Holiday books 2: A needed pause as ’24 filings continue


How about a break from all the delay of the lectern audit and the filings, still going on at press time, of the new wanna-be politicians?

I say it is time to stop all the meanness and think about some local books for holiday gifts. So here we go with round two of holiday books for gifts.

Here are some books by local authors, many on local subjects, that might just fit into the stockings hung by the chimney with care this holiday season.

Like all book buying these days, shopping online is all the rage, but please do not forget the local independent bookstores and booksellers in our region. Pearl's Books in Fayetteville, Gazebo Books in Eureka Springs and Once Upon a Time in Tontitown are among some of the best in stocking local books of interest. They will be glad to order the books found below if not in stock.

This will be the second installment of suggested holiday books. Most notable locally themed books from the award-winning University of Arkansas Press, on the Fayetteville campus.

First up is a very serious book on immigration and resettlement that is a great read: "The Measure of Distance" by Pauline Kaldas.

It is a very bold, rare treatment to the emotions of a family trying to reunite in a strange land, as always, against their desires but for the safety of the family.

Another book, on the national market but written by a former Fayetteville resident, is "The Home for Unwed Husbands" by Molly Giles.

This is perhaps Giles' best writing effort.

A former instructor at the Master of Fine Arts Writing Clinic at the UA, many can say they still see Fayetteville in her writings years after she left to teach and write out west.

The best set of short takes about Arkansas these days has come from the pen of Joe David Rice (no relation) but one of the state's best historians and fact-finders. Rice rivals Rex Nelson in his ability to tell a tale on quirky areas of our state.He has two books out, "Arkansas Backstories (both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2): Quirks, Characters, and Curiosities of the Natural State." Both can be found at independent bookstores or online.

And speaking of Rex Nelson, the senior editor of the state's largest newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, he still has his book "Southern Fried: Going Whole Hog In A State of Wonder" on the market. This book makes a great gift for the short story reader and those needing more about Arkansas.

For those who love humor, the Butler Center in Little Rock still has the magically funny book: "The Thane of Cawdor Comes to Bauxite and Other Whimsy and Wisdom From the Pen of Mike Trimble."

For the art lover, the UA Press still has copies of the wonderful "In America Waters – The Sea in American Painting," which is outstanding for a big, colorful coffee-book-style table.

The UA Press also has a great book on enslaved people in an art and social science volume called: "Hidden In Plain Sight: Concealing Enslaved People in American Culture." The 340-page book has over 164 illustrations.

As always, I will recommend a $20 membership in the Arkansas Historical Association and its four issues of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly each season during the year. Go to for more information.

Locally, a $35 basic membership in the Washington County Historical Society ($25 for seniors and school students) delivers four issues of the Flashback, the historical quarterly about the county's history to one's mailbox for excellent year-round reading. For more information go to:

The holidays are almost here. Do not delay finding these unique gifts.

Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several Northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected].