Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Book Guide for Everyone on Your List

Holiday Countdown:

-1 days since Hannukkah
7 days until Festivus
8 days until Christmas
9 days until Kwanza
15 days until New Year’s Day

If you haven’t bought gifts yet, take a deep breath, don’t panic, and keep reading. That’s right, I’m here to help. 

Think about the friends and family on your shopping list. Do they like to read? Is there a chance they might enjoy a good book?
If the answer is yes, then done. Your shopping is complete. All you need to do is pop down to your local bookstore and buy the books I am about to recommend.

Yes that’s right, you are about to experience the Eat, Run, Read Holiday Book Guide! I know there are a lot of lists like this out there, telling you what to get for The Traveler, The Gardener, The Sports Enthusiast, etc. on your list. But what about the people who don’t fit into neatly stereotyped categories? Well books are great because they can be escapist. You don’t have to be The Traveler to enjoy a book set in China. You don’t have to be The Athlete to read Lance Armstrong’s books. And you don’t have to be The History Buff to enjoy historical fiction. That’s the beauty of books – you can experience new things from the comfort of your reading chair (or the Metro, or a coffee shop, or under your desk at work). 

With this in mind, I have developed a list of books you and your friends are GUARANTEED TO LOVE. Yes, I know that’s a bold statement. But I stand by it. This list is all fiction/biography because recommending non-fiction is harder (for example, I enjoyed Ghost Wars, but not everyone is into the history of US-Afghanistan relations). And I haven't included any mysteries - because that's the only genre of book I don't like. 

Here we go!

 Everyone Books:
- Anything by Ann Patchett. Start with Bel Canto. Then read Run. She just writes beautiful stories. The kind that you buzz through because they're so good, but then get sad at the end when the story is over. 
- A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry - the story of 4 people's semi-intersecting lives in India in the 1970s. 
- And if you like India books/Indian authors, I can recommend anything by Vikram Seth (A Suitable Boy is GREAT, but very long. An Equal Music is shorter, and absolutely fantastic!).

- Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts looks intimidating because it's so long, but when you're reading, it goes by so quickly! And parts of this book are HILARIOUS! Here's a little excerpt from the opening:
“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow, through the screaming of my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is an universe of possibility. And the choice you make between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.”
- Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. You all know my feelings on this one. Refer back to that post.
- Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazas - a fun book on a crazy runner. I don't want to be him, but it's interesting to read about a guy who runs multiple ultras in a row!
- For someone who likes art/museums/biographies, do Renoir, My Father and/or Luncheon of the Boating Party (both of which I have already blogged about).
- Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. I read this book freshman year of high school, and remember a) being slightly scandalized by all the sex in it, and b) thinking it was one of the best books I had ever read. 
- I tend to steer away from '"classics," but if you haven't yet read The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, or Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, you should probably do that. Both are great adventures. 


I'll keep this brief. Obviously there are a TON of options out there.
- The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. You all know how I feel about this place's cake
- The Moosewood Cookbook. No pictures, but really great vegetarian and baking recipes (think the best banana bread ever!)
- I love Ina Garten. I am the proud owner of The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Barefoot in Paris, and Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Kid’s Books (But any age would enjoy them - I still do!):
-       Anything by Brian Jacques (start with Mossflower). Think epic adventure - Lord of the Rings-esque, but not as dark. 
- The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman - this is the first book of the His Dark Materials Trilogy. Adventure, intrigue, awesomeness!

This is obviously a very short list, but I hope it helps! Let me know what you think of my recommendations.