Sarah Morice-Brubaker's Christmas picks

Jes Baker’s Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Liv­ing (Seal Press), will be a handy book to have around in early January, when our culture’s annual rites of body shaming make big money for weight-loss companies. For those of us who have difficulty mustering up affirming self-talk about our bodies, Baker, known in her blogging guise as The Militant Baker—has written a bookful. For something different, check out Kaycie D.’s illustrated deck of cards, Elements: Experiments in Character Design (KcDStudios, If you’re a nerd or live with a nerd, you stand a good chance of bringing joy with these cards. Every element of the periodic table has been anthropomorphized into a comic book character. The character illustrations began as her senior project in art, but media coverage has turned it into a popular whimsical gift. My favorite element character is Molybdenum: an unsmiling, stocky lady holding an automatic drill and sporting pigtails. On a more serious note, Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, is on lots of best-of-2015 lists—exactly where it belongs. A book to read alongside it is Negroland: A Memoir, by Margo Jefferson (Pantheon), about a woman growing up in the black upper class. It is not a rejoinder to Coates, by any means; it provides a complementary perspective. Jefferson’s favorable economic circumstances do not protect her from racism. Finally, I am told there are one or two people left who have not yet listened to the soundtrack of the Broadway hit Hamilton (Atlantic). If you’re one of them, I humbly suggest that you go listen to it right now. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s creation is a hip-hop musical about the life of Alex­ander Hamilton, and yes, I know that sounds odd. But Hamilton is very, very good. “You’ll Be Back,” sung by Jon­athan Groff’s King George as the consummate bad boyfriend, has some of the funniest lines in all of musical theater.