Holiday gift guide: experts suggest books for winter

Some families don’t spend much time buying holiday gifts. These shoppers are easily recognized on Christmas Eve, with their wide-eyed looks and arms weighed down with loads of shopping bags, while others finished shopping before it even snowed.

If you like to plan ahead, consider this book gift guide now. If not, cut it out to shove in your pocket for last minute buying. Regardless, the opinions of these knowledgeable book sellers and book lovers are sure to save you some time.

Daniel Goldin, owner of Boswell and Books, 2559 N. Downer Ave., recommended:

“Half Broke Horses” by Jeannette Walls

“This is a woman who had boundless energy and drive, starting by traveling by horseback over 500 miles for a teaching job while still in her teens,” Goldin said. He said this is a book about the author’s grandmother, Lily Casey Smith.

“The Ultimate Super Bowl Book” by Bob McGinn

“The thing I liked best about Bob McGinn’s ‘The Ultimate Super Bowl Book’ is that I’ve already heard from sports fans how good it is,” Goldin said.  “It has a local connection, penned by the Journal Sentinel’s McGinn, but it’s not just for Packer fans, so it also works for far-flung relatives. Stories, stats, analysis — it’s all here.”

“Stitches” by David Small

“I’m always looking for a great graphic novel, and reads on this book were terrific,” Goldin said. “It also received a nom from the National Book Award, but I wouldn’t exactly say the book is for kids.  It’s about Small’s teenage experience with a series of health problems, probably caused by some bad doctoring, all set in the 1950s.  The story and pictures work in tandem to create a mesmerizing story, praised by Jules Feiffer, Robert Crumb and Stan Lee.”

“A New Literary History of America” edited by Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors

“Every college student, let alone grad, needs to have this book on their bookshelf, just to show everyone how smart they are,” Goldin said.  “It’s an ‘everything you ever wanted to know’ breakdown  of American history, focusing of course, on American letters.”

Rose Trupiano, associate librarian at Marquette, offered up several ideas. For those who need more titles, she pointed students to Ex Libris, the library system’s online newsletter, published occasionally, complete with book reviews. Here are her picks:

“Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music” by Greg Kot

“The book was written by a graduate of Marquette University (Journalism 1978),” Trupiano said. “Definitely a must for music fans!” she said.

Trupiano said the book concentrates on the influence of the Internet and other technology on the music industry in the last fifteen years.

“The 19th Wife: A Novel” by David Ebershoff

“Readers should approach this historical novel with patience, but they will be rewarded,” Susan Hopwood, Marquette outreach librarian, said in Ex Libris.

“The story begins with a narrative by the 19th wife of Mormon founder Brigham Young, Ann Eliza Young, a real-life wife who rebelled against plural marriage by divorcing her husband and launching an anti-polygamy campaign.

“Intertwined with Ann Eliza’s story is the contemporary fictional story of 20-year old Jordan Scott, who was banished six years earlier from a conservative Mormon town, and who learns from a headline that his mother (who happens also to be a 19th wife) has been charged with the fatal shooting of his father.

“The juxtaposition of Ann Eliza’s story with Jordan’s detective efforts to clear his mother make for fascinating reading,” Hopwood said in the review.

“The Plague of Doves” by Louise Erdrich

Trupiano said this book is in her top three for the season.

According to a 2008 review in “The Washington Post,” the book begins with a man who murders a white family of five in 1911. The incident occurs near an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. Eventually, a group of these Native Americans are blamed for the murders, with tragic consequences.

“John Lennon: the Life” by Philip Norman

“John Lennon & Beatles fans take note! This 800+ page biography is considered the definitive work on Lennon as it contains new information from recent interviews with those who were close to him, including widow Yoko Ono, fellow ex-Beatle and songwriting partner Paul McCartney, and producer George Martin,” Trupiano said in Ex Libris. She said it was another of her big favorites.