Sunday, December 22, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Nothing But the Truth

Finishing up our holiday book buying guides, we land a list of nonfiction titles that are captivating, interesting, and compulsively readable. Even those who profess to dislike nonfiction will find themselves drawn into the stories here, which include such a diverse range that you're bound to find a gift that appeals to that one person you can never figure out what to get for Christmas.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson // Follows the Arab Revolt and all the ensuing plots to control the Middle East toward the modern day make up of the region.
2. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan // A superbly researched biography of Jesus.
3. Run, Brother, Run: A Memoir of Muder in My Family by David Berg // Did you know that Woody Harrelson's father is a murderer? This true-crime murder drama, told by trial lawyer and brother of the murdered man, tells the tale.
4. Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn // Through research and interviews, Guinn vividly fills in the background story and mysteries that have long surrounded Charles Manson.
5. After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story by Michael Hainey // A son, now a grown journalist, researches the cause and circumstances of his father's death.
6. The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan // The town of Oak Ridge, TN, was top secret and did not appear on any maps, but for years, the young women who lived and worked there helped build the atomic bomb. Mind blowing.
7. Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier by Tom Kizzia // A homesteading family who aren't as pure as they appear. A man vs. government fight over land. An engrossing look at power on its many scales.
8. Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair by Anne Lamott // An inspirational title about finding balance in life and find ourselves in the face of infinite hardships.
9. Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell by Phil Lapsley // A highly original tale of the phone's rise to power and its huge flaw that allowed it to be exploited by "phone phreaks," mobsters, and more.
10. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach // "America's funniest science writer" takes you on a journey that starts in your mouth and ends in your... digestive system.
11. The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks by Amy Stewart // The history of the plants that humans have turned into alcohol, complete with perfect cocktail recipes.
12. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed // When a woman loses everything, she hikes alone for 1,000 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself again. Powerful.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Honorable MENtion

What qualifications are there for "dude books"? Realistically, any book could be read by any man in the world and be the right book for that dude. But for our purposes, we've selected titles that are in demand when it comes to our male library guests and co-workers. Humor, sports, and some pretty serious nonfiction make this a compelling list with lots of possibility.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown // The true story of the nine-man rowing crew (including their coxswain, of course) who stunned the world by winning gold at Hitler's 1936 Olympics.
2. Let me Off at the Top!: My Classy Life and Other Musings by Ron Burgundy // "Anchorman" and Will Ferrell fans will kiss you for buying them this, so be prepared.
3. William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher // Every guy ever loves "Star Wars," not as many love Shakespeare, so consider this a culture infusion.
4. League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth by Mark Fainaru-Wada // An exploration of the shocking injuries that continue to rack the NFL and decommission key players.
5. Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel // Pulitzer Prize winner Finkel takes a hard look at the veteran's experience of what life is like after the grueling intensity of war.
6. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan // Comedian Gaffigan's absolutely hilarious account of fatherhood. Seriously buy one for every dad you know.
7. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell // Another must-read from Gladwell, who explores how to fight the good fight and take down the big guy.
8. I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) by Chuck Klosterman // Chuck explores the rise of the anti-hero.
9. Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities by Chris Kluwe // Kluwe, a longtime NFL punter, speaks freely (and pretty verbosely) on pretty much everything. His open letters are legendary.
10. Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living by Nick Offerman // Manliest man Nick Offerman offers anecdotes and advice on being awesome and manly.
11. The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New American by George Packer // Packer's National Book Award winning nonfiction profile of America shows the strained bonds that hold the country together.
12. Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love and Karaoke by Rob Sheffield // Rolling Stone writer Sheffield explores love and loss to the background music of karaoke.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Ladies' Night

Before we launch into our women vs. men book lists, let us be super clear that gender isn't a very legit predictor of a person's reading preferences. The best way to guess what your friend or loved one will want to read is by knowing what they already like to read and predicting a hit based off that knowledge. Having said that, these are good, well-received books that just might suit your mom or sister or aunt. Give 'em a try!

