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2021 Staff Recommendations for Holiday Gifting

So many great books to recommend for your gifting this year!

I only had room to feature the newest titles in My Edmonds News November column. Below is the complete list of amazing books we all are recommending for your holiday gifting!

Clumped loosely by genre: Fiction, then fiction sub-genres: mystery, fantasy, science fiction, etc; Non-fiction, then memoirs, cooking, etc.; Kids...

Order right here, or come on in -- we have the vast majority of these books in the shop!

More great gifting ideas in the 2021 Give Books Catalog. You can shop from the catalog, right here!

The Unwinding: And Other Dreamings Cover Image
ISBN: 9781783529353
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Unbound - October 26th, 2021

Staff recommended: This beautiful little book is designed to be a companion, a talisman to be turned to again and again and a place of respite from an increasingly frenetic and complex world. A highly illustrated pillow book to prompt dreaming and creativity by Medal-winning artist Jackie Morris. ~Michelle

Poetry /Nature/Graphic Arts/Illustration

The Sentence Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062671127
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - November 9th, 2021

Staff recommended: In this stunning and timely novel, the award-winning author creates a wickedly funny ghost story, a tale of passion, of a complex marriage, and of a woman's relentless errors.  ~Michelle


Bewilderment: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393881141
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 21st, 2021

Staff Recommended:  A kind of companion to "The Overstory," builds on that arc, using a more intimate narrative but still taking the reader toward hope, even with the book's references to recent national leadership. ~David

Fiction/Literature/Family Life/Nature + Environment

The Overstory: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393356687
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 2nd, 2019

Staff Recommended: "The Overstory" remains an outstanding work of fiction, based mostly in and around nature, trees mostly in PNW settings specifically, weaving strong human narratives with a story arc that leads in a hopeful direction. ~David

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in fiction

Fiction/Literary/Nature + the Environment

The Lincoln Highway: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735222359
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking - October 5th, 2021

Staff Recommended: Set in 1950s America. Spanning just ten days and told from multiple points of view, Towles's third novel will satisfy fans of his multi-layered literary styling while providing them an array of new and richly imagined settings, characters, and themes. ~Mary Kay
"Wise and wildly entertaining . . . permeated with light, wit, youth." --The New York Times Book Review
"A real joyride . . . elegantly constructed and compulsively readable." - NPR

Fiction/Literary/Historical/Coming of Age

We Begin at the End Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250759665
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - March 2nd, 2021

Staff recommended. The best book I’ve read so far this year. Set in a small town on the California coast, this is part mystery, part redemption tale. The small town has secrets, the families all have secrets. All of the characters are so well-drawn and multi-dimensional. As in real-life, no one is all good or all evil… quite well done! And to quote someone else who read and loved this [hi Mom!] “Oh, it just breaks your heart!” So you have been warned: hankies needed at the end. ~Elaine

Fiction/Literary/Mystery/Thriller/Small Town

Also chosen for IndieNext, here.

Damnation Spring Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982144401
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - August 3rd, 2021

Staff Recommended: In the same ilk as "Overstory" and "Deep River," big immnese dreams threaten to swallow everybody up in this struggling logging town. Core to this story is the Gunderson family, whose life in 1970's northern California, crown when the season, health concerns and a foundering livelihood create characters you want to see survive. Many compelling sides to this still palpable issue.  ~Michelle.

Staff Recommended: A well-balanced look at the lives of those in a logging town. Hopes + dreams passed through generations come up against realities of a natural resource. ~Mary Kay

Fiction/Literary/Family Life/Small Town

The Book of Magic: A Novel (The Practical Magic Series #4) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982151485
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 12th, 2021

Staff recommended: This is the conclusion to the "Practical Magic" series. Read all four and follow the Owens women and their curse to never love. Celebration of mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers and anyone who has ever been in love. ~Susan

Fiction/Historical/Fantasy/Occult + Supernatural

The House of Ashes Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616957414
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Soho Crime - September 7th, 2021

Staff recommended: A woman recovering from trauma, and over-protected by her husband, is living in a house with a dark past. Very Irish. For fans of Gillian Flynn and Tana French, a chilling story of a Northern Irish murder sixty years buried. ~David


The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765387561
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - October 6th, 2020

Staff recommended: In the vein of “The Time Traveler's Wife” and “Life After Life,” this is the bestselling author’s genre-defying tour de force. France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever--and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world. But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name. ~Susan


The Midnight Library: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525559474
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking - September 29th, 2020

Staff recommended: If you could live a different life and see how it would have turned out had you made different choices, would you do it?  That's the question posed to Nora Seed when she visits the Midnight Library, a place between life and death where you can re-live alternate versions of your life.  Riveting book about reviewing life's regrets and deciding which life you would choose. ~Pat

Fiction/Science Fiction./Literary/Time Travel

Harlem Shuffle: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385545136
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Doubleday - September 14th, 2021

Staff recommended: New York 1960. Family saga, crime novel, hilarious morality play about race and power. Follow Ray Carney as he makes his way on both sides of the law. ~Susan

Fiction/Literary/Crime/Thriller/African American + Black

Deacon King Kong: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735216730
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - February 2nd, 2021

This was the October 2021 Bookclub title.

