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December 18, 2008

Staff Picks: Holiday Book Recommendations From Our Staff

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 3:30 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Still doing some last minute shopping, scrambling to find the right gift for that special (or even not-so-special) someone? The staff of 8cr has your back. Here are some recommendations, without the usual business book filter, from the brilliant minds sitting around me here in the nerve center of 800-CEO-READ. There's something here for everyone, even the illiterate (picture and pop-up books): ART BOOKS
  • The Oxford Project by Peter Feldstein (Photographer) & Stephen G. Bloom, Welcome Books
    In 1984, photographer Peter Feldstein set out to photograph every single resident of his town, Oxford, Iowa. In 2004, Feldstein decided to do it again and invited writer Stephen Bloom to join him. Together they went in search of the same Oxford residents Feldstein had originally shot two decades earlier.
  • American Farmer: The Heart of Our Country by Paul Mobley (Photographer) & Katrina Fried, Welcome Books
    When photographer Paul Mobley set out to capture the soul of America's farming communities, he discovered a culture defined by tradition, integrity, and hard work. The result is a stunning series of portraits and quotes that collectively chronicle the life of a quickly disappearing lifestyle.
  • Who We Were: A Snapshot History of America by Michael Williams, Richard Cahan & Nicholas Osborn, Cityfiles Press
    Since the first snapshots were taken in 1888, Americans have used simple, inexpensive cameras to record their life stories. In the process, they have left behind millions of snapshots that document the story of America. Now, for the first time, these personal photographs have been gathered together to tell the nation's history.
  • The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age by Neil Harris, University Of Chicago Press
    Uncovering a Chicago counterpart to The New Yorker, noted historian Harris presents the Second City's magazine's lavish full-color segments, from covers, cartoons, and editorials to reviews, features--and even one issue reprinted in its entirety.
  • Big Box Reuse by Julia Christensen, MIT Press
    What happens to the landscape, to community, and to the population when vacated big box stores are turned into community centers, churches, schools, and libraries?
  • ANTHOLOGY
  • State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America edited by Sean Wilsey & Matt Weiland, Ecco
    From the bestselling editors of The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup comes an American road trip in book form: original writing on all 50 states by 50 of America's finest novelists, journalists, and essayists.
  • The Paris Review Interviews, Volume III edited by Philip Gourevitch, Picador
    This critically acclaimed series continues with another eclectic lineup, including Raymond Carver, Norman Mailer, and Joyce Carol Oates. (Volume II, Volume I)
  • COOKING
  • How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, Wiley (10th Anniversary)
    Ten years after the first edition, this complete revision features more than 50 new recipes, fully updated to reflect contemporary eating habits, and presented in a navigable, user-friendly layout.
  • Paley's Place Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from the Pacific Northwest by Robert Reynolds, Vitaly Paley & Kimberly Paley, Ten Speed Press
    Vitaly Paley brings French training and international influences to bear on his unquenchable passion for the local foodstuffs of his adopted Oregon. Stories of the farmers, fishers, and foragers that supply Paley with ingredients showcase the region's culinary riches.
  • HUMOR
  • The Book of Idle Pleasures by Dan Kieran & Tom Hodgkinson, Ebury Press
    As an antidote to our non-stop culture, this book lists and reflects on 75 simple pastimes and proves that the best things in life are free: skimming stones, catching falling leaves, whittling, staring out of the window, dreaming, doodling or taking a nap.
  • More Information than You Require by John Hodgman, Dutton
    The bestselling author of The Areas of My Expertise, who is also the Resident Expert on The Daily Show, compiles incredibly handy made-up facts into brief articles, overlong lists, frighteningly complex charts, and beguiling narratives on new and familiar themes.
  • Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions by Christian Lander, Random House
    The Preppy Handbook meets PostSecret, in this cultural manifesto for a new generation. Lander and his blog stuffwhitepeoplelike.com have already been profiled by NPR and The Los Angeles Times, adding to the success of the Internet phenomenon.
  • CHILDREN
  • Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis, Scholastic Press
    Its 1860, and 11-year-old Elijah is a first-generation freeborn child. His Canadian town of Buxton serves as a haven for runaway slaves. When the towns corrupt preacher steals money from a citizen whos been saving to buy his familys freedom, Elijah sets off for America in pursuit, in this powerful new novel by a Newbery Medalist.
