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On the Bookshelf: Locally written books for holiday gift-giving

By: Kate Uptergrove


St. Louis boasts a wealth of local authors. Discovering their works, especially in December, can be a fun way to keep your holiday gift shopping local and personal. From St. Louis history to sports to life lessons, this brief list [yes, these are but a few of the titles available from St. Louis and St. Charles authors] offers a great place to start. Another wonderful way to become familiar with local authors is a trip to a locally owned bookstore or your community library.

LOCAL HISTORY

Images of America book series. From Ballwin to Wentzville, these ultra-local community histories are the perfect collection for the history buff on your holiday gift list. Many city halls also have a supply of local history books for sale.

Weird, wild and filled with fun, this incredible guidebook delivers the ultimate tour of a unique state in the winter months. Written by Missouri natives, the Missouri Almanac 2018-2019 is compiled from collections and institutions from Kansas City to St. Louis and everywhere in between. Written by Amanda E. Doyle, Carolyn Mueller Kelly, Traci Angel, John Brown and Andrea Sumy.  Reedy Press

Author Jim Merkel tells the story behind one of America’s most distinctive and beloved national monuments. More than two million visitors stand in awe at the Gateway Arch each year. But what about the the visionaries, finaglers, protesters and intrepid workers who raised it to the sky? Read their stories in The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch.  Reedy Press

Lost Treasures of St. Louis celebrates a kaleidoscope of bygone places, events and items once identified with the Gateway City from Famous-Barr to Sportsman’s Park, from Mavrakos Candy to Falstaff Beer. Step back in time with author Cameron Collins and get to know St. Louis as never before.

Why are turtles incorporated into the wrought iron fence at The Old Court House? Can beaver be eaten during Lent? Why are pieces of metal track embedded in some local streets? These and other questions about St. Louis routinely perplex both natives and newcomers to the area. Author Valerie Battle Kienzle uncovers What’s With St. Louis?: The Quirks, Personality, and Charm of the Gateway City. Reedy Press

This Used to be St. Louis is a quick read by author/historian NiNi Harris that also acts as a tour guide for anyone who loves St. Louis and wonders what its houses, parks, roads and offices used to be. Reedy Press

St. Louis: An Illustrated Timeline delves deep into the mix of politics, personality and culture that make up the Gateway City. Guided by historian Carol Shepley, you’ll meet legends of sports, entertainment and crime, including the Gashouse Gang, Egan’s Rats, Branch Rickey, Stan Musial, Scott Joplin, Miles Davis and Nelly. Heroes and villains, saints and rapscallions, innovators and obstructionists – all have shaped this city and all can be found in this delightful coffee table tome. Reedy Press

In 1818, Rose Philippine Duchesne traveled up the Mississippi River to St. Charles where she founded the first free school west of the Mississippi. Today, her name remains tied to Catholic education in St. Louis and the history of St. Charles. But what else do you know about the young french woman who would become a saint? Let Theresa Riley Shaw share her story in Mademoiselle Duchesne: Mere Duchesne, Rscj. Available at Barnes & Noble.

SPORTS ENTHUSIASTS

Incredible Cardinals, written by Ed Wheatley and illustrated by Ed Koehler, brings the stories of the Cardinal heroes portrayed on the Busch Stadium’s outfield wall to life for children of all ages. This colorful and engaging book is sure to be a hit with Cardinal fans from age 5 to 95. Reedy Press

In Bernie Federko: My Blues Note, Federko reflects on his life on and off the ice. From his childhood in Foam Lake, Saskatchewan, to years in St. Louis playing with teammates like Brian Sutter and Mike Liut, to his recent years in the Blues’ broadcasting booth.

Sports columnist Dan O’Neill presents the story of the St. Louis Blues – from the humble beginnings and early expansion-team nights though dramatic ups and downs and the on-going quest to capture an elusive Stanley Cup Championship. When the Blues Go Marching In: An Illustrated Timeline of St. Louis Blues Hockey is the perfect gift for any die-hard hockey fan on your list. Reedy Press

St. Louis Browns: The Story of a Beloved Team is described as “destined to become the definitive source for the team’s splendid history: the good, the bad and the ugly.” It is filled with unique and colorful stories and illustrated by exquisite photographs. Written by Bill Borst, Bill Rogers and Ed Wheatley. Reedy Press

For more than a century, the St. Louis Cardinals have given their fans a long succession of glorious memories and milestones. The book Immortal Moments in Cardinal History looks back at the 100 greatest moments in franchise history, from the forgotten victories of four consecutive pennant winners in the 1880s right through the 2013 National League Championship. Written by Bob Tiemann and Ron Jacober. Reedy Press

FOOD & DRINK

Suzanne Corbett, award-winning writer, culinary teacher, food historian and West Newsmagazine reporter, is the author of Unique Eats and Eateries of St. Louis. Regardless of the season, St. Louis diners can always find something good to eat. A perfect gift for foodies and history buffs – much like The Gilded Table: Recipes and Table History from the Campbell House and Pushcarts & Stalls: The Soulard Market History Cookbook.

