Staff Picks - 2014 Holiday

Let Me Be Frank with You: A Frank Bascombe Book by Richard Ford. In four eloquent, moving, often cynical yet funny, always insightful linked stories, Bascombe, now retired, views his fellow New Jerseyites as they cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Elegant writing explores the physical, moral, emotional landscape in this splendid book. ~ Louise Jones
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber. As a missionary on another planet, his wife waiting on Earth, Peter has little trouble introducing Christianity to his alien congregation while the effort to maintain his marriage becomes arduous. This beautifully written novel unfolds slowly to leave a lasting impression. ~ Amelia Stymacks
The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson. Rogue intelligence officer Roland Nair lands in Sierra Leone to reunite with his friend Michael Andriko, a man of divided loyalties. This post-9/11 tale of intrigue, romance and deception is deft at obscuring the truth, with both characters drawn into a tangle of violence and disconnection. ~ Amy Palmer
Some Luck by Jane Smiley. The first book in an ambitious, century-spanning trilogy about an American family. Like Steinbeck’s immortal Joad family, the Langdons manage to endure despite hardships, deprivations and tragedy. Their determination provides the bedrock for their children’s future and, not coincidentally, for that of an entire nation. ~ Alden Graves
Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk. The closest thing to a romance from The Fight Club author, when all American women suddenly choose to stay home with a new line of “marital aids” – products with something more sinister inside them. A black comedy that turns into absurd science fiction – and it’s quite a ride. ~ Chris Linendoll
Nora Webster by Colm Toibin. This delicate character study, set in Wexford, Ireland, follows Nora for three years after her husband’s death. Like waves lapping at the shore, each incident breaks and swirls with varying degrees of intensity, always gently pushing her forward while allowing her to remember and still grow. ~ Karen Frank
A Sudden Light by Garth Stein. A fantastic exploration of family, generational guilt, a haunted mansion, manipulation, love, money and big trees, from the point of view of a teenage boy trying to save his parents’ marriage and purge the ghosts of ancestors. This book is raw, human and enchanting. ~ Chris Morrow
Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995-2014 by Alice Munro. A brilliant introduction for the uninitiated and a necessary acquisition for lifetime admirers of this remarkable storyteller. Her many literary prizes are well earned, culminating in the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013. A princely gift for the heart and mind. ~ Karen Frank
Five beloved holiday classics in beautiful new editions - collect all of them or stuff one into a stocking for traditional holiday pleasure.
A Merry Christmas: And Other Christmas StoriesA Merry Christmas & Other Christmas Stories by Louise May Alcott. Stories rich in texture and detail evoke Christmas in 19th century America.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This quintessential holiday story became an instant best seller when it was first published in 1843 – and is still a joy to read.
The Night Before Christmas by Nikolai Gogol. A hilarious Christmas story based on a mischievous Ukrainian folk tale, by the Russian master.
The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann. The inspiration for the classic ballet is still a wondrous story of magic and celebration.

Celebrate Christmas in Victorian England with these stories by the great English writer.

