It’s the most wonderful time of the year… for book lovers! As 2017 nears its end, book reviewers are starting to release their “best of” lists for titles published in the past 12 months. And the timing couldn’t be better. If you are in search of the perfect book to give to your loved ones (or yourself) this holiday season, make sure to take a look at some of the lists that have already been released, including the New York Times Book Review’s Top Ten, NPR’s Book Concierge Guide to 2017’s Great Reads, the LibraryReads Favorite of Favorites 2017, The Guardian’s “Best of 2017” Part One and Part Two , the Publisher’s Weekly Top Ten; and the American Library Association’s 2017 Notable Children’s Books. I guarantee you’ll find one (or 20!) books that will delight you and become the gift that will be remembered and enjoyed for years to come. To help you complete your gift list, here are a few recommendations:
For fans of both history and beautiful photography, consider Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza and Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer by Amanda Lucidon. Both Souza and Lucidon were official photographers for the Obama administration and took millions of photographs of both epic and everyday moments in the lives of the former President and First Lady. Each book shares the stories of “what” and “why” and “how” both in front of and behind the lens, documenting those historic years in American history. For those who love nature photography, Wise Trees by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel is the result of a two-year journey funded by the National Geographic Society to capture the world’s “most historic and inspirational trees.” The way in which these trees play a role in their communities is surprising, and the book includes stories like that of the largest Montezuma Cypress in the world, a tree over 1200 years old with a 137.8-foot circumference.
For readers of fiction, Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere is atop many “best of 2017” lists and tells the story of a family living in an idyllic community whose lives are upended by the arrival of a single mother and child who challenge the status quo. One of NYT’s top 10 and a National Book Award finalist, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is a sweeping, historical narrative of a Korean family over four generations. [Side note: Lee will be appearing on April 18 as part of the library’s participation in Princeton’s series on migration.] And Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is a charming novel about the metamorphosis of a quirky, young woman who is perfectly content with her lonely life until…
For the chefs and bakers in your lives, Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi is likely at the top of their wish lists. It’s what we have been waiting for – a book of desserts by the London-based chef/author of the ever-popular Plenty (and Plenty More)! Ottolenghi, who began his career as a pastry chef, offers recipes inspired by some of his signature flavors and ingredients, like fig, saffron, and cinnamon. The highly anticipated follow-up to award-winning cook and blogger Deb Perelman, The Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites, was five years in the making and worth the wait; this recently released cookbook contains recipes like granola biscotti, mini-matzo ball soup, and short-rib carnitas. And if you know anyone who has participated in the current pressure cooker craze, Dinner in an Instant by New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark will have them well on their way to creating meals with a slow-cooked taste in just minutes, leaving them with more free time to read their favorite books of the year!
Giving the gift of reading to a child this season? Wonder by R.J. Palacio, is a top-rated novel for 2017 and tells the story of 10-year-old Auggie, born with a severe facial abnormality, who begins attending public school for the first time in his life. The highly regarded story was turned into a major motion picture and is currently playing in theaters to rave reviews. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Regan Barnhill is the winner of the 2017 Newbery Medal and has been praised as an epic and expertly woven, coming-of-age fairytale. And Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark is the inspirational biography of “Amazing Grace,” a computer scientist for the United States Navy who was instrumental in developing and popularizing coding.
This list is just a sample of the many books that would make great gifts. If you would like some help in narrowing down choices or brand-new suggestions for the hard-to-shop-for people in your lives, please take advantage of our online Reader Advisory service, Book It. With Book It, my colleagues – expert librarians and reader advisors – can provide book recommendations based on answers to a few simple questions about reading preferences. Gift list done!
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