Beer lovers and history buffs alike will enjoy St. Louis Brews: The History of Brewing in the Gateway City. Journey through the city’s lagering caves, malt houses and beer gardens alongside legendary brewers named Lemp, Anheuser, Busch, Griesedieck and more. This beautiful coffee table book is a thick 320 pages filled with photos. Written by Don Roussin, Henry Herbst and Kevin Kious.

LIFE LESSONS

In Prepare Your Heart for a Great Christmas, Maria Rodgers O’Rourke combines unique reflections, plus gratitude and to-do lists to calm even the most hectic days. This book isn’t for those who aspire to be Martha Stewart or Mother Teresa, but for all women who fall somewhere in between! Available at Butterfly and Moon Gifts in St. Charles.

Using Jesus as a blueprint, Jean Walters instructs readers on how to Set Yourself Free: Live the Life YOU Were Meant to Live! Walters shares numerous examples of individuals who have overcome major challenges and obstacles to live dynamically and fully express their divine potential. Available online at spiritualtransformation.com.

Be Outrageous: Do the Impossible – others have and you can too! Learn to listen to your inner voice, believe in yourself and living authentically. Jean Walters uses exercises and instructions to help readers discover their true passions, unleash their inherent power and revel in the joy of living. Available online at spiritualtransformation.com.

Evonne Weinhaus, LPC, LCSW and Karen Friedman, ACSW have teamed up to bring parents of teenagers a guide to family peace. Stop Struggling With Your Teen: A Complete, Easy-to-Use Guide to Reconnect and Rebuild Your Relationship with Your Teen  helps parents discover how to strike that delicate balance between standing their ground while encouraging their teen’s independence.

Author Richard Daniels says fatherhood is “a tough assignment and most of us don’t know how to do it right.” In his book, A Tourist in My Own Life, he shows dads how to crack the code of deeper relationships with their children, “so you can get into the hearts of your kids and stay there.”

Stephanie Winslow, author of Ascent to Hope, describes her book as “aimed at encouraging Christian families who are struggling with addiction.” In it she shares a raw and real look at “how God worked in my heart to change me and grow my relationship with Him …” Available online at ascenttohope.com.

On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life shares the story of John O’Leary, who at age 9 was was almost killed in a devastating house fire. The insights he gained through this experience and the heroes who stepped into his life to help him through the journey are sure to inspire all who read this deeply personal account.

BUSINESS BASICS

Contacts Connections Collaboration: Building Your Business Through Relationships by Bobbi Linkemer and Karen Hoffman is described by Bhupendra O. Khatri, MD, as “Amazingly easy to understand and grasp, this book is a wealth of information on how to build a powerful network.” Available online at contactsconnectionscollaboration.com.

Authors and business gurus Karen Hoffman and Shera Dalin teach readers how to use The Art of Barter to determine their “tradable” skills, initiate a trade, figure out a fair exchange, how to close a deal and incorporate barter into everyday life.

Courageous Communication by Maryanne Dersch teaches nonprofits how to let go of fear, embrace authenticity and attract like-minded people to their organizations. Available online at maryannedersch.com.

Finding a job is a job in itself – one that requires dedication, patience and, according to author Dale Kreienkamp, prayer. How Long, O Lord, How Long? is a book of devotions for those who are  unemployed and the people who love them.

Do you have a book in you? If so, Stop Stalling and Start Writing: Kick the Excuses and Jumpstart Your Nonfiction Book might be the book for you. Author Nancy Erickson addresses the reasons you may balk at writing your book and gives you the motivation and steps to start writing.

TIME-TRAVELING REPORTERS

Is there an Elvis fan on your gift list? Perhaps Kelly Peach’s books Waking Up in Graceland and Amazing Grace are just the gifts you need. An Elvis-obsessed reporter named Maggie, time-travel and, of course, The King – the ideal weekend read, or two. Available at piccadillypeach.com.

Cracks in the Cobblestone has a familiar feel for more than just its heroines, Amelia Thornton and Megan Murphy. The quirky river town of Tirtmansic feels a lot like St. Charles and its historic Main Street. But shadows of a familiar town aren’t the only “ghosts” that haunt this engaging tale. Curl up with Cracks in the Cobblestone and when you’ve solved that mystery, move on to Susan Sagarra’s second novel, Bus Stop Angels.

JUST FOR KIDS

In The Watering Hole, Eureka resident Jeff Burton helps children discover the importance of being kind to others, making new friends and working together to solve a problem. Good lessons to learn at the holidays or any time of year. Available online at outthewindowbooks.com.

Wentzville author Sheree Nelson and St. Peter’s resident Pat Wahler tell the tale of Midnight, the One-Eyed Cat in a story of discovery beautifully illustrated by Janelle Dimmett. With the help of some unlikely friends, Midnight learns to overcome her fears. Along the way, she builds confidence and takes children on an inspiring journey into the power of friendship and love.

“A cracking good story – one that hews to the historical facts, while hewing from them the believable human figure of a boy named Abraham growing into the man Lincoln. This is a fine novel for readers of all ages and interests,” Robert Bray, author of Reading with Lincoln, wrote about Jan Jacobi’s youth novel Young Lincoln. We couldn’t have said it better.

[Editor’s note: If you can’t find a copy of these books locally, most can be found online at amazon.com or on the specific websites noted.]

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