Holiday List Books 2020

2020 Holiday List

To round out the year and ring in 2021, we’ve compiled a list of the best new and classic books to read and give this holiday season.

Happy holidays to all! Since 1924, New Dominion Bookshop has been the place to find special holiday gifts. Support your community bookstore by shopping local and early for your gifts this year! Below are our hand-picked recommendations for everyone on your gift list.

How to Order

To order books, email us at staff[at]ndbookshop[dot]com or fill out the contact form on our website here. For personal recommendations or to purchase gift cards, give us a call at 434-295-2552. New Dominion Bookshop is currently open for limited browsing, curbside pickup, free local delivery within five miles of the shop, and shipping (normal rates apply). Free gift-wrapping is available for all orders!


General Nonfiction

Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread
By Michiko Kakutani
From the former chief book critic of the Times comes a guide to classics and new discoveries illustrated in the style of vintage bookplates. (Clarkson Potter)

Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave
By Joanna Gaines
Joanna Gaines, of Fixer Upper and Magnolia brands fame, brings her signature style to this lovely coffee table book. (Harper Design)

World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments
By Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Nonfiction lyrical essays on the beauty and mystery of the natural world, with gorgeous color illustrations. (Milkweed)

150 Glimpses of the Beatles
By Craig Brown
“A critical appreciation, a personal history, a miscellany…and a tribute as passionate and worshipful as any fan letter.” —Esquire (FSG)

Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World
By Pema Chödrön
Chödrön’s newest book of wisdom brings Tibetan Buddhist principles to the challenges of living in the modern world. (Shambhala)

Kant’s Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write
By Claire Messud
From Beirut to the MFA Boston, Messud takes us on an autobiographical tour—part literary appreciation and part family story. (Norton)

A Dictionary of Symbols
By Juan Eduardo Cirlot
Sure to start an interesting conversation, this unusual dictionary traces symbols in art and literature. Either browse or read cover-to-cover to find unexpected connections. (NYRB Classics)

Lives of the Stoics: The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius
By Ryan Holiday
Refresh your knowledge of classical thought and revisit the great questions with this exploration of the “well-lived” life. Perfect for the philosopher in your life. (Portfolio)

No Man’s Land: The Trailblazing Women Who Ran Britain’s Most Extraordinary Military Hospital During World War I
By Wendy Moore
“It reminds us that great courage and great ingenuity are possible even when the world feels very dark.” —The New York Times (Basic Books)

The Best of Me
By David Sedaris
This must-have collection, spanning decades of work, reads like a hall of fame of David Sedaris’s very best and funniest essays. (Little, Brown)

Biography & Memoir

This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing
By Jacqueline Winspear
“Jacqueline Winspear has created a memoir of her English childhood that is every bit as engaging as her Maisie Dobbs novels…Lovely, elegant and welcoming.” —Anne Lamott (Soho Press)

A Promised Land
By Barack Obama
Barack Obama’s first volume of his presidential memoirs. Order early to ensure you get your copy in time for the holidays, as demand is high! (Crown)

She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs
By Sarah Smarsh
Sarah Smarsh’s latest continues to explore working-class America, this time tracing the impact of Dolly Parton’s legacy on the lives of other blue-collar women. (Scribner)

Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times
By David S. Reynolds
“Reynolds’s cultural history illuminates [Lincoln’s]…transformation from self-made lawyer into American Abe. Even readers long marinated in the Lincoln literature will find revelation.” —The New Yorker (Penguin Press)

Is This Anything?
By Jerry Seinfeld
Laugh your way through the holidays with Jerry Seinfeld’s best and most memorable jokes. For anyone nostalgic for the ’90s! (Simon & Schuster)

Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking
By Bill Buford
Foodies and Francophiles alike will love this hilarious memoir from the bestselling author of Heat. (Knopf )


Blue Marlin
By Lee Smith
A coming-of-age novella about a family trip to Key West. As the vacation progresses, secrets are revealed with Smith’s signature wit and warmth. (Blair)

