Oh my. December already? With Thanksgiving at the tail end of November this year, the holidays have snuck up on us all. Gift-giving is such a satisfying way to express your love for friends and family, but it isn’t always easy to pinpoint what each loved one would like best. Luckily, there are thousands of books published each year, so I can guarantee that there is a perfect book for EVERYONE on your list. This holiday season, everyone gets a book!
Picture books work for a fairly broad age range of young children. “Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship” by Marie Kondo (yes, that Marie Kondo!) is great for ages 3-7.
Illustrated by Salina Yoon, this sweet story brings Kondo’s popular tidying methodology to young children, showing that what’s important is the time we spend with each other and how we care for each other. Sometimes the accumulation of things can get in the way of that, but there’s an easy way to sort them out with the help of friends!
“Sofie Valdez, Future Prez” by Andrea Beaty (illustrated by David Roberts) is a picture book for ages 5-7, and part of an ongoing series encouraging community activism. When Sofia’s beloved abuelo is injured at the landfill, Sofia vows to fix the problem—by turning the unsightly mess into a park! Told that kids can’t build parks, Sofia sets out to prove that even one child can make a difference.
Neil Gaiman is a perennial favorite, known for atmospheric, beautifully written fiction that sometimes veers into fantasy, sometimes into horror, but is always unique. “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” first came out 6 years ago and has been popular ever since.
This haunting, lyrical novella has been fully illustrated and published in an edition that will wow Gaiman collectors and newbies alike. Told by a middle-aged man as he looks back on a remarkable period of his young life, the story will appeal to nearly every fiction reader while the gorgeous illustrations give it that extra special touch. This is a great gift for the teen who may be interested in reading literature for adults, but isn’t sure where to start.
For those who prefer nonfiction, two books help illuminate the lives of two extraordinary, albeit different, people. “Bowie’s Bookshelf” is part reading guide, part biography of this superstar musician who was also a well-known bibliophile. “[Bowie] owned a library that was at least 45,000 books strong, and took hundreds of them on tour with him in giant cabinets the size of stadium amps.
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A reporter once asked what activity brought him ‘perfect happiness,’ and he didn’t respond that it was making music. Instead, his answer was ‘reading.’” (Mashable) Music journalist John O’Connell writes 100 short essays contextualizing each book in light of the artist’s work. This is the perfect gift for the music lover or the book lover, and especially one who is both.
“Conversations with RBG,” an informal portrait of the powerhouse Supreme Court Justice that draws on conversations between Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Jeffrey Rosen, is fully endorsed by Ginsburg and contains several interviews that are published here for the first time. These frank discussions show us another side of this beloved public figure, including wide-ranging topics such as cases she would like to see overruled and how to be a good listener. Anyone looking to celebrate this iconic woman and the work she has done will want this in their collection.
Those of us who live here in wine country often feel a certain pressure to actually know what we’re talking about when we talk about wine, and I know I’m not the only one guilty of faking it for visiting friends. Fake no more! Here are two excellent resources for those of us not in the industry: “Wine Simple” is charmingly illustrated with helpful diagrams that break down the sometimes impenetrable verbiage that surrounds the world of wine, and is written by Aldo Sohm, a highly lauded and widely respected sommelier.
“Wine for Normal People” has a casual tone that makes it accessible to readers who otherwise would dread the thought of sitting down and reading more than a page about wine biology. Author Elizabeth Schneider knows what she’s talking about: she’s a certified sommelier who teaches classes on wine and runs a successful wine blog.
Have you ever cooked? I mean literally anything? If you have, you probably have that masterful cookbook by Irma Rombauer to thank: “The Joy of Cooking.” At more than 85 years old, this cookbook is still the gold standard by which encyclopedic cookbooks are judged. This new edition is fully revised and updated by Irma’s great-grandson and his wife, who both work in the food industry in Portland, with more vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free recipes.
Chances are you have a parent or grandparent whose copy of “The Joy of Cooking” is much used and much loved; this is truly a gift that will be treasured for years to come.