The Big List: Part One (Books for Adults)

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First, a disclaimer: If you’re a family member or close friend of one of our booksellers, you might want to glance away for a minute. Otherwise, you may find out what you’re getting for Christmas.

OK, now that it’s just the rest of us: Here it is — the list made by our staff of books they love so much that they’re giving them to their loved ones this holiday season! See a few that might work for someone on your list? Just click the titles to toss them into your cart. We’d be happy to wrap them (free!) and either hold them for you at the store or ship them to you or your recipients.

Can’t-go-wrong gifts for book (and bookstore) lovers: 

Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers Cover ImageFootnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers

Know someone who makes it a point to visit local indie bookstores when they travel? Here’s their bookstore bucket-list, filled with charming illustrations and anecdotes that give a window into what makes these stores distinct. (Oh, and Parnassus is included, too!) Get an extra copy or two, so you have enough to give whomever you remember at the last minute. – Karen Hayes

Literary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created Cover ImageLiterary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created

Perfect for readers of all genres. The kind of beautiful book that surprises and delights on every exquisite page. – River Jordan

The gift of fiction — for anyone looking to get lost in a great story while traveling to visit (or hiding in a pantry to avoid) loved ones at the holidays:

Moonglow Cover ImageMoonglow

Those who love good storytelling will find Michael Chabon’s new book right up their alley. Told from the point of view of a writer interviewing his grandfather (is it Chabon and his own grandfather? Read about that here), it draws out the tale of a dying man’s previously enigmatic life. It’s a story of bravery, mistakes, and great love. What more could you want?  – Karen Hayes

The Angel of History Cover ImageThe Angel of History

In a story set largely in San Francisco during the height of the AIDS epidemic, Satan and Death battle it out for the narrator’s soul. This book is radiant with rage, intelligence, sex, and memory. It is rough, important, and utterly worthwhile. Give it to anyone you think is up for it. – Ann Patchett

Swing Time Cover ImageSwing Time

Zadie Smith wrote a new book. You know the drill: give it to everyone. – Lindsay Lynch

Imagine Me Gone Cover ImageImagine Me Gone

Longlisted for the National Book Award this year, this book belongs on every best-of fiction list of 2016. It’s about a family with a history of depression, but because it’s also a love letter to familial bonds and has lots of unexpected humor, it’s not nearly as much of a downer as you might expect. Give it to discerning readers who love literary fiction (or anyone who likes to savor great writing), plus a pencil for underlining. -Mary Laura Philpott

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven Cover ImageEveryone Brave Is Forgiven

Get this for anyone you to whom you have previously given All the Light We Cannot See. They will love it. – Niki Coffman

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer: A Novella Cover ImageAnd Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer: A Novella

This “little book with a big heart” by the author of A Man Called Ove can be read in a short time, but its message of how precious people really are will stay with you for a long time. A wonderful and heartwarming gift for anyone. – Kathy Schultenover

Prodigals: Stories Cover ImageProdigals: Stories

Brilliant, acclaimed, contemporary short stories for the person who is most likely to be found upstairs reading at your holiday party. – Halley Parry

Homegoing Cover ImageHomegoing

For everyone who hasn’t read it yet: This family saga follows the descendants of two half-sisters in Ghana who end up on opposite sides of the slave trade. It is magnificent, transporting, and expertly done. Do yourself and everyone you know who loves good fiction a favor and grab a copy. – Catherine Bock

A Certain Age Cover ImageA Certain Age

Set in 1920s New York, this novel is packed with family secrets, a love triangle, and plenty of drama. The Jazz age is brought to life in the pages of this retelling of Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier. Intriguing and FUN. – Jackie Gregory

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As always, we offer signed copies of all of Ann Patchett’s books, including her new novel, the #1 New York Times bestseller, Commonwealth.

For many more fiction selections, click through back issues of our Staff Picks on Musing — and check our selection of signed books, too!

