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W.W. Norton & Company, 2017, $35
Revisit Plutarch's biographical history of Rome's great political leaders, Pompey, Julius Caesar, Cicero, Brutus, and Antony. War. Love. Betrayal. Tragedy. Empire. This classic BCE text profiling the Roman Empire's famed and fallen leaders get a 21st-century update. Bard College classical studies professor James Romm writes a background-illuminating preface of Plutarch and his subjects, and provides insightful notes throughout the text.
THE MONSTER NEXT DOOR
Penguin Random House Press, 2016, $17.99
The Rosendale-based best-selling author and illustrator who helped create The Ladybug Girl series is back. His latest subject: a little boy with a monster of a friend. The boy and monster are treehouse neighbors who communicate through a clothesline rope. After a music-related disagreement and water-balloon fight (illustrated with a comic-bubble styled full page spread and vibrant colors), the boy begins to see the monster's point of view through his anger. Recommended for ages 3 to 5, this charming story teaches children empathy and working through disagreements to maintain healthy friendships.
RUNNING THE LONG PATH: A 350-MILE JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY IN NEW YORK'S HUDSON VALLEY
Kenneth A. Posner
SUNY Press, 2016, $19.95
Nine days. A 350-mile long stretch of trail from New York City to Albany. Inspired by Walt Whitman's "Song of the Open Road," Kenneth Posner took the open road afoot and light-hearted. He scrambles up and around paths that take him through difficult terrain—the Shawangunks, Catskills, Schoharie Reservoir, and Endless Mountains, facing hunger, the elements, swollen feet, and the overall will to finish. Posner pairs his internal experience with the outside beauty of the Hudson Valley's trails and history, channeling voices that protected them: Walt Whitman, John Burroughs, Teddy Roosevelt, and Raymond Torrey.
Chronogram asked independent bookstore owners from across the Hudson Valley to choose their favorite new releases for this year's Holiday Gift Guide. These local stores are the perfect spots to visit in person for scoping out the new go-to read for your gift list. While you're there, check out their event calendars: they also host author readings, workshops, community events, and more that will continue well into the New Year. Here are some of their selections to get you started:
OUR TIME AT FOXHOLLOW FARM
Excelsior Editions, 2016, $50
Deputy Managing Editor of Vogue David Byars has collected the history of the Hudson Valley's Dows family through stories and photographs in this stunning book. The Dows estate, Foxhollow Farm, was built in Rhinebeck in the early 1900s with architecture by Stanford White protegee Harrie T. Lindeberg and landscaping by the Olmsted Brothers. Covering the history of the Dows family from 1903-1930, Our Time at Foxhollow Farm is the perfect gift for anyone who can't get enough of local high society history.
Recommended by Suzanna Hermans of Oblong Books & Music, Millerton and Rhinebeck.
THE LYRICS: 1961-2012
Simon & Schuster, 2016, $60
Right after the historic announcement that this year's Nobel Prize for Literature went to a "musician," this collection of Dylan's lyrics was published in a handsome volume worthy of any coffee table. A perfect gift for all true music lovers, this should also be considered for any literary loyalist as it makes the case for Dylan to be included in the company of revolutionary wordsmiths like Dickinson or Whitman. As Salman Rushdie argued, Dylan is "the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition."
Recommended by James Conrad of The Golden Notebook, Woodstock.
Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees
Abbeville publishing, 2016, $37
The perfect gift for anyone who appreciates the beauty of nature. Moon photographs some of the oldest and most revered trees on earth. The fact that they are all shot at night is the book's most enthralling element as Moon illuminates features of the nighttime sky often undetected by the naked eye. These brilliant astronomical panoramas provide gorgeous frames for the majestic subjects below. Among the writing that accompanies the photos, local author on spirituality and religion Clark Strand contributes a heart-opening essay on photography as pilgrimage and the spiritual qualities intrinsic to trees.
Recommended by Jeff Cuiule of Mirabai of Woodstock.
Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Tor, 2016, $25.99
One of the coolest local books to come out this year is Heuvelt's terrifying yet witty and reasonable novel set in a fictional Hudson Valley town, translated from the Dutch original. I projected Rosendale as I read it and you can do the same for your town. The central horror—an old witch with sewn-shut eyes who likes to stand at the end of your bed—is leavened (or worsened?) by the social media realism of modern life.