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RISD Prof's Holiday Book Picks For 2015

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If you who still have people on your holiday shopping list, don’t panic! We have book picks from the chair of RISD's Department of Literary Arts and...

If you who still have people on your holiday shopping list, don’t panic! We have book picks from the chair of RISD's Department of Literary Arts and Studies. Associate Professor Nicole Merola sat down with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison.

The Dead Lands, by Benjamin Percy.

Merola's favorite book of 2015:

“A kind of post-apocalyptic take on the Lewis and Clark expedition, it has some steampunk elements, some magical elements…. There are really interesting twists in the expeditionary story and what ends up happening to them when they get all the way to the west coast. I found that to be a really inventive and compelling novel.”

A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki

This one is for the book lover in your life.

After the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011, a novelist named Ruth finds a diary on a beach in British Columbia. She becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to the diarist, a teenaged girl from Tokyo.

“In addition to containing really lovely prose and a compelling structure, the novel offers a profound medication on how we conceive of time and how we craft connections to places and to other people.”

The Weather Experiment: The Pioneers Who Sought To See The Future, by Peter Moore

Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World, by Gillen D'Arcy Wood

Two books for that tough to please person on your holiday list.

"Moore's book takes a transatlantic approach to examining how 19th century scientists, sailors and thinkers pushed for systematized weather observation and data collection, and the creation of weather warning systems."

"Wood explores how different human communities in locations including New England, Ireland, Switzerland, China and Bangladesh were impacted during what he calls the Tamboran decade of the 1810s. "

For a good detective novel, Merola recommends Harry Bingham's Fiona Griffiths novels, which tell the story of a South Wales detective with an unusual gift for solving crime and a secret history that unfolds as the series continues.

Merola's surprise pick is a trilogy from 2014 that was so good, she had to reread it in 2015: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer.

And finally, for a book to take a break from all the holiday celebrations, Merola recommends The Visiting Priviledge, a collection of short stories by Joy Williams.

The Dead Lands, a re-imagining of the Lewis and Clark expidition by Benjamin Percy, is Merola's top pick for 2015.
The Dead Lands, a re-imagining of the Lewis and Clark expidition by Benjamin Percy, is Merola's top pick for 2015.