compiled by Nicole Tomassi, Marketing & Conference Manager
Five years ago was the first time that I compiled these semi-annual posts which are only possible due to my colleagues, who have always been generous about sharing the titles that are on their reading lists and the reasons why the books were chosen. The selections are always interesting, inspired, and range across a wide variety of genres, making the act of assembling these posts so much fun for me and hopefully, enjoyable for you, the reader. Some of the books below are titles that were published by valued Westchester clients, while others come with the added gift of an independent bookstore that’s located near to where our contributors are. If any of the titles below catch your interest, click on the cover to locate an independent bookstore near you who will be happy to ship you a copy of your next read(s).
The Song of the Cell
Author: Siddhartha Mukherjee
Why I want(ed) to gift/read this book:
This author has a gift for telling great (nonfiction) stories about medicine, patients, and doctors. I read his earlier book, The Emperor of All Maladies (about cancer) and was just so impressed with his ability to make complicated science interesting and even personable. I continue to recommend that book to anyone who is interested in medicine. I can’t wait to see what he writes about this tiny, basic human building block. Even his book titles are compelling and poetic.
Selected by: Sherry Gerstein, Production Editor
A Little Life
Author: Hanya Yanagihara
Publisher: Picador UK
Why I want(ed) to gift/read this book: Recommended many times by friends and family, it had been on my ‘must read’ list for years but I’d always been a little daunted by its length (around 800 pages). I finally started it on day #1 of my summer holiday in Italy and finished it on the plane coming back. It’s utterly compelling; often grim, unsettling, and painful to read, yet still managing to celebrate the unconditional love and loyalty of true friendship.
Selected by: Tim Davies, CEO, Westchester Group UK
It Starts With Us
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Why I want(ed) to gift/read this book: After seeing the punning headlines and the high sales figures in the literary press (‘It Starts With Us hoovers up sales for another week’) I want to see what all the fuss is about! I’ve ordered this and It Ends With Us (this book came first) from Waterstones, using my birthday book token from Westchester UK!
Selected by: Julie Willis, Editorial & Pre-press Director, River Editorial
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Why I want(ed) to gift/read this book: McCarthy has been on my “must read” author list for years. This brand-new work of his – the first in a two-volume project – seemed like the perfect place to finally start.
Selected by: Hugh Shiebler, Director, Client Solutions, Westchester Publishing Services
My Bookstore: Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, NJ
Author: Rupert Christiansen
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Why I want(ed) to gift/read this book: As a long-time NYC ballet fan and season ticket holder, I love any history about the ballet, and this author details the birth of the Ballet Russes and the sphere of legendary artists who were involved. Eager to get my hands on it!
Selected by: Deb Taylor, Vice President, Business Development & Marketing
Liberation Day: Stories
Author: George Saunders
Publisher: Random House
Why I want(ed) to gift/read this book: Saunders is an absolute genius, and his entirely unique brand of dark comedy makes me laugh out loud every time. My favorite book is Lincoln at the Bardo, but his very first book, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (1996) nearly took off the top of my head. I will read absolutely anything he writes—usually more than once—and I’m looking forward to his latest collection.
Selected by: Christina DeYoung, Director, Client Solutions, Westchester Education Services
My Bookstore: Mockingbird Bookshop, Bath, Maine
Author: M.G. Haynes
Why I want(ed) to gift/read this book: This is the first of three historical fiction books, the others being the first two in a series entitled Q. Fulvius: Debt of Dishonor and Q. Fulvius: A Pirate’s Life that I would like to read. As an added bonus, they are written by my cousin.
Selected by: Kevin Schroeder, Director, Client Solutions, Westchester Education Services
Note: In a first for the blog, this book was selected by more than one person in our group
Cloud Cuckoo Land
Author: Anthony Doerr
Why I want(ed) to gift/read this book: I have been dying for this to come out in paperback all year, so it is at the top of my wish list for Christmas. Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winner All the Light We Cannot See is one of my all-time favorite books, and this one sounds like it has the same blend of compelling, intertwined yet distant characters and evocative locations that made his earlier book so engaging. Also I’m a sucker for a hefty, century-spanning epic. Can’t wait!
Selected by Ashley Moore, Copyeditor, Westchester Publishing Services
My bookstore: Pegasus Book Exchange, Seattle, WA
Why I want(ed) to gift/read this book: This novel was a finalist in this year’s Dayton Literary Peace Prize, an annual event held to commemorate the Dayton Accords that ended the Bosnian war. It’s one of many amazing books on the list, and I am hoping to work through several more of them this year.
Selected by: Kevin J. Gray, President & Chief Content Officer, Westchester Education Services
My Government Means to Kill Me
Author: Rasheed Newson
Publisher: Flatiron Books (A Westchester client)
Why I want to read this book: As someone who came out as queer later in life, I feel it’s my responsibility to gather a fuller understanding of those who paved the way toward equal rights so that I may honor and continue their LGBTQIA+ activism. This fictional memoir follows Trey, a gay, Black man in 1980s New York City. While facing poverty, prejudice, and the AIDS epidemic, he grows to be active in the Civil Rights movement, community organizing, and the fight for gay rights. It’s an accurate portrait of a time in American history that has been largely forgotten.
Selected by: Tara Hlavinka, Senior Editor, Math, Westchester Education Services
My Bookstore: Rudolph Girls Books, Westminster, MD
Author: Alan Moore
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (a Westchester client)
Why I want(ed) to gift/read this book: As I read comics in the 80s and 90s, Alan Moore was the literary superstar of a medium that was often written off as superheroes and kids’ stuff. His work has been inconsistent over the years in both graphic novels and more traditional prose, but as an author and a creator he’s always been a figure to attract attention and interest in his next projects with the risks he’s taken and experiments he’s tried. This is the first collection of Alan Moore’s short stories published in his career, and having seen how he’s used individual chapters of his prose and visual work to tell meaningful, compelling tales in a brief space, I’m excited to read this and see what magic he can spin in these tales.
Selected by: Tyler M. Carey, Chief Revenue Officer, Westchester Publishing Services
Mirror in the Sky: The Life and Music of Stevie Nicks
Author: Simon Morrison
Publisher: University of California Press (a Westchester client)
Why I want(ed) to gift/read this book: I have always enjoyed the music crafted by Stevie Nicks, first in Fleetwood Mac, then as a solo artist. Her career has been devoted to her musical muse, bringing her to the pinnacle of her profession, becoming the first of only three women (so far) to be inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I’m looking forward to reading the previously untold stories of the formative years of this trailblazing artist who has recorded with a who’s who of musicians and inspired the next generations of women singer-songwriters to follow in her high-heeled steps.
Selected by: Nicole Tomassi, Marketing & Conference Manager, Westchester Publishing Services
For additional inspiration, the links below have information about hundreds of new titles across fiction and non-fiction, helping you to find the perfect book(s) for every reader on your list.
National Public Radio: Books We Love 2022
Time Magazine: The 100 Must-Read Books of 2022
Publishers Weekly: Best Books 2022
I hope the holiday season brings you all the books on your wish list and time to read them. Wishing you all the best in the year ahead, including more wonderful books to look forward to reading!