8 Perfect Gift Books for Mother’s Day

Still stumped about gifts this Mother’s Day? Princeton University Press offers a great variety of choices for nature lovers, biography buffs, and more. Here are just a few unique ideas.

Cranshaw Jacket

Is your mother a garden lover? Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs by Whitney Cranshaw is the ultimate book for common insects and mites that can be found in yards or gardens. Whether she’s interested in finding out what has been damaging plants, or simply wants a comprehensive identification guide, this book is a must-have.


The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees by Joseph Wilson and Olivia Messinger Carril offers tips for identification and debunks an array of myths about bees. With other 900 full-color photos, as well as tips on how to attract bees to your backyard, there’s no doubt this is a wonderful choice for someone who loves natural history, gardening, and insects.

silent sparks jacket

What could be more magical than fireflies?  Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies by Sara Lewis is a fitting choice for lovers of beauty, mystery, and the biology behind the scenes. Silent Sparks details why and how fireflies make their light, providing a tour of the different species that span the globe.

offshore sea life howell OffShore Sea ID Guide

No matter which coast your mother loves to visit, there are perfect guides available to help her identify sea life. Offshore Sea Life ID Guide: West Coast and Offshore Sea Life ID Guide: East Coast are both full of beautiful photos to assist in the identification of whales, dolphins, sea lions, sharks, and more. The guide is ideal for beginners and experts alike.

Living on Paper

For the mother who loves to settle down with a good biography, Living on Paper: Letters from Iris Murdoch is the perfect gift. The book is unique in that it is composed from over 760 of Murdoch’s personal letters, offering unprecedented insight into her life and personality.


For mothers who love nature, memoirs, or birdsong, Listening to a Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific is a wonderful option. Author Donald Kroodsma intimately details his journey with his son across the country while they document birdsong.

the fourth pig mitchison jacket

Remind your mother of fairy tales read together, now with a twist. This collection of short stories and poems reimagines well-known tales like “The Little Mermaid” and “The Three Little Pigs”. This updated edition of The Fourth Pig by Naomi Mitchison is an intriguing bridge between childhood favorites and the darker versions adults save for themselves.

Happy Mother’s Day!


Get Some R&R This Holiday Season (Read about Religion)

With the holiday season upon us, we’re busy decorating, planning out menus worthy of a 5-star restaurant, and worrying about gifts. But underneath the material chaos, many may be thinking more consciously of the holidays their families celebrate and their religious roots.

This holiday season, PUP has several books that explore major world religions and what they mean—and have meant throughout history.

Fk10560irst up is the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which begins on December 6th of this year and ends on the 14th. The Love of God, published this Fall, takes readers on an exploration of one of the most essential aspects of Judaism—the love of God.

Delving into the origins of the concept and tracing its beginnings to the ancient institution of the covenant, Jon D. Levenson explains the love of God in Judaism as a profoundly personal two-way relationship, expressed in God’s love for the people of Israel. Levenson examines the ways in which this bond has endured through countless persecutions and tribulations. To read further on Levenson’s thoughts on his new book, check out his recent Q&A here.k10587

Not long after Hanukkah comes to an end this year, the celebration of the prophet’s birthday occurs on the 24th of December in the US. While there are mixed ideas of how to celebrate the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday—celebrations can range from parades, decorations, readings, and food donations—others make it a time of quiet reflection and choose to fast or put aside more time to read the Koran.

The late Shahab Ahmed’s book, What is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic, is a fascinating new look at Islam that challenges many preconceived notions. Ahmed re-imagines a new concept of the historical constitution of Islamic law while placing it in a philosophical, ethical, and political context. An important read for anyone looking to see the religion of Islam in a new and intriguing light.

The bk10688irth of Jesus Christ is a story Christians and non-Christians alike are familiar with, but many who celebrate Christmas are unacquainted with other aspects of the Christian faith. George Marsden’s C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity: A Biography takes readers on the journey that C.S. Lewis took from atheism to Anglicanism in his well-known book, Mere Christianity. Marsden delves into Lewis’s passionate defense of the Christian religion and explores how it correlates to Lewis’s Narnia books and other writings, describing why Lewis’s case for Christianity has endured for so long, continuing to cultivate both critics and fervent admirers to this day.

These three books are a wonderful way to take a break this holiday season (and every holiday season for that matter) and reflect on why we celebrate these holidays and what they say about our closely held traditions.

Stumped for a last minute gift idea? Try these books

Buying gift or coffee-table books online can be nerve-wracking when all you have to go on is the cover and maybe, if you’re lucky, a couple of sample pages. What will the book really look like? Will it be gift-y enough? We want to take the uncertainty out of the process for you with these videos that show off three of our sumptuous recommended gift books. These books are all available now to complete your last minute holiday shopping.


Penguins: The Ultimate Guide: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10335.html

The Bee: A Natural History: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10336.html

Atlas of Cities: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10307.html


For additional holiday gift recommendations, please click here.

Holiday Gift Picks of the Week

It’s Gift Book Tuesday once again, friends.  Here are this week’s picks from Yours Truly (shhhh! Elves have favorites, too!)

* The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History by Jill Lepore:  By now you’ve seen the reviews everywhere so I’ll spare you the singing of praises and get right down to the nitty-gritty.  This book is simultaneously hilarious and terrifying.   Jill has the rare ability to make you laugh out loud with wry observations (see the sections where she’s meeting with real, live Tea Partiers in Boston’s Green Dragon Tavern) while on the next page, she’s slapping you gently in the face by making you confront the extent of your own ignorance about our nation’s founding.   She’s a professor.  She can do this with ease and the effect is genuinely staggering.  Highly recommended for anyone seeking to brush up on American history and current events without being bored to death.  It’s a quick read, delightful and thought-provoking – don’t miss this one.

*Dracula In Love by Karen Essex:  Before you judge, consider this: the vampire bubble may be bursting (Seriously.  I’m so ready to move on to Banshees or Hobgoblins.  Anything but Zombies, please!)  but this book stands apart from the “what’s hot in pop culture” sphere.  Why?  It’s decked out, grown up, literary revisionist, pedigreed fanfic.  Heck yeah!   You’ve got the original cast of characters with some pleasant feminist twists, plus some outrageous bits of meta fiction that I won’t divulge here but if you love camp, you’ll eat this up.  Oh, and when I say it’s  “grown-up”  I mean this one is not for anyone too young for the original novel.  (The blood is the life…and so much more.)   The perfect winter read for any discerning historical drama buff with a Gothic sensibility.  Essex is a masterful storyteller and she weaves a bodice-ripping good yarn full of suspense, social commentary, and sensuous detail.

*Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach: I would expect nothing less from the author of Stiff and Spook and Roach more than delivers the goods.  No topic is taboo here.  Again, maybe not the best gift for little nephew Ned (also a bit risky for the in-laws and casual work acquaintances) but this is popular science writing at its best: mind-blowing and fun.  Roach actually signs on as a test subject for several experiments and my reactions to some of these trials ranged from “good for her!” to “never in a million years.”  By diffusing the initial subject-related awkwardness with humor, she is able to answer all of those questions you’ve been dying to ask.  Three cheers for fieldwork!

Stay tuned for our next installment on Tuesday, November 23.

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