Best books of the year, with an eye toward Christmas gifts

This year my three favorite books were:

1. The new Gabriel García Márquez biography.

2. Chris Wickham's The Inheritance of Rome, and

3. Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence, read it slowly in small bits.

A very good gift book is Eric Siblin's new The Cello Suites: J.S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque Masterpiece.  It signals the sophistication of both the giver and receiver and yet it is short and entertaining enough to actually read.  Package it with the recent Queyras recording of the Suites, if need be.

My favorite classical recording this year was Alexandre Tharaud playing Satie for piano.