Tuesday, November 27, 2012

FROM THE EIGHT DAYS OF GIFT-GIVING ADVICE DESK:  Two weeks ago we talked about what we're reading now, but reader Cecilia couldn't help but wonder: "I just love the book posts where everyone gathers together to geek out over what books they're oping to receive, planning to give as gifts, and intending to read as one year ends and the next begins. Could we do that soon, please?"


  1. If anyone is a fan of Lois McMaster Bujold, the latest book in her Vorkosigan Universe is out and it's awesome.

  2. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance

  3. Shameless semi-self-promotion: my parents and my brother are both getting autographed copies of Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater's Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (http://www.amazon.com/Suffering-Succotash-Picky-Eaters-Understand/dp/0399537503). Stephanie Lucianovic, who some of you may remember from her days writing recaps at Television without Pity (www.grubreport.com), interviewed scientists and adult picky eaters - some recovered (me), some not. It neither celebrates nor condemns the picky eater, but rather tries to explain the food aversions that last beyond childhood. And she wrote it with a good sense of humor so it never gets too dry.

  4. As far as a book I'd like to receive... I'm perpetually in want of a good coffee table book about Rene Magritte. I find those kinds of books the hardest to buy for myself, but love receiving them as gifts.

  5. Would the book be helpful for the parents of a (currently juvenile) picky eater?

  6. Sepinwall's book, obviously. Even though Christmas is coming, and my birthday just passed, I still bought it for myself. It got delivered yesterday, so after my crazy weekend of McCartney and Springsteen in Vancouver, I've got something to look forward to when I get home tonight.

  7. I'd say so - Some kids do just naturally outgrow picky eating phases. Some don't. It'll at least help you understand where he/she is coming from. I know Stephanie definitely got into words some of the feelings and difficulties I've never been able to.

    Also, she signed the copy to my mom, "It's not your fault." So, this is not a book that will make you feel like a bad parent if your kid is a picky eater.

    Part of the reason she wrote the book was based on her personal experiences as a "reformed" picky eater, but also because she's had a child now and was facing the issues from the parent side for the first time.

  8. The husband is likely getting the Nate Silver book and the Sepinwall book (which is a gift for me, too).

    I'm hoping to receive Chris Ware's "Building Stories." This kind of thing is not normally my taste, but I really enjoyed the bits of it published in the New York Times Magazine years ago and I'm fascinated by the non-traditional format. Also on my (Amazon) wishlist: "Where'd You Go Bernadette" (due to recommendations here) and "State of Wonder" by Ann Patchett.

    And as the year ends, I need to finally read "50 Shades of Grey." Because my mother read it, loaned it to me, and keeps asking if I've read it yet. I'm not kidding.

  9. Ooh, ooh. Another recommendation (because I'm recommending it to just about everyone anyway) - The Montmaray Journals by Michelle Cooper. They're historical fiction, set in the early 20th century (Roughly somewhere in the early 30s through the end of WWII). Written in the first person, from the point of view of a young woman who's more interesting than she realizes. It's got love, family, passion, war, eccentricity, a beloved dog, airplanes, falling down castles, forbidden love, cameos by real life historical figures, tremendous wit, dotty aunts, a plucky tomboy.... what more could you ask for? It's marketed as YA but it didn't feel at all juvenile to me.

    And if you're a kind person, if you give someone the first one, you'll give them all three, because once you start the trilogy you can't stop.

  10. The Pathetic Earthling12:51 PM

    Here are a couple of books I've given on several occasions over the last few years which have always been well-received by curmudgeonly men I know:

    Transit Maps of the World - http://amzn.to/TrlDas - just what it sounds like - a book of transit maps, including a history of the London Underground Map, the most iconic subway map in the world. Lots of cool annotations, etc., but a great bathroom book.

    100 Decisive Battles - http://amzn.to/UpZ59Z - a short chapter on each of 100 important battles from Meddigo to Lepanto to Midway. Usually about 4-5 pages each, with a couple of maps. A nice short history explaining what lead to the battle, notes on overall strategery, the run of the battle, and the outcome. Very descrete chunks of reading. Again, a great bathroom book.

    Cadillac Desert - http://amzn.to/UZVmfl - a history of the aquafication of the West. One of the best and I think most important history books about the US in the 20th Century.

