Give the gift of a good book in December. For the dad, uncle or book club member who likes hard-to-put-down narration, history and intrigue, wrap up Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin. Anne Ylvisaker’s The Luck of the Buttons and Clare Vanderpool’s Newbery Award-winning Moon Over Manifest will thrill the voracious middle school reader. Minnesota history buffs will appreciate The Opposite of Cold: The Northwoods Finnish Sauna Tradition, a photographic journey that will leave the viewer longing for winter and a sauna. Michael Nordskog and Aaron W. Hautala won a 2011 Minnesota Book Award for their efforts on this book.
-Maureen Millea Smith is a librarian at Edina Library and a Minnesota Book Award-winning novelist. For many more gift ideas, go online to Hennepin County Library’s Bookspace.
--Available at Edina Library, 5280 Grandview Sq.; 952.847.5425
Put a little sparkle in your holiday season with a fun new bubbly! And remember, just because it’s sparkling, doesn’t mean it’s all “champagne;” that name is particular to the wines of its French region. While there are many other famous names: cava from Spain, sekt from Germany and prosecco from Italy—we have a variety of lovely sparkling wines made right here in the U.S. From California to Oregon, winery names like Chandon and Argyle have become household favorites; yet, how many actually seek out sparkling wine from the state of New Mexico? This month, I recommend one of my favorite U.S. sparkling wine producers, Gruet Winery. Founded in the early 80’s and with vineyard space planted at a whopping 4,300 feet, the winery produces some of the coolest bubblies in the country. The Gruet sparkling rosé, with its alluring notes of strawberry, cherry and raspberry jam that lead into a crisp clean mouth-feel of bright citrus fruit, make the holiday palate quite happy. Perfect for any occasion, especially a New Year’s toast!
-Leslee D. Miller is a certified sommelier, owner of Twin Cities-based wine consulting firm Amusée, and everyone’s favorite “go to” wine gal.
--Available at France 44, 4351 France Ave. S.; 612.925.3252
Want to add a new holiday album into your rotation this year? On their new record, Oh Christmas Tree, the classic rock band Chicago stays true to the classic sound of their famous horn section on all your favorite holiday tunes. Standout tracks on the album include “Wonderful Christmas Time,” “Merry Christmas Darling,” and “On the Last Night of the Year.” Special guests include the band America, Bebe Winans and Dolly Parton.
--Paul Peterson is a local musician, producer and composer.
--Available at Target, 7000 York Ave. S.; 952.925.4610