A Very Readable Christmas

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jan 06 2010

Now that Christmas is over and any potential surprises won’t be ruined, I can share with you my plan to single-handedly save the publishing business. For Christmas this year I did a great deal of shopping at my favorite bookstores and made sure that even the non-readers on my list were gifted with a book. Here are some of the choices I made for my . . .

11-year-old niece. She’s a reader and I revel in buying her the books I loved as a young girl. This year she received Little Women. No doubt this has been a longtime favorite of mine and a book I’ve read over and over. I also chose A Little Princess. I worry that she might be a little old for this book, but it’s a book that’s close to my heart and one I really wanted to share. To me A Little Princess opened my world to the power of imagination and allowed me to continue to embrace my own imagination and use it in times of stress.

13-year-old nephew. He’s not much of a reader and yet I persist. This year I got him Into the Wild. There’s no doubt this book has a dark ending, but there’s something about it I really thought would appeal to a boy that age. It’s also fairly short, so not intimidating to someone who doesn’t love to read.

9-year-old nephew. Summer of the Monkeys. Yet another book I loved as a child and one that I really felt fit him somehow.

Husband. The man who claimed when we met that he only read, maybe, a book a year, now reads almost as much as I do. For him I bought Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane and American Tabloid by James Ellroy. He’s read and enjoyed both these authors and, in my mind, you can’t go wrong with either of them.

Neighbor. She’s a great cook, but self-professed horrible baker (she’s never made me anything), but always looking to learn. I’ll admit that at this point I was racing through the store, trying to finish up, and grabbed this book on title alone. Better Homes and Gardens Anyone Can Bake looked like the perfect choice. It includes step-by-step instructions with illustrations.

Mom. After visiting me she thought she’d like to try cooking vegetarian more often, but wasn’t sure where to start, so for Christmas she got one of my favorites, A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen. Let’s hope she tries it out.

My boys. Mars Needs Moms because “I’ll love them to the end of the universe,” Bear Stays Up for Christmas and Bear Feels Scared because I love the bear books and Tickle Monster Laughter Kit simply because it looked fun.

Me. Okay, it’s impossible to go to the bookstore without picking up something for myself, so I chose Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Like I need another book to add to the pile!

I hope they all enjoy, but if not, I included gift receipts.


29 responses to “A Very Readable Christmas”

  1. Avatar Rick Daley says:

    My wife got me a Barnes & Nobel gift card, and we got our boys a Barnes & Nobel card to share. I like taking the boys to the book store!

    We got:

    – Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself (the only one left in the series for my 8-year old)

    – Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective (my pick for my 8-year old. I loved that series growing up, along with The Great Brain books and everything by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary)

    – Danny and the Dinosaur for my 5-year old. He also picked a spiderman picture book and a Scooby-Doo picture book

    – For myself, The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and The Crying of Lot 49

    My wife just finished Shutter Island, and is considering My Sister's Keeper as her next read.

  2. Avatar Shelby says:

    I too bought books for gifts. Perfection.

  3. Avatar lynnrush says:

    Fantastic. Books are the way to go. I got a B & N gift card as well. That's the best present I could ever get in my opinion. **smile**

    Enjoy the book you bought for yourself!! Be sure to let us know how you liked it.

  4. Avatar CKHB says:

    My daughter loves those Bear books! And you can't beat American Gods, it's AMAZING.

    I bought my mom Street Gang (the history of Sesame Street) and my dad got When The Game Was Ours (by basketball greats Larry Bird and Magic Johnson). My husband and daughter get books pretty much year-round…

  5. Avatar Fawn Neun says:

    "American Gods" is amazing – let us know how you liked it. (This is coming from a non-Neil-fangirl, too.)

  6. Avatar Mira says:

    Rick – the Great Brain series? That brought back fond memories. 🙂

    It was very sad this X-mas. I bought a B&N gift certificate for a friend, and then ended up giving them something else. So, what was I going to do with this sad and lonely gift certificate? Well, let's just say that the books are being shipped as we speak. 🙂

    Viva la books!

  7. Avatar magolla says:

    I bought my 9 yo eleven books for Christmas. 🙂 Many I plan to reread them before she reads them. Some were oldies, Ralph Mouse books by Beverly Cleary, some were current, Wimpy Kid books, and some were in between. 🙂

  8. I'm a total Neil fangirl. American Gods is so different, but I'm loving it. (I just started it.)

    Happy New Year, Jessica!

  9. I gave and received books for Christmas. Some of the ones I gave: CITY OF THIEVES, MUDBOUND, SOMEONE KNOWS MY NAME, HANDLE WITH CARE. I also gave my nephew CLICK CLACK MOO. 🙂


    I've read (and enjoyed!)SHUTTER ISLAND twice – once a long time ago, and again recently (before the movie comes out!)

  10. I received Mary and Carol Higgins Clark's Christmas collaboration, Dashing Through the Snow. It was a quick, pleasant read… nothing I'll remember a couple of days from now, but good enough when my brain just needed an easy read, accompanied by shortbread cookies and hot tea!

  11. I did the same thing. This year was BOOKS! Started three brother-in-laws on Naomi Novik's alternate-universe dragon series. And just wandered and picked out hopefuls for my nieces–always hard to find something they haven't already read, but I hit it lucky this year! Got copies of A Perfect Red (history of red dye–FASCINATING) for both sisters; Mom already got it and loved it.

