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Thursday, December 9, 2010

What Books Are You Giving This Year?

With holidays upon us, I was reminded that a literary agent friend once told me that every few years, he makes it a "books-only" Christmas. Even while writing this I feel the excitement of browsing a favorite bookstore (online or bricks-and-mortar--or even LinkedIn's program where people share what they're reading), trying to match a lusciously tempting book with the recipient most likely to relish it. What fun! For all the brouhaha over the fate of book publishing and of books themselves, I think there's still no argument that books in all their forms (physical, electronic, enhanced e-book, and audiobook) remain among the best values for the money spent. I'm perpetually late with my shopping, but the start I've made is, so far, books-only. If you're buying books as gifts this year, what are you choosing, and why?


  1. Funny you should ask! Interestingly, I find that as more and more people are using e-readers, it gets harder to give books as gifts. So far as I know, you can't "give" someone an e-book. You can give them a gift card, but that's not the same thing, is it?

    Anyway, so far I'm only giving one book this year, and I'm giving the same book to two people--it's Nora Ephron's I REMEMBER NOTHING. (I've already read it on my Kindle.) While I was online buying my gift books I also bought myself a present--Stephen Sondheim's FINISHING THE HAT, one of the very few books I want to own as a real hardcover because the photos and design are so important. And if anyone wants to give me a book, I'd like Ina Garten's latest--HOW EASY IS THAT. I also want good old-fashioned ppand b (that's paper, printing, and binding, not some new form of peanut butter sandwich)cookbooks. Merry Christmas!

  2. For my grandson, Leo, who will be 7 on Christmas Eve:
    Book 2 of the “Bone” series, (graphic novels)
    “The Magic Tree House”
    “642 Things to Draw”
    “Lego Star Wars Dictionary”

    I’ve ordered 3 copies of a book by a graphic artist-designer friend in England:
    “Three Found Fonts”—fonts he’s designed off things like Italian tomato
    cans. I’ll give them to my son-in-law, a designer, and another designer friend.
    One for me.

    I’ve told my daughters to get my husband “The Warmth of Other Suns.”
    He seems to be waiting for it to appear.

    For one of my brothers: “The Emperor of All Maladies.” He has an art
    gallery but fancies himself a medical expert. He’s specialized in gastro-
    entomology up till now, so this will help him develop a second specialty.

    I am hoping to receive the Keith Richards, and “Cleopatra” by Stacey Schiff, otherwise
    I will buy them for myself after Christmas, which will be the next time I can
    read a book.

  3. These are great ideas, Carole and Judy! And that's a good question about giving e-books, Judy. Obviously I haven't done it yet. Why couldn't someone buy an e-book for someone else and have them notified on December 25 (or on their birthday, or whenever) that it's available for them to download, courtesy of the gift-giver? If that's not possible to do, I think it should be. So there, e-tailers!

  4. Toni--that's a really good idea. Tell Amazon and B&N.


  5. Of course I am suggesting that everyone give CHILD OF MY CHILD as a gift. In fact the book is #2 on Amazon's most gifted poetry anthology books.

    Our daughter in law asked that we send books for our grand daughter that deal with mixed religion marriages and we found three: A Blue's Clues Chanukah; Light the Candles: A Chanukah Lift the Flap Book; Where is Baby's Dreidel.

    So many of the art books in the NYTBR 100 list caught my eye this year. I don't remember titles but there was one about exquisite curios that sounded luscious. My mother was an artist and one of the things I miss since her death is that I always gifted her with art books and searching for just the right one was part of the holiday pleasure.

  6. You are so right about the joys of the search, Sandi. They seem especially poignant when the search is of books, maybe because reading is such a private activity (complete engagement of the imagination, even when in a public place), and reading preferences are so personal. So finding precisely the right book is especially satisfying.

  7. Just got back from Barnes & Noble with books for my grandkids: two science books and a Ray Bradbury anthology for Jakob (who is an 11-year-old science lover) and two classic chapter books for six-year-old Avery, who is just starting to read: Little House on the Prairie and Charlotte's Web.

  8. Great choices, Karl! Oh, those Little House... books. Loved loved loved them. Still remember a story Laura told about buying some beautiful dress material called lawn. It was so beautiful she was afraid to touch it. But "Ma" had no such compunctions. She got out her dress patterns, picked up her shears, and (as I recall the phrase): "fearlessly cut the lawn". That's how Laura got one of the dresses she wore when Almanzo Wilder was courting her. When I'm afraid to start a big project, I still remember that phrase, and something about it--the prosaic practicality wedded to confidence, maybe--inspires me to make a start.