Past Picks: Holidays 2013
We've scoured our bookshelves and nightstands for our very favorite books for 2013 to bring you the ultimate holiday gift list for everyone in your life!
- Great fiction for long winter nights
- Cookbooks for the Epicurious
- For the nerds among us (science and technology)
- For the history buff
- For outdoor enthusiasts
- What women want
- For your man
- Beautiful picture books for the young reader
- For young adults
- New staff favorites
For the Outdoor Enthusiasts:
2013 Newbury Book for Kids – A story told by Ivan, a silverback gorilla. A new Charlotte’s Web.
Virgie loves this one: The story of a squirrel with unusual talent and power.
2010 Newbury Honor Award – Callie Vee is a spunky, smart, resourceful girl who learns the scientific method from her grandfather.
Virgie writes, "I recommend this inspirational read, for everyone, but particularly for women and young girls. It made me appreciate my life as an American woman, and caused me to be thoughtful concerning my complaints about life in general! In my opinion, it is a must-read!"
A new Hunger Games, less violent and better writing – a thrilling adventure with more to come.
The movie is wonderful, but the book is better!
Claire's Staff Pick (December 2013): Some dogs make us laugh, some teach us patience, some console us through the trials of life… Mary Oliver’s poems speak to each of these relationships in this collection of “Dog Songs.” Simple, hilarious, touching! A Thousand Mornings By Mary Oliver “Every spring I hear the thrush singing in the glowing woods he is only passing through. His voice is deep, Then he lifts it until it seems to fall from the sky. I am thrilled. I am grateful.” Mary Olivers’ words sing to the soul, tell stories of the ocean and the forest creatures, of dogs and childhood and love. These are simple poems that make your heart smile, and inspire us to slow down and notice the magic of life.
Claire's Staff Pick (December 2013): This is a truly fantastic story, brimming with complex characters and relationships, and told with captivating style. Saleem Sinai is born at the moment of India’s independence, along with one thousand other children born within the midnight hour, and endowed with magical powers. Through alternations of the present moment and flash-backs to the past, Rushdie connects the struggles of post-colonial independence in this Booker Prize winning classic. It is a difficult and demanding story, but worth every effort.
Claire's Staff Pick (December 2013): Sprout has spent her entire life as an egg-laying hen, and just can’t lay another. Determined to escape the coop and hatch her own chick, Sprout challenges the hierarchy of the barnyard and sets out to fulfill her dreams. This is a delightful tale of a mother’s loyalty, courage and perseverance against the “way things are.” I loved thinking about life from the perspective of a tired old hen looking to awaken her true life’s purpose.
Ron's Staff Pick (December 2013): In 1983, rainfall and an epic snowmelt raised the water behind the Glen Canyon Dam to record levels at the same time as it became clear that the Dam was failing. The only solution – a massive increase in the release of water downstream, doubling then tripling the flows of the Colorado through the Grand Canyon. The result was catastrophic for rafting trips already in the canyon, and the Emerald Mile tells that story, alongside that of three daring young men who defied law, nature, and odds and launched a dory – called the Emerald Mile – into the torrent to see if they could set the record for the fastest trip through the canyon. The story of this epic ride would have made a good book on its own, but it’s greatly enriched by Fedarko’s recounting of the history of the river and how humans have tried to tame it. So not only do you get a great adventure story, one that reads as fast as the flows of the river that month in 1983, but you get a fantastic history, too.
Ron's Staff Pick (December 2013): This first novel for this talented writer is a rich, luscious memoir of the fictional marquis Jean-Marie d’Aumant, who pens his story as he awaits the mob of the French Revolution that will spell the end of his life. His life story spans most of eighteenth century France, the last days of privilege for the aristocracy. Jean-Marie’s life has been characterized by a compulsive exploration of taste, from beetles to snake to wolf heart and women. His legacy is a truly unique collection of recipes and a tender and sometimes sad love story.
Ron's Staff Pick (December 2013): A Classic Craig Johnson story, and will become a classic Christmas story. A World War 2 B-25 airplane blasts through a horrific snowstorm on a Christmas Eve mission of mercy. Told in the present day, the story takes us back to Walt Longmire’s first days as sheriff. A warm, fuzzy, suspenseful tale, something for everyone. The classic Christmas story: a World War 2 B-25 airplane blasts through a horrific snowstorm on a Christmas Eve mission of mercy.
Kim's Staff Pick (December 2013): Nobody could blame you for thinking that the Circle in Dave Eggers’ new novel is just another name for Google – or Apple, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. It’s not, Eggers claims – though that’s all but impossible to believe, given the similarities. Instead, the Circle is a mega-corporation that has, in the near-future world of The Circle, devoured all of the above – it is not one of these companies, but all of them. And, through this corporate consumption, the Circle has gobbled up all of us, along with its competitors. The Circle is the first attempt I’ve seen in contemporary literature that paints, in vivid detail, the consequences of living in a world that shuns the ideal of privacy. Unlike its predecessor, George Orwell’s 1984, however, it explores the path to tyranny rather than a world consumed by it, far beyond the point of no return. But its world is not just similar to our own – it is our world, if to a less extreme degree. It makes its point – that total transparency is tyranny – without question, and with dire consequences for its characters.