For those who prefer their stories true:

The New York Times Book of the Dead: 320 Print and 10,000 Digital Obituaries of Extraordinary People Cover ImageThe New York Times Book of the Dead: 320 Print and 10,000 Digital Obituaries of Extraordinary People

I bought this extremely substantial book for my husband, who loves obituaries, and I can’t stop reading it. Henry Ford! Walt Disney! Vladimir Horowitz! Sartre! Sontag! Each obit is a perfectly crafted narrative. Read together, you are rewarded with a history of the world, at least a world as old as The New York Times. – Ann Patchett

Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America Cover ImageCuster’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America

Custer was a man of his times — for better, but a lot of times, for worse. Stiles does a fantastic job of capturing the gray areas and all-too-human pitfalls of Custer and those close to him. Give this one to the history lover in your life. – Catherine Bock

My Own Words Cover ImageMy Own Words

This holiday season, like every holiday season, you should give the gift of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I am. – Lindsay Lynch

My Life on the Road Cover ImageMy Life on the Road

For the twenty-something woman (or man!) in your life who feels strongly that the work Steinem and her contemporaries began is not finished. Now available in paperback. – Catherine Bock

The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters Cover ImageThe Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters

For those who just can’t get enough of the mythical Mitfords. I can think of a few people to give this one to. – Mary Laura Philpott

Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies Cover ImageMad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies

Art-lovers and history buffs alike will be fascinated by this surprising look at the personal torment and global upheaval behind the creation of a piece of art that, to many, represents tranquility. – Andy Brennan

For friends and family seeking to stretch their perspective and understand others better (we’re looking at you, Uncle Mike):

The South in Color: A Visual Journal Cover ImageThe South in Color: A Visual Journal

Ferris is a lifelong student of Southern culture, and a pretty good photographer to boot. Take a gander — all our copies are signed! – Tristan Charles

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race Cover ImageThe Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race

In this collection of essays, some of the most important voices of our time tackle issues of race in the United States. These pieces are ever relevant, poignant and moving. – Halley  Parry

Our manager, Andy, also recommends . . .

Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America Cover Image

Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America

Island People: The Caribbean and the World Cover Image

Island People: The Caribbean and the World

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis Cover Image

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right Cover Image

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

Uplifting and quirky, for thoughtful souls — or anyone who might need a lift:

Art Is the Highest Form of Hope & Other Quotes by Artists Cover ImageArt Is the Highest Form of Hope & Other Quotes by Artists

Published by Phaidon

Looking for a great gift for a creative person?  This collection of irreverent and inspiring quotes comes from some of the greatest artists throughout time. Take a close look and you may just end up buying it for yourself. – Karen Hayes

American Philosophy: A Love Story Cover Image

American Philosophy: A Love Story

I am giving this to myself because I need a good love story, I need the enduring wisdom of activists and thinkers and poets of the ages, and I need the strong medicine of a thoughtful book for the cold winter coming on. – Margy Roark

Looking at Mindfulness: Twenty-Five Paintings to Change the Way You Live Cover ImageLooking at Mindfulness: Twenty-Five Paintings to Change the Way You Live

Gain calm and clarity from contemplating classic and lesser-known works of art. – River Jordan

Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives Cover ImageSum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

Here is the perfect book for that one friend for whom you need to get a gift but cannot for the life of you think of what to give. Slim, original, and beautifully imagined, buy a few and dole them out as fail-safe last minute gifts for anyone on your list! – Katherine Klockenkemper

Strength to Love Cover ImageStrength to Love

Short sermons from the bard of courage, moral vision, spiritual transformation. With hope for peace and tolerance, I’m giving this to all my red, blue, and green relatives. Shalom, y’all. – Margy Roark

Sad Animal Facts Cover ImageSad Animal Facts

Cartoon animals. Interesting facts. Who wouldn’t like getting this in their stocking?? – Mary Laura Philpott

For the person you rely on for delicious home-cooked meals:

How to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking Cover ImageHow to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking

Give this book to the bakers in your life! It’s perfect for beginners and foodies who spend all their free time in the kitchen. – Rae Ann Parker

Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes Cover ImageVictuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes

For the humble chef. This cookbook takes you on a journey through Appalachia with stunning photographs and southern recipes that, no matter where you live, will transport you to an Appalachian kitchen. – Halley Parry

An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace Cover ImageAn Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace 

I want to give this book to everyone I know, because it has truly changed my life. Spare and poetic, this book shows us how to cook and live more simply and gracefully. It’s basically a cookbook that could also belong in a self-help section. What’s not to love? – Katherine Klockenkemper

Only in Naples: Lessons in Food and Famiglia from My Italian Mother-In-Law Cover ImageOnly in Naples: Lessons in Food and Famiglia from My Italian Mother-In-Law

Katherine Wilson went to Italy to intern at the US Consulate in Naples. After unexpectedly falling in love with a man named Salvatore, she learns about food, cooking, and how to navigate family relationships in a new culture. Perfect for anyone who loves Italy, Italian food, or funny family stories. – Jackie Gregory

Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook Cover ImageCooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

If it’s good enough for Jeffrey, it’s good enough for me. (Confession: sometimes I read Ina Garten’s cookbooks without actually cooking from them. I find the photos very soothing.) – Mary Laura Philpott

For those who like to know a little about a lot: hobbies and special interests —

The Lonely Planet Travel Anthology: True Stories from the World's Best Writers Cover ImageThe Lonely Planet Travel Anthology: True Stories from the World’s Best Writers

For anyone who likes to dream, this is a wonderful collection of essays from a terrific lineup of writers who have been around the world. Lonely Planet always does a first rate job and this volume is no exception. – Ann Patchett

Crafting with Feminism: 25 Girl-Powered Projects to Smash the Patriarchy Cover ImageCrafting with Feminism: 25 Girl-Powered Projects to Smash the Patriarchy

I’m tucking a copy of this hilarious (and informative!) craft guide in the stockings of all of my lady friends. – Niki Coffman

Plant: Exploring the Botanical World Cover ImagePlant: Exploring the Botanical World

You have to see (and touch) this glossy, three-dimensional cover to believe just how gorgeous it is. This work of art would be at home on any plant-lover’s coffee table. – Mary Laura Philpott

Domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home Cover ImageDomino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home

What will you do with the living room once the tree is down and the wrapping paper is cleaned up? Beautiful photos of real interiors make perfect fodder for daydreaming. – Mary Laura Philpott

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders Cover ImageAtlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders

The atlas to end all atlases. This is the most fascinating compendium of fascinating places ever compiled. – Tristan Charles

In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from Over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs Cover ImageIn the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from Over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs

For anyone who needs a little inspiration in their lives, look no further than the hundreds of interviews curated here by Grace Bonney. I randomly started flipping through this book the other day—I looked up, an hour had passed, and I felt like I had just gotten the world’s best pep talk. – Lindsay Lynch

(I totally second this recommendation. This book is a FABULOUS gift for any female business owner or creative person. – Mary Laura Philpott)

(I third this recommendation and would like it known that I picked it before Lindsay and Mary Laura. – Andy Brennan)

(Sure you did, Andy. – Lindsay and Mary Laura)

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicatediscoveries from a Secret World Cover ImageThe Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World

Peter Wohlleben is a forest ranger who has written a book that is the perfect mix of science and his own observations. The perfect gift for that person in your life who wouldn’t mind wandering in the woods. – Halley Parry

Lick Dogs Cover ImageLick Dogs 

They’re good dogs. – Lindsay Lynch

The Autobiography of a Snake: Drawings by Andy Warhol Cover ImageThe Autobiography of a Snake: Drawings by Andy Warhol 

This shiny silver stunner looks like it’s meant for children, but the gorgeous art inside makes this a perfect gift for anyone on your list with refined taste. – Niki Coffman

The Perfect Pass: American Genius and the Reinvention of Football Cover ImageThe Perfect Pass: American Genius and the Reinvention of Football

For football fans who like reading, too. – Andy Brennan

The Golf Boxed Set: The Collector's Wodehouse Cover ImageThe Golf Boxed Set: The Collector’s Wodehouse 

