'Day to Day' Holiday Book Guide

Literary Maven Karen Grigsby Bates' List of Favorites

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Cover for 'The Girl Who Played Go'

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Cover for 'Paris, Capital of Modernity'

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Cover for 'Ball of Fire'

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Cover for 'Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power'

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Cover for 'Tuscany : Inside the Light'

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Cover for '100 Suns'

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Cover for 'Horses : Photographs'

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Cover for  'A Venetian Affair'

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Cover for 'Spirit of Harlem'

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Cover for 'Diane Arbus Revelations'

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Cover for 'The David Sedaris Box Set'

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Hanukkah starts on Friday, Christmas and Kwanzaa are next week — and what have you done about it? Fear not! Here are some holiday book picks from NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates, literary editor for Day to Day:

The Girl Who Played Go, by Shan Sa (Knopf)

"This tale of a 16-year-old female prodigy in the game of go in 1930s China moves quickly to a heart-stopping conclusion — strong stuff from a writer who wasn't born until far after the end of the cultural revolution."

Paris, Capital of Modernity, by David Harvey (Routledge)

"With drawings, period cartoons and photographs, Harvey's book describes how the renovation of one of the world's most beloved cities made it the prototype for the modern metropolis."

Ball of Fire : The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball, by Stefan Kanfer (Knopf)

"A look at comedienne Lucille Ball, one of the most driven, funny women in show business history. Kanfer's book shows in heart-rending detail how everybody loved Lucy, except perhaps Lucy herself."

In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr., by Wil Haygood (Knopf)

"Wil Haygood's bio tells how this pioneer black entertainer's life was devoted to seeking approval from important white people — apparently, for Davis, the only meaningful measure of his success."

Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power, by Lou Cannon (PublicAffairs)

"Far from being the dumb actor many of Reagan's critics derided at the time, Cannon shows how Reagan schooled himself in governance and laid the foundation for his eventual presidency."

And If I Perish : Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II, by Evelyn Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee (Knopf)

"A gripping account by the distaff side of the greatest generation: Army nurses on the front lines of World War II. The hundreds of interviews the authors did with surviving Army nurses makes for riveting reading."

Tuscany : Inside the Light, by Joel Meyerowitz and Maggie Barrett (Sterling Publishing)

"It's an ode to Tuscany from Joel Meyerowitz, a well-known photographer. Anyone who loves Tuscany, or the idea of living in Tuscany, or visiting Tuscany for a while, will very much appreciate this book."

100 Suns, by Michael Light (Knopf)

"One of the reasons Light did this photographic book of nuclear explosions is there are now over 100,000 nuclear devices that we know of scattered around the world — and he wants people to think about that."

Horses : Photographs, by Michael Eastman (Knopf)

"A very elegant book — it just really appreciates the beauty and the grace and the strength of horses."

A Venetian Affair, by Andrea Di Robilant (Knopf)

"A book saturated with romance, history and the details of daily life in 19th-century Venice — di Robilant's prose is luminously evocative of life in the twilight of the Venetian Republic."

Monkey Hunting, by Cristina Garcia (Knopf)

"This slim volume is close look at how Cuba's Chinese community evolved, told through the story of Chan Pen, a young man who emigrated from China, only to find himself enslaved by work in Cuba's sugar cane fields."

Spirit of Harlem: A Portrait of America's Most Exciting Neighborhood, by Craig Marberry and Michael Cunningham (Doubleday)

"Everyone who makes Harlem their home — from long-time denizens to the new wave of home seekers, gay, straight, wealthy and not — is represented in this handsome book of photos and narratives."

Diane Arbus Revelations, by Doon Arbus (Random House)

"One of the hottest photography books this year — it takes the same title as the blockbuster retrospective from the San Francisco Museum of Art that showed the evolution of Arbus' work."

GOAT: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali (TASCHEN America)

"Available in January 2004, this 75-pound, $3,000 coffee table book was four years in the making and is devoted to the beauty and grace the boxer who loved to refer to himself as the Greatest Of All Time, or GOAT."

The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great American Cooks, by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock (Knopf)

"Edna Lewis, a legendary Southern cook and culinary historian, and Scott Peacock, a highly-regarded young Southern chef, have created a gorgeous volume with seasonal recipes, history and lots of user-friendly instructions."

Bistro Cooking at Home, by Gordon Hamersley with Joanne McAllister Smart (Broadway Books)

"This book will make a lucky recipient hungry just reading it. Hamersley's book re-creates some of his signature dishes and a few signature recipes from his friends and mentors, such as Wolfgang Puck."

The David Sedaris Box Set, by David Sedaris (Warner Adult)

"This CD set has the seasonally appropriate "Santaland Diaries," Sedaris' mordantly funny tale of working as an elf in a department store at Christmas. Do not drive and listen to these CDs — you could hurt yourself laughing."

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