Kim's Staff Pick (December 2013): “One of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read. It’s truly moving, eye-opening, incredibly vivid.”—Jon Stewart, The Daily Show That really sums it up. Whether Autism has touched your life or not, this book will open you up. If Autism has touched your life this book is an absolute must Read!
Kim's Staff Pick (December 2013): Chris Colfer wrote the film and the novel. The story of Carson Phillips, a self-righteous teen that knows exactly how he wants his life after high school to end up – far away from the small town of Clover, a “place where the pockets are small and the minds even smaller.” Parents and younger teens may shy away from the “f-bomb,” but Colfer certainly does not. That said, I would highly recommend this book to fans of Chris Colfer’s character on Glee, as well as older teens and adults looking for a fast, fun, and thoughtful read.
Virgie's Staff Pick (December 2013): I’m sure you’ve heard Malala’s story in the press; a 15 year old girl from Pakistan, who was shot in the head by the Taliban because she campaigned for the rights of girls to proper education in Pakistan. This book provides much more than the headline story. It sets a backdrop for the headline event, beginning with Malala’s birth and continuing beyond the tragedy. I learned what it was like to live under the de facto rule of terrorists. It was chilling. I recommend this inspirational read, for everyone, but particularly for women and young girls. It made me appreciate my life as an American woman, and caused me to be thoughtful concerning my complaints about life in general! In my opinion, it is a must-read!
Virgie's Staff Pick (December 2013): Think for a minute! How many reasons can you give for WINTER being the absolutely BEST time of the year? In this picture book, an enthusiastic boy works hard to persuade his younger sister that winter truly IS the most wonderful time of the year. The younger sister, thinking the opposite of her brother, doesn’t “buy” his thinking until the end of the story. I love the energy and fun contained in this story. It would be a book you’d want to keep for a long time, to bring out when the winter season begins!
Virgie's Staff Pick (December 2013): This is a great story for those little girls who love pink, princesses and like to SHINE in the spotlight. Geraldine may not look like a princess, but inside she knows that she is a fairy princess, and she can do anything! This is a delightful story, with an irresistible sparkly cover, told by Julie Andrews and her daughter.
Virgie's Staff Pick (December 2013): I have to admit, I am a huge Nancy Tillman fan, and her latest book just reinforces the power of her message for young kids. This book is simple … tender … heartwarming … and repeats the message “you are special.” I became lost in the gorgeous illustrations, each page making my smile brighter. Take a few minutes to peruse this book, and then ask yourself if this is just the perfect gift for that someone special in your life! Check out my other favorite Nancy Tillman books; Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You and On The Night You Were Born.
Dagny's Staff Pick (December 2013): This is a great kids book for the holidays that shows us the more we follow the path of who we really are the more we can affect people in a positive way. Mr. Tiger lives in a society where everyone is very proper, wears clothes and walks upright, but Mr. Tiger has a wild side. Once he finally explores who he really is, the other townspeople join him in relaxing and acting more like themselves.
Dagny's Staff Pick (December 2013): After living in Steamboat for 12 years, I had no idea the Steamboat Spring was a natural geyser or that the Utes used to soak in the Sulphur Spring for its healing powers. This book is a history of the founding of Steamboat and the evolution of the town since the settlement of the white man. Beyond the history, the book examines the importance of each spring we still have, the ones we’ve lost and why we should still care in this modern day and age. Perfect gift for anyone wanting to know Steamboat’s history or anyone interested in mineral springs.
Wendy's Staff Pick (December 2013): Burial Rites is a novel based on the true story of Norway’s last woman to be publicly beheaded; it happened in the early 19th century. This sounds like the makings of a brutal story, but it’s not. Kent takes us into the mind of the accused woman…the wrongly accused woman. She also paints a wonderful portrait of life in Iceland at that time.
Wendy's Staff Pick (December 2013): Hold onto your hat for this amazing thriller all about covert ops and the psychology of those who go undercover. Bob Shacochis is a National Book Award winner. His writing is sharp, informed by his years spent in Haiti covering the fall of Duvalier, and his year spent embedded there in the Special Forces. This book follows its characters from Croatia in WWII, through Bosnia, Haiti, and the beginnings of the war on terror. A gripping read for fans of John Le Carre or Steig Larrson.
Wendy's Staff Pick (December 2013): Longbourn is a pitch-perfect retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from a servant’s perspective. Longbourn is full of romance, intrigue, and rich historical detail. A great vacation read that you won’t be able to put down; it might be your favorite read of the year.
Wendy's Staff Pick (December 2013): Vedge has me drooling with its fabulous array of cutting edge vegetarian recipes. Vedge is a trendy restaurant in Philidelphia. Their cookbook features unique flavor combinations: roasted cauliflower with kimchee cream, mushroom cioppino, and for desert…vegan chocolate filled beignets. I can’t wait to go home and start cooking.