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A Holiday Book Gift Guide Ė Part 1

By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Truth Contributor

The mistletoe is hung, and so are the garlands, the ornaments, window decorations, and lights. Youíd be ready for the holidays, too, if you werenít hung up on a gift for that one certain person.

Now what?  Now head to the bookstore with this column in-hand, and look for one of these great booksÖ.


If your giftee a lover of memoirs, Woman at 1,000 Degrees by Hallgrimur Helgason is a novel she may like, too. Itís told in the voice of 80-year-old Herra BjŲrnsson, who is at the end of her life and sheís in the mood to shareÖ Wrap it up with The Clockmakerís Daughter by Kate Morton, a novel of an archivist, a very old manor, and a bit of a mystery that transcends time.

Your cat lovers will take to Talk to the Paw by Melinda Metz like catnip. Itís a little bit romance, a little bit angst, a theft, and a purr-fect ending.

If itís not too timely to be a good gift, look for Only Child by Rhiannon Navin. Itís a book about a school shooting and a motherís actions when her son is injured in ways that canít be bandaged.

The short story fan will be glad to unwrap Sweet & Low by Nick White. This book is full of Southern fiction, characters you forget are not real, and situations that make a good yarn great. For true short-story fans, pair it with Everyday People: The Color of Life Ė A Short Story Anthology edited by Jennifer Baker.

For the giftee who sometimes wishes for a life-rewind, The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle could be a good choice to give. Itís a story about one evening, one meal, a lot of loved ones (past and present) and a chance to make things right. Pair it up with The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain, a book about a motherís first chances.

If you give The Witch Elm by Tana French to your suspense-novel lover, be prepared to be ignored for the rest of the day. Not on purpose, but because this is a story of an injured man, a decades-old mystery, and plenty of spine-tingles.

For the historical fiction fan, look for A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler. Itís a multi-generational tale of wealth and high-society (and the Vanderbilts), set in the years following the Civil War, and one womanís desire Ė need? Ė to make it to the top of New Yorkís social scene.


For the person who canít get enough of John, Paul, George, or Ringo, Visualizing the Beatles by John Pring and Rob Thomas is something theyíll want to hold in their hands. Itís a graphic history of the Fab Four, so lots of pictures, easy to browse, fun to have. Pair it with The Cutting Edge by Leslie Cavendish, who was the woman who cut and styled the Beatlesí hair.

For the armchair detective or CSI fan, The Handy Forensic Science Answer Book by Patricia Barnes-Svarney and Thomas E. Svarney will be a welcome gift this year. In a Q&A format, this book teaches and answers the kinds of questions any detective-show fan can come up with. It may also chill youÖ Wrap it up with any good murder mystery, of course!  Or better yet, wrap it up with Murder, Lies, and Cover-Ups by David Gardner, a book about conspiracies and the whodunit deaths of celebrities your giftee will surely remember.

Yes, Earth is a pretty good place to live. Oxygen, water, treesÖ but what is our presence doing to the planet? Darwin Comes to Town by Menno Schilthuizen is one of those books thatíll answer your gifteeís questions while it also invites him to think. How is our world thriving and surviving?  Pair it up with The Simpol Solution by John Bunzl and Nick Duffell, a book about fixing the global problems we face today and our children could face tomorrow. Consider more with The Disaster Survival Guide by Marie D. Jones, a book thatís a good primer for coming out the other side of natureís worst and mankindís unthinkable.

If your giftee would love something otherworldly, try Sister of Darkness: The Chronicles of a Modern Exorcist by R. H. Stavis with Sarah Durand. Yes, this book is for real. Yes, it could scare the Dickens out of someone.

For the fashionista, you canít go wrong when you give Fierce: The History of Leopard Print by Jo Weldon. Yes, thatís what this book is about Ė the evolution of a wild fad that shows no signs of slowing down. You know what kind of paper to wrap this book in, donít you? Wrap it up for the perfect gift for the giftee who mourns the end of summer from October to May: Hollywood Beach Beauties by David Wills. Itís a large picture book full of starlets on the beach, circa 1930 into the 1970s. Not just fun for sun lovers, but for fashion followers, too.  Another book to try: An Atlas of Natural Beauty by Victoire de Taillac and Ramdane Touhami. Itís exactly what it sounds like: a book of recipes for her to naturally enhance her gorgeous looks.