From left to right, top to botom...
1. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson // The amazing tale of a woman's life from start to end, the twist being she dies and is reborn again and again....and again.
2. Longbourn by Jo Baker // In the "Upstairs, Downstairs" world of Pride and Prejudice, this is a peek into the downstairs.
3. Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt // When a family starts coming rapidly apart, one headstrong woman tries endlessly to keep it together.
4. Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell // The true story of how a Gilded Age daughter hid herself away and spent her family's fortune not on opulence, but on charity.
5. Someone by Alice McDermott // Crowd favorite McDermott's newest follows a woman through her very ordinary life. She didn't win a National Book Award for nothin'.
6. The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud // A sweet, kind schoolteacher is drawn into a thrilling new family's lives until a shocking betrayal leaves readers wondering who the real monster is.
7. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett // Beloved author Patchett shares nonfiction essays about life, love, friendship, and art.
8. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple // A beautiful, touching novel about a daughter's search for her missing, agoraphobic mother.
9. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion // A brilliant, socially awkard professor tries to use science to find a wife, meets an intriguing woman who fits none of his criteria, and we all know where this is going but we want to be there when it happens.
10. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt // Everyone loves Donna Tartt, so this story of fate will not disappoint.
11. The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls // A story about sisterhood, finding oneself, and triumph over adversity, all told in Walls's shining prose.
12. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter // A story that's a little bit about Hollywood's golden age, a little more about love, and a lot about the crazy coincidences that propel life forward.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Smart Art

Often we get the impression that some people consider graphic novels (or more commonly referred to as "comics") to not be "real books" or to be in some way watered down. We beg to differ! It's really a unique format that combines literary devices and art to tell stories, engaging your brain in decoding information in two ways simultaneously. When we say it like that, I bet they sound pretty intense—and anyone who has read Art Spiegelman's tremendous Maus series or Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis can tell you how awe-inspiring a graphic novel can really be. We've selected some parts of series and some stand-alones to illustrate the clever complexities of this visually stunning format.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach by Brian Azzarello, J.G. Jones, and Lee Burmejo // This prequel cracks into two of the most intense characters of Alan Moore's groundbreaking Watchmen graphic novel. One of four Watchmen prequels released this year!
2. The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice by Mike Carey and Peter Gross // If you know someone who loved Harry Potter and they're NOT reading The Unwritten, you need to change that ASAP.
3. Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm // A nonfiction graphic novel about momentous decisions that led to the dropping of the first A bomb.
4. The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg // A collection of an imagined civilization's early history. Or maybe the stories are myths. Whatever they are, they're lovely to behold.
5. The Walking Dead Vol. 19: March to War by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn // Anyone who has been keeping up with The Walking Dead series will surely have this on their Christmas list.
6. Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederick Peeters // An idyllic day at the beach becomes a nightmare when the body of a young woman is found floating in the waters. Then everyone starts aging rapidly and no one can leave. Haunting and totally original.
7. March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell // Congressman John Lewis uses the graphic novel format to tell the true story of his struggle for civil rights. Powerful.
8. Hellboy: The Midnight Circus by Mike Mignola and Duncan Fedrego // Fans of the ongoing Hellboy and B.P.R.D. series will love this prequel.
9. The Property by Rutu Modan // Reminiscent of so many Holocaust homecoming tales, Modan explores the deep rifts between Poles and Jews that still exist to this day.
10. Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger // A dark, fairy-tale-esque story reminiscent of selkie myths created by master storyteller Niffenegger.
11. Genius by Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen // A quantum physicist turns to his father-in-law, who claims Einstein entrusted him with his final secret, to save his job.
12. The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story by Vivek Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson, Kyle Baker, and Philip Simon // The true story of Brian Epstein, the manager who discovered and lead the Beatles to their greatest successes only to die tragically before his time.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Business Time

Not everyone is a fan of fiction. Some readers feel pretty firmly that what they select for their reading material should be actionable and beneficial to their success in life and business. If you know one of these readers, help them further their improvement goals by selecting one of the titles below. They all relate in some way to furthering the career goals of your loved one, a gift that will surely keep on giving.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work That Matters by Jon Acuff // Real, usable ideas to work past mediocrity and let nothing get in the way of being awesome.
2. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger // Berger explains the 6 steps that make ideas or products "contagious."
3. The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting by Allan Greenspan // Years of rigorous research lead Greenspan to new economic forecasting conclusions.
4. The 80/20 Manager: The Secret to Working Less and Achieving More by Richard Koch // Get 80% results with 20% effort in business? Sign us up!
5. Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin // Using a series of guideline questions, Lafley and Martin show how any business can become a winner.
6. Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business by John Mackey and Raj Sissodia // Co-founder of Whole Foods explains how four tenets can propel a business to its highest potential.
7. Sometimes You Win -- Sometimes You Learn: Life's Greatest Lessons Are Gained from Our Losses by John C. Maxwell // The title says it all; help others learn from their losses.
8. Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities that Make Us Influential by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut // This book teaches its readers how to be charismatic, magnetic, and influential.
9. From the Ground Up: A Food-grower's Education in Life, Love, and the Movement That's Changing the Nation by Jeanne Nolan // An inspiring read for anyone considering a future in food growing.
10. Without Their Permission: How the 20th Century Will Be Made, Not Managed by Alexis Ohanian // Reddit co-founder Ohanian shares tips and tricks for harnessing the power of the Internet.
11. Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg // Sandberg encourages women to break the glass ceiling with actionable, practical ideas.
12. The Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's for Meaning and Authenticity by August Turak // An exploration of applying the principles of the Trappist monks to business practices.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Word Nerds

