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Wildoak Living
Wildoak Living airs every alternate Monday from 9 am to 10 am and is hosted by Johanna Wildoak.
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on Wednesday, 07 December 2016 in Public Affairs and Local News

Here is the list of books recommended by listeners during during Wildoak Living's 2016 Holiday Book Program on December 5


Books to Read and Give as Gifts for the Holidays


Each year around the holiday season, Wildoak Living devotes a program to books. This year, editor and ‘bookavore’ Jill Hannum recommended her favorite books to read or give as gifts for the holidays. We also asked listeners to call in or email their book recommendations. Here is the list of books they recommended. 


You might also be interested in a list of more than 300 books recommended by the NPR Book Concierge and the many interviews with authors on the NPR Book website


And, of course, Johanna recommen books by all of the authors she has interviewed on Wildoak Living.



DECEMBER 5, 2016

Jo Baker, A Country Road, a Tree: Fictionalized bio of Samuel Beckett’s years in Paris from 1939 to the end of the war. 

Elizabeth Gilbert, The Signature of All Things: Novel. Follows American Alma Whittaker throughout her life and world travels as a botanist. Much background on plant hunting in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Tracy Chevalier, At the Edge of the Orchard: Novel. An ill-fated family moves from Pennsylvania to a mid-west homestead to California, mid 1800s. Features apples and Sequoias and a plant-hunter son. 

Louise Penny, A Great Reckoning. Mystery. The most recent of her 12 Armand Gamache novels and perhaps the best of all. The series should definitely be read in order for some events to make sense.

George Prochnik, The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the end of the world: Biography. In the 1930s, Austrian Zweig was the world’s most translated author. Fleeing Hitler, he went into exile but could not cope and committed suicide in ’42. Excellent writing, a ‘’meditation” on the impact of exile.

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book: Young Adult Novel. This classic has just come out as a graphic novel by Gaiman and P. Craig Russell. Wonderful prose; the book version should definitely accompany the graphic novel.

Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees. Non-fiction. How trees communicate with people and among themselves. 

Tana French, The Trespasser. Mystery/thriller. A well crafted Dublin milieu. See also her “Dublin murder squad” series of earlier books. 

Carl Safina, Beyond Words: Non-fiction. What animals think and feel. Research on the human brain and how we are part of animal life.

Angus Deaton, The Great Escape: Health, wealth and the origins of inequity. Non-fiction. A video at describes the book. The caller would like feedback about the video.

Magnus Nilsson, The Nordic Cookbook. Recipes from Scandinavia, beautifully illustrated, delicious.

Samantha Hunt, Mr. Splitfoot. Fiction. Journey of two women in two times, one pregnant, on foot across New York state. “Contemporary gothic.”

Katrina Blair, The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 essential plants for human survival. Non-fiction. The insanity of human’s war on nutritious “invasive plants.” Recipes.

Joy Harjo, Muskogee: How we became human. Poetry.

Armand Brint, In the Name of Wonder. Poetry, local Mendocino County author.

Kate Marianchild, Secrets of the Oak Woodlands. Non-fiction, local Mendocino County author. In-depth background on the denizens of oak forests and their interactions with the oaks---poison oak, woodpeckers, newts, etc., etc. The author urges purchases be made through her website at

Lyanda Lynn Haupt, Crow Planet: Essential wisdom from the urban wilderness. Non-fiction. Naturalist Haupt looks at the “nature” that can be found in urban settings. Lots of information on crows and their increasing numbers.

Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold histories, wild possibilities. Non-fiction. The long-neglected history of radicals’ victories and why we should commit to having home.

Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby. Non-fiction. How we make our lives out of stories and are connected by empathy.

Molly Peacock, The Paper Garden: An artist begins her life’s work at 72. Biography. Written by an acclaimed British poet, the book chronicles Mrs. Delaney, who began to make botanically correct paper cut outs of flowers in 1772 and thus created the art of collage.

Nicole Mones, Night in Shanghai. Fiction. The late 30s in Shanghai where there is a vibrant jazz scene employing black American musicians.

Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures: The American dream and the black women mathematicians who helped win the space race. Non-fiction. Follows four black women’s seminal work at NASA from WW II to the space race with the USSR.

Perrine and Charles Herve-Gruyer, Miraculous Abundance: One quarter acre, two French farmers and enough food to feed the world. Non-fiction. Small farms as a solution to the homeless problem (in France) using the Bec Hellouin model for growing food, sequestering carbon, creating jobs, and increasing biodiversity without using fossil fuels.

Innosanto Nagara, A is for Activist and Counting on Community. Board books for children 5 and under. One is an ABC book, the others a numbers book (counting up from one stuffed piñata to ten hefty hens) and both stress the values of caring for others and community.

Patty Wipfler and Tosha Schore, Listen: Five simple tools to meet your everyday parenting challenges. Self-help. Information and stories from parents who have used these tools to help with children’s difficult behaviors.

----- The Sweet Life: Cherry stories from the Butler Ranch. Non-fiction, local author(s). New. Available at Mendocino Book Company.  Stories of the ranch and the Butler family and their contributions to the Mendocino County community.

Jaye Allison Moscariello. Capture the Moon. Only at Local Mendocino County artist. Kids book/art featuring a monkey—getting centered, looking within.

Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager, Our Great Big Back Yard. Kids picture book celebrating US national parks. Jane, who would rather play video games, goes on a family road trip to the parks.

Alice Hoffman. Blackbird House. Fiction. A web of tales tracing the lives of the various occupants of an old Massachusetts house over a span of two hundred years.

Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See. Fiction. Traces the lives of a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France. Stunning prose, National Book Award finalist.

Garrison Keillor, The Writer’s Almanac. Daily subscription newsletter, audio podcast and on-line blog featuring poetry, information on writers born that day and other literary events on that day. 


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