Wellesley Books Newsletter | December 20th, 2023

Ready or not, Christmas is only five days away. The holiday season sure can be a swirl of emotions, on top of the general swirl of travel and shopping and preparation. But one thing you'll hear from multiple booksellers is that this is their favorite time of year to be at the store. The days fly by, the watches log many triumphant runs up that big, steep staircase from our basement, and the sleep is particularly deep at the end of a busy day. But none of this compares to the appreciation we feel. "You gave me this great recommendation last year" is a sentence we hear daily; smiles are exchanged along with bags full of wrapped gifts. And so we would like to turn it around and thank *you* for giving us the chance to do what we love for another year.

One final, logistical note: we're open this Sunday, December 24th, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Come by bright and early to congratulate our store manager Peter...and to get some music book recommendations!)

Bookseller Recommendations

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Lorna recommends:

The Oceans and the Stars by Mark Helprin

The story of a Navy captain at the end of his career, taking a new ship, the only one of its kind, on a mission to patrol the dangerous waters of the Indian Ocean.

It's an anthem to the Navy, to the honorable men who serve and the family they leave behind. A story of men and war, it is full of acts of bravery and courage, descriptions of the sea and life aboard ship, with shades of Horatio Hornblower and the Odyssey. It felt brilliant and thrilling and very real--another beautifully written epic novel from Mark Helprin.

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Ashleigh recommends:

Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros

Well, that was again worth all the hype. Breakneck pacing, sassy dragons, myriad twists and turns, terrific romance, and--perhaps my favorite part--actual conversations between all the characters. It feels like the layers of drama are so realistic, from geopolitical life-or-death to learning how to communicate with your romantic partner in your 20s. The Bechdel Test would be proud; the women here are badass and genuinely speak to and relate to each other. We have brilliant (and awful) (and fantastic) new characters, shocking twists, blistering delayed gratification, and--AGAIN--that ending. Yikes. Bring it on, over and over and over.

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Amy recommends:

The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff

Harrowing. Gripping. Distressing. All are words that describe the story of a teenage girl who is running for her life, sick as a dog, through the wilds of early 17th century North America. She’s running away from her past life of servitude in London, her terrifying and heartbreaking ocean voyage to the new country, and the horrors of daily life at the fort at Jamestown. Utterly alone in the wild, she uses her innate scrappiness to survive by using her wits, a pair of stolen boots, a flint, a metal cup, and a hatchet. The girl’s pondering of God and the pristine nature that is now her home made me incredibly sad--what have we done to this world? This is not a feel-good story, but it’s a beautifully written one that is well worth reading.

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Lia recommends:

The Grand Affair by Paul Fisher

This comprehensive biography explores the enigmas of Sargent’s sexuality and ambiguities of bohemian identity during his lifetime, adding a new layer of interpretation which grants the man and his paintings a new and intense life. Fisher’s narrative provides sumptuous details of his creative process, social milieus, and, for his time, unconventional relationships with men and women. The writing is evocative, almost cinematic. Fisher is a Professor at Wellesley College.

Picture Books We ❤️

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Sir Morien

Holly Black, Kaliis Smith & Ebony Glenn

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The Incredible Hotel

Kate Davies & Isabelle Follath

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The Map Book

Lonely Planet Kids

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There Was a Party for Langston

Jason Reynolds, Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey

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The Witness Trees

Ryan G. Van Cleave & Ðõm Ðõm

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Masala Chai, Fast and Slow

Rajani LaRocca & Neha Rawat

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Miles Morales Spider-Man: Through a Hero's Eyes

Denene Millner & Mónica Paola Rodriguez

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Joy Harjo & Michaela Goade

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The Magicians


Favorite Chapter Books & Middle Grade

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Torrey Maldonado

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Leeva at Last

Sara Pennypacker & Mathhew Cordell

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Henry, Like Always

Jenn Bailey & Mika Song

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Treasure Island: Runaway Gold

Jewell Parker Rhodes

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No Place Like Home

James Bird

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Keeper of the Lost Cities: The Graphic Novel

Shannon Messenger, Celina Frenn & Gabriella Chianello

Favorites for Young Adults

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Fire From the Sky

Moa Backe Åstot

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Christopher Paolini

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Check & Mate

Ali Hazelwood

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Heartstopper #5

Alice Oseman

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Gwen & Art Are Not In Love

Lex Croucher

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A Study in Drowning

Ava Reid

Kids' Book Subscriptions

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A Child's Library and Middle-Grade Monthly are our two book subscriptions for children aged 0-5 and 8-12, respectively. Each month, Lauren and Kali select a newly-published picture book or middle-grade novel. Subscriptions can be purchased on a month-to-month basis, or for a year, and may be shipped to the child's home or picked up in-store. They make a great gift! Our December selections are When Rubin Plays by Gracey Zhang, and Forsooth by Jimmy Matejek-Morris. Please click on the covers for more information.

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In the Gift Department

Many hands go into making our gift and card department as wonderful as it is.

Visit our Facebook page for some highlights; stop by to see it in all its glory.

What We're Reading Now

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The End of the World is a Cul de Sac


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We the Animals


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The Many Lives of Mama Love


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Cutting for Stone


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Being Henry


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The Lioness of Boston


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Tomb Sweeping


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North Woods


Dog of the Week


Sage is a three-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer. A pandemic puppy, the first thing she did upon arriving at her new home was to eat the dog-safe plants. Another tale from her early days: she impaled herself on a stick (!) and had to be immobilized for a month and a half--which is a lot of time for anyone, but especially a dog. Now that she's back in good health, she is a Frisbee enthusiast who enjoys doing All The Sniffs on her walks.

Thank you for supporting your community independent bookstore!


Rebecca Stimpson

Wellesley Books

82 Central Street

Wellesley, MA 02482


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