We say "word nerds" in the most endearing sense possible (and with the full knowledge that many of us would qualify as such). These readers have favorite authors you've never heard of and always have a great book recommendation up their sleeve for slipping out at a cocktail party. They've read everything, so what books do you get for them? We humbly offer up the titles below, ones that have won awards, blown away their readers, and gained their authors instant praise and attention in the literary world. But wrap these with a gift receipt; who knows if your word nerd has already devoured them.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell // A haunting, shockingly beautiful, surreal fairy tale of a novel.
2. We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo // A Man Booker shortlist title that explores an Zimbabwean emigrants quest for identity in America.
3. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton // A no brainer. It won the Man Booker, for crying out loud!
4. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent // The guardians of a young woman charged with murder find there's more to her story than everyone thinks.
5. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri // Jhumpa Lahiri is just brilliant.
6. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra // Beautifully fleshed out characters brought together by the Chechen war discover the coincidences that have brought them together.
7. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride // With the flair of Mark Twain, McBride tells the story of the failed raid on Harper's Ferry. Impressive research makes this an excellent read.
9. The Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon // The darling of the English department, Pynchon, gives creative writing students something to envy and enjoy.
10. Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karin Russell // A writerly short story collection with brilliant moments.
11. The Tenth of December by George Saunders // National Book Award finalist and refreshingly original short story collection from a master of the medium.
8. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld // A masterfully told story about family ties.
12. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward // Award-winner Ward's heart-wrenching memoir about loss and circumstances.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: College Ruled

After college, it's easy to look back and realize just how much free time you had during those first years of your new independence. Think about how many books you could have been reading instead of watching reruns of "The Simpsons" while eating $.10 noodles you made in the microwave! If you're buying for a college student this year, remind them of the importance of being well read with a thoughtful book gift.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie // A rumination on race and identity that is on pretty much every "best of" list of 2013.
2. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh // READ ALL THE INSIGHTS!
3. The Circle by Dave Eggers // People either love or hate Eggers, but this Facebook-inspired, life-after-college book is getting talked about seriously everywhere.
4. The Panopticon by Jennie Fagan // A delinquent girl with a troubled past gets super paranoid when put into a halfway house. She's a gutsy narrator young people will adore.
5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman // A supremely awesome supernatural tale whose unsettling nature really creeps up on you. It's a read-in-one-sitting type of good.
6. Mañana Means Heaven by Tim Z. Hernandez // The perfect book for the burgeoning Kerouac fan, telling the story of On the Road from the perspective of "the Mexican girl."
7. The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner // A finalist for the National Book Award, Kushner's novel about a young artist trying to make her mark is bold and memorable.
8. Night Film by Marisha Pessl // Interactive and perfect for young people who love our highly integrated world, it's a strange mystery. Like super strange.
9. The Wes Anderson Collection by Matt Zoller Seitz // Ideal for the college student who can't remember how many times they've watched "Moonrise Kingdom."
10. The Geek's Guide to Dating by Eric Smith // Hey, everyone knows someone who needs a little help out there...
11. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker // History, mythology, and magic become quite chummy in this interesting read.
12. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer // A novel about teenagers with enormous potential who grow up and see how much their potential amounts to in the real world.

p.s. The Internet is filled with lists everyone needs to read in their 20s. Consider these all fairly good options as well.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Teen Dream

