Wednesday, December 16, 2009

honey gift files...all booked up

i think books sometimes get a bad rap for being boring gifts, and they can be, especially if you always get books for the same people. but i make the argument that receiving the gift of a book well-suited to you is a real treat. here are some terrific picks for right now, and they run the gamut of genres and styles.

i cried while reading an excerpt of cherries in winter in oprah magazine last month. here is a link to the excerpt. this would be perfect for anyone who loves food and cooking and the role it can play in family dynamics and memory.

other top picks for books for cooks and gourmands include gourmet today, a contemporary compilation of health-conscious recipes edited by ruth reichl which highlight our changing and ever-expanding foodscape. this is a particularly good choice since gourmet magazine was one of the recent casualties in the publishing world's economic upheaval.

i also love love love the concept behind ten, by sheila lukins, described as "all the foods we love and ten recipes for each of them." the book includes ten very different takes on burgers, steaks, ice cream, chocolate, chicken, etc. the concept reminds me of one of ina garten's directives to master three good versions of your favorite recipes for variety and rotation. love this! it parallels what is always said about writing- there are no new stories, only new ways to tell them.

i think park avenue potluck celebrations is also an interesting idea - it's full of entertaining ideas and tips from park ave socialities that anyone can do at home, and is based on the idea that taste is all about how you put things it a tabletop, flowers, handmade invites and other small touches, and the generous spirit behind them. i think we can all agree on that. and as such, the book's purchase benefits memorial sloan kettering.

in a different way, but still about food, i highly recommend the omnivore's dilemma, which i'm in the middle of right now and is about the food we eat and the big business behind it. all i can say about it is HOLY CORN. also from michael pollan, in defense of food, a "razor-sharp analysis of the american diet" gets rave reviews. a twist on the same concept, mark bittman's food matters discusses the relationship between our environment and the food we eat, and includes recipes that are healthy and earth-friendly as a part of the discussion.

i have to note about these books as gifts - i'd be careful in giving them, that you're giving them to someone you know is tuned into their diet and finds these things interesting and non-offensive.

for people who love talking about, thinking about, and of course reading about home design and style, here are some well-reviewed picks. of course, the domino: book of decorating is a worthy purchase for any design lover and is a good fix of the much-loved and missed domino magazine.

other good design choices include the comfortable home: how to invest in your nest and live well for less, by furnishings masters mitchell gold and bob williams and hue by kelly wearstler, this year's most buzzed about interior trendsetter.

lists for life by rory tahari includes checklists and pointers for navigating through some of life's more difficult and overwhelming feats such as buying a house, planning a wedding, preparing for a hospital stay and selling a car. granted, it could be a little morbid-seeming, but again, know who you're buying for and let that guide you. i can think of a few people that would like this book - half amusing, half very seriously useful. also along the lines of useful how-to's, i love the idea of how to carve a turkey: and 99 other skills every man should know, from popular mechanics. "witty yet authoratative" in tone, this is a great choice. again, i don't know that a wife should give this to her husband...he might think you're trying to imply something...

just reading about guardians of being, by eckhart tolle (oprah prophet) put a smile on my face. illustrated by patrick mcdonnell, creator of the mutts comic strip, the book "conveys a profound love of nature, of animals, of humans, of all life-forms [and] reminds us of not only the oneness of all life but also the wonder and joy to be found in the present moment, amid the beauty we sometimes forget to notice all around us." sounds good to me. this is a perfect one for animal lovers.
if you know a reader with a great sense of humor, you simply must get them a copy of david sedaris' book from a few years ago me talk pretty one day. when i tell you i laughed so hard i cried (and continue to every time i revisit it), it's a total understatement of what happens to me when i read this book. it's ridiculous, honestly. if you haven't read it, get yourself a copy too.

do you think you could sum up your life in six words? it's an interesting thing to consider, and this ingenious little book provides six word "nano memoirs" from over 300 people, famous and obscure. not quite what i was planning is clever, and funny at times ("no wife, no kids, no problems"), sad at others ("cursed with cancer, blessed with friends"). a very cool, giftable book for sure, and a compelling concept for discussion and thought.

f.u. penguin: telling cute animals what's what is a hilariously funny, cynical romp through the world of "adorable" pictures and videos always circulating through our emails. check out the link on amazon and read through the book a little to see if you like the style. very specific, and very different from guardians of being (above), but very funny.

on the more literary front, there is commited: a skeptic makes peace with marriage by elizabeth gilbert who brought us the much-loved eat, pray, love. i love that this book is an evolution for her, and builds upon the incredible openness with which she wrote her last book. here is what amazon has to say, among other pieces of praise: "committed attempts to 'turn on all the lights' when it comes to matrimony, frankly examining questions of compatibility, infatuation, fidelity, family tradition, social expectations, divorce risks and humbling responsibilities...and is ultimately a clear-eyed celebration of love with all the complexity and consequence that real love, in the real world, actually entails."

love this idea! now THIS is a good one from husband to wife, and vice versa.

note: 'committed' is a pre-order, since it's not being shipped until january 5th, but for someone who loved gilbert's first book, it would make a nice gift to look forward to!

added note: if you or someone you know has not read eat, pray, love, you ought to.

the help by kathryn stockett is getting rave reviews from everyone i know who has read it, and was included as a "book of the year" by usa today. it's a "nuanced variation on the theme" of the black women working for white families during the civil rights movement in mississippi where they "were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver." stockett's take, and the "new resonance" she brings to the story seems like a page-turning read, and that's what i'm hearing from everyone.

my last recommendation is to browse through the selection of special editions of classic books, beautifully bound and available through waterstones. aren't they just gorgeous? looking at these, i can almost understand the idea of faux-book wallpaper. ALMOST.

do you have any must-read books to share?

all photos from linked sites

1 comment:


What a wonderful list! Have a great day! The penguin one is hysterical!

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