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Four Favorite Books for Gifts — or Oneself

Details from the covers of <i>The History of Love</i> by Nicole Krauss, left, and <i>The Ice Harvest</i>by Scott Phillips.
Details from the covers of The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, left, and The Ice Harvestby Scott Phillips.

At a time of year defined by buying and exchanging presents, favorites both old and new demand attention.

Among the recommendations from book critic Maureen Corrigan: the novels The Ice Harvest by Scott Phillips and The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. The books share a deep sense of place -- but while one chronicles small miracles, the former details small-time disasters.

In nonfiction, Corrigan suggests considering the The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness by Joel ben Izzy, which details Izzy's own struggle with cancer and his family.

And finally, the short story "Tell Me a Riddle" by Tillie Olsen -- a 1961 tale that has emerged as an American classic -- has been packaged with some of Olsen's other work. And the introduction, written by John Leonard, imparts a welcome perspective on Olsen's work.

Copyright 2023 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR's Fresh Air, is The Nicky and Jamie Grant Distinguished Professor of the Practice in Literary Criticism at Georgetown University. She is an associate editor of and contributor to Mystery and Suspense Writers (Scribner) and the winner of the 1999 Edgar Award for Criticism, presented by the Mystery Writers of America. In 2019, Corrigan was awarded the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing by the National Book Critics Circle.