Series: 20 giftable books 2020

Take a closer look at American history with Jill Lepore's sweeping overview, beginning in 1492. The title comes from “these truths,” as Jefferson called them: political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of the people. The book explores whether those truths have held up over the course of our nation's history. Lepore is a gifted writer, and her impeccable research reveals nuance behind our typical textbook version of events. Bonus: this one is in paperback! No matter which historical time period your loved one is obsessed with, this book will cover it and shed light on a new perspective.
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Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics is a landmark celebration of the remarkable life and career of a country music and pop culture legend. As told by Dolly Parton in her own inimitable words, explore the songs that have defined her journey. Illustrated throughout with previously unpublished images from Dolly Parton's personal and business archives. Mining over 60 years of songwriting, Dolly Parton highlights 175 of her songs and brings readers behind the lyrics.
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I have such fond memories of watching Jeopardy! as a family when I was growing up, and I was deeply saddened by Alex Trebek's passing. His reflections in this volume are sure to be nostalgic and illuminating as he shares anecdotes from over three decades of hosting the show. More than a history of his hosting career, this volume includes Trebek's musings on parenthood, education, and spirituality. In a nod to the show, each chapter title is in the form of a question.
We get a lot of messages about what we "should" be prioritizing over the holiday season, but have you stopped to ask yourself what matters most to you? With her five Lazy Genius principles, my friend Kendra will help you live according to what matters and let go of the stuff that doesn't. I make much use of her "decide once" principle when times get stressful, and her guide has helped my whole family plan our holidays around what matters most to us. With her friendly voice and style, Kendra illustrates each principle with stories from her own life. It's a great book to set yourself (or a loved one) up for success in the new year.
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A master of short-form storytelling, David Sedaris shares his best stories in this "best of" collection. Though his stories revolve around his personal experiences, Sedaris proves to be keenly aware of the world around him, sharing observations about human nature with humor, wit, and ... a whole lot of sex jokes. Both avid Sedaris fans and readers who are new to his work will appreciate this volume of his most memorable work. (I'm currently 90% through the audio version; Sedaris narrates himself, as always, and this new audiobook includes some live performances that are outstanding.)
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This beautiful cookbook brings literary feasts to life with recipes from classic and modern literature, like vanilla layer cake from Anne of Green Gables, buckwheats from Little Women, or a thousand pork & ginger dumplings from The Kitchen God's Wife. Regardless of whether you cook any of the recipes, this book belongs on any bookworm's coffee table or shelf. If you do pick a few recipes to try in the kitchen, fear not: even the Dickensian recipes are tailored to modern life. I'm thinking of several friends who would love to receive this collection for the holidays.
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This award-winning cookbook is at the top of my holiday wishlist. It has everything: history, heritage, culture, and food. Stunning photos accompany stories and recipes that showcase the depth of African American cuisine. I want to read it like a novel, and then cook the sweet potato biscuits and seafood gumbo. "Deeply beautiful, culturally diverse, fit for celebration"—pair it with a good bottle of bourbon for the Bourbon & Apple Hot Toddies recipe.
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The premise of this great research-based and story-driven nonfiction read is that when it comes to loving the place you live, YOU have a lot more power than you probably realize. People who love their communities don't just live in great places, they're also extremely proactive about the ways they engage in their communities—and I wish I could rattle off every single one by memory! Practical, actionable, and bound to make a difference in your everyday life.
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Vegetable Kingdom is a sophisticated-looking cookbook, written in a delightfully snarky voice—and the photos are absolutely gorgeous. You can’t underestimate the joy of flipping through a beautifully photographed, drool-worthy cookbook, especially after you've unwrapped it as a gift. W. Kamau Bell says it best. Author Bryant Terry "goes hard at vegetables with a hip-hop eye and a Southern grandmama’s nature. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, Bryant wants us to know that once we know vegetables better, we will cook vegetables better.”
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Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can't imagine life without them. I'd Rather Be Reading leads readers to remember the book that first hooked them, the place where they first fell in love with reading, and all of the moments afterward that helped make them the reader they are today.
Whenever I visit a used bookstore, I hunt for a few orange Penguin Classics to add to my shelf. It's one of my favorite bookish collections, and this gorgeous hardcover celebrates the joy of a beautiful book cover. Every book published by Penguin Classics (not just the orange covers) gets a page with an illustrated cover, summary, backstory, and author biography. View classic covers from 500 authors, 1,200 books and 4,000 years of world literature. A must-have volume for bookworms who love classics, history, or art.