James McBride is an accomplished musician and the author of the National Book Award -winning novel "The Good Lord Bird," and the bestselling American classic "The Color of Water."

New from the best-selling author is a wise and witty novel about what happens to the witnesses of a shooting.
In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .45 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project's drug dealer at point-blank range. The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride's funny, moving novel and his first since the National Book Award-winning "The Good Lord Bird."

One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of the Year.
Oprah's Book Club Pick.
Staff recommended!

A great review on NPR here. Fast, Complex And Funny, "Deacon King Kong" Is A Love Letter To New York City.

The Rose Code: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062943477
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - March 9th, 2021

Staff recommended: I recently read "The Rose Code" and was caught by the secrecy, interpersonal drama, and strength of character Quinn brings to the story. Based on real-life stories of the women who worked to break German enigma in Britain during World War 2, Quinn builds your care for the characters, and we find each of them in situations directly meant to challenge that character, but more importantly, putting the outcome of the war at-stake. ~Madeleine

Staff recommended: My favorite WWII stories all seem to involve Bletchley Park. And this is a terrific one to add to the list. Three young women from very different backgrounds find themselves at BP [as those in the know call it!] Real people and events are woven in – hello Prince Phillip! – And if you’ve read Erik Larson’s latest “The Splendid and the Vile” you will recognize the direct hit on a night club – including some of the gruesome details… The young women, their relationships with each other, their friends, lovers, and families – all so well done. Ten years later, can they put aside what destroyed their friendship to save one of their own…? Mysteries and great twists are revealed as the stories, past and present, are told. Loved it! ~Elaine

Fiction/Historical/ WWII/Thiriller/Espionage

The Butchers' Blessing Cover Image
ISBN: 9781951142742
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tin House Books - November 16th, 2021

Staff recommended: In this literary thriller worthy of Tana French, Gilligan takes us into the fraught lives of rural folk on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, as they attempt to survive among strong political winds, local criminal activities and tragic family mysteries.

From an Irish writer, this is more a novel than a straight-forward mystery. There is a crime, so technically, a mystery... it is also so much about contemporary Ireland: cattle farming; how farmers and their families are dealing with current situations; mental health challenges in such a stark environment.
The book is not at all as bleak as it is inspriing particulary around its description of landscape and dialog. A rewarding book. ~David

Fiction/Cultural Heritage/Literary/Thriller/Psychological/Folk Tales+Legends

Falling: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982177881
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - July 6th, 2021

Staff recommended: This debut novel is an airplane thriller written by a former flight attendant and bookseller. As Don Winslow said, “Stunning and relentless. This is Jaws at 35,000 feet.” The pilot’s family is held hostage, his choice is between crashing the plane or seeing them killed. ~David

Staff recommended: The phrase 'compulsive-page-turner' was made for this book! Could not put it down! ~Elaine.


Razorblade Tears: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250252708
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - July 6th, 2021

Staff recommended: Cosby has emerged as one of our best new crime/thriller writers. Not only are his books crafted around twisty plots with more than a little mayhem, they are also closely observed character studies where the dynamics of race, morality, sexual orientation and class play out in the rural south. ~David

Fiction/Thriller/Mystery+Detective/Crime/African American + Black

Blacktop Wasteland: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250252692
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - June 1st, 2021

Staff recommended: Our main character is someone who has both succeeded and failed at life's challenges. Currently, he is doing fine in car repair. He also has a background as quite a successful criminal.
And then he gets sucked back in.
In an attempt to save his family, and perhaps to fight one last battle.
A very well told and atmospheric story of the contemporary south.
Also a cracking mystery. ~David
Fiction/Thrillers/Crime/African American + Black

A Spindle Splintered (Fractured Fables) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250765352
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tordotcom - October 5th, 2021

Staff recommended: "A vivid, subversive and feminist reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, where implacable destiny is no match for courage, sisterhood, stubbornness and a good working knowledge of fairy tales." --Katherine Arden
It's Zinnia Gray's twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it's the last birthday she'll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no-one has lived past twenty-one.
Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia's last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate. ~Michelle

Fiction/Dark Fantasy/Action+ Adventure/Fairy+Folk Tales/LGBTQ+

The House in the Cerulean Sea Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250217318
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - December 29th, 2020

