NEW YORK -- With more than 100,000 books published each year, it's hard to know what works best for a holiday gift. A few "experts," from a prizewinning historian to some best-selling children's authors, have suggestions:
James McBride, whose novel "The Good Lord Bird" was this year's fiction winner of the National Book Award: "And the Earth Did Not Swallow Him," by Tomas Rivera. "It's a short group of vignettes," McBride says, "but I like the writing, imagery, voice and story."
Brian Selznick, whose "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" was adapted into a feature film by Martin Scorsese: "Ballad," by Blexbolex. "This book is unlike anything I've ever seen before," Selznick wrote in an email. "It's a puzzle, a fairy tale, an adventure, a love story, made with words and pictures used in a new, utterly beguiling way. The silk-screened images, made with unbelievable fluorescent ink, will draw you in and will leave you breathless till the end."
Rachel Kushner, author of the acclaimed novel "The Flamethrowers": Manning Marable's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Malcolm X. "I think it's absolutely incredible," she says. "An impeccable work of history about a very important American figure."
Alan Taylor, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian whose latest book is "The Internal Enemy," about slavery in colonial and post-colonial Virginia: "A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek," by Ari Kellman, the story of a bloody 1864 battle in Colorado that left more than 150 Native Americans dead and the debate surrounding a memorial site dedicated in 2007. "A book about how different people can remember an event in very different ways," Taylor says.
Ann Martin, author of "The Babysitters Club" series: "In the Company of the Courtesan," by Sarah Dunant. "A mesmerizing story set in 16th-century Venice," Martin says.
Mark Halperin, co-author of "Double Down," the best-seller about the 2012 presidential election: "Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football," by Rich Cohen. Halperin praises the book's "nostalgia, great storytelling, and larger-than-life characters."
"Goosebumps" author R.L. Stine: "Fun Home," by Alison Bechdel. "This brilliant graphic novel was turned into the best musical theater play I saw all year," Stine says.