New Jersey-Themed Books That Make Great Holiday Gifts

Captivating novels and nonfiction volumes by Jersey authors—or about Jersey stories—for all the bibliophiles on your list.

Collage of books by New Jersey authors or about New Jersey stories

Long Gone, Come Home

by Monica Chenault-Kilgore

Written by Edison resident Monica Chenault-Kilgore, Long Gone, Come Home tells the story of Birdie, a young woman who lives in rural Kentucky. In the midst of marriage, motherhood and a mundane job, Birdie’s life suddenly changes after her husband leaves without a trace and she witnesses a murder. Birdie and her children flee to Cincinnati, where she is swept into a tough but dreamy world of jazz and clubs. —Olivia Bardo

Night Watch

by Jayne Anne Phillips

In this novel, which was long-listed for the National Book Award for fiction, Jayne Anne Phillips takes the reader to West Virginia in the 1860s, where a young girl travels with her mother to an asylum for treatment. The woman has not spoken in more than a year. There, they try to reclaim their lives in the wake of the Civil War. Phillips, a longtime New Jersey resident, is a former professor at Rutgers University. —Jacqueline Mroz

Mary Climbs In: The Journeys of Bruce Springsteen’s Women Fans

by Lorraine Mangione and Donna Luff
Rutgers University Press

In a career that spans more than half a century, Bruce Springsteen has an international fan base that encompasses multiple generations. Mary Climbs In examines the ties that bind one segment of his audience: women. The authors surveyed 1,150 women online in this look at fans and the audience-artist relationship. —Tom Wilk

Reality Check

by Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino
Ballast Books

Life hasn’t been all glitz and glamour for Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, the star of Jersey Shore who skyrocketed to fame after the iconic MTV show debuted in 2009. Although he’s been open in recent years about his battles, including addiction, not until now, in his very candid new memoir (out December 19), has he delved so deeply into his personal life. “At a certain point, when I was down to the rock bottom of rock bottoms, I would sometimes think to myself, What’s worse? Never going for your dreams, or achieving them?” Sorrentino tells New Jersey Monthly. Reality Check is for the person on your list who’s a fan of Jersey Shore or pop culture in general, or who loves a celebrity comeback story. —Julie Gordon 

Walk the Darkness Down

by Daniel Magariel

The dark, lonely days of winter in a mid-Atlantic coastal town provide the background for this story of a commercial fisherman and his wife adrift after the loss of their daughter. The Cape May author details harrowing voyages of a crew to the Hudson Canyon off the Jersey Shore and the desperate efforts of his wife to help wayward women in a nearly empty beach resort. —R.C. Staab

Remarkable Stories of New Jersey Golf

by Kevin Casey

The perfect gift for the golf lover with a healthy dose of Jersey pride, this oversized, 244-page coffee-table book is filled with interesting stories and beautiful photos showcasing the sport’s history in the Garden State—from a section on the creation of the famed Pine Valley course to a historic black-and-white snap of Babe Ruth playing golf here. —JG

Zero-Sum: Stories

by Joyce Carol Oates

A vein of horror runs though this short-story collection from one of our greatest and most prolific writers (and a Princeton emerita professor). In the darkly funny centerpiece story, an author with bipolar disorder drafts different versions of his own suicide. There are two apocalyptic tales and one called “Monstersister,” in which a parasite grows out of a girl’s skull and becomes a new being. —Julia Martin

From the Hill by the Sea

by Seadon Shouse
Halifax Hoboken

In this beautiful book, which is part cookbook and part memoir, Chef Shouse travels back to his native Nova Scotia, where he grew to love the sea, foraging and cooking. As the chef at the Halifax restaurant at the W Hotel in Hoboken, Shouse brings his delicious native cuisine to diners. His book weaves memories of his childhood fishing, foraging and cooking. —Jacqueline Mroz

Coleman Hill

by Kim Coleman Foote Zando
SJP Lit Imprint

In her debut novel, New Jersey native Kim Coleman Foote draws inspiration from her own family stories. Set during the Great Migration, two women leave behind their hometown and head to New Jersey. After the deaths of both of their husbands, they link their families, experiencing the rise and fall of heartbreak, loss and consequences for 70 years. —Olivia Bardo

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