12 books of Christmas: Bird-Watching Answer Book

December 24, 2009

bird-watching answer book

There’s someone on my holiday list who would be a perfect match for this book—and she’s not going to be happy that we’re giving a copy away (sorry Grandma)! But in the spirit of Christmas that’s exactly what we’re doing. So, if you would like a charming little pocket guide to all those perplexing bird behaviors, complete with illustrations and sidebars, just leave a comment telling me what your favorite book in our science roundup is by Monday, December 28, and you could have The Bird-Watching Answer Book in your hands by the New Year.

The 12 books of Christmas: The Children’s Book

December 23, 2009

The Children's Book

If you’re looking for something to give the literature lover in your life—the reader in the family who likes nothing more than to get lost in a big story—look no further. A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book is a masterful look at the early years of the 20th century through the lens of a large, upper-class bohemian Edwardian family.

Byatt builds her world meticulously, and the reader feels fully enveloped in a world that is in some ways before its time: full of artists, feminists, anarchists, nudists and other idealists who thought they could create utopia. What came instead was the Great War, which provides a powerful coda to this memorable story.

The Children’s Book narrowly missed our 2009 Fiction Top 10 and was a personal favorite of mine this year—if I haven’t gone on about it enough to convince you here, read the full review.

Read the rest of our 12 books of Christmas series.

The 12 books of Christmas: Last Night in Twisted River

December 22, 2009

OK, so choosing a John Irving novel for our 12 books of Christmas series isn’t exactly going out on a limb—the book was one of the most anticipated releases of the fall and got some serious attention back in November, including our interview. But when Alden Mudge (who has been conducting interviews with literary luminaries for BookPage since long before my tenure here) writes that Last Night in Twisted River contains “some of the most entertaining and intellectually playful storytelling of Irving’s career,” I sit up and take notice. Though it didn’t make our Top 10 list for 2009, this novel would make a great gift for the guy (especially a dad) in your life who likes to read.

Read more in our 12 books of Christmas series.

Read more about John Irving on BookPage.com.

The 12 books of Christmas: The Secret Lives of Buildings

December 22, 2009

Secret Lives of Buildings jacket

Any architecture or history buff would be pleased to find The Secret Lives of Buildings under the tree. Through the eyes of first-time author Edward Hollis, an architect who specializes in restoring historic buildings, readers will discover that iconic structures like the Parthenon, the Berlin Wall and even the Vegas Strip have led more storied lives than we realize. Hollis shares them with a fairy-tale charm, says reviewer Anne Bartlett, even going so far as to begin “most of his chapters with ‘Once upon a time.’ ”

Still not convinced? We at BookPage enjoyed this book so much that it made it onto our list of 2009’s Top 10 Nonfiction books.

Read the full review here, and find other 12 books of Christmas suggestions here.

You can find more great gift ideas in our holiday catalog.

The 12 books of Christmas: LIFE Wonders of the World

December 18, 2009

LIFE Wonders of the World

Got an armchair traveler in the family? Then don’t miss LIFE Wonders of the World. Not content to stop at 7 wonders, the LIFE editors have chosen 50 to include in this full-color, coffee table book. As reviewer Linda Castellitto says, “Each wondrous entity—such as the Empire State Building, the Serengeti and the International Space Station, to name a few—gets the full-on LIFE magazine treatment in large, color-drenched photos taken by a variety of talented photographers.” (Read Linda’s full review here.) The book also includes 8×10 posters of the 7 wonders of the world for readers to hang on their walls.

What are you buying for the book lovers in your life this year?

You can find more great gift ideas in our holiday catalog.

The 12 books of Christmas: Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

December 16, 2009


The music lover in your life will appreciate the gift of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, by Wall Street Journal reporter and literary blogger Terry Teachout. BookPage reviewer Ron Wynn says this “superb” biography contains tidbits of information about the famous jazz musician that will surprise even the most ardent fans (did you know Armstrong had a taste for pot, or feuded with President Eisenhower?).

Read the full review, and reviews of other great music books, on BookPage.com!

12 books of Christmas: A New Literary History of America

December 10, 2009

A New Literary History of America

Americana buffs everywhere will have A New Literary History of America on their holiday wish lists. A compilation of more than 200 essays by writers like Jonathan Lethem and Sarah Vowell on pivotal pop cultural, literary and historical events from the Salem witch trials to Britney Spears,  this book is a vibrant reminder of our rich history—and probably belongs under the tree of your favorite culture maven. Want to read more? Check out our full review or read a sample essay on the book’s website.


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