Category Archives: Book Recommendations

Phone books no longer exist, I believe.

Going Home Books for the Holidays

Day Eight

As words and stories are increasingly disseminated through digital means, the significance of the book as object—whether pristine collectible or battered relic—is growing as well. Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books spotlights the personal libraries of thirteen favorite novelists,  [Alison Bechdel, Stephen Carter, Junot Díaz, Rebecca Goldstein and Stephen Pinker, Lev Grossman and Sophie Gee, Jonathan Lethem, Claire Messud and James Wood, Philip Pullman, Gary Shteyngart, and Edmund White] who share their collections with readers. Stunning photographs provide full views of the libraries and close-ups of individual volumes: first editions, worn textbooks, pristine hardcovers, and childhood companions.

 Supplementing the photographs are Price’s interviews with each author, which probe the relation of writing to reading, collecting, and arranging books. Each writer provides a list of top ten favorite titles, offering unique personal histories along with suggestions for every bibliophile.

My favorite part: that each member of the three couples featured selects one of the other’s books as one of his/her ten favorites.

My other favorite part: now I understand why people watch MTV Cribs. This is the equivalent for me.


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…a star is different from a rock.

Going Home Books for the Holidays

Day Seven

“Stars. Who hasn’t looked up in the sky and contemplated their magical presence?…. The winning combination of Ray and Frazee crystallizes these ideas into a near-perfect picture book that encourages children’s minds to wander and wonder. The airy illustrations move across the pages like clouds in the sky, showing star shapes everywhere, even in strawberry plants, pumpkin vines, and snowflakes. In a final message, the book asks children to remember that stars are around whether you see them or not: “Every night. Everywhere.” Lovely.”

Booklist, October 15, 2011

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“…he can barely make a sandwich, let alone a toaster.”

Going Home Books for the Holidays

Day Six

Where do our things really come from? In “The Toaster Project”, Thwaites asks what lies behind the smooth buttons on a mobile phone or the cushioned soles of running sneakers. What is involved in extracting and processing materials? To answer these questions, Thwaites set out to construct, from scratch, one of the most commonplace appliances in our kitchens today: a toaster. “The Toaster Project” takes the reader on Thwaites’s journey from dismantling the cheapest toaster he can find in London to researching how to smelt metal in a fifteenth-century treatise. The rules: all parts of the toaster had to be made from scratch and Thwaites had to make it all himself. It took nine months and cost 250 times more than the toaster he bought at the store. In the end, “The Toaster Project” helps us reflect on the costs and perils of our cheap consumer culture and the ridiculousness of churning out millions of toasters and other products at the expense of the environment.

Perfect for your brother-in-law!

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Jaime, nine, likes to study his finances on the Citibank website.

Going Home Books for the Holidays

Day Five

“Where Children Sleep” presents English-born photographer James Mollison’s large-format photographs of children’s bedrooms around the world–from the U.S.A., Mexico, Brazil, England, Italy, Israel and the West Bank, Kenya, Senegal, Lesotho, Nepal, China and India–alongside portraits of the children themselves. Each pair of photographs is accompanied by an extended caption that tells the story of each child: Kaya in Tokyo, whose proud mother spends $1,000 a month on her dresses; Bilal the Bedouin shepherd boy, who sleeps outdoors with his father’s herd of goats; the Nepali girl Indira, who has worked in a granite quarry since she was three; and Ankhohxet, the Kraho boy who sleeps on the floor of a hut deep in the Amazon jungle. Photographed over two years with the support of Save the Children (Italy), “Where Children Sleep” is both a serious photo-essay for an adult audience, and also an educational book that engages children themselves in the lives of other children around the world.

My favorite book this year. I recommend this highly to children and to adults and to those stuck in between.


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…taking pictures in an abandoned way.