Wood Candle Holders ($7.99 to $12.99). Candle holders made in North Carolina from polished pieces of chestnut and are sure to become a family heirloom. ~Monique Proulx
Big Wheel Hour Wall Clock ($100.99, 16”X21”). Designed by Wil Van des Bos, the large-geared wheel rotates as the time changes, with the hour in the top position. An impressive Steampunk timepiece. ~Monique Proulx
Bee Snug Warming Cushion ($20.99). Lovely cushions filled with flaxseed and scented with ‘Nectar of the Bees.’ Pop it in the microwave and then lay the cushion on your neck to relieve tension or use it to warm your feet at night; can also be chilled in the freezer to help reduce pain and inflammation. ~Monique Proulx
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. Heed the author’s note – this is not a beginning; if you’re new to Rothfuss’s world please read The Name of the Wind. For fans - this is Auri’s story: a strange, broken, endearing tale but one that follows none of the usual rules. ~ Ben Parker
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. This engaging look at first contact with aliens, set against China’s Cultural Revolution, examines what happens when philosophy, history and science meet, unlocking a corrupt civilization’s potential to take over a world. This unique, exciting work of speculative fiction will leave you clamoring for the sequel. ~ Cheryl Cornwall
Blue Horses: Poems by Mary Oliver. In this lovely collection of new poems, Oliver expresses her affinity with the natural world with gentleness and humor, inviting the reader to pay attention, to reflect, to revere simplicity–and her explorations become the purest of meditations. ~ Amy Palmer
Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz. 1891: The Holmes and Moriarty Reichenbach Falls tragedy has left London’s crime sector in turmoil. Pinkerton Agent Chase has tracked an American villain to England and teams with Inspector Athelney Jones to find the man whose goal is to unite his illicit network with the late Moriarty’s. Suspense at it’s best! Available 12/06 ~ Sarah Donner
Into a Raging Blaze by Andreas Norman. A thriller about a young career woman in the Swedish Foreign Affairs Ministry who is given an USB drive by a stranger. The contents cause havoc in both her professional and personal lives. Only one person believes she’s innocent. A well-written, entertaining first novel. ~ Sarah Knight
Proof Positive by Archer Mayor. A case of murder and mayhem leads Joe Gunther and his VBI squad from Vermont to Philadelphia and New Hampshire. Mayor excels at creating complex characters and vivid scenes, from the odiferous hovel of a hoarder to the ostentatious home of a US Senator. ~ Louise Jones
The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore. Those bullet-deflecting bracelets! Those kinky high-heeled red boots! Lepore shows how Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, himself rather kinky, was influenced by suffragists and feminists, especially his female relatives and friends. A thoroughly engrossing, well-researched and eye-opening book. ~ Louise Jones
The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer. While this is meant to be read in one sitting, I stretched it out because I felt happier after each reading. Iyer draws on distinct exemplars of the benefits of stillness, imparting some of that peace in this gem of a book. ~ Carol Graser
The Georgetown Set: Friends and Rivals in Cold War Washington by Gregg Herken. How a close-knit group - friends and adversaries, journalists, diplomats, politicians, spies - neighbors of the powerful columnist Joseph Alsop, manipulated Cold War policy. Extensively researched, very well written, a fascinating insider account. ~ Louise Jones
The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless. The tragic story of Chris McCandless, who hiked into the Alaskan wilderness and starved to death in 1992, captured worldwide attention. What had prompted this lonely foray into the unknown? His sister Carine offers insight into his motivations, revealing the pain and dishonesty beneath familial trauma. ~ Amy Palmer
Empire of Sin by Gary Krist. From the early 1890s until 1930, the Storyville section of New Orleans was a haven for every vice imaginable. Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton played a new kind of music called jazz there, but Storyville was also home to a vicious serial killer called the Axman. ~ Alden Graves
Good Grief: Life in a Tiny Vermont Village by Ellen Stimson. Stimson’s life is full with love, food, kids, candles, humor, pets – and grief. This wild ride began last year with Mud Season and ends with her serenity and quiet wisdom, accepting that good grief is the product of a good life. ~ Karen Frank
Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming. Hilarious, heartbreaking and devastatingly stylish, just like Alan Cumming. A compulsively readable account of Cumming’s tumultuous relationship with his father. ~ Lily Ringler
Small Victories by Anne Lamott. Even in times of desperation or hardship there are tiny moments of grace: the small victories of daily life. In perfectly chosen words, Lamott shares her wisdom and insight with self-deprecating humor and an emphasis on faith, family and forgiveness in this ultimately uplifting and optimistic read. ~ Jennifer Canfield
Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson by S.C. Gwynne. In 1862, Jackson’s worldwide fame eclipsed Napoleon’s, but a year earlier he was an obscure professor. An epic history of strategic gambles and battlefield miracles, with an enigmatic hero who put as much faith in God as in war. ~ Charles Bottomley
National Geographic Stunning Photographs by Annie Griffiths. This book is simply and wonderfully a jaw-dropping reminder what an amazing planet we inhabit. Wild. Human. Radiant. Kinetic. Tranquil. Indeed, stunning. With all the quality you expect from the photographers of National Geographic, each page still inspires awe. ~ Stan Hynds
Arts & Crafts Architecture: History and Heritage in New England by Maureen Meister. A well-researched look at the architecture of this movement in New England, covering its origins, its development and the works of twelve well-known architects of the late 19th & early 20th centuries. ~ Sarah Knight
Doctor Who: The Secret Lives of Monsters by Justin Richards. We all know that aliens live amongst us, but now you can learn their secrets and, more importantly, how to survive when they invade. Includes photographs, illustrations and sixteen removable color prints. ~ Ben Parker
Still Moving by Danny Clinch. An absolutely amazing collection of rock and roll photography. Features portraits, live performances and candid photos of some of the biggest names in rock including Bob Dylan, Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam. This big, beautiful book is a great gift for the music lover in your life! ~ Chris Linendoll
Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them by Isaac Fitzgerald, Wendy MacNaughton. A charming tattoo book featuring line drawings of very personal tattoos, with short essays on their meanings ranging from laugh-out-loud funny to deeply private. Put this on your coffee table to spark a conversation. ~ Chris Linendoll
Sound Man: A Life Recording Hits with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Eric Clapton, The Faces…. by Glyn Johns. An illuminating look into the career of the legendary producer and gifted storyteller, with every chapter a bite-sized, specific moment. A must read for fans of classic (or modern) rock. ~ Chris Linendoll
The Compleat Ankh-Morpork by Terry Pratchett. Fans of Discworld know it would be unwise (and unhealthy) to get lost in the city of Ankh-Morpork, so give them this great street directory which highlights all of the local businesses, attractions and districts - with Pratchett’s usual wit plus an illustrated pull-out map. ~ Ben Parker
Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home by Marcus Samuelsson. Now ANYBODY can make Samuelsson’s award-winning dishes! (Seriously.) His casual approach makes home-run food like Habesha Lamb Chops and Sweet Potato Gnocchi simple. His genius for pairing flavors cannot be beat. Perfect for novices and experts alike! ~ Sarah Donner
Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi. Plenty took even the limpest vegetables and sent them on a round-the-world trip from which they returned even more delicious than before. Here’s more of the yummy,yummy same. Eggplant Cheesecake! Thai Red Lentil Soup! Fig tarts! Thank you, food gods! ~ Sarah Donner
Vintage Pies: Classic American Pies for Today’s Home Baker by Anne Haynie Collins. The first recipe in this cookbook is for a piecrust handed down through the author’s family since the 1860’s. That is just the beginning of tried and true deliciousness from this Vermont baker. Love life, bake PIE! ~ Sarah Donner
Sugar Bob’s Smoked Maple Syrup ($13.95, 8.45 oz). The perfect ingredient for adding a unique sweet smokiness to roasted meats, sauces or even salad dressings. This has been one of our most popular products since its debut here. ~ Jon Fine
Vermont Maple Sriracha Hot Sauce ($12.95, 8 oz). Sriracha is a hot sauce traditionally associated with Thailand. This new version adds the unique twist of Vermont maple syrup, making for a memorable seasoning with the endless potential for brilliant new flavors! ~ Jon Fine
Skull Beanies & Hand Warmers in Lined Wool ($14.99). Our cozy & warm outer wear will show your hip side with fuzzy Goth designs in brown or black knit right in, all lined in soft polar fleece. ~Monique Proulx
Barrel Clutch ($22.99). Bronze, Metallic & Pewter, 6” x 3” clutch purses with wrist strap will add dazzle to any outfit, formal or fun. ~Monique Proulx