Eight books that'll help you get Christmas covered 

More than a footnote

In case you didn't know, books come in a bazillion styles, meaning they can fit everyone on your holiday shopping list. They're, by far, the easiest gifts to wrap. And they just got even easier to buy: A brand-new Tattered Cover shop in Concourse B at Denver International Airport just opened, allowing you to cross things off your list even as you scramble to catch your plane home for the holidays.

Below are a few options, organized by category, that are new to the season. While we can't guarantee that you can pick them all up at DIA, we can say that they're generally worth seeking out.


As a child, my sticker binder was stuffed with scratch-and-sniffs — which made for a slightly disgusting scent when they rubbed each other wrong. That said, the perfect market for The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99/hardcover) is of just the age now to recall this childhood delight, and to apply it to their glasses of grapes. Author and master sommelier Richard Betts includes 16 scents to help the novice figure out whether her wine smells more like bacon or sausage, butter or blueberries.

Meanwhile, The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining: How to Make and Drink Whiskey, by David Haskell (Harry N. Abrams, $24.95/hardcover) offers a little something for everyone interested in cocktail culture. The first section delves into the history of whiskey. The middle section is DIY all the way for those who want to distill at home. (Worth noting: There are neighborhoods in Colorado Springs where hooching in your house is illegal, just like old times, so beware.) The final section provides recipes from mixologists, and a how-to on how to grow your home whiskey collection.


Whether or not you were one of the 10 million-some people to purchase Elizabeth Gilbert's 2006 memoir Eat Pray Love, and whether or not you read it and liked it, her new historical novel, The Signature of All Things (Viking Adult, $28.95/hardcover), is getting loads of positive press for its deep research and confident storytelling.

The main character is Alma Whittaker, a 19th-century female botanist, who falls in love with an artist. Together the two take on the quest of discovery that was inherent to the Age of Enlightenment-turns-Industrial Revolution time period.

Of course, if your giftee likes her history a little bit older, you'll have a hit with Hild (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27/hardcover) by British author Nicola Griffith, who's become known and awarded for both her science fiction and literary crime novels. Hild tells the tale of a girl in seventh-century Britain who serves as a seer in the king's court. The book may be a work of fiction, but Griffith used what records she could find to base this story on the child who would grow up to become one of the key figures of the Middle Ages, St. Hilda of Whitby.


Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity, by Andrew Solomon (Scribner, $21.50/paperback), just re-released in paperback. At 976 pages it's still as daunting as it was in its 2012 hardcover version. That said, Solomon, the award-winning author of the depression-focused The Noonday Demon, spent the past decade interviewing more than 300 families and transcribing 40,000 pages in researching Far From the Tree. And it's worth the effort to step inside the worlds of parents who find themselves raising children whose characteristics are very different from their own — including autism, schizophrenia, deafness, dwarfism or multiple severe disabilities, or children who are transgender or prodigies, or who were conceived in rape, or have become criminals. Solomon deftly explores issues of identity, prejudice, acceptance and love.

One of the Indy's book reviewers, Kel Munger, recommends My Promised Land: The Tragedy and Triumph of Israel, by Ari Shavit (Spiegel & Grau, $28/hardcover). Her comments about this book? "Probably the most honest — and therefore, most heart-wrenching — book about Israel in recent years. Shavit looks clearly at Israel's missteps while still pointing out the necessity of having Israel in the world." Munger's suggestion holds weight — the title, which has only been on shelves for a month, has been named one of the best books of the year by both The New York Times Book Review and The Economist.

Art with soul

The Big Book: Volumes One and Two, by John Berger (University of Texas Press, $185/hardcover) is pricey. But it also is what it says it is: big. This collection is a retrospective of the work of 20th-century documentary photographer W. Eugene Smith — a project Smith began in 1959, but wouldn't see come to fruition before he died in 1978. Smith was known for the photo essay, one in particular being the 1948 LIFE magazine essay "Country Doctor," in which he spent three weeks tracing the life of small-town Colorado physician Ernest Ceriani.

Until there's a Humans of Colorado Springs project, we'll have to make do with Humans of New York (St. Martin's Press, $29.99/hardcover). Photographer and blogger Brandon Stanton has been capturing the images of New Yorkers on the street since 2010 — and picked up over a million fans via social media in that short time. Yes, there are 400 faces in his full-color book, which are cool to see, but Stanton also interviews his subjects, and asks them to answer questions about themselves — "What is your greatest struggle?" "What's the most frightened you've ever been?" "When has life told you no?" — that really touch at the heart of human connection.



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