Going Home Books for the Holidays

Day Four

Pilgrimage took Annie Leibovitz to places that she could explore with no agenda. She wasn’t on assignment. She chose the subjects simply because they meant something to her. The first place was Emily Dickinson’s house in Amherst, Massachusetts, which Leibovitz visited with a small digital camera. A few months later, she went with her three young children to Niagara Falls. “That’s when I started making lists,” she says. She added the houses of Virginia Woolf and Charles Darwin in the English countryside and Sigmund Freud’s final home, in London, but most of the places on the lists were American. The work became more ambitious as Leibovitz discovered that she wanted to photograph objects as well as rooms and landscapes. She began to use more sophisticated cameras and a tripod and to travel with an assistant, but the project remained personal.

Leibovitz went to Concord to photograph the site of Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond. Once she got there, she was drawn into the wider world of the Concord writers. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s home and Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott and her family lived and worked, became subjects. The Massachusetts studio of the Beaux Arts sculptor Daniel Chester French, who made the seated statue in the Lincoln Memorial, became the touchstone for trips to Gettysburg and to the archives where the glass negatives of Lincoln’s portraits have been saved. Lincoln’s portraitists—principally Alexander Gardner and the photographers in Mathew Brady’s studio—were also the men whose work at the Gettysburg battlefield established the foundation for war photography. At almost exactly the same time, in a remote, primitive studio on the Isle of Wight, Julia Margaret Cameron was developing her own ultimately influential style of portraiture. Leibovitz made two trips to the Isle of Wight and, in an homage to the other photographer on her list, Ansel Adams, she explored the trails above the Yosemite Valley, where Adams worked for fifty years.

The final list of subjects is perhaps a bit eccentric. Georgia O’Keeffe and Eleanor Roosevelt but also Elvis Presley and Annie Oakley, among others. Figurative imagery gives way to the abstractions of Old Faithful and Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. Pilgrimage was a restorative project for Leibovitz, and the arc of the narrative is her own. “From the beginning, when I was watching my children stand mesmerized over Niagara Falls, it was an exercise in renewal,” she says. “It taught me to see again.”

A quiet, ruminative book, with unpretentious and absorbing photographs, perfect for any fan of the photographer, as well as every reader you know.


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…before it is washed to the see

Going Home Books for the Holidays

Day Three

“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.” With words by one of the most admired songwriters of all time (Bob Dylan) and illustrations by a Caldecott Honor medalist  (Jon J. Muth), this powerful and timely picture book will be treasured by adults and children alike.

This beautiful edition includes a CD of Dylan’s original 1963 recording, plus a special note by renowned music columnist Greil Marcus, putting the song in historical context.

For the big kids and the little adults in your life.

It’s ‘Take Your Child to a Bookstore’ Day.

Take your child to a bookstore!

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making dinner with the world’s best chef

Going Home Books for the Holidays

Day Two

The Family Meal is the first home cooking cookbook by the world’s greatest chef, Ferran Adria. It features nearly 100 delicious recipes by Ferran Adria that anyone can prepare, inspired by the dishes eaten every day by the staff at his legendary restaurant El Bulli, awarded World’s Best Restaurant five times.

The recipes are easy-to-prepare and meant for family dining at home. From Roast Chicken with Potato Straws, Sea Bass Baked in Salt and Mexican-style Slow-Cooked Pork to White Chocolate Cake and Baked Apples with Whipped Cream, there is a wide selection of everyday classics for every night of the week. The cookbook is also the first by such a renowned chef to ensure that the dishes are affordable and the ingredients are widely available at the local supermarket.

With step-by-step photographs of each meal at every stage! No wondering which shade of red is the right shade of red, what a pinch looks like, how burned is burned or how small is “small”!

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from the handaxe to the credit card

Going Home Books for the Holidays

Day One

When did people first start to wear jewelry or play music? When were cows domesticated and why do we feed their milk to our children? Where were the first cities and what made them succeed? Who invented math-or came up with money?

The history of humanity is a history of invention and innovation, as we have continually created new items to use, to admire, or to leave our mark on the world. In this original and thought-provoking book, Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, has selected one hundred man-made artifacts, each of which gives us an intimate glimpse of an unexpected turning point in human civilization. A History of the World in 100 Objects stretches back two million years and covers the globe. From the very first hand axe to the ubiquitous credit card, each item has a story to tell; together they relate the larger history of mankind-revealing who we are by looking at what we have made.

