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Likely Stories Bonus: Holiday Gift Ideas for Avid Readers

If you're an avid reader, or have one you plan to buy a gift for, take a look at this list from Jim McKeown, host of our weekly book review, Likely Stories.  Happy reading!  And, happy holidays.

As we approach the holiday season and the end of 2020, I've found some interesting titles for readers who, like me, are still self-quarantined due to COVID19.  I know I have wracked up a mighty list for getting us through to next year.  Enjoy! 

For the many fans of Scandinavian writer Fredrik Backman, he has given us another great story, Anxious People.  I have been thrilled at Backman's many interesting and exciting stories of Northern winter lands.  American author Peter Heller has penned a number of exciting and tense stories.  Celine is one I somehow skipped.  It is semi-autobiographical, as the title character is based on the author's own mother.  If this one intrigues you, look for Heller's previous titles:  The Dog Stars, The River, and The Painter. 

I was recently excited to hear that poet Louise Gluck was announced winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize for literature.   Many of her poems evoke characters from the Greek saga The Odyssey.  You might get a taste of  her thoughtful and intriguing poems in The Wild Iris, Meadowlands, and The Triumph of Achilles.

Lauren Graham—star of the Gilmore Girls—has written a funny and wonderful story of her acting career in Talking As Fast As I Can.  It contains many interesting tales of her TV and Hollywood experiences.  Michelle Dean has written an in-depth story of ten brilliant women in The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion.

Returning to some wonderful novels:  The Shadow King, by Maza Megiste, tops the list.  Megiste is also the author of Beneath the Lion’s Gaze.    Novelist Kate Morton has six novels. Her latest, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, is on the top of one of my several "to be read" stacks. Another of my favorite novelists is Lisa See, who I first learned to love with Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.  I have read several of See's novels, and you will soon be hearing my review of  China Dolls.

One of my favorite writers is Susan Minot, whose latest is Why I Don't Write and Other Stories.  She has several novels and  books of poetry.  Anne Tyler gave Evening: A Novel glowing praise. Minot's other novels include Folly, Thirteen Girls, and Monkeys.   Her poetry is equally stirring in Poems 4 A.M.

Every year, I enjoy trying to guess the winner of the next Man/Booker Prize novel.  Sometimes I guess correctly, and I struck gold this year.  Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain was shortlisted for the Booker prize, and I purchased it.  I am happy to say he won the 2020 prize.  The novel is a bit long—430 pages, but so far, this debut novel looks to be fantastic. 

Last but not least is a book from one of my pet genres:  set in a bookshop.  The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs will begin my reading for 2021.

I hope you have a marvelous and fantastic year of reading!

Life-long voracious reader, Jim McKeown, is an English Instructor at McLennan Community College. His "Likely Stories" book review can be heard every Thursday on KWBU-FM! Reviews include fiction, biographies, poetry and non-fiction. Join us for Likely Stories every Thursday featured during Morning Edition and All Things Considered with encore airings Saturday and Sunday during Weekend Edition.