Barbara’s Not-So-Traditional Holiday Gift Guide: Part One!



Happy holidays, all! Over the past couple of weeks, Barbara’s staff have been assembling a unique and not so traditional holiday guide to assist you in shopping for those book-lovers in your life. Staff members from each of our five stores have hand-selected titles that range across many tastes, genres, and ages. We aim to help you find the perfect gift for your family member, coworker, friend, or even yourself (no judgment).

We’re kicking off our guide with selections from our Boston store.


Matt, store manager:

51FY32ANvML._SX367_BO1,204,203,200_The Magnificent Book of Dinosaurs-Tom Jackson

Matt says, “A beautifully illustrated and informative children’s book, The Magnificent Book of Dinosaurs is a perfect gift for the inquisitive child.”



And Then There Were None-Agatha Christie51S4merpCjL

Matt says, “One of the seminal works from one of history’s great mystery authors, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None was the book that got me into the mystery genre when I was younger. A suspenseful tale in which ten guests trapped in an island mansion begin getting killed off, this read is a great gift for Mom or any lover of mysteries.



Atlas Obscura-Joshua Foer and Dylan Thuras

Matt says, “Atlas Obscura is the perfect gift for the travel junkie or wanderlust dreamer in your life. The Atlas compiles entries on unique, quirky, and off the beaten path tourist attractions around the world, including historical sights, national geographic formations, and local festivals. I’ve whiled away several slow hours in the store daydreaming my way through this one!”



51Yk3ceCVJLThe Unwomanly Face of War-Svetlana Alexievich

Liz says, “Alexievich sheds light on the unknown faces that helped lead the way to Russia’s victory in WWII. Quickly making her way as one of Russia’s leading modern historians, she tells the stories of these women, whether they were front-line soldiers, nurses, or phone operators, in a raw and heart-wrenching style. This book is perfect for lovers of 20th-century history.”


515HhtYN0gL._SY346_Norse Mythology-Neil Gaiman

Liz says, “Neil Gaiman tells hundreds of year old stories with a new twist, adding a flair that only his writing contains. This is the perfect accompaniment to anyone that is a fan of Gaiman’s previous novel, American GodsNorse Mythology is the perfect gift for readers of any age who love stories filled with magic and wit.


61jrkNQRseL._SY346_A Column of Fire-Ken Follett

Liz says, “A Column of Fire is a stunning historical fiction novel, perfectly highlighting the political turbulence of the Elizabethan era. Follett gives a novel rich with romance, suspense, and wonderfully well-rounded characters and tells the story of the Catholic-Protestant conflict of the 1500s with a breath of fresh air. This is the perfect gift for anyone who loves medieval historical fiction.”



41g6v1GtSgL._SY346_Modern Romance-Aziz Ansari

Bryan says, “An informative yet at times humorous sociological study on how dating and love have evolved through the years especially in the internet age. Highly recommended for fans of Master of None.”



41xucfz6JiLImagine Me Gone-Adam Haslett

Bryan says, “A beautifully written, yet at times humorous, devastating tale about a middle-class family in the 1960s dealing with mental illness in their home. Haslett writes in a way that feels compassionate with a sense of realism, making this book an excellent read. Just remember to keep tissues nearby.”


51yWyltWybLTranny: Confessions of Punk Rocks Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout-Laura Jane Grace

Bryan says, “A tell-all confessional about Grace’s experience in a punk rock band while struggling with drug abuse, legal troubles, rabid fans, and gender dysphoria. It makes for a powerful yet, at times, heartbreaking read.”



5151bnTbV7LSeven Days of Us-Franceska Hornak

Haley says, “This is a story that manages to perfectly capture the plight of every family around the holiday season, which is the struggle of not going crazy, stuck in one place for an entire week while quarantined with a potential strain of a disease. With the occasional heartwarming moment amongst genuine humor, seasoned with a healthy dose of drama, this is the perfect story for the holiday season. It’s rare that I say this, but the ending to this book left me with a smile on my face.”


417qN9YA3QL._SY346_1Q84-Haruki Murakami

Haley says, “Picking this book up was a commitment. ‘It’s 1,000 pages, you’ll never finish it,’ they said. They were wrong. From the moment I picked up 1Q84, I could not put it down. Murakami is a master of language that keeps you enthralled with an epic story that feels more like a dream than reality. This book and the world contained is impossible NOT to fall in love with.”


