Holiday gift ideas: our favorite books

You don’t have to look any further for something to get those on your shopping list who love to read!

As the holiday gift-giving season approaches, what better gift to consider than a book?

Books enhance a home in many ways. We turn to books to answer questions, to further our views of the world and even use them as decorative accents. Books are one of the best ways to bring an expert into a home without all the costs. Do-it-yourself and other home-related books provide a wealth of ideas and can be infinite sources of inspiration.

Dwelling in Possibility by Howard Mansfield

Dwelling in Possibility   
By Howard Mansfield
ISBN: 978-0-87233-167-9
$22.50 • Paperback • 240 pages

Dwelling in Possibility laments the “lost quality of dwelling” in houses today in a series of linked narratives from New Hampshire author Howard Mansfield. The book’s first section, “Dwelling in the Ordinary,” discusses features that were once prominent in house designs but no longer are (such as the open fireplace), and celebrates the “Usonian” Zimmerman House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and now operated by the Currier Museum.

In “Dwelling in Destruction,” Mansfield considers the idea of houses on fire—in war and in disaster—through his memories of watching burning huts in Vietnam on television as a child, to discussing World War II, to relief work after Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi.

Mansfield rounds out the book with a discussion of how to restore the feeling of “dwelling” that modern architecture often lacks. The narratives give soul to Mansfield’s ideas, until you, too, will wonder where the soul is in your home.

French Comfort Food by Hilary Davis

French Comfort Food    
By Hillary Davis
ISBN: 978-1-423-63698-4
$30 • Hardcover • 224 pages

From New Hampshire food writer, instructor and blogger Hillary Davis comes French Comfort Food, a book of recipes gathered while Davis lived in France for thirteen years. This collection encompasses a food journey through the different regions of France that emphasizes the deep-rooted tradition of passing recipes through the generations. Davis has modernized some recipes into new family favorites that retain the same classic tastes that make them comfort food. 

Gardens in Detail by Emma Reuss

Gardens in Detail: 100 Contemporary Designs     

By Emma Reuss
ISBN: 978-1-58093-399-5
$45 • Hardcover • 400 pages

Featuring one hundred gardens from all over the world, Gardens in Detail includes the historical backgrounds on different garden styles—ranging from Islamic to Renaissance to Arts and Crafts; concise lists of important features to incorporate; and what purpose each serves in the garden scheme. Close-up images accompany wider shots to illustrate just how important the details are.

With projects divided into ten categories—such as artistic and structural styles; international locales; plant types and landscapes; lifestyle; color; and atmosphere—this book can become a go-to resource for next spring.

Homegrown Tea by Cassie Liverside

Homegrown Tea

By Cassie Liversidge
ISBN: 978-1-250-03941-5
$23.99 • Paperback • 270 pages

Teas and tisanes have been popular drinks for thousands of years, so some of us may want to grow our own. In Homegrown Tea, Cassie Liversidge tells us how to cultivate typical garden plants, such as honeysuckle or rosemary, for use in teas and tisanes. Divided into five sections—“Leaves,” “Seeds,” “Fruits,” “Flowers” and “Roots”—Homegrown Tea not only describes how to grow and brew the various plants, but also offers other tips and uses for them. With ideas and instructions for growing anywhere, from urban windowsills to rolling countryside gardens, Liversidge delivers a beautifully illustrated guide to planting and making herbal teas and drinks that make fantastic gifts for any tea-lover this holiday season.

Jack by Tomie dePaola


By Tomie dePaola
ISBN: 978-0-39916-154-6
$17.99 • Hardcover • 40 pages

Preschoolers will adore beloved author-illustrator Tomie dePaola’s colorful and charming take on traditional “Jack” tales, where a young hero pursues his dreams with a growing entourage of animal friends.

DePaola’s vividly colored, printed sound effects add life to his signature style!

Landscaping Ideas That Work By Julie Moir Messervy

Landscaping Ideas That Work

By Julie Moir Messervy
ISBN: 978-1-60085-780-5
$21.95 • Paperback • 218 pages

In Landscaping Ideas That Work, award-winning designer Julie Moir Messervy offers hundreds of ideas that apply to every outdoor space imaginable, from small urban courtyards to sprawling beachside properties to cozy forest hideaways.

Better yet are “The Essentials”—easy-to-follow charts found throughout the book detailing the pros and cons of different materials for certain projects. The inspired designs also include “Green Ideas That Work”—ideas to plan landscapes for minimal environmental impact. For those not looking for a full landscape remodel, Landscaping Ideas That Work includes easy-to-implement ideas for small details around the yard that, well, work.

Midcentury Houses Today       By Lorenzo Ottaviani, Jeffrey L. Matz, Cristina A. Ross and Michael Biondo

Midcentury Houses Today     

By Lorenzo Ottaviani, Jeffrey L. Matz, Cristina A. Ross and Michael Biondo
ISBN: 978-1-58093-385-8
$65 • Hardcover • 240 pages

Midcentury Houses Today looks into the remarkable collection of houses built in New Canaan, Connecticut, in the 1940s and 1950s by renowned architects such as Philip Johnson and Eliot Noyes. The journey through each of these sixteen houses’ design contains archival photographs, floor plans and timelines.  The book offers great insight into the houses’ origins in simplicity and openness, and how the changes made through the years have maintained that spirit.   

Stonlea: A Timeworn, Gilded Age Survivor Transformed

Stonlea: A Timeworn, Gilded Age Survivor Transformed

By Peter W. Clement and Victoria Chave Clement 
ISBN: 978-1-603-58448-7
$90 • Hardcover • 544 pages

Designed by renowned Boston architects Peabody & Stearns in 1891, Stonlea (see Noteworthy Then, Noteworthy Now, published in New Hampshire Home March/April 2013) was recently renovated by New York architect Hugh Hardy and New Hampshire architect Daniel Scully, who worked with homeowner Polly Guth to bring the 120-year-old house to the modern era.

Stonlea describes the house’s history of renovations from construction to present. Once a summer home for a wealthy St. Louis family, the house was largely self-sufficient, and that self-sufficiency is something Guth, who now lives there year-round, worked hard to re-create. While the original design spirit remains, the house now has photovoltaic solar panels and a geothermal heating system.

The New Net Zero by William Maclay

The New Net Zero

By William Maclay
ISBN: 978-1-603-58448-7
$90 • Hardcover • 544 pages

From award-winning sustainable architect William Maclay comes The New Net Zero, a guide for building structures that produce as much energy as they consume and are also carbon-neutral. Based in Waitsfield, Vermont, Maclay has lectured widely on environmental design and his projects include energy-conserving residential, commercial and institutional buildings. In this book, he discusses water, air and vapor barriers; residential and commercial net-zero standards; insulation options; and costs through case studies and provides lots of details. Although the book was written with professionals in mind, others seeking ideas for net-zero buildings will find The New Net Zero to be an important resource.

The Organically Clean Home

The Organically Clean Home

By Becky Rapinchuk 
ISBN: 978-1-440-57251-7
$15.99 • Paperback • 224 pages

Becky Rapinchuk became the “Clean Mama,” worried about germ and chemical threats, when her oldest child was a baby. Now she runs the hugely successful website and has been featured on and HGTV. With 150 recipes for chemical-free cleaning products that prove safer than traditional cleaning products for both your family and your wallet, this book includes easy-to-follow directions, Rapinchuk’s famous cleaning checklists as well as a handy guide for stain removal that covers everything from ink to wine.

Categories: Favorite Finds