Book Buzz: Gift Picks

A basic philosophy shared by librarians and booksellers alike is that there is a book for every reader. Books make great gifts for this reason, and the book experts at your local library or bookstore can help you match the people in your life with books they will enjoy.

On a recent “best holiday gift books” scouting trip, Village Books co-owner, Paul Hanson, suggested The Adventurous Eaters Club: Mastering the Art of Family Mealtime by local celebrities Misha and Vicki Collins. Misha is a television actor and star of Supernatural; Vicki is a historian and journalist who has written for the Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, and the Los Angeles Times.

When faced with finicky eating behavior in their two children, they drew on child psychology research and food cultures around the world to develop strategies to make family mealtimes a fun adventure.

Key to engaging their young eaters was giving them the autonomy to experiment in the kitchen. I loved the Breakfast Popsicle (pineapple, kale, bacon, eggs, orange juice, and maple syrup; blend and freeze) which was a functional flop but provided lots of laughs.

The Adventurous Eaters Club would make a great gift for families with young children, and even adults who have not outgrown a childhood picky palate would find it inspiring. As a bonus, all author proceeds will be donated to nonprofit programs that help underserved children gain access to healthy food, including Edible Schoolyard, the Garden School Foundation, and the Whatcom Farm to School Fund.

After discussing the Collins’ book, Hanson pointed me to another title his wife and co-owner, Kelly Evert, has been enjoying sharing this season. Fans of David Bowie may know that he was an avid reader who traveled to the movie set of The Man Who Fell to Earth with a portable library in a trunk that held 1,500 titles. A few years before his death, Bowie released a list of 100 life-altering books.

In Bowie’s Bookshelf, author John O’Connell studies these 100 selections and how they influenced Bowie’s art, image and outlook. The result is equal parts epic reading list and insight into the inner life of this cultural icon. Bowie fans, pop culture enthusiasts and regular bibliophiles will enjoy finding this one in their stocking this year.

Every year, there seems to be one book that I’m excited about sharing with multiple people on my holiday shopping list. Last year, it was Dear Fahrenheit 451, Annie Spence’s collection of love letters (and some break-up letters) to the stand-out books in her life. This year, I’m gift-wrapping multiple copies of the graphic novel Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob.

Recalling pivotal conversations in her life, Good Talk explores the stress of being an interracial family in today’s political climate. The book begins with Jacob struggling to find a fitting response when a quirky, fun conversation with her biracial son (“Mom, who is better, Michael Jackson or Michael Jordan?”) turns into “Mom, is it bad to be brown?”

Jacob skillfully walks the line between humor and heartbreak as she describes the how the color of her skin has impacted friendships, relationships, parenting, sexuality and love.

Cooking, reading, conversing—three of life’s greatest pleasures bundled up in the convenient package of a book. Give the gift of reading this year.

Lisa Gresham is the Collection Services Manager at the Whatcom County Library System.

(Originally published in Cascadia Weekly, Wednesday, December 11, 2019.)