This year, as every year, I gave lots of books for holiday presents. I did buy other stuff too, but few people escaped without at least one book. This year, I’ve noticed that my list includes nearly all nonfiction, for children and adults.
My two- and five-year-old adorable great-nephews got a delicious new book, Jewish Holidays Cookbook: 50 festive meals for celebrating the year (DK Publishing) by Jill Bloomfield. This has the old standards as well as some new dishes, along with dollops of Jewish history. The book has lots of pictures and a handy spiral binding. (It reminds me of the old UNICEF children’s cookbook that was well spilled-upon by my children.)
My niece’s younger boy also got Susan Goldman Rubin’s beautiful art-board books, Counting with Wayne Thiebaud and Matisse: Dance for Joy (Chronicle.) These combine spare poetic text with gorgeous design and, of course, exquisite artwork. I gave the older boy a subscription to Ask magazine that delivers all sorts of nonfiction goodies with photos, drawings, and comic strips. The younger one got Ladybug, which mixes fiction and nonfiction.
Their parents, my niece and her husband, received two new books, I Love Dirt! 52 activities to help you and your kids discover the wonders of nature by Jennifer Ward, and The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule, full of indoor and outdoor arts, crafts, explorations, and family rituals. Both are from Trumpeter/Shambala.
My son, a Montanan and superb cook, got Montana Cooking: A Taste of the Big Sky Country (Glove Pequot/Three Fork) by Greg Patten, gourmet chef, and husband of INK guest blogger Dorothy Hinshaw Patent. Elk steak and huckleberry muffins, anyone? One more cookbook (and wine guide) made its way to Canada to my brother-in-law, another superb cook: Anything but Chardonnay: a guide to the other grapes (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang) by Laura Holmes Haddad.
My daughter, a Londoner, got a new book from the UK, written by a friend of mine: More Than Just A Game: Football v Apartheid (HarperCollins UK) by Chuck Korr and Marvin Close. This tells the thrilling story of a soccer league established by political prisoners at the notorious Robben Island prison in South Africa. I hope HC brings out a U.S. edition soon. Marvin tells me they are considering writing a YA version, though any soccer and/or politico teen could handle the adult book. Derelict London (Random House UK) by Paul Talling provides a funky alternative tourist guide to London history and architecture for the whole family – including me, in London as you read this.
My writer’s group exchanges already-read books at our December meeting. This year I offered the classic and classy Eats Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss – not my own copy which I refuse to relinquish, but a copy bought at my library’s book sale. There’s a children’s version meant for younger readers.
Regular shipments of library sale books cross the country during the year for my 97-year-old mother in law, an intrepid reader. She, the dedicatee of my biography of Jeannette Rankin, loves women’s history and so received not-so-current biographies of Abigail Adams and the wives of Henry VIII, along with a last-minute fictional find, Restoration, a delectable novel of 17th century England by Rose Tremain.
It says something about our times – or perhaps just my family – that men (and boys) got the cookbooks and women got history and sports. As for me, I read them all.
Happy New Year to nonfiction lovers everywhere!