The writer / reader on your gift list will truly enjoy The Handy Literature Answer Book by Daniel S. Burt, PhD, and Deborah G. Felder. Itís a book about books, authors, reading, and more books. Pair it up with 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich, which is a gigantic tome filled with suggestions that will keep your giftee busy for a lot of Christmases to come. Might also want to think about Atticus Finch: The Biography by Joseph Crespino, a biography of Harper Lee and the first man in her life.

New homeowners and those who are still looking may like A Place Called Home by Kim R. Manturuk, Mark R. Lindblad, & Roberto G. Quercia. Itís a rather scholarly look at why we own homes, who owns them, and the financial issues that surround owning your own home versus renting. Filled with data and stats, this book is also great for your favorite Realtor. Pair it up with the historic The Finest Building in America: The New York Crystal Palace 1853-1858 by Edwin G. Burrows, or Homeplace by John Lingan, a story of a town, its future, and its musical legacy.

So your giftee likes to have something to take while waiting for his or her part in the community theatre?  Shakespeareís Ear by Tim Rayborn couldnít be a better book, then. Itís filled with interesting tales and little-known secrets from the world of theatre. For your favorite actor, it is to be. Also look for Messiah: The Composition and Afterlife of Handelís Masterpiece by Jonathan Keates.

Where would you favorite pal be without you Ė or vice versa?  In Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaeffer, your giftee will see how female friendships are forged, nourished, and kept strong and what happens when they donít. Will you-know-who share this book with you? Wrap it up with Girl Talk by Jacqquline Mroz, a book about female friendships from a scientific perspective, and she might.

For the giftee who needs a specific understanding boost (and be careful when you give it!), look for It Takes One to Tango by Winifred M. Reilly, MA, MFT, a book about fixing a marriage. If it feels right, pair it with Infidelity: Why Men and Women Cheat by Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, MD, but be cautious!

The person who loves to explore will love reading Walking the Americas by Levison Wood. Heís a British explorer who walked 1,800 miles through eight countries and this is the story of the people he met, the things he saw, and his thoughts on it all. Pair it up with Tip of the Iceberg by Mark Adams, a story of a long journey across the wilds of Alaska.

If thereís someone on your list who wonders what the future holds, wrap up The Next American City by Mick Cornett, a book about small cities and what the future holds for them and their citizens. Pair it with Without a Net, edited by Michelle Tea, an anthology about just getting by.

So you say your giftee has been following politics closely. He read ďHillbilly Elegy.Ē So now give What You are Getting Wrong about Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte. This book nicely balances fact from fiction, and itíll give your giftee more prospective. It could even be a mind-changer.  Pair it with something your political watcher will like: Type R by Ama Marston and Stephanie Marston, a book about resilience and how to get more of it in todayís world.

For the person whoís facing That Certain Age in the New Year, wrap up The Happiness Curve by Jonathan Rauch. Itís a book about the wonderfulness of turning 50 and how life is so much sweeter. Pair it up with The End of Old Age by Marc E. Agronin, M.D., which is about making the latter half of your life the best part.

For a reader who craves hard, true facts, A Book of Book Lists by Alex Johnson might be just the thing. Itís, well, the title is self-explanatory but it also contains a harder look at the classics, literature, and authorsí perspectives on both. Just be aware that itís very British. Wrap it up with The Weather Detective by Peter Wohlleben, making these books a perfect duo for your fact-hungry giftee.

Everybody with a job will love reading Danger, Man Working by Michael Perry. Itís a series of essays on having a job.  Also fishing, freelancing, living on a farm, veterans, and other things thatíll make you laugh and / or know youíre reading the words of a kindred spirit. A good book to add to the package before you wrap it is A Little Tea Book by Sebastian Beckwith with Caroline Paul, illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton. A good book, a cuppa tea, and a good book about tea will all make an excellent gift.