Teen readers are so! lucky! The Young Adult literature scene is ah-mazing—so amazing that adults dip into it constantly (especially when something huge comes along every couple years). With more and more young adult books being optioned and made into blockbuster movies, teen reading is not really in a dire situation. In fact, teens and young adults read more books than older people do. So buy a teen a book! They're not going to hate it, we can assure you of that, particularly if you choose one of the stellar titles we've selected below.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo // Best described as Russian Harry Potter minus all the school parts and plus constant action. Buy it with Shadow and Bone for full awesomeness.
2. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black // A vampire book by a veteran author is actually scary and contains no sparkles.
3. Homeland by Cory Doctorow // Fans of Doctorow's Little Brother and conspiracy lovers will adore this novel.
4. QB 1 by Mike Lupica // This veteran sports author knows how to narrate a football scene.
5. Far Far Away by Tom McNeal // Very Grimm, perfect for teens who are into modern takes on fairy tales.
6. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel by Ransom Riggs and Cassandra Jean // Get this for the teen who is anxiously awaiting the 1/14/14 publication of Hollow City.
7. Allegiant by Veronica Roth // The final book in the Divergent trilogy blew everyone's minds this year. It's totally worth it to get a teen all 3.
8. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell // A really great love story with some heart-wrenching substance. All the feels!
9. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson // Part dystopia, part magic, it's all we could ask for in an epic adventure.
10. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater // The 2nd book in hugely popular author Stiefvater's Raven Cycle. Super, super good.
11. The 5th Wave by Richard Yancey // With so many zombie apocalypse books out there, this title about an alien apocalypse is extra spooky.
12. Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang // This 2-part graphic novel set melds history and mythology into an unbelievably readable package.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Everything In-beTWEEN

Buying gifts for "tweens" (those young, middle-school-aged people who aren't quite teens, but are more mature than kids in grade school) can put the gift giver in a pickle. Their reading abilities are probably fairly solid and they are likely interested in young adult books that have made their way into pop culture, like the ubiquitous Hunger Games books. You don't want to offend them by selecting titles that are "for little kids," but you also don't want to upset any parents who might find a book's subject matter too mature for their tween.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Sidekicked by John David Anderson // For tweens who enjoy debating which superpower is best.
1. I Represent Sean Rosen by Jeff Baron // For tweens who would love to work in the movie biz.
3. Doll Bones by Holly Black // For tweens who love to get a little creeped out.
2. Jinx by Sage Blackwood // For tweens who love fantasy adventures filled with magic and danger.
10. The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani // For tweens who wish life was more like a Disney movie.
11. Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson // For tweens who crave adventure.
12. Force Out by Tim Green // For tweens who love sports above all.
6. Battling Boy by Paul Pope // For tweens who gobble up comics.
5. The House of Hades by Rick Riordan // For tweens who've been reading these Riordan books for-ev-er.
9. The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente  // For tweens who love fairy tales and epic adventures.
7. Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool // For tweens who read to find out who they are and who they could be.
8. Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt // For tweens who love mysteries.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: It's All Elementary

Keeping kids reading through their elementary school years can be challenging, but finding the book that turns students into lifelong readers is rewarding for everyone involved. Skill levels in the elementary school age range vary widely, but the books we've selected for these readers have age-appropriate subject matter and lots of fun for kids.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt and Jennifer Bricking // The outside world threatens a peaceful swamp and its animal scouts must fight for their survival.
2. Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown // From the author who brought us Vader and Son and Vader's Little Princess, a fun imagining of what the Star Wars crew would've been like in middle school.
3. Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo and K.G. Campbell // Fun graphic novel styling tells the story of a squirrel, a girl, and unexpected superherodom.
4. Bink and Gollie: Best Friends Forever by Kate DiCamillo, Allison McGhee and Tony Fucile // An adorable best friend duo that march to the beat of their own drum.
5. Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman and Skottie Young // This book is making lists all around the world, no joke. Reminds us of Roald Dahl's stories in the best way imaginable.
6. A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff // A National Book Award nominee that immerses readers in a lovely magical world with plenty of mystery.
7. The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes // A laugh-so-hard-you'll-snort kind of story boys and girls alike will love.
8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney // Of course this is on the list. An easy choice for all boys.
9. My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O'Hara // Satisfies kids' hunger for entry into the rising "zombie" fiction genre with plenty of giggles, so it's not really scary.
10. Stallion by Starlight by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca // Number 49 in the amazing, neverending Magic Tree House series. You'd think kids would want to read them in order, but many don't mind skipping around.
11. "When Did You See Her Last?" by Lemony Snicket // The 2nd in Snicket's newest series, it's characterized by clever kids and incompetent and/or evil adults. Smart and funny.
12. A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems // Elephant and Piggie fans will not be disappointed with this newest adventure between the pachyderm and porcine pals.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: "Again! Again!" Preschoolers

For many children, "preschool" is the perfect age range for beginning to read those longer picture books that adults love and children finally have the patience to enjoy. It's also the height of "Again! Again!!" those eager requests to hear the same story over and over and over... and over. Parents and caregivers might find themselves thinking "I like The Hungry Caterpillar too, but enough is enough!" For these young kids, repetition is an important part of learning.