  • ABC3D by Marion Bataille, Roaring Brook Press
    A work of art as much as it is a pop-up book, this boldly conceived and brilliantly executed pop-up book features a striking black, red, and white palette.
  • TRUE STORIES
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter, Grand Central Publishing
    The charming story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa, starts in the worst possible way. Only a few weeks old, on the coldest night of the year, he was stuffed into the returned book slot at the library. For the next 19 years, he never stopped charming the people of Spencer with his enthusiasm, warmth, humility, and, above all, his sixth sense about who needed him most.
  • Riding the Hulahula to the Arctic Ocean by Don Mankin & Shannon Stowell, National Geographic
    This work offers dozens of travel options with the mature traveler in mind. Both an inspiring collection of experiences and a practical how-to guide, "Riding the Hulahula to the Arctic Ocean" details 50 of the world's best adventures for the over-40 crowd.
  • Anything Goes by John Barrowman, Michael O'Mara Books
    From his Glaswegian childhood and American adolescence to his starring role in the" Doctor Who" spinoff "Torchwood," this memoir traces the life and career of actor John Barrowman.
  • Inside Inside by James Lipton, New American Library, $15.00, Paperback
    An intimate portrait of the award-winning TV show "Inside the Actor's Studio" as well as the show's founder and host, this book offers a unique glimpse into a star-bedecked world.
  • NOVELS
  • Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the "Ibis," whose destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean, and whose purpose is to fight China's vicious 19th-century Opium Wars. This adventure spans landscapes from the lush poppy fields of the Ganges to the exotic backstreets of Canton.
  • Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, Knopf
    Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lahiri delivers eight dazzling stories that take readers from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand as they explore the secrets at the heart of family life.
  • 2666 by Roberto Bolano, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    Composed in the last years of Roberto Bolano's life, "2666 "was greeted across Europe and Latin America as his highest achievement, surpassing even his previous work in its strangeness, beauty, and scope. Its throng of unforgettable characters includes academics and convicts, an American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage student and her widowed, mentally unstable father. Their lives intersect in the urban sprawl of SantaTeresa--a fictional Juarez--on the U.S.-Mexico border, where hundreds of young factory workers, in the novel as in life, have disappeared.
  • Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier, Grove Press
    Did you know that less than 3% of books published in other languages are ever translated into English? Think of how much we miss out on! Night Train to Lisbon is one of those break-through books. A Swiss professor of dead languages living a largely sheltered life experiences a startling encounter with a Portuguese woman, which sets off a series of events that take him to Lisbon. Along the way, an amazing little book captures his attention and leads his journey into one of mystery and self-reflection.
  • City of Refuge by Tom Piazza, Harper
    From the award-winning novelist and author of Why New Orleans Matters comes a breathtaking novel of two families, one white and one black, whose lives are torn apart by Hurricane Katrina, and then pieced back together again in ways they couldn't have imagined.
  • City of Thieves by David Benioff, Viking
    During the siege of Leningrad, two Russian soldiers are sent on a seemingly impossible mission to find a dozen eggs for a high-ranking officer. This suspenseful story explores the brightest and darkest corners of the human spirit while taking readers on a bitter-cold, dangerous walk through the landscape of war-torn Russia.
  • Arctic Drift: A Dirk Pitt Novel by Clive Cussler & Dirk Cussler, Putnam
    Cussler's dazzling Dirk Pitt novels keep the action zipping along until a final powerhouse showdown ("Entertainment Weekly"), and this 20th work in the series doesn't disappoint. Filled with breathtaking suspense and audacious imagination, "Arctic Drift" is a tour de force of adventure writing.
  • Breaking Dawn by Stepanie Miller, Book Four of The Twilight Collection
    Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Stephenie Meyers novels Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse capture the struggle between defying instincts and satisfying desires. This gorgeous hardcover boxed set makes the perfect gift for fans of this "New York Times" bestselling series of vampire love.
  • The Outlander by Gil Adamson, Ecco
    "Adamson's debut work is simply enough, a superb novel. . . . The frayed material of the North American west is rendered in an astoundingly fresh light. . . . a condition only occasioned by first rate fiction." --Jim Harrison

  • About Dylan Schleicher


    Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.