Books are great, versatile gifts to give family and friends! Here are a few of your librarians' favorites from this year. Add them to your to-be-read list or consider sharing the joy of reading with someone else this holiday season and supporting your local bookstore. All titles are linked to the library's online catalog and descriptions are taken from the publishers' websites.
For the Fiction Lover
Mrs. Harris is a simple London charlady who cheerfully cleans the houses of the rich. One day, while tidying Lady Dant’s wardrobe, she comes across the most beautiful thing she has ever seen in her life―a Dior dress. Determined to make her dream come true, Mrs. Harris scrimps and saves until one day, after three long, uncomplaining years, she finally has enough money to go to Paris. When she arrives at the House of Dior, Mrs. Harris has little idea of how her life is about to be turned upside down and how many other lives she will transform forever.
Smarting from her recently canceled wedding and about to turn forty, Laurie Sassalyn returns to her Maine hometown of Calcasset to handle the estate of her great-aunt Dot, a spirited adventurer who lived to be ninety-three. When a mysterious wooden duck shows up at the bottom of a cedar chest, Laurie’s curiosity is piqued. She’s told it has no financial value, but after it suspiciously disappears, Laurie finds herself swept up in a righteous caper that has her negotiating with antiques dealers and con artists and reconnecting with her oldest friend and her first love. Desperate to uncover the secrets, Laurie must reckon with her past and future, and embrace her own vision of flying solo.
1980, Mississippi: It is three in the morning when Bobby Western zips the jacket of his wet suit and plunges from the Coast Guard tender into darkness. His dive light illuminates the sunken jet and nine bodies still buckled in their seats. Missing from the crash site are the pilot’s flight bag, the plane’s black box, and the tenth passenger. But how? Traversing the American South, from the barrooms of New Orleans to an abandoned oil rig off the Florida coast, this is a novel of morality and science, the legacy of sin, and the madness that is human consciousness. Don’t miss the sequel, Stella Maris, which will be released on December 6.
Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his father who works in a university library. His mother, a Chinese American poet, left the family when he was nine years old, and Bird was told to never question her disappearance because she was considered an enemy of the government. But when he receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, he is pulled into a quest to find her. His journey will take him back to the many folktales she told him as a child, through an underground network of librarians, and finally to New York City, where a new act of defiance may be the beginning of much-needed change.
Marjorie’s journey began gluing cereal boxes in her father’s barn as a young girl. No one could have predicted that C. W. Post’s Cereal Company would grow into the General Foods empire and reshape the American way of life, with Marjorie as its heiress and leading lady. Marjorie’s story, though full of beauty and grandeur, set in the palatial homes she built such as Mar-a-Lago, was equally marked by challenge and tumult. A wife four times over, the charismatic financier whose charm turned to betrayal, the international diplomat with a dark side, and the bon vivant whose shocking secrets would shake Marjorie and all of society.
Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. By the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan. At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record.
In this riveting collection of stories, a teenage girl tries to live up to the image of her beautiful, missing mother. An elderly couple confronts the fiction writer eavesdropping on their conversation. A son must repeatedly come out to his senile father while looking for a place to care for the old man. A famous actor in recovery has a one-night stand with the world's most surprising film critic. Funny, poignant, and redemptive, this collection of short fiction offers a dazzling range of voices, backdrops, and situations.
Teenager Frankie Budge is determined to make it through yet another summer in Coalfield, Tennessee, when she meets Zeke, a talented artist who has just moved into his grandmother’s house and who is as awkward as Frankie is. When the two jointly make an unsigned poster containing an enigmatic phrase, it becomes unforgettable to anyone who sees it. The posters begin appearing everywhere, and mass hysteria ensues. The rumors of who created them won’t stop, and soon the mystery has dangerous repercussions that spread far beyond the town.
For the Mystery & Thriller Enthusiast
When Alex first began posting unscripted family moments and motivational messages online, she had no intention of becoming an influencer. Overnight it seemed she’d amassed a huge following, and her hobby became a full-time job—one that was impossible to manage without her personal assistant, AC. When one controversial post goes viral in the worst possible way, Alex reaches out to AC for damage control, but this young woman Alex trusted with all her secrets, is now missing and the police are looking to Alex and her husband for answers. As Alex digs into AC’s identity – and a woman is found murdered – she’ll find the greatest threat isn’t online, but in her own living room.
