The History Buff
Take them back in time with good books
Eleanor Roosevelt: The War Years and After, 1939–1962
Blanche Wiesen Cook. Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-02395-0
Anyone who’s read the previous two volumes of Cook’s monumental trilogy will obviously want the concluding volume, but even those who haven’t will appreciate how Cook details Eleanor’s move out from F.D.R.’s shadow to become the figure of social justice we recognize her as today.
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
Margot Lee Shetterly. Morrow. ISBN 978-0-06-236359-6
Shetterly founded the Human Computer Project to share the stories of the female mathematicians behind America’s aeronautics and space programs. Here, she celebrates the black women hired in the midst of Jim Crow, addressing the “collision between race, gender, science, and war.” Read the book before you see the film!
Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination
Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf. Liveright. ISBN 978-0-87140-442-8
Gordon-Reed and Onuf succeed in making some sense of the contradictory and paradoxical elements of Jefferson’s life, which continue to flummox more modern publics. Much has been written on Jefferson, and will continue to be, but these are the sort of insights for which readers didn’t realize they pined.
Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939
Adam Hochschild. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-547-97318-0
The Spanish Civil War largely remains a blip on most Americans’ historical radar, if it appears at all. Perhaps Hochschild’s account will change that, given its focus on the small number of Americans who volunteered to fight and the reasons they did so.
Time Travel: A History
James Gleick. Pantheon.
Gleick is a formidable science writer, but his books on such grand ideas as chaos and information may be better recognized as science histories. In his latest, he not only details the scientific concept of time travel, but leads readers through a mind-blowing history of human conceptions of time.
The People Person
Big biographies and memoirs
Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend
Deirdre Bair. Doubleday/Talese.
National Book Award–winning biographer Bair gets at the truth behind this eternally fascinating man, who was equal parts charismatic mobster, doting father, calculating monster, and a major player in American gangster mythology.
Born to Run
Bruce Springsteen. Simon & Schuster.
The Boss recounts his life—from his childhood in New Jersey to the rise of the E Street Band—in this sweeping 500-page memoir.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo
Amy Schumer. Gallery. ISBN 978-1-5011-3988-8
In our starred review, we write that the Emmy Award–winning comedian’s essay collection is “plucky, forthright, hilariously raunchy—and honest.” The instant bestseller covers Schumer’s childhood, family, and her path to stand-up stardom.
The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds
Michael Lewis. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-25459-4
The latest from bestselling author Lewis (Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, Flash Boys) explores the studies of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, which upended conventional notions of the human decision-making process.
The Sports Nut
The Baseball Whisperer: A Small-Town Coach Who Shaped Big League Dreams
Michael Tackett. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-5443-8764-5
In a remarkable tribute to an exceptional coach with a special summer baseball program in a small town in Iowa, Tackett, an editor in the Washington bureau of the New York Times, shares the journey of Merl Eberly, a “baseball whisperer” who nurtured young hopefuls dreaming of being big league players.
Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre
Jeff Pearlman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Skilled sports biographer Pearlman brings his dogged, one-more-phone-call approach to this massively enjoyable book on Brett Favre, the gambling, cannon-armed quarterback whose talent and boyish enthusiasm brought the Green Bay Packers back to hallowed relevance in the mid-1990s.
Hockey Strong: Stories of Sacrifice from Inside the NHL
Todd Smith. Gallery. ISBN 978-1-5011-1834-0
Smith is a hockey fan and writes for the Minnesota Wild hockey team. Here he collects stories from players that demonstrate the lore of hockey toughness and playing through pain.
The Mannings: The Fall and Rise of a Football Family
Lars Anderson. Ballantine. ISBN 978-1-1018-8382-2
An accomplished storyteller, Anderson writes about the Manning football legacy with style and verve, warts and all, backed by an abundance of research and scholarship.
Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant
Roland Lazenby. Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-38724-8
The author of Michael Jordan: The Life turns his eye to another basketball legend: the recently retired Kobe Bryant, who was less a person than a basketball android.
Business books for the industrious on your list
Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace
Jessica Bennett. Harper Wave. ISBN 978-0-06-243978-9
Bringing levity to common frustrations facing businesswomen, journalist Bennett describes how, in 2009, she and 11 other like-minded women founded the Feminist Fight Club in New York City. She identifies sexist archetypes like the “manterrupter” (“he who won’t shut up”) and the “bropropriator” (he who “appropriates credit for another’s work”), and lists “fight moves” for combating them.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Angela Duckworth. Scribner. ISBN 978-1-5011-1110-5
This New York Times bestseller from MacArthur Fellow Duckworth should be stuffing plenty of stockings come December. The book identifies the secret of high achievers as grit—a “combination of passion and perseverance”—coupled to raw talent. Talent is important, she acknowledges, but talent multiplied by grit is what builds skill, and skill multiplied by grit equals achievement.
