessibility.

Mario Batali--Big American Cookbook by Mario Batali and Jim Webster Batali traveled all over the United States to gather recipes from families, local eateries, and state fairs. 

Listen to theWriter's on the New England Stage interview with Mario Batali. 

For Children and Young Adults

The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman (Ages 8-12) In a hilarious tale reminiscent of T.H. White, a lost boy finds himself an unlikely apprentice to the very old, vaguely evil, mostly just grumpy Wizard Smallbone (from the publisher's website). 

The Inquisitor's Tale...Or, The Three Maginal Children And Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz and illustrated byHatem Aly (Ages 10 and up) An exciting and hilarious medieval adventure from the bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm (from the publisher's website). 

March (Trilogy) by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Ages 11 and up) A graphic novel series that follows the Congressman's experience in the Civil Rights Movement.

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier(Ages 8-13) Catrina, and her sister Maya, who has cystic fibrosis, move to California, and the two girls encounter ghosts in their new home. 

Holding Up The Universe ?by Jennifer Niven (Teen and up) Libby, once called "America's Fattest Teen," deals with her mother's death, starting high school, and getting to know a boy who is unique in his own way. 


Float by Anne Carson A collection of poems and vignettes from the scholar, who has won international acclaim. 

The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins A collection of poems on travel, pets, love, and death. Accessible, and recommended for curious new poetry readers. 

Tarantula by Bob Dylan The prolific musician's early poetry. 

Listener Recommendations


Thesaurus of Separation by Tim Mayo (VT Author)


Fatherless: A Novel by James Dobson and Kurt D. Bruner

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (The Malayan Series Book 1) by Selina Siak Chin Yoke

The Sellout: A Novel by Paul Beatty

Alive (Book 1 of the Generations Trilogy) by Scott Sigler

Sweetland: A Novel by Michael Crummey

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery": The Authorized Graphic Adaptation by Miles Hyman

Listen to NHPR's Word of Mouth interviewwith Miles Hyman, illustrator and Shirley Jackson's grandson. 

In Sunlight or In Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper by Lawrence Block

Plowing the Dark: A Novel by Richard Powers

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson


The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir by Ruth Wariner

Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow: An Organizing Guide by Daniel Hunter

Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus by Rick Perlstein

Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World by Aja Raden

The Stranger in My Genes: A Memoir by Bill Griffeth

When Mountain Lions Are Neighbors: People and Wildlife Working It Out in California by Beth Pratt-Bergstrom

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Like audiobooks? The New York Times says that audiobook sales are at a record high. Check out their coveragehere.

And that's a wrap on our holiday book show! #bookstagram #holidayshopping #amreading A photo posted by The Exchange (@nhprexchange) on Dec 6, 2016 at 2:00pm PST

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