IN PRAISE OF THE GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING
If ever there was a good year to give the gift of a book, now is it. It’s been a banner year for books released by established, as well as, new writers. If you’re lucky to get your hands on a favored book that’s a signed first edition, even better. I have the honor of working with events for the world’s best and liveliest independent bookstores. And by lively, I do mean a bookstore that is more like a literary outpost with three locations, boasting up to 800 author-related events a year! As such, I get to witness the sheer delight people have in shopping for, selecting, giving and getting books, be they new, used, hardbound, paperback or coffee table. It’s discovering characters and experiencing stories in a new and affordable way. It’s maybe going to the politics and social issues section and stumbling into a hot button topic. Trust me, with the year we’ve all been having, it’s a section with brisk sales and hugely populated events. It’s the area that featured dynamic and insightful books such as “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right.” I think the title speaks for itself. Additionally there is “Shattered” about How Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election to Donald Trump is the riveting story of a sure thing gone off the rails, “We Were Eight Years in Power” by the always provocative Ta-Nehisi Coates, just to list a very few.
On the fiction side of things, Zadie Smith’s latest book, “Swing Time” is out in paperback, but there is a host of her younger (not that she’s old) American counterparts that introduced the world to themselves and their talent with stunning debut novels. That includes Brit Bennett with “The Mothers,” Zensi Clemmons with “What We Lose” and “Homegoing” by Yaa Giassi. For those who want a dose of reality, laudable biographies abound. I never thought I’d be much for indulging in memoirs, but thanks to feminist writers like Ariel Levy with her knock out book “Rules Do Not Apply,” “When Breath Becomes Air” by the Dr. Paul Kalanithi, actress Gabrielle Union’s “We’re Going to Need More Wine,” and “Real American” by Julie Lythcott Haims, I’m a believer. All of these deftly combine painful truth, with wit and inspiration. They tackle life issues such as race, abuse, homosexuality, life and death.
I could go on and on, but instead I’ll just leave you with yet another selection of suggestions(fancy for “list”) that I hope can be helpful while figuring out that special gift for the pickiest on your list. In addition to the books listed above ... FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION ...
Devotion (poems) - Mary Oliver
Obama: In Intimate Portrait - Pete Souza
Sloutching Towards Bethlehem (special edition) - Joan Didion
The Sellout - Paul Beatty (It’s in paperback now, but there are still some signed hardbound copies out there)
The Floating World - C. Morgan Babst (a lovely, touching story with the backdrop of hurricane Katrina from an writer that is New Orleans native)
Stay With Me - Ayobami Adebayo (unforgettable debut novel set in Nigeria.)