December Reading Recommendations

Looking for a gift for the book lover in your life? Check out these recommendations for inspiration! You can also find all of the book suggestions from past Peninsula Pulse reading-recommendations columns at

Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr. 
Recommended by Morgan Mann, Community Relations Library Assistant, Door County Library

Written by an investigative journalist and from family papers, Empty Mansions tells the story of a little-discussed industrialist, W.A. Clark, who was a contemporary of Rockefeller, Carnegie and Morgan. 

Clark was born in a four-room log cabin in Pennsylvania, moved to Iowa with his family at 17, caught “gold fever,” and traveled to Colorado and then Montana, where he started making his fortune. He became a senator, owned the land that is now Las Vegas (Clark County is his namesake), and finished the last stretch of the Transcontinental Railroad from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. 

From all of this, Clark made a fortune that his youngest daughter, Huguette, inherited along with her six half-siblings. She and her mother helped to create the Paganini Stradivarius Quartet and owned renowned works such as Monet’s “Water Lilies,” not seen in public since 1930. 

Huguette died in 2011 at age 105. This true story touches on how families contend with the end of life, money and power, trust and generosity, and living the American Dream.

Persuasion by Jane Austen
Recommended by Steven Rice, Museum and Archives Manager, Door County Historical Museum

Colder weather seems to turn everyone slightly introspective, and there’s no better book to curl up with and savor on a cold night than Persuasion: Jane Austen’s last and most personal novel.

In it, Anne Elliot has missed her shot at love. Persuaded to reject the marriage proposal of penniless sailor Frederick Wentworth, Anne has spent seven years regretting her choice while doing her best to keep her snobbish family from financial ruin. Now Frederick has returned as a decorated and wealthy naval captain, and Anne must decide once and for all where her heart lies – if only there’s still time.

Persuasion is a short book, but each page packs an intensity rarely present in Austen’s earlier novels. At once the portrait of a young woman struggling with anxiety and family dysfunction, a biting satire of the English gentry, and a quietly gorgeous love story, this is a surprisingly modern read that doesn’t pull its punches. Anne Elliot’s emotional world is opened to readers from the first, and she’s a rewarding and candid companion through the ups and downs of upper-crust social life that follow.

All the Colors of Life by Lisa Aisato
Recommended by Liz Welter, owner, Novel Bay Booksellers

Are you looking for something to decompress with? Would you like to enjoy a beautiful book with illustrations depicting the various stages of life? All the Colors of Life is such a book.

Celebrated artist Lisa Aisato distills the many stages of life, in all their rainbow hues, into a lushly illustrated book that will inspire and comfort readers at all moments of their journey. Linger over more than 100 beautiful images, stunning in their diversity. Each illustration is an exuberant story unto itself.

Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount
Recommended by Grace Johnson, Peninsula Pulse staffer and bibliophile

If you aren’t sure what will delight the book enthusiast in your life, I recommend getting a book about books. Your lover of literature will appreciate this fun collection of all things books and writing.

Author Jane Mount brings literary people, places and things to life through her signature and vibrant illustrations. It’s a must-have for every book collection and makes a wonderful literary gift for bibliophiles, writers and others. The book includes a tour of some of the world’s most beautiful bookstores, quizzes about the written word, curated book recommendations, a peek inside the workspaces of authors and more.

Mount also offers accompanying items: notecards, a reading journal, postcards, a notebook set, bookish ceramic vases and more. She also has a special edition called Bibliophile: Diverse Spines that includes recommendations and more that lift up the works of authors who are often underrepresented in the literary community.