Around the Writers’ Table: Books for the holidays

Around the Writers’ Table: Books for the holidays

It has long been my opinion that every bookshelf at the winery should have at least one dedicated to the island’s authors. If you don’t already have a “Vineyard Bookshelf,” it’s time to identify one from the ever-growing list of exceptional books written by writers who live, vacation and visit the Vineyard. These books can and should, if possible, be purchased from one of our great local bookstores – Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven and Edgartown Books in Edgartown.

Each August at Islanders Write, The MV Times brings together writers and publishing professionals with connections to the island to discuss the art, craft and business of writing. The following list of recommended books for your Christmas gift was written by authors who spoke at the event.

For children

“Believe in Yourself: What We Learned from Arthur” by Marc Brown. Arthur is a household name for families with young children, and bestselling author and illustrator Marc Brown’s latest book is a collection of life lessons from Arthur and the gang that will resonate with children young and old.

“S stands for Sea Glass: A Beach Alphabet”, by Richard Michelson. The ideal gift for Vineyard children who can apply what they learn while enjoying Michelson’s delightful poetry.

“He-Man and the Lords of the Universe” is the latest book from best-selling children’s author Gregory Mone in a busy year of books. This one is based on Mattel’s He-Man and the Netflix series.

“Are you a little bird like me?‘ by Noel Foy is a picture book that celebrates community and courage.

Pageturner: The Stories You Won’t Forget (Fiction)

“Family of Liars” by E Lockart

The best-selling prequel to the 2014 sensation We Were Liars, featuring scenes set in the vineyard. It is a page turner and a psychological drama that is poetically written.

“Horse,” by Geraldine Brooks

“What is ‘Little Women’?” was the correct answer to this recent clue on the game show Jeopardy: “Geraldine Brooks ‘March’ is narrated by the father from this classic 1860s novel.” ‘ we give you this answer: Brooks’ latest bestseller is called ‘a a stirring tale of spirit, obsession and injustice in American history.” What’s the question?

“The moon always rises” from Alice early

Early set her powerful debut novel on another island. It’s a worthy getaway.

“On the same side,” by Nicole Galland

A perfect book for anyone who has ever spent a winter on the vineyard.

“Something Wild”, by Hanna Halperin

Halperin’s debut novel is an intense family drama that will be remembered.

“The Sweetest Days” by John Hough Jr.

Hough delves deep into complicated emotional territory in this portrait of a decades-long marriage.

“There you are,” by Mathea Morais

Do you remember record stores? Morais’ debut novel is a powerful coming-of-age story that will take you back.

“Leaving Coy’s Hill”, by Katherine A Sherbrooke

If you haven’t heard of suffragist Lucy Stone, Sherbrooke’s book is a must read. And if so, it’s also a must.

“The Italian Prisoner” by Elisa Speranza

Speranza’s debut novel takes readers to New Orleans in the closing years of World War II and introduces them to a young woman who finds forbidden love with a Sicilian prisoner of war and enters the female-dominated workforce of the war effort, naturally controlled by men.

“What a Dog Knows” from Suzanne Wilson

This is the latest from bestselling author Wilson, but honestly, if you’re a dog lover or looking to buy one, you can’t go wrong with any of Wilson’s “dog” novels.

“child bride,” by Jennifer Smith Turner

A powerful story of a young woman in the segregated South who is forced into marriage at age 16 and brought to Boston by her new husband, where she finds illicit love and self-determination.

Page turner (non-fiction)

“My People: Five Decades of Writing About Black Life”, by Charlayne Hunter Gault

This collection of reports and essays spanning five decades by pioneering journalist Hunter-Gault is essential reading.

“The Southernization of America: A History of Balanced Democracy” by Frye Gaillard and Cynthia Tucker

A series of essays focused on the role of the South in shaping America’s current political and cultural landscape.

“It’s cancer” by Laura Holmes Haddad

Not a book to imagine as a Christmas present, but sickness doesn’t stop at the holidays.

“The Falcon Thief”, by Joshua Hammer

Veteran journalist Hammer has written another book for when nonfiction reads like fiction. This is a true crime, continent-spanning adventure that takes readers into the underworld of falconry.

“Up on the pig”, by Jessica B Harris

If you haven’t read it when it was first published in 2011, now is your chance. Harris’ fascinating Africa to America culinary tour is once again a must-do thanks to the popularity of the 2021 Netflix series based on the book.

“Compose something: How Stephen Sondheim and I created Sunday in the Park with George by James Lapine

For those interested in how theater is made, Tony Award-winning writer-director James Lapine conducts a forensic analysis of the making of the Broadway sensation.

About writing

“Memoir as Medicine: The Healing Power of Writing Your Messy, Imperfect, Unruly (But Wonderfully Own) Life Story”, by Nancy Slonim Aronie

Aronie’s personal stories and writing tips will inspire, motivate and transform readers.

“The Joy of Writing Sex” by Elizabeth Benedict

Whether you have it or not, you can always write about it!

“The writing recipe: Tell your story to live with and beyond the disease.”

by Judith Hannan

Writing about illness can be both cathartic and confusing. Hannan’s book serves as a useful guide.


“The toughest kid we knew” by Frank Bergon

Bergon’s memoirs are a cinematic story of growing up in the San Joaquin Valley with a colorful and tragic cast of characters.

“Forget Prayers, Bring Cake: A Guide to a Single Woman’s Grief,” by Merissa Nathan Gerson

Gerson’s book, part reminder and part practical advice, is a helpful tool for grieving.

“Blossom Pusher: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Cinderella Story, by Laurie Lindeen

What better way to read than an insider’s story – Lindeen played in her own band and married a rock star – rocking rock ‘n’ roll story.

“The Beautiful Darkness” by Joshunda Sanders

The Sanders story is a powerful tale of poverty, insanity and perseverance.

“soul defect”, by Philip Weinstein

Weinstein, a retired English professor, gives us autobiographical essays that weave the lives of literary characters into his own story.


“Death of a Great Man” by Peter Kramer

Kramer’s second novel isn’t out yet, but pre-ordering for the holiday season makes a great gift during the slower season.

“We’re better than that” by Elijah Cummins, starring James Dale, is a memoir from a political giant gone too soon and a great read to round off an intense political season before the next begins.

“Rebel with Clause”, by Ellen Jovin, is without a doubt a perfect stocking stuffer. Jovin, known for her roving grammar chart, has written a book that will delight grammar geeks and enlighten and entertain all speakers of the English language.

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