Out on the Wire
As anyone who’s been addicted to “Serial,” or who never misses a weekly installment of “This American Life” can attest, narrative storytelling is an extremely powerful tool. Podcasts and radio programs that use personal stories to help us understand ourselves and the world around us a bit better aren’t just a fad—they introduce a whole new way of listening. Cartoonist Jessica Abel goes behind the scenes of narrative radio (including fan favorites “Radiolab” and “The Moth”) and the result is this stunning (and staggeringly funny) graphic novel that is an innovative story about innovative storytelling.
Dust & Grooves
This book is the perfect choice for the person in your life who loves vinyl records: listening to them, collecting them, and displaying them. The book showcases over 100 vinyl collectors, giving readers a peek into their collections and drool-worthy record rooms. With gorgeous photos and fascinating interviews filled with funny, heartwarming stories, this book will make any LP lover very, very happy.
While this 300-plus-page compendium isn’t faster than a speeding bullet and can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound, it is the comic book collector’s best friend. Chronicling the history of the comic book industry beginning in the Depression, “Superheroes!” looks at the way these masked men and caped crusaders have shaped American culture and how our nation’s culture has shaped them in return. Exclusive interviews from pioneers like Stan Lee, contemporary creators like Grant Morrison and actress Lynda Carter, as well as full-color drawings and movie stills, make this the perfect gift for the ultimate fan of the comic book genre.
A Nice Little Place on the North Side
“The world is what it is and has been very good to me. The Cubs, however, are another matter.” Words that might spring from the lips of any fan of the Cubs, a franchise for whom long-suffering has become it’s unofficial epithet. If you have a friend who watched as the Cubs lost to the Mets this postseason, resigned to their fate, then George F. Will’s book is mighty fine company to commiserate with. But it is also mighty fine company for any fan of baseball, and the sport’s storied history.
This tell-all biography is perfect for the ’80s music aficionado. Over 100 hours of interviews with the Piano Man reveal all of the back stories behind his greatest hits—from meeting his “Uptown Girl” Christie Brinkley to writing “New York State of Mind” after moving west to Los Angeles. Tales from his start as a small kid from Long Island to an international rock icon paint a full picture of Billy Joel’s unforgettable, all-American journey to stardom.
Any history buff will love getting immersed in “Dead Wake,” the #1 New York Times bestseller from Erik Larson, which recounts the final voyage of the Lusitania before the United States became involved in WWI. The story is impeccably researched, told with a sparkling attention to detail, and a healthy dose of drama. This is thrilling historical nonfiction that reads like fiction.
Maira Kalman’s ode to four-legged friends starts out with the line: “When I go out for a walk, there is so much I see that makes me happy to be alive […] There are flowers, birds, babies, buildings. I love all of these things, but above all, I am besotted by dogs.” In the pages that follow, her bright, hand-painted illustrations leap from the page as Kalman details her love affair with the dogs in her life and how they have served as anchors, grief counselors, personal trainers and antidepressants for her—and for all of us— over the years. The dog lover in your life needs this one in their collection.
‘Tis the season…to shop for everyone on your list. And, we may be biased, but we think the best gifts to give—and receive—are books!
Read It Forward is making your holiday shopping a cinch this year. We’ve curated seven different gift guides chock full of books that will thrill everyone you know: the foodie in the family, the creative thinker, the fiction devotee, the adventurous spirit, the former class clown, the ultimate fan (of podcasts, history, rock ‘n roll…you name it) and the sci-fi lover who’s already purchased their movie tickets for Stars Wars: The Force Awakens. All you have to do is swing by your local independent bookstore and shop ’til you drop.
The Ultimate Fan is, well, an ultimate fan. But the subjects of their fanaticism vary widely. Some may crave the soothing voices of a beloved podcast while on their commute and others may yearn for the upbeat sounds of Billy Joel’s “River of Dreams” and others still swear that vinyl is the only way to listen to music. Dog lovers, Cubs fans, history buffs, comic book geeks, and the person you know who actually owns an Apple watch…we’ve got something here for each of them. Just know these titles are only going to feed their frenzy—but that’s a good thing.
What We're Reading This WeekGet recommendations for the greatest books around straight to your inbox every week.
Click on each cover to read more about the book and to buy directly from your favorite online retailer.
What are you giving the ultimate fan in your life this holiday season? Help expand our gift guide with your recommendations below!
Curated by the Read It Forward editorial team, illustration by Jane Mount of Ideal Bookshelf.