Hamilton booksellers' guide to best books for the holidays

Books are a classic holiday gift, but finding the right one can be tricky. CBC Hamilton asked three Hamilton booksellers for some of their best bets for the reader in your family.

3 Hamilton independent booksellers help you find the perfect book for Christmas reading

Three Hamilton booksellers picked these books, and several others, as their top picks for holiday presents. (John Rieti/Darren Hynes/CBC)

Books are a classic holiday gift, but finding the right one can be tricky. CBC Hamilton asked three independent Hamilton booksellers for some of their best bets for the reader in your family.

Top 3 books of 2014

Lisa Pijuan-Nomura of Epic Books picked a mix of award-winning fiction and some fun, energetic books.

  • Us Conductors by Sean Michaels: the winner of this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize.

  • What If? by Randall Munroe: the brainchild of the former NASA scientist behind web comic XKCD.

  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler: the SNL and Parks and Recreation comedienne's book is an accessible book with great insight into pop culture, Pijuan-Nomura says.

Julie Gordon of J.H. Gordon Books hand-picked some older books with wonderful writing.

  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison: first published in 1977, Gordon calls this "one of the best novels of the 20th century."​
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: An "essential classic," that's also the writer's most accessible work. There's also a collectible hardcover edition by Penguin Classics this season.
  • We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live by Joan Didion: a collection of the American author's finest non-fiction works.

Kerry Cranston-Reimer at Bryan Prince Bookseller suggested three Canadian bestsellers.

  • All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews: a story of two sisters, one of whom is battling severe depression.
  • Back of the Turtle by Thomas King: the winner of this year’s Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction.
  • This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate by Naomi Klein: the No Logo author's latest book, which focuses on the economic drivers of climate change.

Top book from Hamilton

Jon Soyka and a local group of post card collectors teamed up to create This is a Beautiful City, a unique way to look back at the city's history. (John Rieti/CBC)
  • This Is A Beautiful City: A Look at Hamilton and Wentworth County, Ontario, Canada, Through Picture Postcards: Both Cranston-Reimer and Pijuan-Nomura suggested this book, which tells this city's story through some fantastic post cards from the past.
  • The House with the Parapet Wall by John Terpstra: One of Hamilton's top writers, Terpstra shifts from poetry to memoir in his latest work. As a bonus, the book is a "thing of physical beauty," Gordon says.

 Top Children's book

  • The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak: A “pretty awesome” book that you have to see to get, Pijuan-Nomura says.

  • The Hockey Sweater (30th Anniversary edition) by Roch Carrier: You can't go wrong here. 

  • Revenge on the Fly by Sylvia McNicoll: the historical novel set in Hamilton 1912 tells the story of a boy who enters a fly-catching contest (yes, it really happened).

Top Teen’s book

  • Divergent series by Veronica Roth: Similar to The Hunger Games, these dystopian novels are super addictive and already very popular.

  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: the story of two twins re-telling a tragedy.

  • This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki: the coming of age story of two cottaging friends.

  • Theseus and the Minotaur by Yvan Pommaux: a Greek myth told in a visually appealing, modern way.

 Top self-improvement book

  • The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin: the neuroscientist author explains how your mind works and how you might be able to bolster its performance.

  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig: This longtime favourite, and subject of a recent CBC Ideas episode, focuses on the "art of living a meaningful life," Gordon says. 

  • Syllabus by Lynda Barry: An expanded syllabus for a course the author taught on graphic novels offers unique insights on creativity.

Top cookbook

  • In Grace's Kitchen: Memories and Recipes from an Italian-Canadian Childhood by Vince Agro: A fun collection of stories and recipe's from a childhood being raised in the north end. 
  • Spice & Herb Bible by Ian Hemphill: a comprehensive guide that might help liven up Christmas leftovers.

  • Plenty More, by Yotam Ottolenghi: the follow up to the chef’s wonderful first book Plenty (FYI, it’s vegetarian.)