51pShxC5sqLDamned-Chuck Palahnuik 

Haley says, “Damned is a satirical masterpiece that ultimately boils down to: we’re all going to hell for something, so we might as well make the most out of what’s there. It’ s a book that will make you laugh out loud while at the same time invoke a certain thoughtfulness that only Palahnuik is capable of.”



51Yv9mgGHKL._SY346_Storm for the Living and the Dead-Charles Bukowski

Jake says, “The most recent release of Bukowski’s poetry is a true, raw look at his work after editor Abel Debritto announced that most of Bukowski’s poetry has been heavily edited posthumously. Works in this introspective collection are as abrasive and jarring as readers have become accustomed to with Bukowski without the heavy hand of an overzealous editor.”


51XO8QJyV0LChronicles Volume One-Bob Dylan

Jake says, “The Nobel Peace Prize-winning memoir from Dylan documents the rise of a voice of a generation. The book opens with a young Dylan who is just getting his feet wet in the American folk scene during a time when it was not very popular. Dylan’s prose is as profound as his music, further solidifying him as a once-in-a-century talent.”


51y9hGGBLVLYou Can’t Go Home Again-Thomas Wolfe

Jake says, “The twentieth-century classic tells the tale of a young, aspiring writer whose first published book casts a negative light on the people he grew up with, which earns him the scorn of his hometown. This work also doubles as a commentary on the world, as Wolfe gives a vivid portrait of America and Europe during the Great Depression and the time leading up to WWII.”



51sw6SEA+RLEveryone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too-Jomny Sun

Elaina says, “This story about an alien is surprisingly human. Sun’s graphic novel is an incredibly clever and humorous take on existentialism. It’s a short and easy read that’s fitting for every member of the family. This book will leave you feeling strangely comforted.”


51pxBxZjy4LScrappy Little Nobody-Anna Kendrick

Elaina says, “This collection of personal essays recounts the coming of age of this Oscar-nominated actress. Kendrick describes her transformation from an awkward theater kid to a successful Hollywood actress while giving honest advice on love, careers, and how to throw the perfectly imagined holiday party. This book exudes charm and wit and will make you laugh out loud.”


51D8W+9700L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_White Noise-Don DeLillo

Elaina says, “This novel, written during the Cold War Era, is eerily familiar today in its dealings with death, commercialism, and impending chemical doom. DeLillo’s dysfunctional characters reflect and satirize the most universal human experiences. This book is a great opportunity for those who want an escape from their own preoccupations to step into the mind of the completely paranoid.”



51e0ngIgQ8LSalt to the Sea-Ruth Sepetys

Gabi says, “Many aren’t aware that the Titanic was not the greatest maritime disaster-and even fewer lived to tell the tale of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff during WWII. Told through multiple perspectives, the story follows the tale of four strangers depending on one another for their life. Love, fear, hope, and death ensue in the most captivating of ways. Written by acclaimed Young Adult Writer Ruth Sepetys, I believe this is a must-read for teenagers to know the true horror of war that history class cannot teach, and for adults to learn an untold perspective until now.”


41sZG0+02pLThe Circle-Dave Eggers

Gabi says, “Growing up in Silicon Valley, I’ve always felt the looming presence of tech companies encroaching on the public’s privacy. But it wasn’t until I read The Circle that I realized we are living in the beginning of such a dystopian tale. Mae Holland is like any millennial wanting to work in the tech industry: ambitious. But it isn’t until her best friend secures her a job at The Circle-the novel’s very own social media company-that she realizes what’s truly going on inside the inviting campus, smiling coworkers, but sinister hints. This novel will take you on a twist and turn of everything you know and believe. Don’t be surprised if you just might not see the world the same way after finishing the last page.”


51h2ZhadI7LThe Indifferent Stars Above-Daniel James Brown

Gabi says,  “A harrowing historical narrative of an unfortunate family in the Donner Party, told through the guise of Brown’s captivating voice. His knowledge and a keen eye for detail engrosses readers from the first chapter and beyond. This book ditches the middle school documentaries of the horrors experienced on the Oregon Trail, but rather gives a humanistic view of the tragedy occurring in the Sierra Nevada. No book goes about the subject of fate in a better manner than Brown’s own work.”











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