All the books mentioned on this morning’s Coffee Table

As we do every year, Aaron Selbig and Terry Rensel and I get on KBBI’s Coffee Table on a Wednesday before Christmas and invite everyone within earshot to call in and tell us what books to give for Christmas.

Roberta likes Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (me, too!) and To Russia With Love by Vic Fischer and Charles Wohlforth (on my to-read list), but she loves three books by local author Joyce Baker Porte: Where Lions Still Roar, Rogue Lioness and Pale Lion Rising.

Lee (calling in from the Homer Bookstore, who can order any or all of these books for you, support you local bookstore!), likes Four Thousand Hooks by Dean Adams, Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy by Melissa Milgrom (I’m so reading this book), and Destiny of the Republic by Candace Millard.

Shirley really liked Crude Awakening: Money, Mavericks, and Mayhem in Alaska by Amanda Coyne and Tony Hopfinger.

Bob called in from Soldotna and recommended Robert Service and anything ever written by Alaska Senator Bob Bartlett.

Larry recommended the Brooking’s Institution’s reissue of Jay Hammond’s Diapering the Devil under the title, The Governor’s Solution. He also recommends the US Navy Seabee Alaskan Oil Expedition of 1944, a real slice of Alaska history featuring everyone you ever heard of north of the fifty-three. He also likes M.J. McGrath’s The Boy in the Snow. I read White Heat, the first in this series of an Inuit guide on Ellesmere Island, and liked it.

Lately, Aaron has mostly been reading Spiderman comics to his five-year old.

Terry, the Winston Churchill fanatic, recommends Winston’s War by Michael Dobbs and The DeVelera Deception by Michael McMenamin and Patrick McMenamin, both first novels in series. He’s a history major so if he says a novel gets the details right, you know he liked the book. He couldn’t put down Jack Weatherford’s The Secret History of the Mongol Queens, and lately he’s been hip deep in Haruki Murakami and Kurt Vonnegut.

I recommended:

In fantasy, Hounded by Kevin Hearne.

In mystery, Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness cosy series, Francine Matthew’s Jack 1939, Rennie Airth’s The Dead of Winter, The Blood-dimmed Tide, and River of Darkness, Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police series, The Sleeping Partner by Madeleine R. Robins.

In YA, Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. A 17-year old ghost hunter inherited his father’s mantle way too soon, and then — oops — falls in love with the ghost he’s supposed to kill.

In general fiction, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. An out-of-work software designer takes a job at a used bookstore, which isn’t quite what it seems. Yes, even now, there are quests to be made and ancient riddles to be solved. I’m smiling just typing those words.

In history, I saw Lincoln over Thanksgiving and now I’m going to have to reread Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, upon which the film is based. I just last night finished David McCullough’s The Greater Journey, which is the story of a Who’s Who collection of Americans traveling to Paris in the 1800’s. Everyone’s here, Oliver Wendell Holmes (Sr.), Samuel Morse, Elizabeth Blackwell, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, John Singer Sergeant, Mary Cassatt, they’ve all come to Paris to study art or medicine or just to taken in the sights of the most beautiful city in the world. A wonderful read, but remember that the danger of this kind of book is you’re always putting it down to google the names to find out what happened to them after they left.

In Alaskana, Snap Decisions: My 30 Years as an Alaska News Photographer by Jim Lavrakas. Not just photos but anecdotes, from across the entire spectrum of Alaska life, breaking news, personalities, crime, fishing, hunting. This is the book you want to give that relative of yours you’ve been trying to entice into a visit all these years.

Whew, okay, I’m done. If I missed any, add them in the comments section below.


Dana View All →

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6 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I wish to add:
    My Thoughts Be Bloody by Nora Titone : How the rivalry between Edwin & John Wilkes Booth led to JW Booth shooting Lincoln. Great book. Deep subject, well research but easy read.
    The Black Count by Tom Reiss: The true story of Alexander Dumas’s father who a hero in revolutionary France and Dumas’ inspiration for The Count Of Monte Cristo and the sword play in The Three Musketeers. He started life as a slave, lived the easy life of a Count in Paris and became a hero many times over fighting for freedom. Great story.
    Any of Carl Hiaasen’s books. He has a unique view of life and its absurdity. He paints brilliant characters with humor and weirdness. Do not miss him. He also has 4 books for YA. I am giving these to my teenage grandson for Christmas.
    If you missed it, also include Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer.

  2. I forgot another brilliant book. The Sleepwalkers by Paul Grossman. Set in 1932 Berlin. The story of a honored police detective (a hero in WWI) who just wants to solve a murder while the world is turning upside down all around him. He is Jewish and does not believe his country and countrymen could do such horror. Starts slow but WOW! Do not miss this one.

  3. All very interesting. One thing: The Boy In The Snow is Alaska-based, a lot of it around Homer or the Iditarod. M.J. (Melanie) McGrath brings her crime-solver guide from the Canadian arctic – Eleesmere Island – to Alaska. Around the dog race, sex slaves of the condos, and a mystery branch (Dark Believers) of the Old Believers she came up with an interesting set of British perceptions of our scene. I first read her non-fiction account of what happened to folks, including family, left behind by Rob’t Flaherty the early film documentary-maker: Nanook of the North was one. The book is The Long Exile: A Tale of Inuit Betrayal and Survival in the High Arctic.
    Her two ancestral memoirs; Silvertown (in E London)and Hopping are as grim as Dickens, sometimes. Just launched herself into novels, with Native protagonists. A case of Dana flattery? (sincerest form of)

  4. I just finished listening to Play with Fire. I took Dana’s suggestion and purchased Snap Decisions by Jim Lavrakas. On his dedication page he uses a picture of his parents. Lo and Behold, there is Summit Lake and a mountain with a glacier on it(can’t remember the name). These are the very 2 things that Kate wonders why the bicyclers don’t see, all they care about is how far they have gone each day. Thanks Dana for suggesting this book. Not only are the pictures the photo journalist has taken over 30 years for the newspaper he works for(and some freelance work), there are beautiful pictures from all over Alaska. I love the one of the horse walking towards the sled dog team. The horse has them all backing up into each other.

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