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Cozy up with these winter book recs from Jasmine Guillory and Isaac Fitzgerald

From a "thrilling" short story collection to a middle grade novel about unicorns.

The holidays are a time of feasting and decorating, and if you’re a bookworm — reading. Jenna Bush Hager recommended a few of her favorite books to give as gifts, as did Read With Jenna authors.

But what about books to give…yourself? Think of it as an act of literary self care. Authors Isaac Fitzgerald (“Dirtbag, Massachusetts”) and Jasmine Guillory (“The Proposal”) stopped by the 3rd Hour of TODAY to share a few of their recommendations ranging from fiction to nonfiction to books for kids.

Not sure which to read next? Jenna’s advice is to read widely, and don’t feel pressure to keep going if you’re not feeling the book.

“Give it about 75, 100 pages. Once you're really into it. It's not going to be hard to find time to read because you're going to be obsessed. You're going to want to stay up late, you're going to want to read in the morning,” she tells

Read on for a few suggestions of books that will keep you up late.

Isaac Fitzgerald's picks

"Liberation Day" by George Saunders

“George Saunders is back with a collection of nine breathtaking short stories — each of them a world unto themselves. With a wildly sharp eye, Saunders perfectly captures the human experience — such a large subject — in these fantastic, and sometimes fantastical, short stories. At the heart of this rollercoaster — by which I mean thrilling — of a collection, though, is empathy,” Fitzgerald says.

"Stay True" by Hua Hsu

Fitzgerald calls this "one of the most inventive memoirs to come out in years." In the book, New Yorker writer and music critic Hua Hsu investigates the loss of a childhood friend, Ken, and his own memories of the teenage years they shared in California.

"By revisiting Ken's tragic death and the culture — music, movies, the dawn of the internet — and how it shaped him, we see how we never stray too far from the seismic impact of our adolescent years. Those experiences, big and small, are of course the stuff of many coming of age stories, but Hsu uses his keen memory and command of cultural touchpoints to craft something indelible here — a portrait of two unlikely friends that might very well epitomize a generation," Fitzgerald says.

"The Furrows" by Namwali Serpell

For Fitzgerald, Namwali Serpell's "The Furrows" is "undoubtedly one of the best novels of the year." The book is a "beautiful rumination on grief and how it can haunt us through our lives," according to the author.

The story follows a young girl who loses her brother, only to — years later — meet a man who might somehow be him. It begins with an image of her on the beach, trying to save her brother before he drowns—or does he? "You'll be in great hands—her writing sparkles here at every turn, the scenes are eerily memorable and the emotions deeply felt. This is the book to gift to the serious reader in your life, someone who loves to lean into truly daring fiction," he says.

"Skandar and the Unicorn Thief" by A.F. Steadman

"'Skandar and the Unicorn Thief' is the start of one of the most exciting children's series we've seen in some time," Fitzgerald says.

"Skandar Smith is an ordinary boy living an ordinary life, but with one extraordinary dream: to be a unicorn rider. He lives in a world that is very similar to ours, except when he was young boy the ordinary world discovered that unicorns were real and that they are, in fact, vicious predators. Every year, thirteen-year-olds from both The Mainland (where Skandar is from) and The Island (where unicorns live) take a Hatchery Exam to determine whether they are worthy to match with a unicorn egg. If they pass the exam and bond with a unicorn, they are inducted into the most prestigious section of society: the unicorn riders, who protect the mainlanders from the vicious and deadly wild unicorns," Fitzgerald summarizes.

Jasmine Guillory's picks

"They're Going to Love You" by Meg Howrey

"This book had a hold on me from the very beginning and didn’t let go," Guillory says. Written by a former professional ballerina, the book is a story of a ballet dancer and her estranged father, and what caused the estrangement. "The writing is masterful and the story is completely absorbing," she says.

"Inciting Joy" by Ross Gay

Need a pick-me-up? Guillory says this is the book for you. " It’s been a really hard few years for many of us, and one thing this time has taught me is that it’s important to grab joy wherever we can find it. That’s exactly what this book is about: finding the ability to experience joy in the midst of life’s difficulties, despite — and sometimes even because of — whatever we’re going through. It’s an incredibly thoughtful, beautiful, and funny book, and makes a great gift for anyone on your list," she says.

"Partners in Crime" by Alisha Rai

"Prepare for adventure — this book is a total romp," Guillory says of Alisha Rai's romance. "It has exes who get kidnapped together, stealing cars, Las Vegas, sneaking into parties, family drama, and so much more. It’s romantic and swoony and so much fun."

"We Deserve Monuments" by Jas Hammonds

At the beginning of this book, seventeen year old Avery and her parents move from Washington, DC to the small town of Bardell, Georgia to be with her terminally ill grandmother. "That sparks so much for Avery, her family and for the town: there are family secrets; new friendships; a delightful romance, and so much more. Once I started reading 'We Deserve Monuments,' I couldn’t stop thinking about it," Guillory says.