A Novel Idea: ‘Tis the Season for Reading

By Barbara Bellesi

If you’ve got avid readers on your holiday list, delight them (and simplify your shopping, too) with a book that will warm them up this winter.

At Home with Madame Chic

“At Home with Madame Chic” • Jennifer L. Scott (Simon & Schuster)

Oh la la! Style expert and blogger Jennifer L. Scott wrote this lifestyle book under her nom de plume, Madame Chic, and it is peppered with French-inspired tips for turning a house into a home, including advice on home décor and cooking for the family. You don’t need a Martha Stewart-sized bank account, either; Scott’s down-to-earth advice makes it easy to make home life more enjoyable on any budget. Besides, who wouldn’t want to get style advice from someone called Madame Chic?

Greatest Gift

“The Greatest Gift” • Philip Van Doren Stern (Simon & Schuster)

An annual viewing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” during the holidays is a must for many. But what about an annual reading? Some fans of the film might be surprised to know that the Frank Capra classic (starring James Stewart and Donna Reed) is actually based on a short story. George Bailey and characters came to writer Philip Van Doren Stern’s dreams one night, and the rest is literary – and Hollywood –history.

Chasing the Rose

“Chasing the Rose” • Andrea di Robilant (Penguin Random House)

Who says picture books are for children? Andrea di Robilant’s book, infused with striking watercolors from Nina Fuga, leads us through fragrant rose gardens of the Old World in his search for a mysterious old rose. The author tells the true story of a wild pink rose with an entrancing scent that grew on his ancestral country estate in Italy, dating back to the time of Napoleon (di Robilant’s great-great-great-great grandmother, Lucia, was a friend of Josephine Bonaparte). A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but this particular rose is made all the sweeter by Fuga’s gorgeous renderings. This is book will be much appreciated by any friend or family member with a green thumb or a penchant for history.

History of NY

“A History of New York in 101 Objects” • Sam Roberts (Simon & Schuster)

Sam Roberts has attempted the unthinkable: to capture New York City’s history in just 101 objects. The author takes the sweeping history of the world’s greatest city and pares it down to a carefully curated selection of objects that any New Yorker (or New York fan) will appreciate. From Indian arrowheads and beads from the African burial ground to bagels and bright yellow taxi cabs to the iconic I <3 New York logo, the concrete jungle entertains and inspires on every page.


“The Paleo Diet” • Daniel Green (Kyle Books)

“Paleo” might seem like a trendy word in the diet and nutrition world these days, but the truth is that this way of eating actually dates back to our cave-dwelling ancestors, who simply didn’t have access to any of the packaged, highly processed foods we have. (That’s right, the cave men weren’t noshing on Twinkies and potato chips.) This book is full of over 100 recipes made from ingredients that our bodies are programmed to eat: think plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, and meat. Daniel Green himself has lost over 60 pounds following the Paleo plan, so you know his recipes work.

Send Your Old Diet Back to the Stone Age

Usually, diets and the holidays don’t walk hand in hand. But according to Daniel Green, the British award-winning chef and healthy eating expert author of the cookbook “The Paleo Diet,” the diet in question is more of a nutritional plan rather than a course in deprivation. Sure, you may have to wean yourself off some dairy, wheat, and carbs – not readily accessible to our cave-men ancestors – in favor of plenty of meat, fruits, and vegetables, but once you see how your body starts responding to the change in diet, you’ll be hooked.

“The truth is, if you start [a diet] before [the holidays], you don’t feel like [you’re failing] your New Year’s resolutions that you’ll be on for four weeks and never stick to,” Green explains.

And here’s some good news for Thanksgiving dinner lovers: A traditional turkey dinner and trimmings – stuffing in moderation – is still very much an option for those looking to lead healthier lives.

So what does Green suggest as a gift for the health nut in your life – besides his book, of course? “I think a juicer is a really good thing,” he says. “We can never have enough fruits and vegetables in our diet.

Where Do You #Read?

The New York Public Library wants to know. Use #IReadEverywhere and post your pic (selfies are welcome) to Instagram or Twitter. Feeling camera-shy? Simply click on the hashtag and see photos of writers and other celebrities getting their read on, as well as tons of other ordinary folks who like to get lost amidst the pages of good books.


Mindy: In between slayin’ dudes and eating BBQ, #IReadEverywhere. Where do you read?


Cookie: Cookie Monster loves to read at his grandma’s house. After eating cookies, of course. #IReadEverywhere


Mayim: You bet #IReadEverywhere, especially in hair & make up!

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