December: Read, Drink, Listen


Known for his travel books, beginning with The Palace Under the Alps and Over 200 Other Unusual, Unspoiled, and Infrequently Visited Spots in 16 European Countries, published in 1985, Bill Bryson has written about Australia, In a Sunburned Country, and the Appalachian Trail in A Walk in the Woods. Bryson wrote Notes from a Small Island in homage to England, his adopted home. Its sequel, The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island, will be published in 2016. Whether Bryson’s topic is black holes or Des Moines, his writing is a journey that is well worth the trip.
Available at Magers & Quinn

-Maureen Millea Smith is a librarian at the Edina Library and a Minnesota Book Award-winning novelist.


When traveling, I find joy being in another culture. But when life becomes too busy to hop on a plane, I naturally turn to wine, which is, as they say, 90 percent experience.

The Santadi Villa Solais Vermentino from the island of Sardinia puts me at ease with its soft yet sunny disposition. Sardinia, a wine region not as well known as its Italian neighbors, produces a number of tantalizing white and red wines. Vermentino is one of many varietals grown on the island and is a perfect treat for anyone looking to step outside of their general “white sipping” specs. It’s fresh and slightly peachy with glints of creamy orangesicle and textured minerality. So if winter weather starts to get you down, grab a bottle of Sardinian Vermentino and dream of white sandy beaches and warming rays of sunshine.
Find similar selections at Edina Liquor.

-Leslee Miller is a certified sommelier and owner of local wine consulting firm, Amusee.


There is a lot of great holiday music by our own Minnesota talent!

Inspirational vocalist Tonia Hughes released a CD called Celebrate in time for the 2014 holiday season. It is a reflection of Hughes’ faith, and her love of holiday music. She collaborated with her husband, producer Brian Kendrick, her son, Cameron Wright, and friends Billy Steele and Darnell Davis, among others. You may also know her as an actress whose work includes Black Nativity and Caroline or Change at the Guthrie Theater, and Cinderella at the Ordway.

There are gorgeous arrangements on her CD, with lush strings and rich vocals, making this a holiday gift we can give to ourselves. “Carol of the Bells” and “Winterlude” are two of my favorites.
Available on iTunes.

-Patty Peterson is an award-winning vocalist and KBEM radio host.