betting you and I share a few things in common, and I'm probably right
when I say that one of those is our love of giving books to family and
friends. Of the new releases that crossed my desk this fall, here are
eight I thought would be perfect for gift giving. Take a look and see if
there isn't something just right for the people on your holiday list.
For six years, Tyler Knott Gregson (a professional photographer) has written a daily haiku celebrating love. That's more than two thousand poems! The pieces in All the Words Are Yours, Gregson's second haiku collection, run the range from romantic to evocative. Some are hand-lettered and some are typed, and almost all are accompanied by one of Gregson's beautiful photographs. Give this small tome to someone special and share the positive energy. (Perigee, 9780399176005) Here's an example:
I have simple needs, / Just you and my morning tea, / The moment I rise.
Pamela Paul's collection of writers and other notable people talking about their reading life is now out in paperback, just in time for the holidays. By the Book contains interviews that originally appeared in the New York Times Book Review; they offer fascinating reading for inquiring literary minds. What are Neil Gaiman's reading habits? What writer would Elizabeth Gilbert like to meet? What kinds of stories call to Jhumpa Lahiri? (Picador USA, 9781250074690) Here's where Francine Prose likes to read:
The passenger seat of a car on the New York State Thruway, on a sunny day without much traffic.
Caitlin Kuhwald's Hillary Rodham Clinton Presidential Playset is just too much fun not to be a part of this list. You get dolls and three-dimensional sets of Bill, Hill, the White House, the Clinton enemies, the ghosts, and more. You can change their clothes and their facial expressions to act out a variety of scenarios for the Oval Office, situation room, or White House lawn. Imagine life with Hillary as president. The dolls are printed on thick card stock in full color, and the sets open up within the pages of the book. There's even a pocket in the inside cover to store your dolls. (Quirk, 9781594748318) This one is appropriate for your friends on both sides of the aisle--as long as they have a good sense of humor.
The Time Chamber is Daria Song's newest adult coloring book. This volume introduces us to a red-haired fairy who lives in a cuckoo clock. We get to accompany her on her adventures into the world of humans and see our everyday items from the perspective of a very small magical being. The pages range from intricate to simple and just beg for colorful embellishment. Although Song provides the beginning of the story, it's up to readers and artists to interpret the illustrations in their own way. (Watson-Guptill, 9781607749615) Don't forget to pick up a box of colored pencils or artists' markers to go with. Hours and hours of calming creativity for the teens and adults on your list.
Also new in paperback this fall is The Whaling Season by Peter Lourie. I love the books in the Scientists in the Field series, which are geared to middle grade readers but are appropriate for science geeks of any age. This amazing nonfiction adventure is packed with photographs, facts, and stories of what it's like to be an Arctic whale biologist, both in the field and in the lab. In one chapter we learn just how difficult it is to study whale anatomy (see the quote); the animals' shear size can be daunting. (Harcourt Brace, 9780544582415) Pick this up for your young scientist.
A forty-five-foot bowhead whale has a 450-pound heart. The bowhead aorta, the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the other arteries, is at least a foot in diameter. The average adult human's aorta is one and a half inches.
Here's a cool book: Andrew DeGraff's Plotted: A Literary Atlas. The pages of this book are chock-full of colorful maps showing us the worlds and/or the journeys we've learned about in all kinds of classic books, from Kafka to LeGuin. For example, DeGraff creates New York City from the perspective of Ellison's Invisible Man, the fictional warrens of Adams's Watership Down, and the U.S. South of Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn We see ships and ocean voyages and even the five stages of Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Each map or set of maps is introduced by a short essay (written by Daniel Harmon), identifying the original book or myth or poem or story. (Zest, 9781936976867). Engrossing browsing ahead for the literary set.
Baby boomers, Mad magazine fans, comics lovers, and cold war fanatics will all love Spy vs Spy, edited by John Ficarra. This volume collects 150 classic "Spy vs Spy" comic strips that were first published in the irreverent magazine. No matter your age, you'll find plenty to laugh at as the pointy-nosed spies attempt to thwart each other at every turn. They stop at nothing and will use every lowdown trick they can thing of. The cold war may be over, but East still fights West and spies are among us. Don't miss the short introduction by the comedian Lewis Black. (Liberty Street, 9781618931597) Children of boomers: here's the perfect gift for your liberal parents. This is also recommended to anyone you know who has a warped (in a good way) sense of humor.
The final suggestion on this list is Steve Turner's The Complete Beatles Songs. This large book contains stories, lyrics, history, and trivia about every song the Beatles ever recorded. (Note that the book doesn't include music or chords.) The text is accompanied by many photographs, some of which will be familiar and others that you may not have seen before. Turner describes the circumstances that inspired the songs, the meanings of the lyrics, and the interpersonal dynamics of the group as they went through the various stages of their career: the changing musical styles, the Eastern influences, and so on. (Dey Street, 9780062447340) This is a must-have addition to any music lover's library. Here's John looking back to 1963:
"I Want to Hold Your Hand" materialized when Paul came up with an opening line, then hit a chord on the piano. I turned to him and said, "That's it! Do that again!" In those days, we really used to absolutely write like that--both playing into each other's noses.