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Welcome to the 2015 Politics and Prose Holiday Newsletter. As we have in past years, we’ve tried to select the best—and most beautiful—recent books, fiction and nonfiction, to help you with gift-giving.

It’s also traditional to emphasize how difficult making these choices has been—it’s not just a matter of so many books, but of so many truly wonderful books. This year there’s been an especially impressive outpouring of short fiction and memoirs, but you’ll find bookseller favorites on all subjects here. Enjoy!

Glossy design magazines generally feature interiors conspicuously lacking in the lived-in look. Where are the personal touches, the pet fur, the clutter? We know people don’t really live such pristine lives—but when we look at the paintings of Dutch Old Masters, we take those immaculate rooms at face value. In reality, as Judith Flanders, author of the revelatory The Victorian City shows, these pictures omitted much of the messy reality of daily life. The Making of Home (Thomas Dunne, $26.99) has been a long process, involving more than idealized visions of the household, and Flanders tracks down what art left out by examining 17th-century inventories of Dutch and British private property, finding the myriad  tools, bedding, smoky lighting, lack of ventilation, and sheer crowds that packed tiny living spaces. Widening her discussion to include northern Europe and the United States, Flanders traces changing uses, materials, and cultural meanings of an array of household features including windows, curtains (which both displayed and veiled their owners’ lives), stairs and their relation to the invention of the corridor, cupboards, and how they started as chests, and on to heating, cooking, furniture, floors, and more, all the while bringing this complex domestic infrastructure to rich and vivid life with narratives of the changing notions of family, gender roles, and the very meanings of “public,” ”private,” “work,” and even “dirt.”

The Making of Home: The 500-Year Story of How Our Houses Became Our Homes Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781250067357
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Thomas Dunne Books - September 8th, 2015

The Making of Home: The 500-Year Story of How Our Houses Became Our Homes Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781250096111
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin's Griffin - October 25th, 2016

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