As editors and writers at Smithsonian magazine, we have the privilege of seeing hundreds of books before they are released each year. The titles that cross our desks span the subjects near and dear to us—science, history, art, world cultures, travel and innovation. We interview authors about their new works, publish fascinating excerpts, and sometimes find inspiration in little nuggets of information within the books for stories of our own.
As the year draws to a close, we have clear favorites. We explored the caves, tombs and catacombs under our feet in Will Hunt’s Underground and Robert Macfarlane’s Underland. In Sarah Milov’s The Cigarette and Sarah A. Seo’s Policing the Open Road, we learned about tobacco and cars, two things we thought we knew until these books dug into their complex histories. And Jeff Gordinier’s Hungry, Kwame Onwuachi’s Notes From a Young Black Chef and Iliana Regan’s Burn the Place chart the bold and sometimes bumpy paths taken by three renowned chefs.
So if you're shopping for the history buffs or foodies in your family, or just looking for your own next read, take a moment to peruse our lists.