Always, always give a book as a gift!

Holiday gift-giving can be challenging, but books are a satisfying and welcome present for all ages. As an avid reader and former librarian, editor Annette Potter asked me to weigh in on some 2020 book gift ideas — so, here goes!

2020 has been the year to beat all years, and while I thought hunkering down would put me in the mood to read, read, read, I found certain subjects to be unappealing, scary or just not right, nothing could take me away from my fears and worries. It has been hard to find a perfect book, when for most of this year, we were not able to wander the aisles of our favorite library and walk out with an armload of potentials.

I did a little research with friends, other librarians and online to come up with some recommendations that might suit someone you know.

First on my list as the ultimate 2020 must-read would be Dan Rather’s “What Unites Us.” Never was there a better time for this book and its message of hope and reminders of the morals and fortitude that built our country.

I am a history buff and read three good works that I would recommend if you know someone who savors trips into the past. Erik Larsen’s “The Splendid and the Vile,” shares the saga of the Churchill family during initial attempted sieges by Germany. Talk about hunkering down! Two others got my attention this summer, “Hamilton” by Ron Chernow, and “Imperfect Union” by Steve Inskeep. Another excellent history read is the autobiography of Clint Hill, a Secret Service special agent to five Presidents.

Have an avid cook on your list? Here are some good new, Alaskan cookbooks to consider. “Alaska from Scratch” by Maya Wilson; “The Little Salmon Cookbook” and its companion “The Little Halibut Cookbook” by LaRose Donna. Shop local and pick up the Cordova Historical Society’s “Cooking from Home COVID-19 Cookbook” or subscribe to Edible Alaska quarterly magazine.


There are a couple other new Alaskan books on the market that have piqued my interest. “The Salmon Way: An Alaska State of Mind” by Amy Gulick and “Fighter in Velvet Gloves: Alaska Civil Rights Hero Elizabeth Peratrovich” by Annie Boochever and Roy Peratrovich, Jr.

With grandkids nearby, I am always scouting for good children’s books and discovered a couple of great ones to share this season. Bestselling author Ann Patchett plays with words in these two delightful children’s books, “Lambslide” and “Escape Goat.” Our grandchildren are mixed-race, and I discovered another talented writer in Derrick Barnes whose books are empowering young men to be all they can be, as in “I Am Every Good Thing.” Look for other books by this young author.

I decided to reach out to my friend, retired Delta Junction Library Director, Joyce McCombs, for her top picks. Joyce is an avid reader and is a member of numerous book clubs so her list was lengthy, but we picked a few of the best and I have to admit, I am adding some of her choices to my wish list!

Joyce recommends: “The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek” by Kim Michelle Richardson; “Carnegie’s Maid” by Marie Benedict; “The Storyteller’s Secret” by Sejal Badani; “Remarkable Creatures” by Tracy Chevalier; “I Married the Klondike” by Laura Beatrice Berton; and Joyce’s final pick — “The Indigo Girl” by Natasha Boyd.

Remember, a book is more than a gift, a book is a magical adventure! Shop your local book sellers!