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From the publisher: "In this timely anthology, Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black women writers to shine a light on how important it is that we all have the opportunity to find ourselves in literature. Contributors include Jesmyn Ward, Lynn Nottage, Jacqueline Woodson, Gabourey Sidibe, Morgan Jerkins, Tayari Jones, Rebecca Walker, and Barbara Smith. Whether it’s learning about the complexities of femalehood from Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, finding a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, the subjects of each essay reminds us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation."
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This is another book I picked up at my local indie on publication day—I just couldn't wait! It shot to the top of my wishlist when Grettel mentioned it on WSIRN Episode 251: I love books and books love me back. My fascination with urban planning is well documented. I love learning the stories behind sidewalk placement, street signs, or park-building. This well-researched guide to city design includes illustrations, stories, and explanations of the things we usually overlook. Podcast host Mars brings his celebration of big ideas and seemingly small things to the page.
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This fun doorstop of a collection (and I say that with affection) is at a GREAT price right now. It includes titles I expected (all six Austen novels) and titles I didn't (Make Way for Ducklings, Into Thin Air, The Hunt for Red October). The book includes numerous shorter reading lists, thorough indexes, and a checklist so you can see how many on the list you have read. (My current total is 168.) I chatted with Mustich on a special New Year's episode of What Should I Read Next?, where Jim recommended which of those 1000 books he thinks I should prioritize.
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We get A LOT of questions from readers about what books to gift the men in their lives, and my husband's first answer is reliably "David Joy." Gifting fiction can be tricky, but page-turning literary fiction is a go-to crowd-pleaser (for readers of any gender!). Joy's latest novel hasn't gotten as much attention as it deserves, which makes it perfectly giftable. A father, an addict, and a federal agent are brought together by chance and redemption. Told in alternating points of view, a complicated family story meets a noir-ish literary mystery.
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We've all been there: stuck in a cycle of what-ifs, plagued by indecision, paralyzed by the fear of getting it wrong. Nobody wants to live a life of constant overthinking, but it doesn't feel like something we can choose to stop doing. It feels like something we're wired to do, something we just can't escape. But is it? Anne's answer is no. Not only can you overcome negative thought patterns that are repetitive, unhealthy, and unhelpful, you can replace them with positive thought patterns that will bring more peace, joy, and love into your life. In Don't Overthink It, you'll find actionable strategies that can make an immediate and lasting difference in how you deal with questions both small—Should I buy these flowers?—and large—What am I doing with my life? More than a book about making good decisions, Don't Overthink It offers you a framework for making choices you'll be comfortable with, using an appropriate amount of energy, freeing you to focus on all the other stuff that matters in life.
The Everyman's Library Pocket Poets hardcover series is popular for its compact size and reasonable price which does not compromise content. Poems: Rilke contains poems from The Book of Images; New Poems; Requiem for a Friend; Poems, 1906-1926; French Poems; The Life of Mary; Sonnets to Orpheus; The Duino Elegies; Letters to a Young Poet; and an index of first lines.
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Even before I finished Welcome Home, I was putting Myquillyn's principles into action—and enjoying the process. There's no one I trust more for guidance on making my home livable, welcoming, and beautiful. Her new book walks you through the seasons of the year, highlighting simple and gratifying ways to decorate (yay) and host (eventually) in tune with the rhythms of the year. For the fall season, I'm ready to shop my backyard for fall decor, as she suggests, and my kids can't wait to try the stacked apple cider bar she demonstrates how to do for a fall celebration. This would make a lovely gift book. Publication date September 15.
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Longlisted for the National Book Award, Wilkerson's latest book explores how America has been shaped by a hidden caste system. Wilkerson links the caste systems of the United States, India, and Nazi Germany in a story-driven deep dive into history, class, and race. I loved The Warmth of Other Suns and can't wait to read this one. Wilkerson's narrative nonfiction makes a great gift for history buffs and readers who appreciate true stories, well-told. It would also make an excellent family book club pick!
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My Barefoot Contessa cookbooks are well-loved and notably worse for wear. From the publisher: "Ina Garten shares 85 new recipes that will feed your deepest cravings. Many of these dishes are inspired by childhood favorites—but with the volume turned way up, such as Cheddar and Chutney Grilled Cheese sandwiches (the perfect match for Ina’s Creamy Tomato Bisque), Smashed Hamburgers with Caramelized Onions, and the crispiest hash browns that are actually made in a waffle iron! Old-fashioned crowd pleasers like Roasted Sausages, Peppers, and Onions are even more delicious and streamlined for quick cleanup. From cocktails to dessert, from special weekend breakfasts to quick weeknight dinners, you’ll find yourself making these cozy and delicious recipes over and over again."
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