  12. Avatar Cheryl says:

    I absolutely adore "Summer of the Monkeys". My second grade teacher read a little bit of it everyday to us and I loved the story so much I begged my mother for weeks to buy it for me. I consider it to be my very first book, because I chose it, my mother ordered it from the bookstore especially for me and when it arrived it had my name on it.

    This past summer our family spent a week at the beach and every afternoon when we needed a break from the sun, we would return to our hotel room and I would read the book to them.

    I hope your nephew loves the book half as much as I do. If so, he'll be one happy camper.

  13. I love reading about all the books people gave this year! 😀

    I gave books, too (we've all gotta pitch in, right?):

    Mom got Julie & Julia because she loves Julia Child and wanted desperately to see the movie, and also a Teashop mystery, for a woman who loves both mysteries and tea.

    My aunt who loves lifetime movies got The Necklace, about 13 women who buy a diamond necklace together, share it, and how it changed their lives.

    It's true you really can find a book for everyone. Usually these ladies are hard to shop for, and they loved them!

    I requested books from my relatives and was delighted to get Simple Wishes, Heat Wave (haha!), and Fire!

  14. Avatar Kate Douglas says:

    There's a really nice indie bookstore in the town where our daughter's family lives and also where most of our "gift exchanging friends" live–they all got gift certificates to the bookstore. I have no idea what books they'll choose, but I know our five grandkids and one "grandcousin" were all planning to shop together. Wish I could have been there to watch the chaos! Both our daughter and her husband are avid readers, so they got the same thing as the kids, and everyone seemed thrilled with the gifts. Either that or they're really good liars…but you really CAN'T go wrong with books!

  15. I love American Gods. Especially the end (which I won't spoil) because of where it takes place. It's at a wonderful local roadside attraction in Tennessee that as I read, I could recall the memories of stopping there when I was a kid and seeing the same sights as the characters. It made me giggle a little bit.

    I hope you enjoy it!

  16. You can't go wrong with AMERICAN GODS. I really think it is Gaiman's best work to date. It's fantastic.

    I got practically everyone I know at least one book, and was itching to use my gift cards as soon as I received them. Now I am eagerly reading through my new presents…

  17. 13-year-old nephew. He’s not much of a reader and yet I persist. This year I got him Into the Wild. There’s no doubt this book has a dark ending, but there’s something about it I really thought would appeal to a boy that age. It’s also fairly short, so not intimidating to someone who doesn’t love to read.

    That's a good book, in my opinion. It's an important cautionary tale for boys to read, and yet it's an adventure as well. Yeah, that was a good choice.

  18. I got a B&N gift card for christmas. Sadly, there wasn't enough on the card for the stack of books I chose. : ) I still got them all anyway, which made my husband really happy…I'm sure.

    Sounds like everyone in your family got wonderful presents!

    Happy New Year!

  19. Avatar Stephanie says:

    I love buying books as gifts…sharing my favorite reads with others!!

  20. Avatar Kristen says:

    Bah, American Gods is actually the only book by Gaiman I didn't like… It was just more gross than I felt was necessary at several points for me, and I nearly puked after reading one scene… though that may also have to do with having just rowed two miles in a kayak against the current when I hadn't exercised in ages.

    Well, I hope you like it, and if you don't, I know his other books are good!

    Good job on spreading books! Those are great things to get/give as gifts. I just wish I had more money to spend on giving them this year! As is, I'm mostly lending from my own collection…

  21. Santa gave me "Under the Dome" and I bought and read "The Ghosts of Belfast" From the library I got "Drood" and "Ravens"

  22. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I LOVE A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen!! So many delicious and easy meals, and it really makes vegetarian cooking accessible to everyone. The carmelized onion enchiladas in that cookbook… even thinking about them is making my mouth water!

  23. Avatar Renee says:

    I bought my nieces books. Dead Girl Walking by Linda Joy Sinclair and The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire.

    And for the other niece, The Secrets of Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson and I Could Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter.

    I buy my kids books all year long, this was the first year they didn't get books mainly because we got hit with a blizzard on the day I was to go shopping.

    I bought myself Courtney Milan's Proof by Seduction.

    I love buying all sorts of books.

  24. Avatar Jemi Fraser says:

    I also bought a ton of books for gifts: a cookbook, 2 graphic novels, 1 sci-fi, 1 fantasy, 2 romantic suspense, 3 commercial fiction + several magazine subscriptions. Money well spent!!

  25. My six year old loves the Bear books by Karma Wilson, and the Skippyjon Jones books from Judy Schachner are also a household favorite.

  26. Avatar Anonymous says:

    American Gods is the best book I read in 2009 – it's just fantastic! I love getting books for presents as well and this year snagged myself Audrey Niffenegger's newest and Dawkins' Greatest Show on Earth. Success!

  27. Avatar brandi says:

    I'm also having a very read-y winter. Post holiday, it is time to relax with a good book. I just bought myself a slew of books including Into the Woods by Tana French, The Secret Garden and the Wizard of Oz (I never actually READ those when I was a girl). I also went to the library and stocked up on several books on tape.

  28. Avatar Jess says:

    Good job at single-handedly saving the industry! I worked in a similar way, but obliviously.

    For Mom: The Language of Letting Go (on her wishlist); Three Cups of Tea

    For Dad: 501 Must-Read Books

    For boyfriend: The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks (grapic novel); almost also picked up The Gospel of the Living Dead – but it'll be a next gift!

    I also asked for books for myself and ended up with two from paranormal romance series' I'm collecting – The Killing Dance by Laurell K Hamilton & Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong

  29. American Gods is outstanding and a book I read again and again. I hope you enjoy/ed it.