Once upon a Christmas, a grandfather unwrapped a copy of the then wildly popular The Hunger Games. Turns out it was not a must-read for this recipient, who though an avid adventure fan didn’t quite appreciate the disturbingly dystopian premise. The lesson? One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to giving books as holiday presents. But once you’re on the same page with your recipient, there’s a book that’s bound to satisfy whatever their specific interests may be—from cooking or crafts to music and mystery. The titles on the following pages, all published within the last year, are well suited to south Louisianans young and old. May the gifting odds be ever in your favor!
By Courtney Allison
Fans of Allison’s French Country Cottage blog know the Northern California author and stylist as a go-to source of cozy chic decorating ideas all year long, but her seemingly effortless scenes gain an extra sparkle of candlelit sentimentality during the holidays. In these pages, she brings readers inside her family’s renovated cottage home for Christmas mornings and holiday parties complete with recipes, and she shares step-by-step instructions on creating handmade wreaths and ornaments.
By Matt Moore
Hungry attendees at the Louisiana Book Festival in October might have followed the aroma of searing flank steak to a tent where Moore was demonstrating his prowess with a cast-iron skillet. Moore’s passion for sharing his Southern meat-forward recipes is also on display in this, his fifth book, which also serves as a deep dive into at-home butchering and a guide to some of the best butchers around the world.
By Hudson Moore
“It’s a match made in heaven,” begins this homage to the South’s most timeless color scheme, and we couldn’t agree more. With page after page of pretty interiors, Moore dishes up a delft dose of inspiration that would look at home on any Baton Rouge coffee table. “Blue and white can bend to an improbably wide range of styles,” he writes, revealing rooms by designers including Mark D. Sikes and Miles Redd. “The allure of blue and white is, quite simply, elemental.”
By Sam Irwin
Baton Rouge author and longtime inRegister contributor Sam Irwin brings his deep-rooted knowledge of music to the spotlight in this ode to early 20th-century jazz performers. As the title suggests, Irwin goes beyond basics to share “the how and why of their circumstances,” from Louis Armstrong’s teenage performance in Baton Rouge to the rousing gigs of unrecorded Capital City bandleader Mose “Toots” Johnson. “When you grow up in south Louisiana,” Irwin writes, “great music is all around you.”
By Wendy Chin-Tanner
New York poet Wendy Chin-Turner’s fascination with stories of her father’s time as a patient at the Hansen’s Disease Center in Carville prompted this foray into historical fiction. Set in the 1950s, the novel follows 15-year-old Victor Chin on a journey to physical and emotional healing in unexpected ways. The author’s hope, she writes in a note in the book, is to carry on “the legacy of illuminating the struggles and triumphs of Carville’s remarkable community.”
By Olivia Worley
An island-set reality show for teen influencers turns into a real-life murder mystery in this debut YA novel by New Orleans native Olivia Worley. “Going live” takes on a whole new meaning for these Instagram models, TikTok celebrities and YouTubers, and finding out whodunit is all part of the campy fun for readers. “It’s a view you could kill for,” thinks one of the contestants as she sails toward the island destination. “Or maybe it’s to die for.”
By Kimberly Willis Holt
A trio of tweens born after Hurricane Katrina become the heroines of their own story as they take on transitions and traumas. Holt, a Navy brat whose many childhood homes included the New Orleans Westbank where she set this story, creates characters who, like the city itself, won’t be kept down even after serious challenges. “When the storm calmed, the people were pulled back like paper clips to a magnet, and they began to rebuild,” she writes. “Love and loyalty will do that.”
By Matt Haines
In a follow up to his tasty 2022 tome The Big Book of King Cake, New Orleans writer and dedicated fan of Carnival confections Matt Haines aims to spread the icing-covered love to the next generation. With help from a giant plastic baby and a host of talking pastries, a little girl learns what makes king cake unique and how it got its start. It’s a slice of Louisiana lore to satisfy any sweet tooth.