Holiday Staff Picks 2022

My favorite tradition at Next Chapter: the Holiday Staff Pick. Every year in the run-up to Christmas, each bookseller picks one or two titles to champion in the coming gift-shopping frenzy. These can be recent releases or backlist titles; passed-over gems or revisited classics. It's an awesome way for us to boost a book that deserves (more) time in the spotlight, and for you to buy a gift that comes strongly recommended. We have these set up on a nice, new Staff Picks table in the middle of the store, but thanks to the magic of the internet, you can peruse digitally, too! Here's what we chose this year.

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O Caledonia: A Novel By Elspeth Barker, Maggie O'Farrell (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Elspeth Barker, Maggie O'Farrell (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781668004616
Availability: On Our Shelves
Published: Scribner - September 20th, 2022

Misfit Janet navigates sibling rivalry, the judgment of her family, Calvinism, and her own bad reputation in this lyrically beautiful AND nicely grotesque novel-- the natural meeting of I Capture the Castle and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, with a dash of Roald Dahl. It starts and ends unhappily; there's no especially likeable characters; the mood is best described as squalid. The perfect book for a rotten, unlovable child turned wayward woman. -Emily

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Family Traits: The Fantastic Bestiary of a Father and His Sons By Thomas Romain, Itsuki Romain, Ryunosuke Romain Cover Image
ISBN: 9781772940923
Availability: On Our Shelves
Published: Udon Entertainment - March 26th, 2019

Courtesy of animator-illustrator Thomas Romain, the most wholesome art book you've ever seen. Each spread features an original character drawn and invented by one of his two young sons, and then his own depiction of the same character. Looking at the second drawing, you see Thomas's incredible talent, and his love for his children. Looking at the first, you see the enthusiasm and imagination he's nurtured in them. It's also impossible not to smile reading their respective descriptions (Romain the elder: "Like many artists of my generation, I find Akira Toriyama to be a big source of inspiration." Romain the younger: "The two left arms do normal attacks, and the two right arms specialize in magical attacks.") The perfect gift for any artist, however young or old. -Graham

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Night Fisher By R. Kikuo Johnson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781683964704
Availability: On Our Shelves
Published: Fantagraphics - October 12th, 2021

Masterful brushwork; lived-in environments; chiaroscuro compositions that brilliantly balance richness and sparcity. Nail-biting scenes propelled by careful, deliberate pacing, brought to life with naturalistic dialogue and character acting. And a sense of place so strong that the island-paradise Hawaii of popular stereotype is completely flushed from your mind. It's truly hard to imagine this book is Johnson's first release, because every page is a masterclass on visual storytelling. Its nondidactic story, simple enough on the surface, churns with class tensions and adolescent confusion. Night Fisher leaves you with not much more than an incandescently vivid slice of life, like your own teenaged memories, compressed by the passage of time into raw, irreducible feeling. -Graham

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The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse By Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781536227796
Availability: On Our Shelves
Published: Candlewick - September 27th, 2022

Fantastic book about friendship and making the best of it in tough situations. Plus, record party in a wolf's belly. Wonderful illustrations. Love how Klassen draws animals. Look at the duck walk! -Joe

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The Whalebone Theatre: A novel By Joanna Quinn Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593321706
Availability: On Our Shelves
Published: Knopf - October 4th, 2022

In the years between wars, the Seagrave siblings - Cristobel, Flossie, and Digby - grow up in a Dorset manse. Fueled by Cristobel's imagination, they establish a summer theater in the skeleton of a beached whale. As WWII looms, all three serve in one way or another as undercover agents. All in all, a whale of a book that touches every emotion. -Jean

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Bread Head: Baking for the Road Less Traveled By Greg Wade, Rachel Holtzman Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393866742
Availability: On Our Shelves
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 27th, 2022

I'm obsessed with the art and science behind bread and yeast. I love how yeast from different landscapes tastes and feels different. Like terroir in wine. Bread Head covers multiple preferments, types of wheat, and dishes from around the globe! Check out the paratha recipe! I plan to spend my winter months heating my cozy apartment with the hearth of baked goods coming to life! And this book will definitely help! -Milan

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Night of the Living Rez By Morgan Talty Cover Image
ISBN: 9781953534187
Availability: On Our Shelves
Published: Tin House Books - July 5th, 2022

These interconnected stories are beautifully written and deeply moving. The book and Morgan Talty deserved much more attention than they received.  For fans of Louise Erdrich and Tommy Orange… My favorite book of 2022. -Nick

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The Jesus Cow: A Novel By Michael Perry Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062289988
Availability: On Our Shelves
Published: Harper Perennial - May 17th, 2016

Perfect for everyone who moved away and misses the Midwest, fans of Kitchens of the Great Midwest and Lager Queens of Minnesota, and anyone looking for a funny but smart book. Harley Jackson just wants to enjoy his quiet farm life. But when a calf born on Christmas Eve arrives with the face of Jesus staring out from the pattern on its hide, Harley’s life is turned upside down. Soon he’s running a religious theme park in the middle of Wisconsin and wondering if he can ever have a normal Christmas again. Jesus Cow is a warm but clear-eyed ode to smalltown life and a laugh-out-loud funny visit to the loving heart of the Midwest. -David

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The Gospel According To Jesus Christ By José Saramago Cover Image
ISBN: 9780156001410
Availability: On Our Shelves
Published: HarperVia - September 28th, 1994

The Portuguese legend revises the New Testament in his ironic, free-wheeling style. Jesus isn't a buzzkilling paragon of morality, but a flesh and blood man full of desire, lust, and doubt. It's the kind of irreverent fun that would have the religious right breaking out their pitchforks, but fortunately they don't read novels in translation. If they actually gave Saramago's gospel a go, they'd have to reckon with the truth: it's an improvement on the source material. -Hank