For golfers just trying to hang on until spring comes back around. – Andy Brennan

For the friend with a late-night TV habit: 

The Daily Show (the Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests Cover ImageThe Daily Show (the Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests

This oral history is an endearing and refreshing break from the political malaise in which we live. Jon Stewart forever! – Tristan Charles

The Art of Archer Cover ImageThe Art of Archer

This is the must-have companion to the funniest show on television. With a foreword by Christian Slater and interviews with the creators, cast, and animators, you’ll soon know more than Pam! – Tristan Charles

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood Cover ImageBorn a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

I love Trevor Noah — and his new book about his childhood, family, and life under apartheid in South Africa. A captivating read for people who love biography, history, and/or The Daily Show. – Ginger Nalley

For the lifelong rock-and-roller:

Testimony Cover Image
The guitarist and principal songwriter for The Band looks back on his personal journey through music history. – Andy Brennan
Historic RCA Studio B Nashville: Home of 1,000 Hits Cover Image

Historic RCA Studio B Nashville: Home of 1,000 Hits

For the Nashville history buffs and music lovers in your life, pick up this new book filled with photos and stories about the iconic studio where one thousand American hit songs were born. – Rae Ann Parker

And on that note, Andy also recommends . . .

 I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir Cover Image

I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir

I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen Cover ImageI’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen

Hank: The Short Life and Long Country Road of Hank Williams Cover Image

Hank: The Short Life and Long Country Road of Hank Williams

Bob Dylan All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track Cover Image

Bob Dylan All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track

For your friend, the former English major:

The Rain in Portugal: Poems Cover ImageThe Rain in Portugal: Poems

Everyone complains about poetry, but no one does anything about it — except for Billy Collins. His poems are smart and accessible, funny, friendly, and edgy. If you know someone (or are someone) who loved poetry once, this is the perfect place from which to jump back in. – Ann Patchett

Envelope Poems Cover ImageEnvelope Poems

The perfect stocking stuffer for grownups, this is not just a collection of stunning poems, but full renderings of the envelopes that they were scribbled on and left behind by Emily Dickinson. – Halley Parry

The Government of the Tongue: Selected Prose, 1978-1987 Cover ImageThe Government of the Tongue: Selected Prose, 1978-1987

Give this to your poetry-loving friend who would like to delve deeper into poetry world. Heaney is the most tender-hearted, clear-eyed guide in this world. He says that our words and the truth they hold matter. He says, “The end of art is peace.” – Margy Roark

For the person who eats local and shops local — they might as well go a step further and read local, too: 

cwvxsv4weaaz1pxNashville: The South’s NEW Metropolis

By Karl Dean, with Michael Cass (Foreword by Megan Barry)

Put together by former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and my favorite former Tennessean writer (and a Sewanee grad) Michael Cass, this is a brand-new Nashville book and you can get it here in the store! – Sissy Gardner

Shinique Smith: Wonder and Rainbows Cover ImageShinique Smith: Wonder and Rainbows

Delmez, a curator at Nashville’s Frist Center for the Visual Arts and a member of my book club, has put together this stunning book, just as she curated Smith’s show at the Frist this winter. What a cool gift for a Nashville art-lover! – Sissy Gardner

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Come check out more books from Tennessee writers and artists, including Jerry Park, Piyali BhattacharyaKathryn Delmez, Farrell Mason, Ridley Wills II, Jim Bradford, Bill Carey, and lots more!

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-1-37-35-pmThe Ultimate Gift: First Editions Club

One signed, first-edition, hardcover new release every month — straight from the author’s hands to yours (or your lucky gift recipient). Select a 3, 6, or 12-month prepaid membership and we’ll send your favorite book-lover an extraordinary title each month, selected by our expert booksellers. There’s no membership fee to join!

Need more ideas? Stop in anytime and let us help you pick out something perfect for your step-dad, aunt, teacher, BFF, neighbor, frenemy, mentor, and siblings. We love a challenge!

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Coming up later this week: The Big List, Part Two — Books for Young Readers!