compiled by Nicole Tomassi, Marketing and Conference Manager
I’m not quite sure how a year has elapsed since I put together the 2017 compilation of books that employees of Westchester Publishing Services read and wanted to recommend to others, but lo and behold, here we are. My colleagues have chosen a selection of titles as interesting and unique as each of them are, and you’ll likely find at least one book you should gift to yourself or to a fellow bibliophile who is special to you. Following these recommendations, are links to some other Best of Lists from this past year with book selections perfect for every age group and book category.
Make your gift go even further by purchasing any of these titles from your local independent bookseller. Simply click on the cover to locate a bookstore near you (or where the person you’re gifting it to is located). Happy holidays, and seasons readings!
These Truths: A History of the United States – by Jill Lepore
Publisher: W.W. Norton (a Westchester client publisher)
Why I recommend this book: My wife is kind enough to give me a book every year for my birthday, from the local bookstore on Small Business Saturday. At a recent dinner party, we were discussing books we’d liked with two history professors – one teaches with my wife at Lewis University, her husband teaches at Loyola University in Chicago. My wife and her colleague both mentioned Lepore’s recent book on the history of Wonder Woman and this new book. I look forward to devouring this and challenging my beliefs on American history, and my wife is looking forward to reading it as well.
Selected by: Curt Alliaume, Project Manager, Westchester K-12 Publishing Services
The Witch Elm – by Tana French
Why I recommend this book: Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series has been so enjoyable for me that when this standalone novel was released, I knew I would like it too. The book is about a young man recovering from injuries sustained when burglars broke into his apartment and beat him up badly, who then goes to live with and care for his dying uncle at his family’s ancestral home—and then a human skull is discovered hidden in a tree in the back garden. The writing is incredible, and it’s fascinating to see French’s knowledge of interrogation techniques from the point of view of the person being interviewed.
Selected by: Kimberly Giambattisto, Senior Production Editor
Never Use Futura – by Douglas Thomas
Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
Why I recommend this book: A book about a typeface is probably not for everyone, but if you enjoyed the documentary Helvetica, you’ll appreciate this ironically titled look at arguably the twentieth century’s most influential sans serif. Baked into the story of Futura are implications for the potential value of artistic compromise and the politics of appropriation. This is a quick read, a bit more engaging in its historical research than some of its later interpretations and case studies, but filled with interesting nuggets throughout.
Selected by: Scott Keeney, Production Manager – Composition and Digital Production
Inventing Edward Lear – by Sara Lodge
Publisher: Harvard University Press (a Westchester client publisher)
Why I recommend this book: I have always been a fan of Edward Lear and his nonsense rhymes, but he is even more interesting than I knew. A wonderful bio explores his writing, milieu, music, psychology, and influence. His drawings often incorporated his face (sometimes more of him, his rotund form worked well for many creatures) in his image of a bug, a snail, etcetera. I read here that Lear’s body of work may be viewed as an emotional autobiography, something of himself in every character. I am now going to read everything by Lear that I can get my hands on.
Selected by: Amelia Thurston, Production
The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living – by Meik Wiking
Publisher: William Morrow
Why I recommend this book: Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. (Yes, that’s really a thing.) Being based in Copenhagen, he may be biased about why Denmark is the happiest place on earth, but over the course of this entertaining and at times thought-provoking look at the benefits of chilling out, wearing fluffy socks, drinking cocoa, and spending time with your friends and family, Wiking hits upon a number of meditative maxims about living in the moment that may benefit all of us. Especially as cocoa and fluffy socks season arrives here in the States.
Selected by: Tyler M. Carey, Chief Revenue Officer
The 17th Suspect – by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Why I recommend this book: This book is about a string of shootings taking place in San Francisco, with the killer randomly choosing his victim. The main character, Sergeant Lindsey must hunt down the killer while also trying to balance motherhood, wifehood, and a disease that could kill her. I chose this book because it has a strong female lead who asks help from other strong lead women to help with the case. Also with each turn of the page, the suspense grows to where you reach the end and are surprised to found out the killer’s identity. I highly recommend it.
Selected by: Kenia Gonzalez, Customer Service Representative
The Secret Lives of Color – by Kassia St. Clair
Publisher: Penguin Books
Why I recommend this book: This book caught my eye when I was browsing in my local Waterstones shop in Stratford upon Avon. It’s beautifully designed, printed and bound, with colour edging to the pages and restrained and elegant use of colour icons inside. It was a definite ‘impulse buy’ which transpired to be not only a beautiful object in itself, but also a fascinating and entertaining read, describing the history of colour, its use and meaning through the ages. It also reinforced the value of local bookshops and how high-quality production values and cleverly-curated merchandising can sell more books.
Selected by: Tim Davies, Managing Director, Westchester Publishing Services UK
The Fifth Season (Book 1 of the Broken Earth Trilogy) – by N.K. Jemisin
Why I recommend this book: There is a reason Jemisin won the Hugo Award three years in a row with this series (and broke a record by doing so)! In this gripping first installment, she builds a mysterious world in which Earth is a single continent that has been repeatedly ripped apart by seismic catastrophes over the past several centuries, and the telekinetics known as orogenes are the only thing keeping the human race from dying out completely. I won’t say any more because Jemisin keeps her world’s secrets close to her chest, but this is a mesmerizing book that should not be missed.
Selected by: Ashley Moore, Copyeditor
White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – by Robin DiAngelo
Publisher: Beacon Press
Why I recommend this book: In White Fragility, DiAngelo, an expert on racial and social justice issues, explores systemic racism in American society, delving into the often subconscious ways in which the dominant culture remains dominant. Her book challenges the notion of “good old days,” forces the reader to explore what it means to be white, and offers concrete ways for whites to challenge assumptions and to act as allies for equality. This book is a fascinating read recommended to me by Nilofer Ali, our K-12 Resources Manager.
Selected by: Kevin J. Gray, Managing Director, Westchester K-12 Publishing Services
Educated – by Tara Westover
Publisher: Random House
Why I recommend this book: This compelling memoir is about the author’s upbringing as the youngest of seven children raised by her paranoid, survivalist father and his wife, an herbalist and unlicensed midwife, in rural southeastern Idaho. Due to her father’s distrust of the government, his four youngest children weren’t even known to exist (no birth certificates were filed) and they never attended school. Education came from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and a children’s science book, along with physical labor in their father’s scrapyard. Tara’s journey from this unfathomable existence to graduating from Brigham Young University and Cambridge University is a testament to the strength of the human spirit when someone believes in –and helps you to recognize– your full potential.
Selected by: Nicole Tomassi, Marketing and Conference Manager
For even more selections and reviews, check out these compilations:
New York Public Library’s Best Books of 2018 – Top titles for young children, teenagers, and adults.
National Public Radio’s Book Concierge – Practically a mini-library of more than 300 books that can be sorted by a multitude of categories.
The Scholarly Kitchen Chef’s Selection Part 1 and Part 2 – Contributors to the Society of Scholarly Publishing’s Scholarly Kitchen blog share the titles that they enjoyed reading in 2018.
5 Books I loved in 2018 – by Bill Gates
San Francisco Chronicle’s Holiday Gift Guide: Novels, Memoirs, Cookbooks, and more. Lots more.