Book Recommendations from the Westchester Publishing Services staff – by Nicole Tomassi
We’ve arrived in December, the time of year where – if we’re lucky to have a moment to think – we reflect on events of the previous months which left a memory with us. Given the nature of the industry we work in, those thoughts invariably turn to books. While there’s no shortage of best-of lists compiled by numerous newspapers, magazines, and websites (I’ve included links to a few at the bottom of this post), I wanted to take a more local approach. I asked my colleagues here at Westchester to share their recommendations for a book they enjoyed reading this year that they thought others should consider, either as a gift to share with another book lover or to add to their own reading list. They responded enthusiastically, sharing interesting titles covering the spectrum from thought-provoking to serious to whimsical. Many were published some time ago, so you’re bound to (re)discover at least one book that will pique your interest.
To learn more about any title below, or to order from your favorite local bookstore simply click on the cover image. Happy reading, and happy holidays from your friends at Westchester Publishing Services!
The City of Dreaming Books – By Walter Moers
Publisher: Overlook Press (distributed by Westchester client publisher W.W. Norton)
Why I recommend this book: I have never read anything like this book. Bookholm is an intricate and compelling world that feels like home for any book lover, and I was sad when I had to turn the final page and leave it. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly adorable characters—the book is, in fact, a mature and only slightly comedic reflection on the role of books in our lives and what it takes to create a truly compelling story. I cannot recommend it highly enough for bibliophiles of all stripes. It is magical, beautifully written, and endlessly engrossing—with fantastic illustrations to boot!
Recommended by: Ashley Moore, Copyeditor
A Bad Kitty Christmas – By Nick Bruel
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan)
Why I recommend this book: This time of year, I dig out the old chestnuts from my holiday book collection to read to the kids. A Bad Kitty Christmas is a relatively new addition to the pile but has quickly become a favorite for my kids. Published by a client of Westchester’s, the book follows series favorite Bad Kitty as she runs away from home on Christmas Eve and is taken in by an old woman who tells her about the holidays of other religions and the things we all have in common. (Spoilers – there’s a happy ending for all involved – the cat, the old lady, the cat’s family.). The kids love it and somehow I always get something in my eye that makes me sniffle just a little bit, just as I’m finishing reading it to them.
Recommended by: Tyler M. Carey, Chief Revenue Officer
Norse Mythology – by Neil Gaiman
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Why I recommend this book: In Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman distills the sometimes competing versions of the Norse gods and their adventures into a coherent whole. The book reads as a series of interrelated short stories that range from the creation of all things to the twilight of the gods and beyond. Colloquial and with a polished ease, Gaiman’s voice allows a humor to shine through the stories that not infrequently reaches the point of truly laugh-out-loud funny. Read “The Mead of Poetry” and never experience a bad poem the same way again. Through it all, the gods are mean, cruel, and doltish, boosted and undermined as much by the cunningness of Loki as by their own single-minded wants. An easy metaphor for our times, perhaps, or all times. Although sometimes quite gruesome, the book was also a huge hit with my eleven-year-old son. Besides being thoroughly entertaining, Norse Mythology provided a great background to Thor: Ragnarok, and led naturally to comparing and contrasting the portrayals of Odin, Loki, Hel, and Fenrir.
Recommended by: Scott Keeney, Production Manager, Composition and Digital Conversions
The Night Circus – by Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Anchor Books
Why I recommend this book: This book does exactly what a book should do; it pulls you into a world so enchantingly and exquisitely realized that you do not want to surface from its pages. With its varied cast of characters and refreshing twist on circus lore and magic, The Night Circus is a book that can appeal to readers of all backgrounds and tastes. It’ll have you wishing you could buy a ticket from the very first page.
Recommended by: Erin Leo, Journals Production Editor
Publisher: Vintage Books
Why I recommend this book: I’ve had this book since college and revisit it year after year. I have always loved Carver’s writing style. He uses deceptively simple sentence structures and an accessible vocabulary to tackle complex interpersonal relationships.
Recommended by: Kevin Gray, Managing Director, K-12 Publishing Services
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Why I recommend this book: A wonderful story about how the concept of the remote control persisted for nearly half a decade before it developed into a viable technology. The author covers the remote’s beginnings as a wired technology for radios, the famed “clicker” of the 1970s, the development of standard cable remote layout that we all know and love today, and the handful of failures in between. A good read for anybody interested in American history, culture, and media.
Recommended by: JodieAnne Sclafani, Production Supervisor, Design, Graphics, and Proof
Why I recommend this book: Opening in late 2008 at a holiday party in New York City as the Great Recession is making its presence felt, the book vividly brings to life the five main characters who met in college five years previous and have been inseparable since. The author provides the right amount of backstory to help you understand what brings them together as a group even though their backgrounds, motivations, and passions are quite different from one another. When one of them is faced with a tragic situation, they all try to answer the questions of what is most meaningful, while attempting to navigate through the big city and life itself.
Recommended by: Nicole Tomassi, Sales & Marketing Coordinator
Why I recommend this book: Books about books are already pretty magical, but when you set them in 1950s Barcelona and make the narrator an incredibly kind and relatable boy that you follow as he grows, it becomes something else. It’s hard to figure out how Zafón was so successful at constructing such a misty, moody, mysterious setting and such vivid, endearing, and funny characters, but I’m so glad he was. It’s just so engrossing. You won’t be able to stop thinking about it! (Also, if it’s your cup of tea, the audiobook version is incredibly well done.)
Recommended by: Kimberly Giambattisto, Senior Production Editor
The Natural Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish: Reason and Fancy During the Scientific Revolution – by Lisa T. Sarasohn
Publisher: John Hopkins University Press
Why I recommend this book: I’m in love with this fascinating look at a fascinating woman. The book is full of stunning details on the period (mid-seventeenth-century). The Duchess of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, called ‘the first female scientist’, liked to put her scientific theories into verse and Gulliver-like creative writing, in both prose and plays. The examples given are a total hoot. Learn and laugh at the same time. You likely won’t find Margaret mentioned in a serious history of science. She was an oddball, and a wonderful one.
Recommended by: Mimi Thurston, Production
Here are a few links to articles about noteworthy books which were published in 2017:
Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017
The Bookseller British Book Awards 2017
New York Times Critics’ Top Books of 2017
Tell us what books you read in 2017 which you would recommend to others. Share your recommendations in the comments below.