The Vanishing Half
By Brit Bennett
Longlisted for the National Book Award, this compelling book club favorite tells the story of twins who live on opposite sides of the racial divide. (Riverhead  )

Ready Player Two
By Ernest Cline
Ernest Cline’s sequel to his sci-fi bestseller Ready Player One. The go-to gift for any action-adventure fan. (Ballantine)

By Marilynne Robinson
In her eagerly-awaited fourth Gilead novel, Marilynne Robinson finally gives center stage to troubled prodigal son John Ames Boughton. (FSG )

The Memory Police
By Yoko Ogawa
The Memory Police
is a surreal and haunting fable, perfect for fans of George Orwell’s 1984 or the work of Haruki Murakami. (Vintage)

A Wealth of Pigeons
By Steve Martin
Illustrated by Harry Bliss
Steve Martin’s first foray into cartoons, illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss. Limited signed copies available! (Celadon)

Transcendent Kingdom
By Yaa Gyasi
“I would say that Transcendent Kingdom is a novel for our time (and it is) but it is so much more than that. It is a novel for all times.” —Ann Patchett (Knopf   )

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
By V. E. Schwab
Addie LaRue, though immortal, is doomed to be forgotten by all who meet her—but one day, someone remembers her name. (Tor Books)

Mysteries & Thrillers

The Searcher
By Tana French
A man moves to rural Ireland for some peace and quiet and gets more than he bargained for in this suspenseful stand-alone novel. (Viking)

Saint X
By Alexis Schaitkin
Claire’s sister disappears while on a Caribbean vacation. Years later in NYC, Claire meets one of the former suspects. A page-turner with literary force. (Celadon)

All the Devils Are Here
By Louise Penny
In the sixteenth Chief Inspector Gamache novel, the setting is Paris and the plot is thick! A fast read set against the City of Light. (Minotaur)

Long Bright River
By Liz Moore
A noir thriller in which two sisters with very different lives cross ways in a richly-portrayed Philadelphia. (Riverhead )


African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song
Edited by Kevin Young
Kevin Young, poet and incoming director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, edits this anthology of voices and movements from Les Cenelles to Cave Canem. (Library of America)

The Lost Spells
By Robert MacFarlane
Illustrated by Jackie Morris
From the creators of The Lost Words comes a magically illustrated book of nature poems and lyrical spells. For the Anglophile! (Anansi International )

By Margaret Atwood
Accessible poetry on unexpected subjects from the author of The Handmaid’s Tale. The most literary stocking-stuffer! (Ecco)

By Mary Oliver
The bestselling selected poems from the beloved nature poet, finally in paperback! Introduce to a friend or save for yourself to lighten the winter days. (Penguin)


Modern Comfort Food
By Ina Garten
The Barefoot Contessa is back! Easy, delicious dishes, perfect for staying home this winter. (Clarkson Potter)

Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence
By Claire Saffitz
The former Bon Appétit contributing editor and host of the popular cooking show Gourmet Makes walks you through every dessert you can imagine making at home. Rediscover the fun of baking with your family! (Clarkson Potter)

Ottolenghi Flavor
By Yotam Ottolenghi
Already a bestseller, Ottolenghi Flavor is the latest from the world-renowned chef who brought us Plenty and Simple. A gorgeous gift and worth it for the photographs alone! (Ten Speed Press)

Meals, Music, and Muses: Recipes from My African American Kitchen
By Alexander Smalls
A collection of classic recipes and family anecdotes from chef and opera singer Alexander Smalls. Inside, find recipes for jam biscuits, fried okra, bourbon praline-candied baked ham, and more. (Flatiron)