For the political animal in your family, Hugs from Obama, edited by M. Sweeney might be just the right gift. Itís filled with pictures and quotations from the Obama years in the White House, including the end. Pair it up with The Watergate: Inside Americaís Most Infamous Address by Joseph Rodota, for a scandalous look back in history. More books for the current events fan: Chosen Country: A Rebellion in the West by James Pogue is a peek at the militia movement in America; and My Brother Moochie by Issac J. Bailey is a book on poverty and racism.

The giftee who loves to laugh will love having Laughter Totally Is the Best Medicine by the Readerís Digest folks. Filled with jokes, cartoons, and other funnies, it might also make a great stocking-stuffer. And if your giftee loves to laugh, look at The Incomplete Book of Running by Peter Sagal, for a fast chuckle.

And for the cook on your list, Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee would make a great gift. Itís part history, part memoir, part foodie paradise with recipes and itís yummy. Pair it with a brand-new cookbook for a tasty 2019, or wrap up Moonshine: A Celebration of Americaís Original Rebel Spirit by John Schlimm with it. See what your giftee can cook up now.


Parents and parents-to-be may get a kick out of Achtung Baby by Sara Zaske. Itís about Zaskeís time spent living in Berlin, Germany, and what she noticed about the way the Germans parent their children. If that person on your list tried being a Tiger Mom, give this book a whirl and see if selbstandigkeit, is right for her kids. Pair it with The Power of Presence by Joy Thomas Moore, a book about being a lingering positive influence for your children.

For the new dad, Rap Dad by Juan Vidal might make a great First Christmas gift. Itís an examination of what makes a Dad in America today, how stereotypes come into play in being a Dad, and how Vidal learned to father.  Pair it up with Beyond Birds & Bees by Bonnie J. Rough. Itís a book about teaching children about love and equality between the sexes.


What does it take to be a man? Can a boy learn it from his father?  In Air Traffic by Gregory Pardlo, the author looks at the legacy his father left him, and how it made him the man he is today. And if your giftee loves to read about legacies left, wrap up Jackie, Janet & Lee by J. Randy Taraborerelli, a book about the former first lady, her mother, and her younger sister.

For the teacher whoís most important in your childís life, look for Once a Professor: A Memoir of Teaching in Turbulent Times by Jerry Apps. Itís a book about education Ė both of students in the 1960s, and the teacher who watched them protest.

If the first thing your giftee turns to each morning is a weather forecast, heíll love The Man Who Caught the Storm by Brantley Hargrove. Itís the story of Tim Samaras, who was a legend in storm chasing, until his death byÖ. Uh, nope, read the book.

For the giftee whoís considering adopting, Someone Has Led This Child to Believe by Regina Louise could change the path. Itís the story of Louiseís life in and out of the United States foster care system and what happened to her after she ďaged out.Ē Wrap it in tissues. Seriously. And for more current-events memoirs, look for A Dream Called Home by Reyna Grande, a story by a woman who immigrated to Mexico by herself at age nine, to find her parents who came here before her.

Hereís to the hobbyist: the car lover on your gift list will love to have Driven by Melissa Stephenson. Itís a memoir about loss, bittersweet memories and keeping them alive, all written with vehicles as backdrop. For the nostalgia lover (and Hollywood fan), My Days: Happy and Otherwise by Marion Ross (with David Laurell) will be a delight to unwrap. Itís all about ďMrs. CĒ and the woman behind her, and itíll leave someone rocking and rolling all week long.

Another highly-anticipated (and much-desired) gift to look for is In Pieces by Sally Field, a book by the girl America has grown up with. Itís filled with behind-the-story stories and celeb names youíll also recognize. Wrap it up with a The Flying Nun DVD or two, or a copy of Smokey and the Bandit.

If youíve got someone on your gift list whoís a Kennedy Watcher, theyíll love reading Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World by Eileen McNamara. Itís, of course, about Eunice Kennedy Shriver, her life, and her times. Another celeb biography to try is Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon by Charles Casillo. Itís for the giftee who only thinks she knows everything about MM that there is to know.

And for the Vietnam veteran on your list, look for Striking Eight Bells: A Vietnam Memoir by George Trowbridge. Itís a memoir set in the waning days of the war and what it was like before, during, and after being a solder in the Navy then.

Happy reading!


Copyright © 2018 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11/29/18 08:43:50 -0500.



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