If you want to look smart, give books as gifts. If you want to look really smart, ask your local indie bookseller for suggestions.

The Outer Banks has a wonderful community of local booksellers. Here is what they would put into your hands if you walked into their stores. And since it is the age of digital shopping, you will find each of these stores online as well. Web addresses and phone numbers will help you reach them. Shop local. Keep your Outer Banks the land you love.

Starting up north with Island Bookstore. They have stores in Kitty Hawk, Duck and Corolla: Their advice “Go big this year!”

Some titles that will make you gasp with wonder and awe. Just right for that winter day snugged up by the fireplace.

“French Cooking at Home” by Marianne Magnier-Moreno: 100 recipes simplified but with all the flavor intact.

“National Geographic the Photo Ark: One Man's Quest to Document the World's Animals”: A lifelong project by Joel Sartore. His powerful message, conveyed with humor, compassion, and art: to know these animals is to save them.

“Infinite Wonder: An Astronaut's Photographs from a Year in Space” by Scott Kelly: Can you even imagine?

Now cross the Causeway to Downtown Books in Manteo.

Located in downtown Manteo, a very walkable, browsable town. This energetic indie is always championing the local voice and story.

“The Secret Token” by Andrew Lawler. A journalist extraordinaire, Lawler gives us the whole picture of the Lost Colony here, from London to the latest archeological digs. Take your time to sift through this one.

“Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island” by Earl Swift: Just because we know the earth changes does not mean we can quite get our minds around it. Day to day life on a fragile and fascinating island in the vast Chesapeake Bay.

“The Great Alone” by Kristen Hannah: Take a journey North to Alaska. Lots of thought provoking topics in this one. Vietnam. Alaska’s native culture. The desire to live close to the land and how that can backfire sometimes. Worth staying up late for.

Take the long, windswept and awe inspiring drive down Highway 12 and you will come to the Cape of Hatteras where you will find venerable bookseller Buxton Village Books offering up some titles for the perennially curious this Holiday Season

“Senators Son” by Charles Oldham: A true crime tale akin to the Lindberg baby kidnapping but set in Currituck. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.

“How to Be a Good Creature. A Memoir in Thirteen Animals” by Sy Montgomery. From the author of “Soul of An Octopus.” If that’s not enough to grab you, it’s look into the heart and mind of Ms. Montgomery. The book is as lovely as the words it contains.

“Unsheltered” by Barbara Kingsolver. I love that Ms. Kingsolver always has a moral to her story but never shames us, her readers, for falling short. Instead, she makes us want to stretch to be more. This might be a good one to read before Christmas to help decide where to share if the year has left you with a bounty.

A free ferry ride south brings you to Ocracoke’s Books to be Red. Housed in a charming vintage cottage, it’s a great place to wander and discover new books.

“Meet the Sky” by McCall Hoyle: A boy, a girl, a hurricane. Aimed at the young adult audience but enough action for big people too. Set on the Outer Banks.

“Ocracoke” by Jeanie Owens. Another great collection of photographs from the folks at Arcadia Press. Ocracoke as you’ve never seen it.

“Witch Elm” by Tana French: A standalone mystery from the mistress of gripping suspense. You don't have to commit to three or four books for this one.

And everyone chose — “Where the Crawdad’s Sing” by Delia Owens. You may recognize Delia Owens name from her book “Cry of the Kalahari.” A scientist by profession, “Crawdads” is her first novel. Her professional chops shining, her storytelling engrossing and her heart for the natural world spread all over every page, this is a book to savor. Set in the lush marshes of coastal North Carolina, this story is especially heart wrenching this holiday season, as we all know the big hit those folks took during hurricane season.

If you feel like helping out, here are some ways to do that.

  • Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center (252) 728-1500
  • American Veterinary Medical Foundation (800) 248-2862

Gee Gee Rosell is owner of Buxton Village Books, 47918 Hwy. 12, Buxton, on Hatteras Island.

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