Staff recommended: Our hero, Linus is a rule-following, by the book caseworker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth.
He lives a structured, pretty boring life with a cranky neighbor and a cat that doesn't seem to like him much.
Then one day he receives an assignment from Extremely Upper Management [all capitals] and his life is completely disrupted.
Such a lovely and sweet book. All about accepting yourself and others for who and what they really are, and not relying on preconceived notions. And realizing what makes a family. Completely teared up at the end. Really loved it. ~Elaine

A great book for anyone 14+


A Deadly Education: A Novel (The Scholomance #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593128503
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Del Rey - May 4th, 2021

Staff recommended: Dark school of magic where you have to re-write the rules just to stay alive. This is not Hogwarts! Follow the students Orion Lake and El as they battle the monsters to save the school. ~Susan

Fiction/Fantasy/Epic/Contemporary/Coming of Age

The Last Graduate: A Novel (The Scholomance #2) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593128862
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Del Rey - September 28th, 2021

Project Hail Mary: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593135204
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - May 4th, 2021

Staff Recommended: A lone astronaut on a one way mission to deep space to save Earth...along the way he teams up with an alien too!!  If you loved "The Martian" you'll love "Project Hail Mary" as well.  ~Pat

~Elaine recommends it too!

Fiction/Science Fiction/Action +Adventrue/Suspense

Plain Bad Heroines: A Novel Cover Image
By Emily M. Danforth, Sara Lautman (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780062942869
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - October 5th, 2021

Staff recommended: 1900s New England all girls boarding school – strange happenings, scandal and tragedy. The school is forced to close. A book is written about the whole thing and then a movie is planned. The young female stars are thrown together. Complicated relationships ensue. ;] Film shooting begins on the site of the school now rundown + abandoned. Strange things start happening again… is it haunted? … Cursed? As things unfold in the present we also learn what happened to the original heroines. A spooky and sharply funny, story within a story -- all quite well done. ~Elaine


Imaginary Friend Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538731352
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - October 6th, 2020

Staff recommended: Well done horror story for fans of Dan Simmons, early Stephen King, and Stranger Things. A kid and his single mom move to a small town for a new start and get dragged into a battle between good and evil. Mysterious woods. Evil forces. Unseen worlds. Great characters and great twists. An entertaining thriller, a tale of redemption, and a treehouse! ~Elaine

Fiction/Thriller/Horror/Coming of Age/Supernatural

The Book of Accidents: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399182136
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Del Rey - July 20th, 2021

Staff recommended: Really spectacular meld of thriller/sci-fi/horror. Lots of familiar tropes from all of the genres masterfully combined in new and unexpected ways. A misfit teenager with ‘special’ gifts [of course] moves back to the small town where his parents grew up [of course]. Into the actual house where his dad grew up, where Bad Things happened [of course]. Many family secrets [of course]. Great twists… kept me turning pages late into the night [of course! Hah!]. So good!! ~Elaine

Fiction/Thriller/Horror/Supernatural/Small Town

The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country Cover Image
By Amanda Gorman, Oprah Winfrey (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780593465271
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking Books - March 30th, 2021

Staff recommended: This is the inaugural poem, in book form.  It is such a moving and hopeful piece and in the season of giving and lights, what better gift, than a poem about hope and light? ~Eleanor

Poetry/American/African American + Black

Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525557401
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking - May 11th, 2021

Staff recommended: This book is a must-read not only because it tells part of our history that needs to be told, but also for the individual stories of Japanese American heroes and their families that it amplifies. Written in collaboration with the Densho oral history project, Brown has again woven complex historical research with personal narrative in compelling prose that is hard to put down.   Empathy, hope and admiration are the take-aways.
Recommend for:  People who loved "The Boys in the Boat"; any History or World War II buff; anyone who wants to learn more about social justice, equity and understanding. ~Eleanor

History/Biography/WWII/Asian + Asian American/Cultural + Regional

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143125471
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - May 27th, 2014

Staff recommended: by all of us! If there is someone in your life who has not read this yet -- easy answer -- he/she/they will love it!

