By Judy Woodward
This is going to be a holiday season unlike any other.
With coronavirus case rates soaring and the most contentious election in modern American history barely behind us, the traditional family dinner holds risks few could have imagined a year ago.
But traditions continue, and so does the search for the perfect holiday gift. The staff at Next Chapter Booksellers, 38 Snelling Ave. N., has some suggestions for everyone on your list. Currently, the store is offering curbside pickup service only.
But manager David Enyeart says, “We love matching readers to books, even if we can’t do it in person right now.”
The staff’s top picks for holiday giving?
- “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama: This just-published memoir may be the biggest book of the holiday season—and perhaps the whole year.
- Marilynne Robinson continues her series of novels about the inhabitants of Gilead, Iowa, with her latest book, “Jack.” This time, she’s also taking readers to St. Louis in the days before the civil rights movement. It’s a lovely novel about an ugly time.
- “A Walk Around the Block” by Spike Carlsen: If you’ve ever wondered why power lines come in so many different shapes and sizes or why there are so many squirrels, this is the book for you. Spike Carlsen’s short, pithy chapters get right to the heart of the question and his answers are fun and informative. Carlsen lives in Stillwater and many of the places he visits are right here in the Twin Cities.
- “Swede Hollow” by Ola Larsmo: This novel follows two immigrants as they make a new life in the bustling city of St Paul in the late 19th century. It’s an eye-opening look at our town and a rich evocation of its history. Now available in paperback!
- “Modern Comfort Food” by Ina Garten: Best seller Garten takes dishes you already know and love—steak fajitas, roasted butternut squash, hash browns—and makes them extra special and satisfying. And who doesn’t need a little more comfort (food) now?
Meanwhile, are you looking for an indisputably unique holiday book? How about “How to Eat Your Christmas Tree” by Julia Georgallis? Most varieties of pine trees are edible, and the 30 recipes in this book will help you dress up your holiday leftovers, even as you save your tree from ending up as landfill.
Then there are the truly difficult gift choices. Enyeart and his colleagues have suggestions for even the most particular readers on your list, including the perfect book for:
- Your aunt the librarian, who has already read everything . . .“Ex Libris” by Michiko Kakutani: With 100 recommendations from the New York Times long-running book critic, “Ex Libris” is sure to have something new for even the most avid reader.
- Your cousin who only reads cookbooks . . .“Dinner in French” by Melissa Clark: Indulge yourself in a trip to the City of Light with one of the most delightful cooks writing today.
- Your dad, the fan-in-chief, whose chief fear about the pandemic is that it might lead to the cancellation of even more sports events . . . “K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches” by Tyler Kepner: Even the most ardent fan will learn something in this history of America’s pastime.
- Your 12-year-old niece who thinks she’s a teenager and despises the “kid” books that she loved last year . . . “The Fountains of Silence” by Ruta Sepetys: This story of forbidden love set in Fascist Spain is full of big ideas, but suitable for younger readers.
- Your teenage nephew, whose idea of recreational reading are the comments under his favorite YouTube videos . . . “The Best of Me” by David Sedaris: This collection of Sedaris’ writings provides the snarky, snappy comments we all wish we could think of, but rarely do.
- Your favorite murder mystery fan . . . “Fortune Favors the Dead” by Stephen Spotswood: This racing 1940s noir mystery is packed with machine gun dialog and enough twists to satisfy any armchair sleuth.
- Your favorite sci/fi fantasy fan . . . “The Scapegracers” by Hannah Abigail Clarke: Scrappy teen outcast witches team up to take on their high school’s dude bros and mean girls.
Naturally, all these books are available at Next Chapter Booksellers https://www.nextchapterbooksellers.com/ You can call the store from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday at 651-225-8989 and the staff will be happy to offer even more book suggestions.