The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan
Sebastian Mallaby. Penguin Press.
Financial Times contributing editor Mallaby serves up a detailed portrait of one of the leading economic figures of our time, written with Greenspan’s cooperation. According to this biography, Greenspan was neither the fabled maestro who mastered inflation nor the reviled incompetent who failed to anticipate the Great Recession.
Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade
Robert Cialdini. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-5011-0979-9
The first solo work in more than three decades by psychologist and New York Times bestselling author Cialdini (Influence), this book proposes that the most successful persuaders are those who prime their audience for their message. Business readers should be fascinated by Cialdini’s insights into how decisions are made, and left wondering whether decisions based solely on facts are even possible.
Ray & Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald’s Fortune and the Woman Who Gave It Away
Lisa Napoli. Dutton. ISBN 978-1-101-98495-6
Aimed at anyone who loves a good love story behind a business success, this book recounts McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc’s marriage to his third wife, Joan. Arriving in November, it precedes the Weinstein Company’s Kroc biopic, The Founder, starring Michael Keaton, by a month, so interest in the story behind the Golden Arches will be running high this season.
Humor books sure to get laughs
Carry This Book
Abbi Jacobson. Viking. ISBN 978-0-7352-2159-8
The star and creator of the television show Broad City imagines the items found inside the pockets, purses, bags, glove compartments, and junk drawers of famous people with colorful and quirky marker drawings.
How to Be Perfect: An Illustrated Guide
Ron Padgett, illus. by Jason Novak. Coffee House.
Jason Novak’s gloriously bizarre doodles add new layers of interpretation to Ron Padgett’s self-help poem.
How to Win at Feminism: The Definitive Guide to Having It All—and Then Some!
Elizabeth Newell, Sarah Pappalardo, and Anna Drezen. HarperOne. ISBN 978-0-06-243980-2
The writers behind the hilarious satirical website the Reductress skewer the most ridiculous tropes and clichés of millennial-era feminism in this send-up of advice books targeted at women.
Sad Animal Facts
Brooke Barker. Flatiron. ISBN 978-1-250-09508-4
This cleverly illustrated compendium of the Animal Kingdom’s more unfortunate truths twists sardonic humor with biological factoids to great effect, and will no doubt draw comparisons to All My Friends Are Dead.
The Tao of Bill Murray: Real-Life Stories of Joy, Enlightenment, and Party Crashing
Gavin Edwards. Random House. ISBN 978-0-8129-9870-2
Rolling Stone’s contributing editor Edwards investigates comedian Bill Murray’s off-kilter antics—such as the star’s habit of randomly showing up in the most unexpected places, only to vanish just as quickly—and the philosophy behind them in this book bursting with anecdotes that underline Murray’s unconventional and fun-loving lifestyle.
Get them cooking
Appetites: A Cookbook
Anthony Bourdain. Ecco.
Written with the no-holds-barred ethos of his renowned TV series No Reservations and Parts Unknown, the celebrity chef and culinary explorer’s first cookbook in more than 10 years collects recipes for the home cook.
Cooking for Jeffrey
Ina Garten. Clarkson Potter.
The Barefoot Contessa pays tribute to her husband of 50 years (and fan favorite on her popular Food Network show) in her 10th cookbook. The book has all of the accessible but elegant recipes diehard Garten fans have come to expect, but also includes anecdotes about her relationship with her husband, from their very first meeting.
How to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking
Mark Bittman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
The latest in Bittman’s encyclopedic How to Cook Everything series is a comprehensive collection of 2,000 baking recipes. Bittman breaks down the fundamentals and goes deep into the world of baking (there are 15 pages on pancakes alone, 10 varieties of fritters, and a savory section).
Mozza at Home: More than 150 Crowd-Pleasing Recipes for Relaxed, Family-Style Entertaining
Nancy Silverton and Carolynn Carreño. Knopf.
Silverton, chef and co-owner of Mozza restaurant in L.A. (among others), shares her renewed passion for cooking for friends and family, and provides 19 menus, along with easy-to-follow recipes that can be prepared in advance.
Small Victories: Recipes, Advice, and Hundreds of Ideas for Home-Cooking Triumphs
Julia Turshen. Chronicle.
Veteran food writer and recipe developer Turshen—who has worked on cookbooks with Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow—takes the reader through her process in developing recipes and how she gets them to work. The perfect gift for burgeoning home cooks.
