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Best book gifts for the holidays recommended by the NYPL


Monday, December 7, 2015, 6:15 PM

New York Public Library librarian Gwen Glazer knows everything about books.Jonathan Blanc / New York Public

New York Public Library librarian Gwen Glazer knows everything about books.

What to get for your favorite bookworm this holiday season? Just ask Santa’s best-read elves.

Gwen Glazer and Lynn Lobash, librarians at the New York Public Library, offer personalized book recommendations from their workshop — a booth in the main lobby of its 42nd St. branch.

The “Librarian Is In” desk, open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays through Dec. 23, features a database with about 400 staff picks. Name any genre you’re interested in and within minutes you’ll be placed with a literary list.


“We’re like chefs recommending the best items on the menu,” says Glazer.

Here are your top picks for page turners.

For the history buff:

“St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street,” by Ada Calhoun. (W.W. Norton & Company; $ 17.54).

St. Marks native Ada Calhoun profiles the hippie haven famous for its countless artistic and political movements. The iconic street has a colorful history home to a melting pot of immigrants, a Mafia warzone and the backdrop to the movie “Kids.”  Calhoun interviews dozens of denizens including W. H Auden, Abbie Hoffman, Keith Haring and the Beastie Boys.

 “We’re like chefs recommending the best items on the menu,” says Glazer.Jonathan Blanc / New York Public

 “We’re like chefs recommending the best items on the menu,” says Glazer.

“Killing A King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel,” by Dan Ephron . (W.W. Norton & Company; $ 19.45).

A riveting story about the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Ephron chronicles the rally where Rabin – a former general who led the army in the Six-Day War of 1967 – was killed and the following murder trail.

“The Night Watch,” by Sarah Waters. (Virago; $ 13.60).

This 1940s tale takes place during and after World War II and follows four Londoners – three women and a young man – whose lives merge in tragedy amid air raids, blacked out streets and sexual adventure.

“Dead Wake,” by Erik Larson. (Crown Publishing; $ 17.08).

A Liverpool-bound ocean liner sets sail in war zone waters around Britain during WWI.

“The Highland Witch,” By Susan Fletcher. (W.W. Norton & Company; $ 15.37).

In 1962 a witch is imprisoned in the Scottish highlands where she’s accused of sorcery and murder. As she awaits her death, she recounts her story to an Irish propagandist named Charles Leslie who fishes for information that could condemn the Protestant King William.

For the pop culture junkie:

“Amnesia,” by Peter Carey. (Vintage Books; $ 12.19).

A cyber thriller about a hacker named Gaby Baillieux, a young activist who unleashes a computer worm that opens up American-run prisons around the world.

“So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” by Jon Ronson. (Riberhead Books; $ 17.78).

A modern-day “Scarlet Letter,” this book is about public shaming as an internet phenomenon, especially on Twitter. Ronson interviewed several people who have been cyber bashed including Jonah Lehrer, Justine Sacco and Lindsey Stone.

“Funny Girl,” by Nick Hornby. (Riverhead Books; $ 19).

A 21-year-old ingenue named Barbara Parker becomes an instant television starlet set in 1960’s London.

“The Ghost Network,” by Catie Disabato. (Melville House; $ 13.21).

Famous pop singer Molly Metropolis disappears when she is on her way to a big performance in Chicago. A reporter who’s been covering the starlet joins Molly’s personal assistant in a relentless search to find her using a journal she left behind in her hotel room.

“Modern Romance,” by Aziz Ansari. (Penguin; $ 17.37).

The comic author explores modern dating in an age where emojis trump emotions. Using behavioral data and social science surveys, he lists the countless ways in which our culture of love has changed with technology.

For the foodie:

“Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef,” by Gabrielle Hamilton. (Random House; $ 12.97).

Gabrielle Hamilton, chef and owner of Prune restaurant in the East Village, deliciously details a behind-the-line look at the many kitchens she’s worked in throughout France, Greece, Turkey and New York.

“Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother’s Kitchen,” by Luca Dotti. (Harper Collins; $ 22.02).

The legendary star’s son Luca Dotti shares 50 recipes that reflect the Hollywood icon’s life including Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream — a celebration of liberation in Holland at the end of the war and Penne alla Vodka — a favorite home-away-from-home dish in Hollywood.

The New Midwestern Table, by Amy Thielen. (Clarkson Potter; $ 23.79).

Minnesota native Amy Thielen goes back to her roots when it comes to preparing regional American cuisine. That means gardening, preserving, fishing and hunting for fresh-from-the-land dishes.

“Thug Kitchen Party Grub: For Social Mother F—kers,” by Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway. (Rodale; $ 15.59).

A follow up to their first book “Eat Like You Give a F—k,” this vegan, plant-based cookbook features recipes like Mexican lasagna perfect for social gatherings. Instructions are laced in expletives.

“The Tummy Trilogy,” by Calvin Trillin. (Harper Collins; $ 11.48).

Food funnyman Calvin Trillin is here to tell you “that compared to a monkfish, the average catfish looks like Robert Redford.” His book features a selection from his previously published essays including “American Fried,” “Third Helpings” and “Alice, Let’s Eat.” He warns restaurateurs to avoid pretensions and instead embrace the lowly chicken wing, Chinatown noodle and classic New York City bagel.

For the “Star Wars” nerd:

“Ready Play One,” by Ernest Cline. ( Crown; $ 8.37).

This sci-fi novel takes place in the year 2044. Teenager Wade Watts only feels alive when he’s engaged in a virtual utopia known as the OASIS. There, he devotes his life to studying puzzles hidden in the world’s digital confines.

“Armada,” by Ernest Cline. (Crown; $ 15.60).

An escapist novel following Zack Lightman, a daydreamer who one day spots an alien ship that is straight out of the videogame he plays every night.

“Fifty Mice,” by Daniel Pyne. (New American Library; $ 15).

An average Joe from Los Angeles gets abducted on a train where he is tranquilized and interrogated.

“The Circle,” by Dave Eggers. (Vintage Books; $ 10.23).

The Circle, the world’s most powerful Internet company, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one cyber identity.

“Little Brother,” by Cory Doctorow. (Tor; $ 7.54).

A whip-smart 17-year-old named Marcus works his highschool’s clumsy surveillance systems. But his life changes when he and his friends get caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack.



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