Manhattan librarian suggests reading gifts for the upcoming holidays

At the Library: Susan Withee

By A Contributor

Whether you’re looking for holiday gift ideas for the people on your list or planning your own post-holiday winter hibernation, here are a couple of suggestions for no-fail great reading from Manhattan Public Library.

First, for those who enjoy reading as an intellectual adventure, consider ‘micro-histories,’ books that combine history, science and sociology to make an absorbing reading experience.

Micro-histories investigate how individual discoveries, natural phenomena, new ideas and technological developments have impacted human life and knowledge and how these events have changed the world.

These books appeal to folks with a wide range of interests; the stories unfold like mysteries or adventures tales, entertaining and enlightening readers on a variety of subjects.

The following is a list of some well-reviewed recent micro-histories.       

“The Poisoner’s Handbook”: Murder and the birth of forensic medicine in jazz age New York by Deborah Blum. 

“Double Entry”: How the merchants of Venice created modern finance by Jane Gleeson-White. 

“A Perfect Red”: Empire, espionage, and the quest for the color of desire by Amy Butler Greenfield. 

“The Big Roads”:  The untold story of the engineers, visionaries, and trailblazers who created the American superhighways by Earl Swift.

“The Invention of Air”: A story of science, faith, revolution, and the birth of America by Steven Johnson.

“Consider the Fork”: A history of how we cook and eat by Bee Wilson.

“Quiet”: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain.

“No Idle Hands”: A social history of American knitting by Anne L. Macdonald.

“A History of the World in Six Glasses” by Tom Standage.

“Banana”: The fate of the fruit that changed the world by Dan Koeppel.

“At Home”: A short history of private life by Bill Bryson.

“The Dirt on Clean”: An unsanitized history by Katherine Ashenburg.

“Spice”: The history of a temptation by Jack Turner.

“The Ghost Map”: The story of London’s most terrifying epidemic and how it changed science, cities, and the modern world by Steven Johnson.

“The Power of Babel”: A natural history of language by John McWhorter.

“City”: A guidebook for the urban age by P. D. Smith.

“Stiff”: The curious lives of human cadavers by Mary Roach.

“The Code Book”: The science of secrecy from Mary Queen of Scots to quantum cryptography by Simon Singh.

For people who read for pleasure and enjoy a lavishly illustrated and browsable book, take a look at these fabulous choices from publisher Dorling Kindersley. 

DK Publishing is renowned for the readability of the layout and the beauty of the photos, graphics, diagrams and illustrations in its books.

In addition to their highly recommended eyewitness travel guides, outstanding non-fiction series for children, reference and how-to books for adults, DK regularly publishes big beautiful blockbuster books on subjects of timeless popularity.

They are a substantial and satisfying feast to enjoy over and over.

A list of great reading choices for adults is listed below.

“Ship”: The epic story of maritime adventure by Brian Lavery.

“Great Buildings” by Philip Wilkinson.

“Car”: the definitive visual history of the automobile. 

“Mountaineers”: Great tales of bravery and conquest.

“Fashion”: The definitive history of costume and style.

“The World’s Must-See Places”

“Prehistoric Life”

“Timelines of History”

“The Illustrated Bible”: Story by story.

“Explorers”: Great tales of adventure and endurance by Alasdair Macleod.

“Flight”: 100 years of aviation by R. G. Grant.

“Battle”: A visual journey through 5,000 years of combat by R. G. Grant.

“The Civil War”: A visual history. 

“The Road Less Traveled”: 1000 amazing places off the tourist trail. 

“The Complete Golf Manual” by Steve Newell

“Bird”:  The definitive visual guide.

“Violent Earth” by Robert Dinwiddie

“World War II”: The definitive visual history.

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