Booksellers' Picks for the Holiday Season

Independent Store Owners List Their Favorite Gift Book Titles

Rona Brinlee, standing, with authors Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher at the Book Mark.

Rona Brinlee, standing, with authors Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher during a book signing at the Book Mark. Buford Brinlee hide caption

itoggle caption Buford Brinlee
Joyce Meskiss

Joyce Meskiss owns the Tattered Cover in Denver. Courtesy Nancy Olson hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy Nancy Olson
Nancy Olson at Quail Ridge Books

Nancy Olson is the owner of Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh, N.C. Courtesy Nancy Olson hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy Nancy Olson

Choosing a holiday gift can be a challenge and selecting an appropriate gift book can be especially difficult. NPR's Susan Stamberg talks with independent bookstore owners and gets their suggestions for adult and children's titles this holiday season.

The Book Mark: Atlantic Beach, Florida

Embers by Sandor Marai, Carol Brown Janeway (Translator) (Pub: Vintage Books). Book Mark owner Rona Brinlee describes this as a "monologue on friendship... an exquisitely written book that you can read over and over again." It's a multi-layered story that "helps you think about all the relationships in your life," she says.

Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad That Crossed an Ocean by Les Standiford (Pub: Crown). The story of Flagler's attempt to build a railroad from the mainland to the Florida Keys. "You get to know Henry Flagler like a character in a book instead of some dry historical figure," Brinlee says.

The following books are also on Brinlee's list:

The Haunting of L. by Howard Norman (Pub: Farrar Straus & Giroux)

The Last Noel by Michael Malone (Pub: Sourcebooks)

Deep in the Shade of Paradise by John Dufresne (Pub: W.W. Norton)

Captain Saturday by Robert Inman (Pub: Little Brown & Company)

The Grand Complication by Allen Kurzweil (Pub: Theia/Hyperion)

Children's Titles

How Murray Saved Christmas by Mike Reiss, David Catrow (illustrator), Jon Anderson (editor) (Pub: Price Stern Sloan). A children's story about an inventor elf who knocks Santa out by mistake — and needs to find someone to deliver all the presents. "His first choice is Murray, the deli guy, because he knows how to do deliveries," Brinlee says. "Murray has no idea what the names of the reindeer are, so he calls them Lipstick and Dipstick."

FEG: Ridiculous Stupid Poems for Intelligent Children by Robin Hirsch, Ha (Illustrator), Alexander Max Jaglom Hirsch (Introduction) (Pub: Little Brown & Co.)

The Sands of Time: A Hermux Tantamoq Adventure by Michael Hoeye (Pub: Putnam)

The Tattered Cover: Denver, Colorado

The Creaky Traveler in the North West Highlands of Scotland: A Journey for the Mobile but Not Agile by Warren Rovetch (Pub: Sentient Publications). Tattered Cover owner Joyce Meskiss says this book is full of great memories of journeys and travel tips. It includes a test to help readers determine their "creak" level — "can I lift the suitcase into the airplane luggage bin and get it down?"

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka (Pub: Knopf). During World War II, a Japanese-American family from Berkeley, Calif., is relocated to an internment camp. "While having been set in time half a century ago, the message is very apropos to our world today as we struggle with our fears while trying to preserve our liberties," Meskiss says.

She also recommends:

The Sea by Philip Plisson (Photographer), Yann Queffelec (Preface) (Pub: Harry N. Abrams)

A Palpable Elysium: Portraits of Genius and Solitude by Jonathan Williams, Guy Davenport (Introduction) (Pub: David R Godine)

Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence — A Friendship in Letters by Emily Herring Wilson (Pub: Beacon Press)

Picasso's War: The Destruction of Guernica and the Masterpiece That Changed the World by Russell Martin (Pub: EP Dutton)

Children's Titles

The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales by Maria Tatar (Translator) (Pub: W.W. Norton)

Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales edited by Nelson Mandela (Pub: W.W. Norton)

Quail Ridge Books and Music: Raleigh, North Carolina.

One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash (Pub: Novello Festival). Set in the mountains of North Carolina around the early part of the last century, the book by author and poet Ron Rash involves a mystery and a murder "although it's not by any means a murder mystery," says Quail Ridge Books and Music owner Nancy Olson. "I believe Ron Rash is going to break out as one of our great Southern writers," she says.

At this Theatre: 100 Years Of Broadway Shows, Stories And Stars by Louis Botto, edited by Robert Viagas (Pub: Hal Leonard Publishing Corp.) This oversized coffee table book offers a "theatre by theatre" history of Broadway — "everything you want to know about theater in New York," Olson says.

These books round out Olson's holiday list:

The Winter Queen by Jane Stevenson (Pub: Houghton Mifflin)

Dancer by Colum McCann (Pub: Metropolitan Books)

The Lunar Men: Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World by Jenny Uglow (Pub: Farrar Straus & Giroux)

White Apples by Jonathan Carroll (Pub: Tor Books)

Dancer by Colum McCann (Pub: Metropolitan Books)

Children's Titles

John Coltrane's Giants Steps by Christopher Raschka (Pub: Atheneum)

The Year of the Hangman by Gary L. Blackwood (Pub: Dutton Books)

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