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2019 Annual Holiday Book Show

Books on display at Gibson's Bookstore.

The gift-giving season is suddenly upon us, and our independent bookstore owners are back with the best books of 2019 and recommendations for holiday shopping - including for yourself!  What were your favorite books of the year? All the titles that come up in our conversation, as well as our guest picks, will be posted as soon as possible after the show.

Air Date: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019


  • Dan Chartrand - owner of Water Street Bookstore in Exeter.
  • Michael Herrmann - owner of Gibson's Bookstore in Concord.

Water Street Bookstore's 2019 Top Staff Picks


This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone


The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow


Full Throttle: Stories by Joe Hill


The Topeka School: A Novel by Ben Lerner


Tell Me Who We Were: Stories by Kate McQuade


The Starless Sea: A Novel by Erin Morgenstern


The Dutch House: A Novel by Ann Patchett


Disappearing Earth: A Novel by Julia Phillips


Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson


Red at the Bone: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson


More great fiction staff picks: 

Trust Exercise: A Novel by Susan Choi; Wake, Siren:Ovid Resung by Nina Maclaughlin; 

Tuesday Mooney Talks To Ghosts: A Novel by Kate Racculia; 

The Deepby Rivers Solomon with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes; 

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel by Olga Tokarczuk; 

The Turn of the Key: A Novel by Ruth Ware.     




Home Now: How 6000 Refugees Transformed and American Town by Cynthia Anderson

The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts by Karen Armstrong

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson

The Winter Army: The World War II Odyssey of the 10thMountain Division, America’s Elite Alpine Warriors by Maurice Isserman

In the Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado

Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero by Christopher McDougall

Edison by Edmund Morris

The Ambassadors: America’s Diplomats on the Front Lines by Paul Richter

Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir by Victoria Riskin

Erosion: Essays of Undoing by Terry Tempest Williams


Two Great Gift Books with Illustrations:

Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy 


Three Books Woven Together by a Theme:

Fibershed: Growing a Movement of Farmers, Fashion Activists, and Makers for a New Textile Economy by Rebecca Burgess with Courtney White

Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle by Clare Hunter

Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes by Dana Thomas


Gibson's Bookstore 2019 Recommended Reads


Olive, Again, by Elizabeth Strout

The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett

Night Boat to Tangiers, by Kevin Barry

On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong

The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern

Ducks, Newburyport, by Lucy Ellmann

Trust Exercise, by Susan Choi

Red at the Bone, by Jacqueline Woodson

Nothing to See Here, by Kevin Wilson

Plus bestsellers by Richard Powers (The Overstory), Margaret Atwood (Testaments) and Louise Penny (A Better Man)

Science Fiction/Fantasy:

Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir


Deaf Republic, by Ilya Kaminsky

The Water Draft, by Alexandria Peary


Son of Havana, by Luis Tiant

Ballpark, by Paul Goldberger

Politics and Culture:

How to be an Anti-Racist, by Ibram X. Kendi

The Lies that Bind, by Kwame Anthony Appiah

Catch & Kill, by Ronan Farrow


Learning from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil, by Susan Neiman

Atlas Obscura, 2nd edition: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, by Joshua Foer


Strange Planet, by Nathan Pyle

The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump, by Rob Sears (updated!)

Biography and memoir:

Furious Hours, by Casey Cep

Know My Name, by Chanel Miller

Finding Chika, by Mitch Albom

The Yellow House, by Sarah Broom

In the Dream House, by Carmen Maria Machado


Felidia, by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

The Great British Baking Show Big Book of Amazing Cakes

New updated edition of Joy of Cooking

You Suck at Cooking, by Anonymous You Suck at Cooking Guy

The Art of Escapism Cooking, by Mandy Lee

General non-fiction, belles lettres, etc:

Trick Mirror, by Jia Tolentino

Underland, a Deep Time Journey, by Robert MacFarlane

Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, by Benjamin Dreyer

Becoming, guided journal, box set, etc. by Michelle Obama

Mister Rogers Neighborhood: A Visual History, by Melissa Wagner et al.


Emily Dickenson’s Gardening Life, by Marta McDowell

A Garden Miscellany, by Suzy Staubach


The Body by Bill Bryson

How to: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems, by Randall Munro


Morning Glory on the Vine, by Joni Mitchell

Acid for the Children, by Flea

Beautiful Ones, by Prince

Country Music, by Duncan and Burns

Local authors:

That Reminds Me of a Funny Story, by Becky Rule

See You at the Summit, by Randy Pierce

YA/Graphic Novels/HBO connection:

Secret Commonwealth, Phillip Pullman

Watchmen, Alan Moore

Children’s picture books:

Bear is Awake, by Hana Harrison

Middle grades:

Pages & Co., Bookwanderers, by Anna James


Legacy of Orisha series, by Toni Adeyemi (first book was Children of Blood and Bone; second book, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, has just come out this week)

Listener Recommendations

 We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Do Not Go Gentle, Go to Paris: Travels of An Uncertain Woman of A Certain Age by Gail Schilling.

 Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo A multi-level murder mystery wrapped in a ghost story, with an examination of humanity through a cluster of secret societies drenched in real magic. 

One of my favorite books of 2019 is a local story based in Durham. It's the story of three women who led an environmental fight against the richest man in the world, Aristotle Onassis, who wanted to build a oil refinery on Durham Point in 1973. The story is a great David vs Goliath written by UNH professor David Moore. The title is Small Town, Big Oil. One of the women involved is former state representative Dudley Dudley. I highly recommend it.

Preserving Old Barns by John Porter. Second edition is double the size- history, variety, care of ( mostly) NH barns. Beautifully illustrated. 
My favorite book this year is Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier. It is not a new book, but it was new to me. It deals with a teacher of classical languages who one day walks out of his classroom and heads to Portugal in search of the author of a book that has captivated him.

I recommend The Five by Hallie Rubenhold (purchased at Gibson's)! It's about the women killed by Jack the Ripper in Victorian London. The author did a great job at researching their lives--most were working class women who fell on hard times and not prostitutes, which is the commonly held myth. Her writing makes them into real people and not just props in a grizzly murder mystery. It's well written and reads like a novel but tells a true tale of women whose stories have been hidden for over 100 years. 

Many of these stories shocked me since I grew up in Durham and had no idea. It’s a beautifully written narrative that I think other New Hampshire readers might enjoy: The Colored Folks Ain't Gonna Make It. 

Things You Save in A Fire by Katherine Center

Love & Awakening by John Welwood

NHPR Staff Picks

The following books stood out to the readers on staff at NHPR:

The Library Book by Susan Orlean! It's part memoir, part true crime, with an engrossing history of libraries included. 

A Woman is No Man (Etaf Rum) and The World That We Knew(Alice Hoffman).

I'm really into the new Philip Pullman His Dark Materials series, Book of Dust... the second of three, The Secret Commonwealth, came out this fall.

The Dutch House, Ann Patchett,

Mostly Dead Things , Kristen Arnett,

She Said , Jodi Kantor, Meghan Twohey

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? , Caitlin Doughty

Early Riser, Jasper Fforde

Normal People,  Sally Rooney

Wakenhyrst,  Michelle Paver

The Turn of the Key,  Ruth Ware

“Buy someone the set: Anthony Horowitz's The Word is Murder and The Sentence Is Death.

And, as always, A Gentleman in Moscow, highly recommended!

National Best of 2019 Lists

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