Join Miss Marple as she travels through her sleepy English village and around the world. In St Mary Mead, a Christmas dinner is interrupted by unexpected guests; the Broadway stage in New York City is set for a dangerous improvisation; and a bestselling writer on holiday in Italy is caught in a nefarious plot. These and other crimes are ones that only the indomitable Jane Marple can solve. Bringing a fresh twist to the hallmarks of a classic Agatha Christie mystery, twelve esteemed writers have captured the sharp wit, unique voice, and ingenuity of the deceptively demure detective.
It was supposed to be the perfect weekend away. Six very different women travel to a sun-soaked Greek island for a bachelorette trip, to celebrate Lexi’s upcoming wedding. From the glorious ocean views to the quaint tavernas and whitewashed streets, the vacation seems too good to be true. But dangerous undercurrents run beneath the sunset swims and midnight cocktails – because each of the women is hiding a secret. Someone is determined to make sure that Lexi’s marriage never happens – and that one of them doesn’t leave the island alive.
After years of avoiding each other, Daisy Darker’s entire family is assembling for Nana’s 80th birthday party in her crumbling gothic house on a tiny island. The family arrives, each of them harboring secrets. At the stroke of midnight, Nana is found dead. And an hour later, the next family member follows… Trapped on an island where someone is killing them one by one, the Darkers must reckon with their present mystery as well as their past secrets, before the tide goes out and all is revealed.
Jude hasn’t seen Liam in years, but when he shows up at her work asking for a favor, she finds she can’t refuse. All Jude must do is pick Liam up at a country train station—without telling anyone. When the police show up at the station instead of Liam, Jude realizes that she knows nothing about the man he’s become. Now she’s tangled up in his life, the last person to have seen him, and maybe the only one who can uncover the truth about what went wrong—even if she destroys her own life in the process.
Jane and William are enjoying their honeymoon at an exclusive couples-only resort until Jane receives a chilling note warning her to “Beware of the couple at the table nearest to yours.” At dinner that night, five other couples are present, and none of their tables is any nearer or farther away than any of the others. It’s almost as if someone has set the scene in order to make the warning note meaningless—but why would anyone do that? Someone in this dining room will be dead before breakfast, and all the evidence will suggest that no one there that night could have possibly committed the crime.
It's the party to end all parties, but not everyone is here to celebrate. On New Year's Eve, Rhys Lloyd has a house full of guests. His vacation homes on Mirror Lake are a success, and he’s generously invited the village to drink champagne with their wealthy new neighbors. But by midnight, Rhys will be floating dead in the freezing waters of the lake. On New Year's Day, Ffion Morgan has a village full of suspects. The tiny community is her home, so the suspects are her neighbors, friends and family―and Ffion has her own secrets to protect.
Vivacious, bright, and the ultimate It girl, April quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the year, April was dead. Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April has died in prison. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.
For the Nonfiction Reader
This is your must-have cookie book, featuring nearly every cookie imaginable, from rustic Cranberry Chocolate Chippers to elegant French macarons, and everything in between. With legendary baker Beranbaum’s foolproof recipes—which feature detail-oriented instructions, ingenious tips, and other golden rules for success—it’s easy to whip up a batch of irresistible, crowd-pleasing cookies anytime, for any occasion.
Spanning continents and millennia, Birds and Us chronicles the beginnings of a written history of birds in ancient Greece and Rome, the obsession with falconry in the Middle Ages, and the development of ornithological science. Moving to the twentieth century, the book tells the story of the emergence of birdwatching and the field study of birds, and how they triggered an extraordinary flowering of knowledge and empathy for birds, eventually leading to today’s massive worldwide interest in birds―and the realization of the urgent need to save them.
When Ann Woodward shot her husband, banking heir Billy Woodward, in the middle of the night in 1955, her life changed forever. Though she claimed she thought he was a prowler, few believed her, and everyone had something to say about the scorching scandal afflicting one of the most rich and famous families of New York City, but no one was more obsessed with the tale than Truman Capote. He decided the story of Ann’s turbulent marriage would be the basis of his masterpiece, never thinking that it would eventually lead to Ann’s suicide and his own scandalous downfall.