The perfect gift for all the humans in your life!

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The hardest thing about having kids is…

…giving birth.

…going back to work… and remembering birthdays.

…protecting them from people with hidden agendas….

…having a 28-year old and a 7-year old.

…letting them be themselves.

…living far away from them.

…raising them to be like Christ and not like me.

…restricting their freedom.

…letting them go.

…letting go!

..having to let them go.

…every other job, you have time off, but once you have kids there will never be a time you don’t have kids… and though you sometimes wish for a break you also know that that break is the last thing in the world you actually want… once you have them and then don’t have them, you “don’t have” them forever….

…being forced to grow up myself.

…dealing with the spouse who helped you have them.

…being their teacher.

…being consistent.

…raising them!

…affording them.

…explaining to your friends why they’re serving all the cocktails at the party.

…not having them with you.

…worry. Worry. Worry!!!!!!!!



…the thought of death.

…when they cry.

…the way their mouth flips upside down into a frown… and the way their lips quiver right before the howling starts. The hardest part is the howling. And avoiding the howling and learning to hear the howling.

…never knowing what can happen. Always knowing anything is possible. The fear is the hardest thing… it never goes away. Ever.

…when they’re sick. For any length of time, to any extent.

…accepting who they become.

…letting go of your dreams for them when you realize they’re not your children’s dreams. Realizing that in the first place.

…never being sure just how badly you’ve screwed up.

…learning to see where you end and where they begin.

With thanks to those who participated, here are some related books from our shelves that we can’t say enough good things about:

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman

The Case Against Homework, by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish

Where We Going, Daddy?: Life with Two Sons Unlike Any Others, by Jean-Louis Fournier

Raising Blaze: Bringing Up an Extraordinary Son in an Ordinary World, by Debra Ginsberg

Rad Dad: dispatches from the frontiers of fatherhood, edited by Tomas Moniz and Jeremy Adam Smith

Aida and BJ highly, highly recommend:

Blue Nights, by Joan Didion

There are not many people in the world who emerge, or rather, periodically peek out, from the profoundest, deepest, most unimaginable and indescribable grief  long enough and lucidly enough to convey something of truth and, therefore, of value to the rest of us. Didion is one of them. This book is her most recent missive.


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Series Business

It is nearly impossible and decidedly quite expensive to read every literary magazine, publication and book that interests you in a given year. There is simply not enough time, no matter how dedicated or wealthy you may be. With this in mind, (and, of course, as a way to bestow honor, as well,) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has been publishing The Best American Series since 1915. They began that year with The Best American Short Stories. The series now includes everything from Poetry to Sports Writing and, added most recently, Nonrequired Reading and Comics.

Each series has its own editor who culls from the previous year’s best writing in his or her genre and each year a guest editor narrows down the list for the rest of us to enjoy. The beauty of this system is that it ensures variety, can never lead to stagnation and each year’s guest editor, whose opinions, world views and tastes differ from those of the previous year’s, is able to put together an anthology which stands alone and is uniquely of its time.

Some of this year’s guest editors:

Geraldine Brooks, Kevin Young, Mary Roach, Edwidge Danticat, Alison Bechdel, Sloane Crosley, Harlan Coben 

We have the entire series in stock today and don’t plan on running out of enthusiasm for it. So come in and let us infect you!


Next up, one of the best ideas for anything… ever!                                                                                                                                                                                    

“The Seven Deadly Sins have sliced up the dictionary and taken what’s theirs. No one vice is too greedy as each volume prides itself on having more than 500 entries. Word lovers will lust after these richly packaged volumes–and once you’ve collected all seven, you’ll be the envy of all your friends.”

And there’re always these, some of the most beautiful book covers in the history of book covers… and they happen to bind some of the best written pages in the history of written pages:

[We’d also like to remind you that we hold the secret to you becoming more beloved than Santa this holiday season. Sign a loved one (any age!) up for our Book of the Month Club and for the next year they will receive a new book each month in keeping with their interests and tastes [contact us for details].

Give a sweater and you’ll only be remembered in winter. Give the gift that keeps on giving and you’ll be remembered forever. Seriously.]

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