The best holiday gifts for the highly literate


(Second of two parts For part one, click link at left.)

Books make some of the best holiday gifts, especially in Michigan, where the cold climate keeps us nestled inside for several months of the year. As City Pulse’s resident expert on the subject, I have created a list that will make readers happy for the long winter and get them turning the pages of some fabulous books. Check out the first section in last week’s edition or at

“Shapes, Lines and Light: My Grandfather’s American Journey”

$21.95, hardcover

The children’s book “Shapes, Lines and Light,” by Katie Yamasaki, tells the incredible story of her grandfather Minoru Yamasaki, who was one of the most celebrated architects of the 20th century. He is most noted for the design of the World Trade Center. Minoru ultimately practiced his craft in Detroit for four decades and designed the Michigan Medical Society Building on Saginaw Steet in East Lansing (which is for sale). After his death and the closing of his firm, the Archives of Michigan went dumpster diving to save his precious work. 

“Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America”

$18.99, hardcover

Although you shouldn’t talk about politics during the holiday season, that doesn’t mean you can’t read about it. New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman has published “Confidence Man,” an incredible biography about the life and times of President Donald Trump. Haberman, who has written about Trump since he became “a thing” in New York City, lives up to her nickname as the “Trump Whisperer.”

“It’s Hard Being You: A Primer on Being Happy Anyway”

$15.99, paperback

Local writer Sharon Emery has written a compelling memoir, “It’s Hard Being You,” about her lifetime of confronting and coming to terms with her stuttering. Despite her stutter, Emery has had a successful career as a news reporter, professor and communications consultant. In her amazing book, Emery also details the life and tragic death of her daughter and its impact on her family.

“We Kept Our Towns Going: The Gossard Girls of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula”

$19.95, paperback

Phyllis Michael Wong, who spent time in the Upper Peninsula when her husband was president of Northern Michigan University, found time to research and write about a little-known but important aspect of women’s role in the local economy. Her book, “We Kept Our Towns Going: The Gossard Girls of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,” tells the inspirational story of women who work at a clothing factory manufacturing women’s lingerie, struggling to unionize. The Gossard Girls’ contributions to the local economy and their family’s well-being will keep you reading and cheering for them. This story should be a movie.

“A World of Curiosities”

$20.22, hardcover

Just in time for holiday gift giving is Louise Penny’s new Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery, “A World of Curiosities,” which finds Gamache attempting to solve a series of murders intertwined with a rare painting and an unusual knockoff that is discovered in the Quebec village of Three Pines. Amazon Prime Video is running a series called “Three Pines,” which is based on Penny’s novels.


“Scarlet in Blue”

$20.08, hardcover

Jennifer Murphy, who grew up in Michigan, takes us to the shores of Lake Michigan in her thriller “Scarlet in Blue,” which follows a single mother and her precocious daughter as they run and hide from “The Man,” a mercurial presence who provides the suspense in this thriller. The book is set in the popular beach town of South Haven.


$9.29, paperback

Jump back in time to 20 years ago when the unusual-for-its-time book “Middlesex,” by Jeffrey Eugenides, was released. The book, which follows a Detroit family through tumultuous times, was one of the first to look at the topic of being intersex. The novel won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and made Eugenides into what some call the “Literary Soothsayer.”

“Middlesex” is about the immigration and assimilation of a Greek family in Detroit, but it is also one of the first books that considered the topic of gender in an epic way. The work pushed a big envelope regarding the developing idea of how we look at gender. I’ve been surprised that all the book banners out there haven’t found a way to add this novel to their sad list of books that should be banned.


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