Books make the best gifts -- never the wrong size and relatively inexpensive. But how to choose from the infinite variety of options?
Twice a year, The Kojo Nnamdi Show brings you book recommendations for you, the kids, your boss or anyone else in your life. We call on book editors and experts from small independent bookstores to help seek out the quality reads that are often overlooked by mainstream media.
The D.C. area has been the backdrop for many books, whether short stories, novels or nonfiction. Our guests highlight the best books set primarily in and around Washington, including those penned by authors with local roots and books with strong allusions and mentions to the area.
The year's best cookbooks, as selected by Bonnie Benwick, food editor at The Washington Post, and Sally Swift, managing producer of The Splendid Table. The books span a variety of culinary categories: vegetarian, desserts, Latin American, poetry and more.
Edie Ching, member of the ALA Notables Childrens' Book Committee, "The Prophecy Series" author Ellen Oh and Joe Callahan, executive director of 826DC, share their recommendations for the best children's and young adult books this winter season. Suggestions range from picture books such as "Sleep Like a Tiger," a magical bedtime story, to young adult favorites, like "Son" by Lois Lowry.
Book critic Mark Athitakis, BookDragon blogger Terry Hong and Library Journal editor Barbara Hoffert share their favorite reads this winter season. On the list are Paul Auster's "Winter Journal," a history of the author's body and its sensations, and Deborah Ellis's "My Name Is Parvana," about the difficulty of girls' lives in war-torn Afghanistan.
Guests Kathie Meizner, library manager with Montgomery County Public Libraries, and author Maureen Johnson recommend the best summer children's books, including Laura Vaccaro Seeger's picture book "Green" and John Green's "The Fault In Our Stars," which tells the story of a kids-with-cancer support group.
Guests Ron Charles, Barbara Hoffert and Despina Kakoudaki share their favorite reads this summer, including Nancy Gibbs' The Presidents Club, which tells the inside story of the world's most exclusive fraternity, and The Stories of Ray Bradbury, an author-selected anthology of 100 stories.
Guests Barbara Hoffert, Michael Dirda, and Marcela Valdes share their favorite reads this winter, including Andrew Graham-Dixon's Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane, which traces origins of the dark artist's genius and demons; and The Phantom Tollboth: 50th Anniversary Edition.
Guests Vicky Smith, Jane Gilchrist, and Jon Scieszka offer their suggestions for the best children's books of 2011, including Chris Van Allsburg's delightful (if dark) The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales / With an Introduction by Lemony Snicket; Irish author Oliver Jeffers' latest lovely picture book, Stuck; and an unusual young adult ghost story, Tighter.
Guests Barbara Hoffert, Alan Cheuse, Eileen McGervey, and Angela Dodson share their favorite reads from this summer's lineup, including The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" author Chris Adrian's The Great Night, which borrows Titania's woes from A Midsummer Night's Dream and transports them into a present-day San Francisco park with similarly grieving humans. Other picks include Pete Hamill's Tabloid City and Alexandra Fuller's Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness.
Micki Freeny, Director of Children and Youth Services at the D.C. Public Library, and Heidi Powell, Manager of the Children and Teens Department at Politics and Prose, share their picks for the best summer reads in children's books.
Guests Barbara Hoffert, Ginnie Cooper, Trish Brown and Sarah Cornish Debraski share their picks for some of the best reads of the season, from moving non-fiction like David Finkel's account of the U.S. military's surge in Iraq in 2007 to beloved children's author Sandra Boynton's Perfect Piggies.
Guests Alan Cheuse, Robin Whitten, and Daphne Gaskins highlight some of the year's best nonfiction, like William Kamkwamba's and Bryan Mealer's true story from Africa, and Robin Whitten suggests some of the year's best audio books for those long holiday trips.
Barbara Hoffert, Todd Stewart, and Megan Graves highlight some delightful finds, like Irish author Oliver Jeffers' story of an unlikely friendship between a boy and an alien and Steve Kurtz's ode to tribute bands.
Barbara Hoffert, Carla Cohen, and Traci Giganti present a range of picks, including Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth and an absorbing historical non-fiction book about courageous British politicians in the run-up to WWII.
Winter picks include a novel intertwining language, romance and self-discovery from Xialou Guo and Nobel Prize-winning Nadine Gordimer's new short story collection. Guests Barbara Hoffert, Candida Mannozzi, Dinah Paul, and Todd Stewart reveal their favorites.
Travel books are on our experts' minds with picks like the unconventional Bad Lands by Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler and another recommendation focused on exotic cuisine. Barbara Hoffert, Candida Mannozzi,
and Dinah Paul, Owner once again point us to their favorites.
Guests Barbara Meade, Dinah Paul and Todd Stewart pick a mystery from familiar D.C.-based author George Pelecanos and Elizabeth Gilbert's travel memoir focused on food, love, and God.
Guests Dinah Paul, Barbara Hoffert, Carla Cohen, and Bridget Warren include a wide variety of wonderful children's stories, including the latest in the "Olivia" series, and Kevin Brockmeier's intriguing tale of how the last surviving human's memories impact those in the afterlife.
Guests Barbara Hoffert, Barbara Meade, Steve Moyer and Clara Anthony present their winter picks, including a centuries-old art mystery involving a lost Caravaggio and a Caldecott honor book for kids about a wise panda.
Audio books for long trips are included in this summer's list; among them are Ian McEwan's latest and the new installment in Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Guests Carla Cohen, Barbara Hoffert, Sheilah Egan, and Angela Dodson tell us what they're reading this summer.
Guests Sheilah Egan, Bridget Warren and Barbara Hoffert discuss their favorite new books across genres, including a cookbook focused on chocolate and holiday gift books for children.
Recommendations from Barbara Hoffert, Bridget Warrne, Cecilia Cackley, and Brother Kaba for a mix of light and more serious reading, including a former New York Times' bureau chief's take on African countries ravaged by disease and Jim Patton's latest thriller.