Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Book Gift Suggestions

No need to buy books when you have a great public library but if you want to give someone a holiday gift, try these.

New novels by Anna Quindlen and Jonathan Franzen.

Every Last One is a story of a woman, her family, and her community in New England. Quindlen develops the relationships of friends and family members moving them along as the children grow with activities and holidays. Tragedy strikes and a new life needs to be built. Quindlen is masterful at character development and domestic fiction.

Freedom is also domestic fiction. This one follows the arc of two people who become a couple and raise a family with a strong moral compass that goes awry. Franzen mocks middle class society's privileged attitudes with satire. Read it all to find out where their childhoods and mistakes brought them.

Both books end with hope.

For nonfiction fans, try these:

A favorite nonfiction writer of mine, Bill Bryson, has come up with another fascinating book. Like his earlier A Short History of Nearly Everything, he combines various spheres of knowledge to create a story that is hard to stop reading. An American living in Norfolk, England, Bryson ambles through his home, a rectory built in 1851, revealing the origins of dressers, plumbing, bricks, second floors, cookbooks, utensils and many more developments of domestic life we take for granted. Western European and American home life are juxtaposed.

I also learned a lot from Stuff: compulsive hoarding and the meaning of things by Randy O. Frost. Probably not the best topic as holiday gift giving explodes, it examines the psychology of people who collect and cannot let go of stuff. We all have belongings that have sentimental meaning for us but what about the extremes of having so much stuff you can't find important items or you endanger your safety or health because of it? The authors use case studies and provide readable psychological explanations and solutions.

Hot (broke) messes: how to have your latte and drink it too is written by a journalist so it reads very well. She volunteers her own indebtedness and embarassment at going to her parents for a handout as a high-wage-earning adult who has spent it all. The book has helpful websites and her own experience with a financial manager who helps her pull herself out of debt.

posted by mb