These 2013 titles will be welcome additions to a preschooler's book collection. Who knows? One of them may just become an instant favorite, cheered on by calls of "Again! Again!!"

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Crankenstein by Samantha Berger and Dan Santat // On par with the classic Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
2. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown // A story about being yourself while still respecting others.
3. Train by Elisha Cooper // In a year of tons of train books, this one stands out. Beautiful illustrations with lots of detail.
4. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers // Funny and endearing, this cute book shares the gripes of all the crayons, who have frankly had enough.
5. Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand and Tony Fucile // A high-energy story for kids who like to go, go, go!
6. How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton and John Rocco // Kids will relish the idea of owning a pet train.
7. If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano and Erin C. Stead // Whimsical illsutrations and a funny story all lead to delight when little readers spot the whale before the narrator does.
8. Moo! by David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka // A cow in a car. What could go wrong?
9. Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob Shea // Super hilarious, it's a sincere story about getting to know someone before you judging them.
10. That is NOT a Good Idea! by Mo Willems // The much-awarded author and illustrator proves again that he is the master of children's books.
11. What Does the Fox Say? by Ylvis // This is admittedly a novelty choice, but it's a strange fact that all kids love the ridiculous song upon which this picture book is based.
12. Dot. by Randi Zuckerberg // An adorable book for tech-savvy kids and their parents who worry about too much screen time.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Those Teeny Tiny Tots

Balking at buying a book for a baby? Don't! Research shows that reading aloud to babies early and often plays a critical role in their success with language and reading, both skills that are necessary to support lifelong learning. Instilling a love of books early on is of utmost importance—it's why we offer weekly storytimes for everyone from birth to 6 years old. You might be surprised how soon babies can hold a book and flip through its pages!

Here are some of our favorite 2013 board books for babies and toddlers. Their durable design will let them be enjoyed again and again for years to come.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Moby-Dick by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver // These BabyLit Primers are always adorable. This one condenses another classic masterpiece into a fun ocean lesson for little ones.
2. My Blankie by Alice Beauvisage // For toddlers who love their blankie, a sweet story that shows the power of imagination.
3. The Noisy Book by Soledad Bravi // Loads of pages and colorful illustrations, plus lots of sounds to imitate = baby gold.
4. Alphablock by Christopher Franceschelli // Peek-through pages give beginning-letter clues, perfect for learning letter recognition.
5. Diggers Go by Steve Light // For tiny tots fascinated with big trucks, an excellent book with plenty of motion.
6. Faces for Baby by Yana Peel // An introduction to modern art for babies. Beautiful and appealing.
7. Tails Chasing Tails by Matthew Porter // An adorable guessing game by a hip indie artist.
8. You Are My Baby: Safari by Lorena Siminovich // Matching + animals = learning in the cutest way possible.
9. Sophie's Busy Day by Dawn Sirrett // Perennial baby shower favorite Sophie la Girafe gets her own touch-and-feel book.
10. Peek-a-boo Who? by Simms Taback // Classic children's book creator.Peek-a-boo flaps. Colorful illustrations. We couldn't ask for more!
11. I Am Blop! by Hervé Tullet // Quirky kidlit favorite Tullet comes out with another fun, imaginative book about the latent possibilities of the simplest shape.
12. Emma by Jack and Holman Wang // One of the newest in the Cozy Classics line, a sweet simplification of the classic Austen tale told by felted figurines.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Best Gift Books of 2013: The 12 Days of Bookish

Ahhh, Wisconsin in December. The snow has started falling in haste, the temperature is dropping, and all we can think about is cuddling up under a blanket with an entertaining book—hot cocoa optional. That's probably not shocking; as librarians, we spend more time than most thinking about books. This year, we're putting our expertise to work for you in selecting some of 2013's best books for gifting. These are the books that your loved ones will be surprised and delighted to receive, the books that will show what a thoughtful gift giver you are. You don't have to say it was our idea; your secret is safe with us.

We've separated our recommendations out into categories by recipient and will be adding new shortlists daily for 12 days. We can't wait to reveal what we've been working on, but it's strictly Do Not Open until December 11! We'll wrap up our recommendations on December 22, just in time for you to finish your shopping.