Ben McNally knows books. And well he should, as the owner of Ben McNally Books, a cozy bookstore nestled in the throbbing heart of King and Bay. McNally opened his doors in 2007, then admirably rode out the 2008 recession while bookstores around him were dropping like flies. He credits this success to his Bay Street clientele: “sophisticated and curious” suited types who come to his store for a well-curated selection of non-fiction and literature they can’t find elsewhere.
And McNally’s vast knowledge of the best in books is available for rent. Companies — Torkin Manes LLP, for example — hire him for events, where he’ll introduce 25 books in 25 minutes. It’s a rundown of the season’s best new titles, to help you cut through the clutter and buy for the readers on your list.
We asked McNally to hone that list down to five top picks for 2015. Consider your holiday shopping half done.
The Witches by Stacy Schiff
“A meticulous account of the Salem Witch trials of 1692, an almost unbelievable episode in American history. Riveting.”
Drinking In America by Susan Cheever
“Cheever recounts the extraordinary influence alcohol has had on American history, from Plymouth Rock to modern presidents.”
The Laws of Medicine by Siddhartha Mukherjee
“The Pulitzer Prize-winning oncologist offers a pithy, unvarnished view of the world from the physician’s chair.”
Katherine Carlyle by Rupert Thomson
“A haunting novel in which a young woman abandons her life to explore places unknown. Thomson never disappoints.”
Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
“An accomplished, moving story of an accident and its consequences, revealed through the eyes of participants and witnesses.”
This story is from our Winter 2015 issue.