From the acclaimed fiction writer about whom Dwight Garner of The New York Times wrote, “You know from the second you pick him up that he’s the real deal,” comes Still No Word from You, a unique chain of essays and intimate stories that meld the lived life and the reading life. Covering well-known writers as Lorraine Hansberry, Primo Levi, and Marilynne Robinson, as well as other greats like Maeve Brennan and James Alan McPherson, Orner’s highly personal take on literature alternates with his own true stories of loss and love, hope and despair.
Over the past four decades, Paul Natkin has had a front-row seat for music history, attending over 10,000 shows and concerts to chronicle the excitement and excess of the music industry. Since the 1970s, he has photographed most of the major music stars of the last half of the 20th century, shooting album covers for Ozzy Osbourne and Johnny Winter and countless magazine covers, including Newsweek, People, Spin and Ebony. This is Natkin’s documentary as a witness to the music industry during his illustrious 40-plus years as a photographer and fan.
In a fascinating blend of popular science, medical history, and true crime, Dr. Neil Bradbury explores this most morbidly captivating method of murder from a cellular level. Alongside real-life accounts of murderers and their crimes―some notorious, some forgotten, some still unsolved―are the equally compelling stories of the poisons involved: eleven molecules of death that work their way through the human body and, paradoxically, illuminate the way in which our bodies function.
With access to personal letters and papers that have rarely been seen, Lucy Worsley’s biography is both authoritative and entertaining and makes us realize what an extraordinary pioneer Agatha Christie was—truly a woman who wrote the twentieth century. This is a new and fascinating account of the life of Agatha Christie from celebrated literary and cultural historian Lucy Worsley.
The world’s most renowned art forger reveals the secrets behind his decades of painting like the masters. Throughout Tetro’s career, his inimitable talent has been coupled with a reckless penchant for drugs, fast cars, and sleeping with other con artists. He was busted in 1989 and spent four years in court and one in prison. For years, he hid it all in an unassuming California townhouse with a secret art room behind a full-length mirror. Pairing up with coauthor Ambrosi, one of the investigative journalists who uncovered the 2019 scandal, Tetro unveils the art world in an epic, alluring, at times unbelievable, but all-true narrative.
Matthew Perry lays bare the fractured family that raised him, the desire for recognition that drove him to fame, and the void inside him that could not be filled even by his greatest dreams coming true. But he also details the peace he’s found in sobriety and how he feels about the ubiquity of Friends. Frank, self-aware, and with his trademark humor, Perry vividly depicts his lifelong battle with addiction and what fueled it despite seemingly having it all. Unflinchingly honest, moving, and uproariously funny, this is the book fans have been waiting for.
Post led an extraordinary three-estate lifestyle detailed in the book Living Artfully: At Home with Marjorie Merriweather Post. However, Post was not only an elegant public figure, but also an astute business executive, and a deeply caring humanitarian and philanthropist. In her remarkably led life, she not only had a concert venue named in her honor, but a body of water as well. The Life Behind the Luxury reveals how Marjorie Post, indeed, enjoyed herself most of the time.
Both an eyewitness report from the golden age of American musical theater and a tale of a woman striving for a meaningful life, Shy is, above all, a chance to sit at the feet of the kind of woman they don’t make anymore―and never did. This is the story of Mary Rodgers – writer, composer, Broadway royalty, and “a woman who tried everything.”
Newport, Rhode Island, is one of the last bastions of American high society. Life behind the facades of these elaborate mansions is rarely revealed, but now, photographer Nick Mele and author Ruthie Sommers, both Iifelong Newport residents, share their entrée into the parties, lawn tennis matches, beach clambakes, and family gatherings that make up the glorious days of a Newport summer. Through Sommers’s personal, evocative text and Mele’s exquisite photographs of people, parties, beaches, and houses, the intimate charms of A Newport Summer come poignantly to life.
The planned community of Windsor, on a barrier island in Vero Beach, Florida, offers elegant-yet-casual seaside living at its best. This sublimely landscaped village, planned by the renowned New Urbanists Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater‑Zyberk, boasts houses by A‑list architects and top interior designers. Filled with photographs of bougainvillea‑framed entrances, airy open‑plan living-dining rooms, cozy studies, and bedrooms that open onto balconies with sweeping ocean views, Beachside will inspire anyone yearning for a stylish coastal life.