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Recommended books for holiday giving

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 | Posted by

Gift-giving can be daunting for the most seasoned shoppers, especially when Christmas is just days away. Enter the professionals at Readers’ Books in Sonoma, who share their knowledge and love of literature.

Books can make great holiday gifts, from picture books for toddlers to tomes that expand the mind and the imagination.

Below are some recommendations from Jude Sales, the bookstore’s buyer, with input from store owner Andy Weinberger and a favorite read from store manager Thea Reynolds.

Read a story about Weinberger and his store here.

“Sutton” by J.R. Moehringer
A “speculative” biography based on the life of American bank robber Willie Sutton, who robbed banks from the 1910s to the 1950s. “He robbed banks because banks were the bad guys,” Sales says. “Both Andy and I loved that one.”

“The Round House” by Louise Erdrich
The story of a Native American teenage boy who comes to terms with his mother’s recent rape, his sexual awakening and his Indian heritage, “a beautifully-told coming of age novel,” Sales says.

“Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler” by Trudi Kanter
Sales recommends the “fascinating story” of a Jewish woman working as a milliner in Vienna just as Hitler’s regime takes over the city. A true story of love and survival.

“The Distance Between Us” by Reyna Grande
Weinberger likens it to “an ‘Angela’s Ashes’ set in Mexico.” The book is a memoir of the author’s impoverished childhood. Readers’ Books will host Reyna Grande for a book signing in January (date still to be determined).

“Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon” by Marin author Paola Gianturco
Sales recommends this book both for its stories and photographs of grandmothers from around the world “and all the interesting things they do.” The fascinating profiles defy the image of granny in her rocking chair.

“Fifty Places to Bike Before You Die” by Chris Santella
Sales likes this guidebook with “beautiful shots” of both the national and international biking destinations; open roads with scenic vistas and some cityscapes as well.

“The Smitten Kitchen” by Deb Perelman
Of the numerous cookbooks at Readers’ Books, Sales likes “The Smitten Kitchen” because it’s “different and accessible,” written by a home cook and food blogger who took all the book’s photographs as well. “She’s just a person who likes to cook,” Sales says.

“The Life of a Bowerbird” by Sibella Court
With photos of unique collections in interesting displays, “everything about this book is a little step above,” Sales says. Each artful page shows how to create interior arrangements with collections, from tools and jewels to feathers and bones.

“Puppyhood: Portraits of Puppies at 6 Weeks Old” by J. Nichole Smith
Sales can’t resist the life-size portraits of puppies photographed against white backdrops, pups so cute you’ll want to head over to Pets Lifeline for adoption options for a puppy of your own. The book features 25 puppies of various breeds, each and every one undeniably adorable.

“The Peculiar” by Stefan Bachmann
Sales favors this fantasy adventure for adolescent and teen readers. The author was just 16 when he began writing his story about an alternative universe set in the Victorian age of faeries. The European setting is home to characters that are half faeries, half humans, with a fascinating story woven throughout.

For children, Sales offers two charming selections, both beautifully illustrated.

“Charley’s First Night” by Amy Hest, illustrations by Helen Oxenbury
This “sweet, sweet, sweet story” follows a little boy on his first night taking care of his new puppy.

“Bear Has a Story to Tell” by Philip C. Stead, illustrations by Erin E. Stead
Sales likes the tale of friendship about a bear who goes from friend to friend trying to tell a story – but everyone is too busy preparing for winter to listen.

Thea Reynolds, the store manager, has a favorite this holiday season, too.

“The Stockholm Octavo” by Karen Engelmann
“It’s a fun book … and a little different, too,” Reynolds says. The debut novel is set in Stockholm in 1791, with the story focusing on a bureaucrat and card shark who gets his fortune told with playing cards, then must solve a mystery of love, magic and connections, relying on the help of eight interesting characters. Beyond the story, Reynolds likes the diagrams and drawings that are interspersed throughout the chapters.

– Dianne Reber Hart

Writer Spotlight

Dianne Reber Hart is our Sonoma correspondent.

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