There's nothing better than a great book to keep your mind sharp and your holiday cocktail party conversation interesting. Here are the best of this season's must-reads according to Park Road Books owners Sally Brewster and Frazer Dobson.
Sally and Frazer revealed this list of their favorite new books during a Holiday Books event presented by Friends of the Library at Queens University of Charlotte. Have fun picking out a few that either you, or someone on your gift list, would enjoy. All are available at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road at Park Road Shopping Center. Details: 704-525-9239; www.parkroadbooks.com.
Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer, $35: A lavishly illustrated book of weird places you can travel to including two in North Carolina. "This is a fantastic gift for a travel buff," Frazer says.
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer, $26: "A group of librarians try to save precious Arabic texts while staying one step ahead of Al Qaeda," Sally says.
Bark the Herald Angels Sing by Peter Thorpe, $16.95: "A book of photos by an English photographer who has taken pictures of his dogs for his Christmas cards for the past 20 years," Sally says. "It makes you want to grab your camera and dress up your dog or cat," Sally says.
The Christmas Boot by Lisa Wheeler, $17.99: "A beautifully illustrated book for children about a poor woman who finds a magical boot," Sally says.
Dancers After Dark by Jordan Matter, $19.95: "A series of artistic photos of naked dancers taken in locales around the world including New York City, Paris and Stockholm," Frazer says. "It's human anatomy at its finest."
Deep Run Roots by Vivian Howard, $40: "A lot of storytelling and the recipes are organized by the main ingredient (Ground Corn, Blueberries, Oysters)," Frazer says.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling, $24.99: "An original screenplay of the movie," Frazer says. "It's set in New York in 1926."
Frozen by Matthew Reinhart, $40: "A spectacular pop-up version of the movie from the finest paper engineers in the world," Frazer says.
General Vs. The President by J.W. Brands, $30: "A thrilling book that explores the relationship between Truman and MacArthur," Sally says.
Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard, $30: "Candice Millard writes the best narrative nonfiction," Sally says.
Indestructible by John R. Bruning, $28. "This is a page turner," Sally says. "It's a true story and the war book of the season. It shows how one person can make a big difference."
In The Company of Women by Grace Bonney, $35: "Profiles of 100 exceptional women from all walks of life and all over the country," Sally says. "This is a great inspirational Christmas gift."
Jungle by Kan Kainen, $25.95: "A book for all ages, it has photos and text that describe all the creatures found in the jungles of South America and Africa," Frazer says.
The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore, $28: "A novel based on actual events about the battle between Edison, Westinghouse and others to electrify America," Sally says. "It's told through the eyes of a young lawyer. It's a great thriller but you learn a lot."
A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on Writing by Pat Conroy, $25: "A collection of essays articles and interviews that's Conroy's last book," Sally says. "Don't miss the absolutely hilarious essay he wrote about getting fit."
Mistletoe Murder by P.D. James, $24: "A collection of four of her short stories that haven't been published before," Sally says.
Refuge by Anne Booth, $15.99: "A children's book that's a different telling of the Nativity story from the point of view of the donkey," Sally says. "And $1 from the purchase of each book goes to the United Nations Refugee Agency fund."
Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart, $18.99: "A young adult story about a boy who finds a pocket watch that can make him invisible and how he and his friends try to make the world a better place," Sally says.
Speaking American by Josh Katz, $25: "Do you say bucket, or pail? Soda, or pop? This is a fascinating look at regional dialects," Frazer says.
Stowaway in a Sleigh by C. Roger Mader, $17.99: "A children's book about a kitty cat that ends up in Santa's sleigh," Sally says.
Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest by Beth Macy, $28: "Macy is such a chronicler of the South," Sally says. "This is a true story that takes place in 1899 in Truevine, Virginia, about two albino twin brothers born into a sharecropper's family and what happens to them," Sally says.
The Wangs Vs. The World by Jade Chung, $26: "An entertaining story about an immigrant who wants to take his family back to China but his wife and children have become used to living in America," Sally says. "It's well written and laugh-out-loud funny."