Books for the crafty
Akira Yoshizawa: Japan’s Greatest Origami Master
Robert J. Lang. Tuttle. ISBN 978-4-8053-1393-0
This book celebrates the art and craftsmanship of origami by surveying the life and career of Akira Yoshizawa (1911–2005), widely considered the father of modern origami, who pioneered techniques and notational systems widely used today.
Big Book of Knitted Mittens: 45 Distinctive Scandinavian Patterns
Jorid Linvik. Trafalgar Square. ISBN 978-1-57076-786-9
The latest from Norwegian knitwear designer Linvik includes creative patterns that play off traditional Scandinavian designs with funky colors and exotic animal motifs.
Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces
Michelle Slatalla, with the editors of Gardenista, photos by Matthew Williams. Artisan. ISBN 978-1-57965-652-2
Aided by 480 color photographs, this beautiful book showcases innovative gardening concepts based upon real homes, highlighting details—the placement of beeswax tea candles, tablecloth clamps, and butterfly chairs—in harmony with shade trees, hedge shrubs, and stone walls.
Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop
Nick Offerman. Dutton. ISBN 978-1-101-98465-9
Readers get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the East Los Angeles woodshop run by actor, comedian, and writer Offerman and his ragtag team of woodworkers, along with instructions for a variety of projects for every skill level.
Kaffe Fassett’s Bold Blooms: Quilts and Other Works Celebrating Flowers
Kaffe Fassett, with Liza Prior Lucy, photos by Debbie Patterson. Abrams. ISBN 978-1-4197-2236-3
Textile designer Fassett celebrates the special role flowers play in inspiring his vibrant fabrics and other works of art in this beautiful coffee-table book that includes instructions for quilting and needlepoint basics as well as templates.
The Host or Hostess
Cocktail and entertaining books for holiday revelry
The Art of the Cheese Plate: Pairings, Recipes, Style, Attitude
Tia Keenan. Rizzoli.
Keenan knows her way around a cheese plate. The chef-fromager designed the cheese program for Danny Meyer’s the Modern and has created pairings for Murray’s Cheese, both in New York City. She offers up no-fail-but-unexpected pairings and easy recipes for elegant cheese plates and seamless hosting.
Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes
Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau. Ten Speed.
A dreamy journey through the history of Italy’s aperitivo, from its origins to the drink’s revival in recent years. The book includes dozens of recipes for the cocktail—orthodox and with a twist—along with bar snacks to nibble alongside.
The Thinking Girl’s Guide to Drinking (Cocktails Without Regrets)
Ariane Resnick, with Brittini Rae. Regan Arts.
Give the gift of more mindful merriment this year—Resnick and Rae draw up recipes for cocktails and mocktails that use healthier alternatives to high-sugar, high-fat, artificially flavored drinks. Recipes include Lavender Spa Lemonade, Bionic Tonic, Ginger Scene Queen, and Mocha Truffle Shot.
Whisky Japan: The Essential Guide to the World’s Most Exotic Whisky
Dominic Roskrow. Kodansha, ISBN 978-1-56386-575-6
Roskrow takes readers into the world of Japanese whisky as it becomes ever more popular across the globe.
Give the book junkie in your life the ultimate gift—a book about books
The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time
Keith Houston. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-24479-3
Avid readers will appreciate this history of the print book from Houston, author of 2013’s Shady Characters. Arranged by the parts of a print book—page, ink, pen, type, illustrations, and binding—the work is “lovingly crafted and embellished with arcane anecdotes,” according to our starred review.
Boundless Books: 50 Literary Classics Transformed into Works of Art
Postertext. Chronicle. ISBN 978-1-452-14864-9
Using a magnifying glass on a ribbon marker, book lovers can read works from the canon, deconstructed and reassembled as works of art. Each piece contains an entire text, with classics from 620 B.C.E. to 1937.
Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover
Paul Buckley. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-143-11013-2
On the 70th anniversary of the launch of Penguin Classics, creative director Paul Buckley takes a look at the line’s iconic covers, delving into the stories behind an imprint known for its innovative book design.
Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers
Bob Eckstein. Clarkson Potter. ISBN 978-0-553-45927-2
New Yorker cartoonist Eckstein pays tribute to some of the world’s most famous bookstores, illustrating 75 shops, some since closed. Each page also includes anecdotes from booksellers and owners, capturing each store’s “quirks and charms,” according to the publisher.
Literary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created
Edited by Laura Miller. Black Dog & Leventhal. ISBN 978-0-316-31638-5
Slate columnist Miller explores nearly 100 of fiction’s most famous realms, spanning 2,000 years of literature. Books covered include Spenser’s The Fairie Queene and Murakami’s 1Q84.