13 Faculty Books that Make Great Gifts

December 18, 2013

’Tis the season for good tidings, cheer, and gift-giving. The following list of books by faculty past and present are suitable for any readers on your list, whether they’re young or old, history buffs or mystery fans.

1. Enon: A Novel

photo of book cover for Enon

by Paul Harding

In Enon, the follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning debut Tinkers, Harding tackles the paralyzing effects of grief and loss and our innate ability to find meaning in a meaningless tragedy. Set in a familiar New England backdrop, Enon takes its readers on a redemptive journey that mirrors the complexities of the changing seasons.

2. Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All: A New Zealand Story

by Christina Thompson

Don’t let the title scare you off. Part memoir, part historical and travel narrative, Come on Shore weaves Thompson’s own love story to a Maori man together with an historical exploration of the clash between Western and Pacific Island culture.

3. The Sweet Relief of Missing Children: A Novel

photo of book cover for The Sweet Relief of Missing Children

by Sarah Braunstein

A suspenseful novel that moves through time and explores the power of running away, the desire for reinvention, and the transcendence of our human experience. With this debut, Braunstein was named one of “Five Under 35” fiction writers by the National Book Foundation in 2011. Even Oprah recommended it, so you know it’s a hit.

4. Paradise Walk

by Mary Malloy

Malloy’s suspenseful sequel to The Wandering Heart leads historian Lizzie Manning on a medieval pilgrimage to investigate the origins of one of Chaucer’s most notable characters—the Wife of Bath. But will the truth reveal a more sinister and deadly secret? History and mystery abound in this series, which is a perfect gift for anyone who enjoys an intellectual puzzle.

5. Almost Depressed: Is My (or My Loved One’s) Unhappiness a Problem?

by Shelley Carson and Jefferson Prince

It may sound strange, but could you, or your loved one, be almost depressed? It’s the gray area between basic sadness and diagnosed clinical depression, and in their new book, Drs. Carson and Prince shed light on this condition and provide strategies to help overcome it. It’s a helpful guide for anyone seeking brighter days ahead.

6. Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln

photo of book cover for Giants the Parallel Lives of Douglass and Lincoln

by John Stauffer

This book is like getting two biographies for the price of one. Stauffer tackles the stories of two great men from the nineteenth century who transformed themselves, and the country, forever. Though Lincoln and Douglass were never close friends, having met only three times, Stauffer weaves their stories together, reflecting each man’s triumphs and transgressions off the other in a seamless narrative during the Civil War era.

7. A Short History of Cape Cod

by Robert Allison

The title tells all in this unassuming work, the third in a series of concise historical nonfiction by Allison. Four short stories, supplemented by more than 100 photographs, tell the 400-year story of one of America’s most beloved summer vacation destinations. An easy read for the beach yet curiously insightful enough for any historian, it’s sure to be a treasured gift for anyone who spent their summers among the dunes of Old Cape Cod.

8. Hieroglyphs from A to Z: A Rhyming Book with Ancient Egyptian Stencils for Kids

photo of book cover for Hieroglyphs from A to Z

by Peter Der Manuelian

Bold, beautiful pictures are bolstered with fun educational content that explains the ancient Egyptian code and history in language kids can understand. It’s the perfect gift for that curious niece or nephew who is always asking, “Why?” Bonus: the back cover includes stencils for the kids to draw hieroglyphs and create their own story.

9. Baseball as a Second Language

photo of book cover for Baseball as a Second Language

by Harry Lewis

Here’s a book that’s perfect for any parent, spouse, or foreigner unfamiliar with America’s greatest pastime and the lingo that permeates our everyday conversations about work, politics, and romance. Terminology and rules of the game are brought to life with humorous examples from news and pop culture. Don’t balk at the price. At $8.99, it’s a steal.

10. Mapping Boston

by Alex Krieger and David Cobb with Amy Turner

A terrific and beautiful coffee-table book for your favorite cartographer and anyone who “loves that dirty water.” Edited by Krieger and Cobb with Turner, this collection of maps and essays brings the history of one of America’s oldest and most beloved cities to life.

11. No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security

by Thomas Nichols

Nichols’ latest book offers a deep and penetrating look at the role of nuclear weapons in US national security strategy. Despite a commitment to disarmament made over 40 years ago, the United States continues to rely on the threat of nuclear force as a deterrent to nation states like Iran and North Korea. Nichols makes a compelling argument for non-nuke deterrents and strategies that would allow for more stable relations in the twenty-first century. You can read a sneak peek of the introduction and preface on Nichols’ blog before the book hits the shelves on December 26. He also offers a special thanks in the book’s preface to the Extension School students and research assistants who helped him create it.

12. Yamashita’s Ghost: War Crimes, MacArthur’s Justice, and Command Accountability

by Allan Ryan

Should a commander be held accountable for the actions of his troops? Even without knowledge of them? Ryan takes us back to the atrocities of the Japanese Army in 1944-45 in the Philippines and raises crucial questions that have surrounded General Tomoyuki Yamashita’s trial and execution at the hands of the United States Supreme Court. It is a profound examination of international human rights.

13. Energy: Perspectives, Problems, and Prospects

by Michael McElroy

Weaving together the sciences and humanities, McElroy presents a history of humans’ energy consumption and ever-increasing reliance on fossil fuels. And what does the future hold for alternative sources like wind, solar, and geothermal energy? You’ll have to buy the book (or enroll in his spring 2014 course) to find out.

With so many authors among our faculty, getting this list down to 13 was no easy task. Which other faculty, student, or alumni books would you add to the list? Include them in the comments below.

Happy shopping!

Eileen Palmer replied:

Dr. Mary Malloy, Professor, in the Harvard Extension School Museum Studies Program and Associate, at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, has written two addictively engaging historical fiction mysteries- "The Wandering Heart " and "Paridise Walk". Both great reads!