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2020 Annual Holiday Book Show

It's our Annual Holiday Book Show, a little earlier than usual given the pandemic’s impact on both the book industry and  how people shop. We ask independent booksellers how they’re approaching both in-person and online sales this holiday season.  And of course we find out what books they recommend for inspiration or a little escape from reality!  How has your reading changed this year? What books are on your list - either for gifting or for reading this winter?

Airdate: Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020


Scroll down for Top Ten lists and recommendations. All the books mentioned during the show will be added.

Recommendations from Gibson's Bookstore


The Cold Millions – Jess Walter


Piranesi—Susannah Clarke


Snow—John Banville


Hamnet—Maggie O’Farrell


Betty—Tiffany McDaniel


Once & Future Witches—Alix Harlow


House in the Cerulean Sea—TJ Klune


Cuyahoga—Pete Beatty


Wrong Kind of Woman—Sarah Crow


Invisible Life of Addie Larue—V.E. Schwab


Thursday Murder Club—Richard Osman


Hench—Natalie Zina Walschots


Deacon King Kong—James McBride


True Story—Kate Reed Petty


You Found Me – Virginia MacGregor


Plain Bad Heroines—Emily Danforth



Promised Land—Barack Obama


His Truth is Marching On—Jon Meacham

Reaganland—Rick Perlstein


Union—Colin Woodard


We Keep the Dead Close—Becky Cooper


Memorial Drive—Natasha Trethewey


Greatest Beer Run Ever—Chick Donohue




Promised Land—Barack Obama


His Truth is Marching On—Jon Meacham


Reaganland—Rick Perlstein


Union—Colin Woodard


We Keep the Dead Close—Becky Cooper


Memorial Drive—Natasha Trethewey


Greatest Beer Run Ever—Chick Donohue


Current Affairs


Apollo’s Arrow: the profound and enduring impact of coronavirus on the way we live—Nicholas Christakis




Parwana: Recipes and Stories from an Afghan Kitchen—Durkhanai Ayubi


Ottolenghi Flavor—Yotam Ottolenghi


Dirt -- Bill Buford




She Come by it Natural (Dolly Parton) – Sarah Smarsh


And in the End: the last days of the Beatles—Ken McNab


Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music—Alex Ross




One Life--Megan Rapinoe


Dynasty—Jeff Benedict


Ballpark – Paul Goldberger




Stranger Planet—Nathan Pyle


Men to Avoid in Art and Life—Nicole Tersigni




Vesper Flights—Helen MacDonald


Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants—Robin Wall Kimmerer


Poetry – recommending works by the US and NH poet laureates, Joy Harjo and Alexandria Peary


New Anti-racism texts—studies of foundational figures in black writing and activism


The Dead Are Arising (Malcolm X) – Les Payne


Begin Again (James Baldwin)—Eddie Glaude




Nose Dive—Harold McGee


Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another—Ainissa Ramirez


Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art—Rebecca Sykes




Wolf Kahn: Paintings & Pastels, 2010-2020


For the whole family


History of the World in 1000 Objects--DK


Young Adult


Punching the Air - Ibi Zoboi and Usef Salaam


Legendborn - Tracy Deonn


Middle Grades


The Unadoptables - Hana Tooke


Younger kids


Cozy - by Jan Brett

Recommendations from Water Street Bookstore


Leave the World Behind: A Novel by Rumaan Alam

Cuyahoga: A Novel by Pete Beatty

Beneficence: A Novel by Meredith Hall

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda

Monogamy: A Novel by Sue Miller

Jack by Marilyn Robinson

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V. E. Schwab

One by One by Ruth Ware

Memorial: A Novel by Bryan Washington


Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains by Kerri Arsenault

Catch the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour 1932-1975 by Neal Gabler

The Weirdest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous by Joseph Henrich

A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (and Some Bears) by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling

The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design by Roman Mars and Kurt Kolstedt

1774: The Long Year of Revolution by Mary Beth Norton

First Principles: What America’s Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country by Thomas E. Ricks

The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move by Sonia Shah

Entangle Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson


Recommendations from Bookery Manchester

The Dynasty by Jeff Benedict

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Luster by Raven Leilani

Leave the World Behind by Ruuman Alam

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Peaces Talks by Jim Butcher


Books Mentioned During the Show

Laura’s favorite book ever: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Natalie Portman's Fables

Jodi Picoult · The Book of Two Ways

Midnight Sun - Stephenie Meyer

A Time for Mercy - John Grisham

Trust - Pete Buttigieg

Wild Symphony -  Dan Brown (children’s book)

City of Girls - Elizabeth Gilbert 

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

And The People Stayed Home - prose poem by Kitty O'Meara

Share Some Kindness and Bring Some Light - April Stock

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Masterclass on Writing, Reading and Life - George Saunders (Jan. 2021)

Beneficence - Meredith Hall 


Listener recommendations

Chris in Hooksett:  In terms of a reading recommendation, fiction: Florida Man by Tom Cooper, his second book.  His first, The Marauders, also very good.

Sarah in Concord: I heard yesterday that Ty Gagne, author of “Where You’ll Find Me,” has written another book. I think “Where You’ll Find Me” was brilliant and plan to pick up the new one as a gift for all the hikers on my list. [Note that Ty Gagne will be on The Exchange on Nov. 24 to talk about his new book, Last Traverse: Tragedy and Resilience in the Winter Whites]

From Leslie in Bennington NH: During the pandemic, I’ve enjoyed reading picture books with my little one. We loved Lovely by Jess Hong and Three Squeezes by Jason Pratt. New classics, in my opinion!

Linda in Nashua: I recently read “Separated” by Jacob Soboroff which is about the immigration crisis and childhood separations.  While difficult to read, it really explains how this situation developed.  

Leslie in Chester: There were 2 novels I read recently that had controversy surrounding their release, so I figured I’d check them out. American Dirt is about a mother’s attempt to escape violence in Mexico, and Giver of Stars is about WPA librarians on horseback in rural Kentucky.  Both authors have an exceptional way of bringing their characters to life. Controversy aside, they are great reads!

Michael in Hampton: I recently purchased What Were We Thinking:  A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era by Carlos Lozada, which surveys books on topics which have been of particular interest lately and includes a list of the books discussed at the end of each chapter. I also couldn't help revisiting classic Science Fiction, picking up Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke and Dune by Frank Herbert, sparked by the new movie version that will hopefully come out at some point!

Rob recommended: Debut novel by local author KJ Dell’Antonia:  The Chicken Sisters. Fun read. Comes out on 12/1.

Anna in Hopkinton recommends: Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder and a Woman's Search for Justice by Sierra Krein Murdoch. Murdoch is a reporter who investigates the ramifications of fracking and drilling on Native American reservations. Very well written and heartbreaking. In fiction. I just finished reading The Shame by Makenna Goodman. The author was featured on a Boston Globe virtual book review hosted by Hanover Bookstore, well-written first novel dealing with the complexities and monotony of motherhood

Diane and Frank: We highly recommend Exiles,  the latest book by Christina Baker Klein, author of The Orphan Train and Peace of the World. Exiles is about British female prisoners that were sent to Australia and Tasmania during the early days of British rule in that part of the world.

Margaret on Facebook:  My favorite book this year (that I’m slowly enjoying) is Underland by Robert MacFarlane, now in paperback.

Sharon on Facebook: Uplifting choice "A Single Thread" by Tracy Chevalier


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