There’s no mistaking that we love the good reading at Beyond The Trestle, and in the spirit of the holidays we’re doing something a bit different. 

We’ve polled our team of writers, members of Trestle Collective and solicited some thoughts from our friend, Annie Jones, who owns the popular, independent bookstore, The Bookshelf, to collect a variety of book recommendations to guide you this holiday season.

We’re always grateful for your reading of BTT – and don’t forget that you can support us via Patreon as well as sign up for our free, monthly newsletter – so take a little bit of time to look through our picks below and feel free to check out some of the works our team has really enjoyed.


Annie Jones, owner of The Bookshelf:

Properties of Thirst by Marianne Wiggins. Online sales manager Erin couldn’t stop talking about Properties of Thirst, a historical novel set in 1940s California as America began creating its internment camps; at once a sweeping history and an intimate family portrait, this is Olympus, Texas meets The Lincoln Highway.

The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford. Weaving beautifully among disparate timelines, The Many Daughters of Afong Moy is a character-driven novel about inherited trauma (see also: Dani Shapiro’s Signal Fires). Jamie Ford’s story — with Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to set foot in America, at its center — is one of owner Annie’s favorites this year. Don’t miss the author’s note about Ford and his son!

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb. A Bookshelf Shop Dad favorite, The Violin Conspiracy was also championed in-store by resident mystery aficionado and store manager Olivia. Brendan Slocumb’s debut literary thriller is a page-turner, aided by his own expertise as a classical musician. This one’s perfect for fans of The Ensemble or The Goldfinch.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. We believe you could put Lessons in Chemistry in the hands of almost any reader this holiday season (just trust us: ignore the bubblegum pink cover). Bonnie Garmus has created memorable characters worth rooting for (remember Maeve in The Dutch House?), and the story — set in the world of science and public television in the 1960s — remains hopeful while tackling real-world hardships with depth.

Johnathan McGinty, co-owner of Trestle Collective:

It Was All A Dream by Justin Tinsley. The definitive biography of the late Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace, Justin Tinsley weaves archived interviews, new conversations and stellar research into a captivating account of the rapper’s life. A stellar student, a drug dealer, a budding entrepreneur, a loving father, a dutiful son and one of the greatest rappers ever, Tinsley paints a complicated, but beautiful portrait of one of the most fascinating figures in recent pop culture.

The Ride Of A Lifetime by Bob Iger. His retirement may have been cut short a bit thanks to a sudden return to the helm of Disney, but the lessons culled from a lifetime of leadership from Bob Iger are well worth your time. From working his way up from ABC News to detailing his acquisitions of Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars, Iger shares thoughtful insights that are practical for anyone, even if you don’t count the world’s most famous mouse as your business partner.

A Libertarian Walks Into A Bear by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling. Every wonder what would happen if a group of like-minded Libertarians decided to take over a small New England town so they could craft their limited government utopia? Did you have “packs of aggressive bears roaming the streets” on your bingo card? Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling delicately packages up years of diligent reporting into an at times hilarious and at times sincere look at a motley group of well-meaning people who just let their dream get a bit out of hand.

Lindsey Ranayhossaini, Trestle Collective team member:

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy. While we don’t recommend gifting this title to a loved one without proper context, there’s a reason this memoir by former child actress Jennette McCurdy topped the New York Times bestseller list for eight consecutive weeks. Just as shocking as its title, McCurdy’s memoir is filled with dark humor and gripping details of her complicated relationship with her mother. It’s a page-turner to say the least and would serve as a great companion for holiday travel. 

Ashley Sheppard, owner of emdashery:

Mama’s Boy by Dustin Lance Black. From one of the poorest communities in America to the echelons of Hollywood, Dustin Lance Black’s memoir tells the story of his tenacious, spirited mother and the inspiring relationship between a mother and son — even when it seems their very foundations are in opposition. Beyond its throughline of Black’s polio-surviving mother who beats the odds at every turn, it’s a blueprint for how love can bring people to the table to overcome differences.

The Tiger & the Cage by Emma Bolden. Put this book in the hands of anyone who’s experienced chronic illness and waged a war with their own body. Bolden’s early teens are eclipsed by the onset of crippling endometriosis, and her memoir chronicles her search for relief in a medical complex not prepared to help her. At turns darkly funny and rage-inducing in an answerless search for answers, it’s a brilliant reflection on just how unexpected life can be.

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Music lovers will dig this immersive oral history of a fictional 70s-era California band loosely inspired by Fleetwood Mac. The retrospective unravels a meteoric rise to fame, intense relationships and the long-held secrets of why one of the world’s biggest bands left the stage at the height of their popularity. Rock-n-roll, man.

Claire Jordan, Trestle Collective team member:

Dune by Frank Herbert. This “original” sci-fi circus is almost unapproachable but desperately relevant. Follow along with the glossary of terms that occupies the last 20 pages, and you’ll be checking it off your list in approximately eight months. Reading this book is kind of like learning a dead language or conducting a children’s choir. You won’t get nearly enough clout for the effort it requires, but you will receive a new world entirely your own. The themes are poppin’ and the worms are rockin’. Good luck. 

Thomas Ehlers, Trestle Collective team member:

Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s no holiday book, but it does detail a trip that happened one million years ago (in 1986). The dead narrator takes us through a group of people’s escape from economic crisis, famine and war to the Galapagos Islands and watches as the human race de-evolves. Good reading into a bad situation.

Into the Wild by John Krakauer. In this novel, Krakauer retraces the steps of Christopher McCandless, a college graduate that set off to survive in the Alaskan wilderness with minimal supplies. While McCandless succumbed to illness or injury — no one really knows — Krakauer rules out situations and finds his truth to the unsolved case.

Please consider shopping for these and all your book needs at your local, independent bookstore, and know that we’d appreciate it if you considered spending some money on good reading with Annie and her team at The Bookshelf on some good reading. If it’s not listed on their website, they’re more than happy to order it for you, and they also offer a host of subscriptions and book clubs to consider, as well as one of the most charming podcasts out there.

Are you a fan of good reading but don’t want to buy a book? Check out some of our longer form stories. We’ve got our stories sorted by context, moments, people and places.

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Johnathan McGinty has worked in sports journalism and sports public relations for the past 20 years. If there's an opportunity to put together an oral history on something, he'll find a way to do it.