McDaniel College librarian emerita gives recommendations for holiday book gifting

Though an early snowstorm proved a tricky antagonist for the yearly “Books Sandwiched In,” talk by Jane Sharpe, the associate librarian emerita of McDaniel College still put together her list of the best new books to give this holiday season.

“I don’t go for [just] the bestselling, because I don’t think that just because a book sells a lot means it’s the best book. I find what really appeals to me and what I think will appeal to the people I’m shopping for,” she said during an interview after the cancellation of what would’ve been her 27th “Books Sandwiched In” talk at the college.


The titles on her list were all published in 2018, save for one that came out in late 2017 and filled an empty niche on the list.

“The Husband Hunters: American Heiresses Who Married into British Aristocracy,” published in 2017, was a needed entry in the nonfiction category and one that would be great for “people missing ‘Downton Abbey,’” she said.

One title, “The Fallen Architect,” is by local author Charles Belfoure.

The pool of fiction books was a little larger than for nonfiction, and Sharpe looked for titles that were a little less known than those by prolific names like Debbie Macomber and Danielle Steel.

Her selections are “a little bit different, but I think it’s good for minds to be exposed to different things,” she said.

Come to the Carroll Arts Center this weekend for their annual presentation of the Maryland Ensemble Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7 and 8 at 8 p.m., with a 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday. 

Though she has her own tastes and favorites, she tries to base the selections on different types of reader ranging from the young reluctant reader to the bibliophile comfortable with a lengthy read.

“Some of them are actually being given as a gifts to my family and friends,” she said.

She started her task this September, though that was even a little late by her estimation.

One misconception about the process, she said is that “everybody thinks librarians and even retired librarians get a chance to read.”

But sharing her list with friends and her community makes the task worthwhile.

“We have a wonderful community of readers and book lovers,” she said. “It thrills me when I see people reading a real book.”

  • “The Fallen Architect” by Charles Belfoure, Sourcebooks Landmark 2018 ISBN 978-1492662716 $ 25.99
  • “The Little Shop of Found Things” by Paula Brackston, St. Martin’s Press 2018 ISBN 978-1250072436 $ 27.99
  • “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” by Kate Morton, Atria Books 2018 ISBN 978-1451649390 $ 28.00
  • “The Rain Watcher” by Tatiana De Rosnay, St. Martin’s Press 2018 ISBN 978-1250200013 $ 27.99
  • “A Tale of Two Hearts (Once Upon a Dickens Christmas Book Two)” by Michelle Griepe, Shiloh Run Press 2018 ISBN 978-1683222590 $ 12.99
  • “The Husband Hunters: American Heiresses Who Married into British Aristocracy” by Anne De Courcy, St. Martin’s Press 2018 ISBN 978-1250164599 $ 27.99
  • “The Soul of America: the Battle for Our Better Angels” by Jon Meacham, Random House 2018 ISBN 978-0399589812 $ 30.00
  • “The Library Book” by Susan Orleans, Simon & Schuster 2018 ISBN 978-1476740188 $ 28.00
  • “1,000 Books to Read Before You Die” by James Mustich, Workman Publishing 2018 ISBN 978-1523504459 $ 35.00
  • “The Illustrated History of the Snowman” by Bob Eckstein, Globe Pequot 2018 ISBN 978-1493036660 $ 29.95
  • “Cook Like a Pro” by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter 2018 ISBN 978-0804187046 $ 35.00
  • “Copycat cooking: 100+ Popular Restaurant Meals You Can Make at Home” by Six Sisters’ Stuff, Shadow Mountain 2018 ISBN 978-1629724430 $ 21.99
  • “Special Newsweek Edition: LEGO: the Toy that Changed Our Lives” [Newsweek—Amazon] 2018 $ 10.99
  • “Lots of Christmas Jokes for Kids” by Whee Winn, Zonderkidz 2018 ISBN 978-0310767107 $ 4.99
  • “Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas” by Dav Pilkey, Graphix 2018 ISBN 978-0545935173 $ 9.99
  • “Turning Pages: My Life Story” by Sonia Sotomayor, illus. by Lulu Delacre. Philomel Books 2018 ISBN 978-0525514084 $ 17.99
  • “Herstory: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook the World” by Katherine Halligan, illus. by Sarah Walsh, Simon & Schuster 2018 ISBN 978-1534436640 $ 19.99
  • “Louisiana’s Story” by Kate DiCamillo, Candlewick Press 2018 ISBN 978-0763694630 $ 16.99
  • “The Snowy Nap” by Jan Brett, G.P. Putnam Sons 2018 ISBN 978-0399170737 $ 18.99
  • “Quiet” by Tomie De Paola, Simon & Schuster 2018 ISBN 978-1481477543 $17.99
  • “Can I Be Your Dog?” By Troy Cummings, Random House 2018 ISBN 978-0399554520 $ 16.99
  • “The World of Eric Carle” by Eric Carle, Phidal Publishing 2018 ISBN 978-2764325475 $ 12.99
  • “Count & Find: 100 Cats & 10 Mice,” Landoll 2018 Dollar Tree Store $ 1.00
  • “Little Christmas Tree,” Barron’s 2018 ISBN 978-1438050492 $ 4.99