Holiday Book List – Messy Nessy Blog

Don’t count on me as a book critic here and I’m certainly no literary connoisseur, but one thing you might be able to rely on is that I’m not bad at sniffing out a good story. And by now, I think I’ve gotten to know the kinds of stories you like pretty well. So I thought with the holidays coming up and the promise of some precious downtime, here’s a few books on the MessyNessy shelf. I’ve left out the obvious classics and kept the list short so as not to overwhelm…

Take a look at some the books that the Messy Nessy blog has recommended for your reading pleasure. To see the full list, check out the page here. Commentary is from the Messy Nessy writer.

Saint Mazie
Attenberg, Jami
“Meet Mazie Phillips: big-hearted and feisty, she runs The Venice, the famed movie theatre in the rundown Bowery district of New York City. She spends her days taking tickets, chatting with drunks and eccentrics, and chasing out the troublemakers. After closing up, the nights are her own, and she fills them with romance and booze aplenty– even during Prohibition….”
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The Paris Wife
McClain, Paula
If like I was, you’ve been desperately seeking a sequel to A Moveable Feast ever since you first read it, you’ve come to the right reading list…

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, focuses on Hemingway’s first wife Hadley, beautifully mirroring his account of their time together in Paris during the Jazz Age. Both [The Paris Wife & Mrs. Hemingway] are modern classics for any Parisphile.

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The Miniaturist
Burton, Jessie
I devoured this book just a little too quickly. Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam, it pulls you into the mysterious Brandt household instantly, where eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives to begin a new life as the wife of a kind but strangely distant merchant trader. Nella’s world changes when her husband presents her with an extraordinary gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. An elusive miniaturist begins sending her tiny creations for the dollhouse that eerily mirror their real-life counterparts, helping to reveal some seriously jaw-dropping plot twists. “Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?”
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Empty Mansion: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
Dedman, Bill & Newell Jr., Paul Clark
She had three sprawling luxury homes at her disposal, but Huguette Clark chose to spend the last 20 years of her life holed up in a New York hospital room. Her father became as rich as Rockefeller and founded the city of Las Vegas, but no one had seen a photograph of Huguette for decades when she died at the age of 104– not even the caretakers who had been meticulously maintaining her three residences over the years knew what their employer looked like anymore.

These uninhabited estates became the subject of a long investigative journey, Empty Mansions. A feature film based on the book is also in the works from the creator of “American Horror Story”. To further feed your imagination, I found some photographs from the Empty Mansions website that takes us inside Huguette’s deserted properties.

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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clark
Chabon, Michael
New York, World War II, superheroes, comics, Nazis, love: It’s all here, in spades. One of the leading contenders for Great American Novel status.
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The Hotel on Place Vendôme
Mazzeo, Tilar J.
An extraordinary chronicle of life at the Ritz during wartime, when the Hôtel was simultaneously headquarters to the highest-ranking German officers, such as Reichsmarshal Hermann Göring, and home to exclusive patrons, including Coco Chanel. Mazzeo takes us into the grand palace’s suites, bars, dining rooms, and wine cellars, revealing a hotbed of illicit affairs and deadly intrigue, as well as stunning acts of defiance and treachery.
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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Riggs, Ransom
“A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs... Jacob discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As he explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here – one of whom was his own grandfather – were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow – impossible though it seems – they may still be alive.”
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Delicious!: A Novel
Reichl, Ruth
Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine. The lonely job becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room in the magazine’s library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard.

Written by a restaurant critic who found her calling as a born storyteller, “[Reichl’s] New York is a fairy-tale town where beautiful food abounds. . . . The novel presents a whole passel of surprises: a puzzle to solve; a secret room; hidden letters… and a parallel, equally plucky heroine from the past, who also happens to be a culinary prodigy.”

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The Secret History
Tartt, Donna
Loved The Goldfinch? This is Donna Tartt’s first novel before it and it’s a go-to recommendation for the non-readers in my life. The smartest murder mystery you will ever read, full of terrible people you’ll find impossibly charming, rarely has there been a book that has stuck with me so completely as this one.
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Station Eleven: A Novel
Mandel, Emily St. John
I couldn’t put this down.

“An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.”

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Villa America
Klaussmann, Liza
A New York society couple pack up their lives and move to the South of France, where they immediately fall in with a group of expats, including Hemingway, Picasso, and Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. A dazzling novel set in the French Riviera based on the real-life inspirations for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is The Night.
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