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Holiday Book Recommendations 2023 by Wellesley Books

December 6th, 2023

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Holiday Book Recommendations 2023 by Wellesley Books

Whether you are heading away for the holidays or just cozying up at home, these wonderful book recommendations from Wellesley Books will have you reading cover-to-cover and purchasing copies for everyone on your list. The recommended adult books are also appropriate for teenagers.

Adult Books:


The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession (Hardcover)

By Michael Finkel

In this spellbinding portrait of obsession and flawed genius, the best-selling author of The Stranger in the Woods brings us into Stéphane Breitwieser’s strange world—unlike most thieves, he never stole for money, keeping all his treasures in a single room where he could admire them.


The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder (Hardcover)

By David Grann

A fascinating, little-known true story of an 18th-century British sailing expeditionary force gone wrong. The story focuses on one ship, the Wager, as the expedition goes from bad to worse during the journey around Cape Horn. This is a story of hardship, interpersonal battles, resilience and the intricacies of 18th-century maritime law. A real page-turner and a remarkable true story!


Rough Sleepers: Dr. Jim O’Connell’s urgent mission to bring healing to homeless people (Hardcover)

By Tracy Kidder

The powerful story of an inspiring doctor who made a difference, by helping to create a program to care for Boston’s homeless community—by the Pulitzer Prize–winning, New York Times bestselling author of Mountains Beyond Mountains



The Covenant of Water (Oprah’s Book Club) (Hardcover)

By Abraham Verghese

An epic, multi-generational saga spanning nearly the entire 20th century in India. A young woman from Kerala and young doctor from Scotland begin their journeys in separate parts of India with each experiencing life through family, faith, mysticism and tragedy while dealing with the “condition,” a genetic medical mystery with symptoms including the inability to survive in water. Their stories follow the historical turns of India as a country, with caste and societal norms playing a key component in their paths crossing. A story of love, faith, heart-break and living life without fear. A remarkably touching book.


The Unmaking of June Farrow: A Novel (Hardcover)

By Adrienne Young

A woman risks everything to end her family’s centuries-old curse, solve her mother’s disappearance, and find love in this mesmerizing novel from the author of Spells for Forgetting. If you loved The Time Traveler’s Wife, (but don’t want to ugly cry); Outlander (but don’t want to commit to thousands of pages); or romance-mystery (romanstery?) stories that cross the bounds of time, this is for you. Young writes spectacular ambience, and the mountains of North Carolina serve beautifully as the setting for this novel. The Farrow women are compelling, imperfect, and able to cross time, but at a cost. 


Let Us Descend

Jesmyn Ward

Let Us Descend is a reimagining of American slavery, as beautifully rendered as it is heart-wrenching. Searching, harrowing, replete with transcendent love, the novel is a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the slave markets of New Orleans and into the fearsome heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation.


After the Forest (Hardcover)

By Kell Woods

This stunning debut tells the story of Greta and Hans years after their legendary kidnapping by the gingerbread house witch. It beautifully grapples with PTSD, discovering truths amongst myths and secrets, allowing for growth in spite of trauma, and lots of found family. It is dark, ambient, moody, and gloriously written. I adore books with setting-as-character, and After the Forest is perfection with its 1650s Bavarian mountain village setting. Perfect for fans of Hannah Whitten, Naomi Novik, Katherine Arden, and Shelley Parker-Chan.


Bright Falls Romance (three books set in the same town, F/F romance, spicy)

Three spicy sapphic rom-coms set in the same Pacific Northwest town, these are for your romance lovers who want strong character development, diversity, and, of course, happily ever after. Each book is written with one of three best friends as the main character – Claire, Astrid, and Iris – and you’ll love Delilah, Jordan, and Stevie just as much.


Young Adult:

What the River Knows

The Mummy meets Death on the Nile in this lush, immersive historical fantasy set in Egypt filled with adventure, a rivals-to-lovers romance, and a dangerous race to secure hundreds of priceless artifacts. 


Heartstopper #5 (Huge – definitely pre-order!)

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. The bestselling LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between: this is the fifth volume of the much-loved HEARTSTOPPER series, featuring gorgeous two-color artwork.


Bring Me Your Midnight

Just when I think I can’t love Rachel Griffin’s writing any more, she does something like this. *This* is a soul-deep exploration of self, duty, historical prejudice, contemporary responsibility, wild first love, climate impact, and learning to choose yourself. There’s so much packed into this marvelous whirlwind that the beauty of Griffin’s writing will sometimes catch you off guard. It stops your mad flight to turn the page and learn what happens; and then the magic of her sentence construction crashes over you. With each book, Griffin challenges herself and wow do we as her loyal readers benefit from her journey.


Sing Me To Sleep

In this dark and seductive YA fantasy debut, a siren must choose between protecting her family and following her heart in a prejudiced kingdom where her existence is illegal.


Warrior Girl, Unearthed

Angeline Boulley’s newest YA thriller brings us back to the world of Firekeeper’s Daughter. Perry Firekeeper-Birch follows the footsteps of her Auntie Daunis to find missing Indigenous women, fight corruption, and honor her ancestors.


Painted Devils (Sequel to Little Thieves, which is always my go-to rec)

A scrappy former maid and jewel thief must outwit gods, injustice, and her own past in this sequel to the Indie Next Pick, Little Thieves by Margaret Owen. This book has it all–incredible sass, major shade thrown at a certain container ship blocking a certain shipping channel, and Backstreet Boys AND Janet Jackson references. OH! AND–it takes on virginity as a social construct, normalizes Ace relationships, has found family and biological family redemption, trans/non-binary rep, a diverse cast, and excellent character arcs.


Little Thieves Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love—and she’s on the hook for one hell of a debt. Vanja, the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. That was when Vanja’s otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back… by stealing Gisele’s life for herself.)

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