Signed Copies

A Time for Mercy
Signed by John Grisham

The Bird Way
Signed by Jennifer Ackerman

If We Were Giants (limit 3 per customer)
Signed by Dave Matthews

The Wrong Kind of Woman
Includes special bookplate signed by Sarah McCraw Crow


The Couch Potato
By Jory John
Illustrated by Pete Oswald
Why would the Couch Potato challenge himself if he thinks he has everything he needs? This book speaks to both kids and adults. The fourth in the Bad Seed series. Ages 4   – 8. (HarperCollins)

Before the Ever After
By Jacqueline Woodson
A powerful novel-in-verse about a boy whose father, once a famous professional football player, now struggles with the lifelong effects of his sports injuries. Ages 10   –16. (Nancy Paulsen Books)

The Whales on the Bus
By Katrina Charman
Illustrated by Nick Sharratt
Sing along to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus” with this silly board book. Give now or save for the next baby shower. Ages 0  –3. (Bloomsbury)

Will You Be My Friend?
By Sam McBratney
Illustrated by Anita Jeram
A much-anticipated new story about Little Nutbrown Hare, who does manage to make friends. Very cozy. Ages 2 – 6. (Candlewick)

The Language of the Universe: A Visual Exploration of Mathematics
By Colin Stuart
Illustrated by Ximo Abadia
Can a math book be beautiful, awe-inspiring, instructive, and fun? The answer is yes! Ages 8  –13. (Big Picture)

A Polar Bear in the Snow
By Mac Barnett
Illustrated by Shawn Harris
As cute as it sounds, with collage illustrations that follow a polar bear’s journey through the winter landscape. Ages 3–7. (Candlewick)

In the Half Room
By Carson Ellis
What if your room had a half-table, or a half-bed? Wouldn’t that be silly? Enjoy this bedtime book that truly captures how kids make sense of the world. Ages 4   – 8. (Candlewick)

Carol Troxell Reader

From the Virginia Festival of the Book:
“The Virginia Festival of the Book is pleased to honor Carol’s legacy by naming an annual Carol Troxell Reader, who will be featured in a solo reading at New Dominion in addition to their regular program.”

Three Hours in Paris
By Cara Black
The fourth Carol Troxell Reader will be Cara Black, author of the thriller Three Hours in Paris. From the author of the beloved Aimée Leduc detective series comes a stand-alone World War II–era spy thriller set in Nazi-occupied Paris. Three Hours in Paris has been called “heart-racing” and “a riveting game of cat and mouse.” Cara Black’s books have always been shop favorites, and Carol Troxell would often recommend the latest Cara Black novel every year. (Soho Crime)


When We Were Very Young
By A. A. Milne
Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard

By Frank Herbert

The Selected Works of Audre Lorde
By Audre Lorde
Edited by Roxane Gay

Death Comes for the Archbishop
By Willa Cather

The Gifts of Imperfection: 10th Anniversary Edition
By Brené Brown

Death on the Nile: A Hercule Poirot Mystery
By Agatha Christie

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother
By James McBride

Crossing to Safety
By Wallace Stegner

Selected Poems
By Gwendolyn Brooks

Leadership: In Turbulent Times
By Doris Kearns Goodwin

By Daphne Du Maurier

Last Stop on Market Street
By Matt de la Peña
Illustrated by Christian Robinson


The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Snowy Hide & Seek
By Eric Carle
A lift-the-flap board book for the littlest fans of the Hungry Caterpillar! Another great winter baby gift. Ages 0  –3. (World of Eric Carle)

12 Days of Christmas
Illustrated by Lara Hawthorne
Learn the lyrics to “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with illustrations reminiscent of American Folk Art. Ages 1–5. (Frances Lincoln)

Happy Narwhalidays
By Ben Clanton
A homerun gift: the newest Narwhal and Jelly book! The usual hijinks in a holiday setting under the sea. Ages 4 –9. (Tundra Books)

The Atlas of Christmas: The Merriest, Tastiest, Quirkiest Holiday Traditions from Around the World
By Alex Palmer
Get a great holiday conversation going around the yule log by reading selections from this book out loud to the family. For all ages! (Running Press)