In years past, I have to admit, I gave few books as holiday presents. Since friends and family know I'm in “the business,” they assumed—often, but not always correctly—that I was simply passing on to them books I'd gotten for free—re-gifting swag, if you will.
Not that there's anything wrong with that—spreading the word is a form of spreading the wealth, even if not financially. But this year, given everything, I took the advice of booksellers, publishers, the AAP—and myself—to heart. Herewith the books I've bought with cash (okay, credit) on the barrel:
For my favorite financial know-it-all (so far neither unemployed nor in jail): Enough: True Measures of Money, Business and Life (Wiley), whose title should be self-explanatory, and Samantha Ettus's Clarkson Potter compendium, The Experts' Guide to Doing Things Faster (not because he doesn't already know how to do everything brilliantly, but because, well, time is money...). I would also buy him Alice Schroeder's The Snowball since Warren Buffett may be the only financial guy he respects, except that I already gave him my Bantam review copy.
For my movie buddy, who, like me, knows that the book on which a movie is based is almost always many times better than the movie—even if it stars George Clooney (viz: 2006's The Good German), a bundle of paperbacks: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, and Bernard Schlink's The Reader (both Vintage); The Confessions of Max Tivoli (Picador); along with, maybe, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Juniper Grove) because, even though the movie is based on F. Scott's 1922 story of the same name, it more closely follows the plot of Andrew Sean Greer's Tivoli.
For my teenager: anything with the name Neil Gaiman on it—especially a set of Tarot-like cards he heard about, I think through the author's Web site. Ditto several copies of the Stephenie Meyer vampire trilogy from Little, Brown : apparently, there are some girls at school he wants to impress. And, for good measure, Philip Norman's John Lennon (Ecco). Imagine: there's a bona fide Beatles renaissance among the young, in case you haven't heard.
For a parent friend: Robbie Woliver's Alphabet Kids—from ADD to Zellweger Syndrome (Jessica Kingsley Publishers), a guide to developmental, neurobiological and psychological disorders of childhood and adolescence. It's surprisingly unscary. Really.
And because I've never been on a shopping spree that didn't follow the one-for-you, two-for-me model of gift-giving, I've just ordered these recent titles, which were on a list shown to me by a bookseller friend: Acedia & Me by Kathleen Norris (according to PW, this Riverhead title is a “discomfiting book [that] provides not just spiritual hope but a much-needed kick in the rear”); and, now that I've finished the Man Booker—winning Free Press novel, The White Tiger, I'm on to A Good Indian Wife (Norton) by Anne Cherian. And then, suggests my friend, Steven Galloway's The Cellist of Sarajevo (Riverhead). (Too bad Algonquin's A Reliable Wife isn't available for purchase yet: by next year, I predict hundreds of thousands of readers will be buying Robert Goolrick's spring novel about louche Midwesterners at the turn of the 20th century.)
See? I'm doing my bit. What about you?
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