Shop Local: Gifts for Book Lovers

We've got a roundup of gifts for readers, along with recommendations from local bookstore owners.

Check out these recommendations for books from Vicki Erwin, owner of

  • The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, HC, Random, $26.95. This book is full of magic and illusion. A debut novel that creates a world and characters the reader will not want to leave. Two magicians engaged in an ages-old feud choose a young woman, Celia, and a young man, Marco, to fight their battle, unbeknownst to the participants. The battleground is the Night Circus and the fight is to the death—until Celia and Marco meet and fall in love. The characters are fascinating, the setting captivating and the writing sublime. This is my favorite book of the year!
  • Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson, HC, Harper, $25.99. This book is for the lover of psychological suspense. Each day is a complete surprise to Christine. Because of a head injury, she forgets everything as she sleeps each night. At the suggestion of her secret doctor, Christine begins to keep a journal and realizes as the bits and pieces of information don’t fit that someone is lying to her. But who?
  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towle, HC, Penguin, $26.95. Grab your martini shaker, dress in your slinkiest evening gown and travel to 1920s New York. At an art exhibit, Katey sees a portrait of someone from her past and recalls her early years in New York City. Very Gatsby.
  • The $80 Champion by Elizabeth Letts, HC, RH, $26. Harry de Leyer was a future Olympic equestrian until WWII interrupted his dream. He ends up a riding teacher at a girls’ school, and in his search for a horse for his students, he encounters Snowball. After an unsuccessful day at an auction, de Leyer passes a group of horses headed for the glue factory. Snowball is emaciated and dirty, yet de Leyer sees something in the horse’s eyes and purchases him for $80. The horse and trainer are destined to do great things together and Letts tells their story beautifully.
  • In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, HC, RH, $26. Larson, author of Devil in the White City is back and tells the story of the rise of Nazi Germany through the eyes of U.S. Ambassador, William E. Dodd and his daughter.

For Young Adults/Children:

  • I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, HC, Candlewick, $15.99. Simple but engaging illustrations tell the story of a bear who has lost his hat. Children will enjoy the repetition and adults will easily recognize the familiar situation. And it's easy enough for beginning readers.
  • Press Here by Herve Tullet, HC, Chronicle, $14.99. This interactive book entertains toddlers and young children. The child presses a dot and sees the results when the page is turned. So much fun!
  • Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, HC, Scholastic, $29.99. This follow-up to Hugo Cabret features the same format—a story in drawings and a parallel story in words. Selznick explores movies, loss and deafness in a two stories set 50 years apart that converge. The story of the deaf girl in pictures only is particularly effective.
  • Apothecary by Maile Maloy, HC, Penguin, $16.99. Janie Scott moves to London in 1952 and is caught up in a great adventure. This story has something for every reader—magic, alchemy, spies, romance and kids that fly. Saying anything more might ruin the surprises.
  • Chronicles of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg and a bevy of renowned authors including Stephen King, HC, HoughtonMifflin/Harcourt, $24.99. Years ago, Harris Burdick presented a portfolio of pictures to the world, promising to deliver the stories that go with the pictures later only to disappear and never to be heard from again. Several prominent authors report they have encountered Burdick, and he shared certain info about said stories with them. And now they share with us. Main Street Books is co-sponsoring a writing contest with North Kirkwood Middle School based on the Chronicles.

Kayla Schneider, owner of , recommends a list of both best-sellers and classics.

  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
  • Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese 
  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston


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