The Book of Delights: Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616207922
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Books - February 12th, 2019

Staff recommended: I read "The Book of Delights" during the pandemic, and it became a bright light for me during this hard time. Gay's dated entries from a year where he wrote about one delight from his day (almost) every day for a year, ranges from anything between the joy of carrying a tomato plant on a plane, to the delight of watching a child grow. This book is perfect for the person who has only five minutes to read one essay, or hours to consume the entire book in one sitting. ~Madeleine


The Loneliest Americans Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525576228
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown - October 12th, 2021

Staff Recommended: This is an important examination of how the term Asian American has been allowed to define a wide array of national and cultural origins under one often oppressive label. In reviewing the history of immigration laws and anti-ethnic attitudes, Kang opens eyes and minds to the array of experiences first and subsequent generations have endured. He uses his own family history as an effective example. ~David

Memoir/Asian American/Cultural

Endurance: My Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525432432
Availability: Backordered
Published: Vintage - September 25th, 2018

Staff recommended: The identical astronaut twin of Senator Mark Kelly and brother in-law to Gabby Giffords, this book is for anyone who has ever wondered what life is like on the International Space Station. We follow Kelly-with flashbacks to his training in the air force-on his year-long stay aboard the ISS, in a unique study on the effects of space on the human body, using his twin brother as the control sample for the experiment. ~Madeleine


The Weather of the Pacific Northwest Cover Image
ISBN: 9780295748443
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: University of Washington Press - September 22nd, 2021

Staff Recommended: This is a lavishly illustrated guide to making sense of the region's unique atmospheric and geographic forces. For the new edition of this contemporary classic, Cliff Mass has extensively revised, updated, and expanded his coverage to include more of British Columbia, as well as considering the impact of wildfires on the region's meteorology. A fascinating read, the book is indispensable to anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the region's weather. ~Mary Kay

Earth Science/Nature/Pacific NW

Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes Cover Image
By Abra Berens, Lucy Engelman (Illustrator), EE Berger (Photographs by)
ISBN: 9781797207131
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Chronicle Books - October 26th, 2021

Staff Recommended: "Grist" includes more than 125 recipes for 29 different types of grains, legumes, and seeds that, in combination with vegetables and lean proteins, are the stars of the healthiest, most variable, and most satisfying meals--many of them gluten free.
The James Beard semifinalist for Outstanding Chef: Great Lakes, shares more than 300 recipes and variations, plus substantial reference information to help you discover the next great grain.
Woven throughout are essays and farmer interviews that present a strong case for increasing the role of grains and legumes in the global food system. The result is a definitive guide rich with flavor and inspiration.

In addition to tasty recipes and easy variations, Berens gives insight into farming in America. Wonderful reading. ~Mary Kay

Cooking/Rice + Grains

Local Dirt: Seasonal Recipes for Eating Close to Home (Farm-to-Table Cookbooks #2) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062970275
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Wave - October 13th, 2020

Staff recommended: This book is: beautiful, inspiring and simple. In her second cookbook, Bemis encourages us all to eat locally and sustainably, and gives practical and tasty ways to do so. Her personal story of growing closer to her community through eating food sourced near to home is compellingly woven throughout. The photography is beautiful. The "farm-to-table" recipes are inventive yet do-able, and several will be on our holiday menu this year!!  
Highly recommended as a gift for: your favorite foodie; your favorite earth-conscious "localvore"...or for you! ~Eleanor


Willodeen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250147400
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Feiwel & Friends - September 7th, 2021

Staff recommended: Willodeen believes all animals serve a vital role in the complicated web of nature. A timely and timeless tale about our fragile earth, and one girl's fierce determination to make a difference, and prove that we all have our roles to play, no matter how stinky we are! ~Elaine

Juvenile Fiction [8-12]/Fantasy + Magic/Nature

The Beatryce Prophecy Cover Image
By Kate DiCamillo, Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781536213614
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Candlewick - September 28th, 2021

Staff Recommended:  From two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo and two-time Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall comes a fantastical meditation on fate, love, and the power of words to spell the world.
DiCamillo's lyrical tale, paired with resonant black-and-white illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall, is a true collaboration between masters. ~Mary Kay

Juvenile Fiction [8-12]/Books + Libraries/Historical/Fantasy +Magic/Action + Adventure

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 Cover Image
By Beverly Cleary, Jacqueline Rogers (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780380709564
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - March 17th, 2020

Staff recommended: The "Ramona" series was a favorite of mine as a child because it describes problems recognizable to a child without the use of fussy or dialed-down language. ~Madeleine

Juvenile fiction [7-9]/classics/school (grade 3)/ family

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780440420477
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Yearling - March 13th, 2007

Staff recommended: The Penderwick series is by-far my favorite series for that age-of-transition between ages 8 and 15. Four sisters, their father, and their lovable dog Hound, embark on adventures only four siblings could fall in to. ~Madeleine

Juvenile Fiction [8-12]/Family/Siblings/Action + Adventure

The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Ralph S. Mouse #1) Cover Image
By Beverly Cleary, Jacqueline Rogers (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780380709243
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - June 15th, 2021

Staff recommended: Cleary is a master of the imagination in "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" conjuring up images of a tiny tiny mouse, on a toy that can be found in the home of any young car enthusiast. ~Madeleine

Juvenile Fiction [7-10]/Classics/Action + Adventure/Animals