Town & Country: The Best Books to Read This December



7 standout new releases of the month—and one old favorite to revisit.

BY ADAM RATHE AND LIZ CANTRELL DEC 1, 2020


This month, dive into a historical novel about scandal and the Vanderbilts, devour a true story of the final days of a musical superstar, indulge in a collection of photos of a president's life before the Oval Office, tear through a story inspired by the real-life College Admissions Scandal, or revisit a classic Christmas tale from one of T&C's favorite writers.





Under a Gilded Moon: A Novel


By: Author Joy Jordan-Lake

Lake Union Publishingamazon.com SHOP NOW

This historical novel, which has been described as "Crawdads meets the Crawleys," follows a young woman who flees New York City for the North Carolina town where she was raised only to run smack into the power and privilege of the Vanderbilt family—who are building the Biltmore estate practically in her own back yard.



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Black Futures

One Worldamazon.com SHOP NOW Writers Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham compiled essays, poems, photos, social-media memes, and more in this thoughtful collection, which offers an inspiring look at the creative world of Black creators today.






The Last Days of John Lennon


By James Patterson


Little, Brown and Companyamazon.com SHOP NOW Friends and associates of the late John Lennon, including fellow Beatle Paul McCartney, spoke to the legendary writer James Patterson for this in-depth look at Lennon's final days—and at the man who assassinated him. A must read for music fans, true crime aficionados, or anyone looking for a deep, insightful dive into a dark chapter of American history.






Barack Before Obama: Life Before the Presidency


Ecco Pressamazon.com SHOP NOW

If you've already managed to make it through the former POTUS's recent 768-page memoir, flip through this collection of photographs from before his time in office. The photographer and author, David Katz, is a close friend of Obama's who worked alongside him back in 2004 during his first Senate run. It's a beautiful look into the lives of the future first family, before fame.






Blowing My Way to the Top: How to Break the Rules, Find Your Purpose, and Create the Life and Career You Deserve


By Jen Atkin Harper Waveamazon.com SHOP NOW

Celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin (who works with the Kardashians, Chrissy Teigan, and long ago, Madonna and Jon Galiano) might be known for giving her clients "rich girl hair," but Atkin herself had a far less glamorous upbringing. She grew up in a conservative Mormon enclave, and when she moved to L.A. at 19 with $300 and a dream to break into hairstyling, she had no idea if she'd make it. A beauty empire later, she's got stories to tell and wisdom to impart. Pick up this memoir and career guide for some New Year inspo.




Admission

By Julie Buxbaum Delacorte Pressamazon.com

$18.99$14.99 (21% off) SHOP NOW The real-life Varsity Blues scandal inspired this fictional tale about a privileged teen whose parents bribed her way into college. This ripped-from-the-headlines novel takes you into the world of the hyper-competitive college admissions process, and you might even find yourself sympathizing with Chloe, the clueless daughter who learns her parents didn't have faith in her, as she tries to right the wrongs.






A Christmas Memory: One Christmas, and The Thanksgiving Visitor (Modern Library)

Modern Libraryamazon.com SHOP NOW

Revisit Truman Capote's beloved short story from 1956, which is set in rural Alabama, where Capote grew up. The autobiographical tale, which takes place in the 1930s, describes the friendship between a seven-year-old boy, Buddy, and the elderly woman, Miss Sook, who is his distant cousin and best friend. When you read those joyful first words: "It's fruitcake weather!", you'll be transported to visions of your own childhood Christmases. The story continues to inspire even in modern times—this season, the Berkshire Theatre Group is producing an interpretation of the work, called "Holiday Memories."





ADAM RATHE

Senior Editor, Arts and Culture

Adam Rathe is a senior editor at Town & Country, covering arts and culture and a range of other subjects.


LIZ CANTRELL

Assistant to the Editor in Chief

Liz Cantrell is the assistant to the Editor in Chief of Town & Country, covering arts and culture, and has previously written for Esquire.