I always tag an avid reader to help me narrow down my next book purchase. It’s hard to decide what’s really going to take me away. So many people will be isolating and protecting loved ones this holiday, so maybe we should all exchange books NOW so we have a pile to cozy up to this Holiday Season. Better yet: Maybe buying one for yourself and sending the same one to a friend will start a memorable reading experience and open some lovely conversations?
Buying and sending books to loved ones has become incredibly easy through sites like Amazon, but what if we all committed to buying local? That sounds like a lot of work to see what’s where and all that, but I recently tried IndieBound.org and wanted to share this option for purchase to keep you cozy this Holiday.
IndieBound is an initiative of the American Booksellers Association dedicated to making the world better one independent bookstore at a time.IndieBound.org
Reader: Amy, Los Angeles
- Book: Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
- Publisher’s synopsis: An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.
- What did I like about it? This is my second reading of this book. It takes on new poignance now that we are in a pandemic similar to what the characters experience. It’s certainly tough; some passages felt prophetic knowing this was written several years ago. But there is beauty in the darkness to be explored. I love how this book showcases what things resonate and rise to become timeless needs.
Reader: Jenna, Los Angeles
- Book: Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren
- Publisher’s synopsis (which I happen to think is a really good representation of the book): Framed around one ordinary day, this book explores daily life through the lens of liturgy, small practices, and habits that form us. Each chapter looks at something—making the bed, brushing her teeth, losing her keys—that the author does every day. Drawing from the diversity of her life as a campus minister, Anglican priest, friend, wife, and mother, Tish Harrison Warren opens up a practical theology of the everyday.
- What did I like about it? As someone who, pre-Quarantine, found a lot of self-worth and identity in my work, ambitions, and busy-ness, I struggled with quarantine family life and finding meaning in a giant Pause. Liturgy of the Ordinary was a balm to my spirit and helped me recognize the sacred ground that is the lego and crayon-strewn carpet of my small apartment.
Reader: Samantha, Orange
- Book: Queens Gambit, Walter Tevis
- Publisher’s synopsis: There had never been a top ranked woman chess player. But suppose if an American girl were born with abilities in chess that matched the greatest players. What would happen to her in a highly competitive field dominated by men?
- What I they like about it? A women’s take on how she conquers a game that she’s gifted at.
Reader: Daniella, Spokane
- Book: I read NO books this year! hahahaha
- Publisher’s synopsis: Hahahaha
- What did I like about it? I have kids
Reader: Victoria, Los Angeles
- Book: The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett
- Publisher’s synopsis: From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.
- What did I like about it? Beautifully written, captivating story, perfectly flawed characters. A great example how to have multiple characters and points of view, without it ever feeling jarring or muddled.
Reader: Jennica (that’s me), Los Angeles
- Book: There There, Tommy Orange
- Publisher’s synopsis: One of The New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year and winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, Tommy Orange’s wondrous and shattering bestselling novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle’s death and working at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming to perform traditional dance for the very first time. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American—grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable.
- What did I like about it? I’m not quite done yet as I write this, but it was recommended to me by author Kate Hart. That was the main reason I joined my cousin in Seattle in reading it together and I’m so glad we did.
Reader: Lisa, Santa Rosa
- Book: The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America’s 16th President – And Why It Failed, Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch.
- Publisher’s synopsis: Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch, the bestselling authors of The First Conspiracy, which covers the secret plot against George Washington, now turn their attention to a little-known, but true story about a failed assassination attempt on the sixteenth president in The Lincoln Conspiracy.
- What did they like about it? I chose this book because historical non-fiction is one of my favorite genres and I highly respect the author, who is the creator of the children’s book series Ordinary People Change the World. This book didn’t disappoint me and I was surprised at how much there was to learn about the origins of modern day detective work.
Reader: Karson, North Hollywood
- Book: Wow, No Thank You, Samantha Irby
- Publisher’s synopsis: Irby is forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin despite what Inspirational Instagram Infographics have promised her. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and has been friendzoned by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife in a Blue town in the middle of a Red state where she now hosts book clubs and makes mason jar salads. This is the bourgeois life of a Hallmark Channel dream. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with “tv executives slash amateur astrologers” while being a “cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person,” “with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees,” who still hides past due bills under her pillow.
- What did they like about it? Samantha Irby’s sarcastic and at times, oversharing, sense of humor really won me over. She writes about many things that I could relate to; living in the midwest, working in Hollywood, struggling with changes in adulthood. Yet her perspective as a queer person of color brings a great, and often humorous outlook on these topics. Wow, No Thank You is her third and most recent essay collection.
Reader: Jon, Hollywood
- Book: Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It , Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
- Publisher’s synopsis: A former international hostage negotiator for the FBI offers a new, field-tested approach to high-stakes negotiations—whether in the boardroom or at home.
- What did I like about it? An incredible look at the power of empathy in relationships and conflict to disarm anger, emotion, and even hostility. The book will read like a action thriller at times, but it will impact you like a self help book on emotional maturity and how to have more meaningful relationships. A must read in 2020.
Reader: Mark, Fayetteville
- Book: The Actor’s Life, Jenna Fischer
- Publisher’s synopsis: Jenna Fisher’s inspiring, helpful guidance feels like a trusted friend who’s made the journey, and has now returned to walk beside you, pointing out the pitfalls as you blaze your own path towards the life of a professional actor.
- What did I like about it? An honest, fun and informative read about the journey of an actor in Los Angeles and beyond. Ms. Fischer brings wit and practical knowledge to finding one’s way in the industry. A terrific guide and fun read.
Reader: Mark, Fayetteville
- Book: Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille, Scott Eyman
- Publisher’s synopsis: The authoritative biography of the legendary director Cecil B. DeMille.
- What did I like about it? An epic book about the epic life of Cecil D. DeMiller who was a pioneer in directing epic films. I so enjoyed following DeMille’s journey from birth to this Hollywood heydey in the 1910’s-1920’s, and again in the 1930’s-1950’s with an insider view of the movie making machine.
Reader: Marc, Yorba Linda
- Book: A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor: A Novel, Hank Green
- Publisher’s synopsis: A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor is the bold and brilliant follow-up to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. It is a fast-paced adventure that is also a biting social commentary, asking hard, urgent questions about the way we live, our freedoms, our future, and how we handle the unknown.
- What did I like about it? It’s painstakingly relevant. Tackling systemic problems, but focuses so well on the emotional journey of the characters and it never forgets to be a human story.