  11. Jenn C1:45 PM

    I'm giving copies of Sepinwall's book to my TV-loving friends and co-workers (many are also Penn alums so double the delight there).

    Every year for Christmas I ask for cookbooks. This year I want the Smitten Kitchen one.

  12. Marsha1:49 PM

    As for the last paragraph <>.

    Building Stories is my top choice for this list. But I really don't receive gifts anymore, so I'll eventually have to buy it for myself. That and the second Sondheim volume.

  13. I'm hoping top receive the Library of America's new two-volume "American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s" (thanks for being the kind of people to whom I can admit that). Also the new Kurzweil book, the new McEwan novel, and "The Law of Superheroes." The Blu Ray of "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1" would be cool, too.

  14. Fantasy Dept: Just finish N.K. Jemisen's "Dreamblood" books. (No! No vampires!! It's just an unfortunate tag, I promise.) They've been light, but rich and well written. Would recommend for anyone who's into imagined worlds and coinages like "narcomancy".

  15. Jemisin, rather.

  16. Is there a specific place one should start with those novels? Or is anyplace fine?

  17. Rachel Scudder2:15 PM

    The Smitten Kitchen cookbook is amazing!

  18. Watts4:08 PM

    Question for the voracious readers amongst us - do people actually give you books as gifts? I rarely get given books because I think people have this idea that I've already read everything or am picky about what I will read or whatever. People WILL give me bookstore gift certificates, but it's like they're intimidated to pick out a book for me.

    And, yet, I would love to receive books as gifts. Whenever I cull my books I've never ever even considered getting rid of one that was a gift, even if I ended up not liking the book.

  19. Jenn.6:07 PM

    Rumor has it that Michael Chabon's books are now available for Kindle. I've been meaning to read the Yiddish Policeman's Union and The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, so that goal may be met in the near future.

    In unrelated news, I finally have a browser at work from which I can comment. Life is good.

  20. Cecilia7:39 PM

    I'm a voracious reader, and I do get books as gifts. Mostly from my
    family, and I do give them a big list. My mom and some of my friends
    get brave every now and then and pick something I haven't asked for and
    then all parties involved are delighted when it (almost every time)
    turns out to be something I've never read. Books as gifts are my
    favorite, and I'm going to add the Montmaray Journals to my list. Also
    hope to get the Springsteen biography. Planning on giving Suffering
    Succotash to my sister and Savages to one of my brothers.

  21. lisased7:54 PM

    My brother used to take my Amazon wishlist to a children's bookstore in Richmond and ask the owner to help him pick out the best YA books. One year, she lit up when he walked in and said, "I've been waiting for you! Give her THIS!" He took her word for it, wrapped the book, and sheepishly handed it to me on Christmas morning. And that's how I got a first edition of "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone."

  22. lisased8:04 PM

    I'm wishing for "At the Mouth of the River of Bees," which includes one of my favorite short stories, "26 Monkeys or the Abyss.” I also want “The Dog Stars,” which was highly recommended to me by an editor while we were in line for Shakespeare in the Park tickets. Sepinwall’s book is on the list, as is “My Ox is Broken!” and the annotated versions of “Charlotte’s Web” and “The Hobbit.” I might buy that last one for my daughter or my husband, but it will end up in the house before the end of the year.

  23. lisased8:13 PM

    We should do a round robin Secret Santa of books.

  24. victoria9:37 PM

    If anyone's looking for a good middle-grades/YA recommendation, our family has been thoroughly enjoying Colin Meloy's (of the Decemberists) Wildwood books. The first of the trilogy is now our go-to birthday gift for kids of the right bent and age.

  25. bill.9:38 PM

    unless it's something I've specifically said I wanted, I hate receiving books as gifts because they have been without exception horrible choices. I would love a gift card to Amazon or a local bookstore so I can pick out something.

    I also hate clothes as gifts. Like books, just too personal.

  26. bill.9:55 PM

    I've had bad luck recently picking up books that I just don't care for. I'll need to go back to December/January to find anything new that I enjoyed and would be happy to recommend:

    "How to Survive the Titanic or the sinking of J. Bruce Ismay," Frances Wilson
    "Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer," Wesley Stace

    just remembered there was one from the summer I enjoyed and need to get back into, "The Joy of Pickling: 250 Flavor-Packed Recipes for Vegetables and More from Garden or Market," Linda Ziedrich (2009)

  27. I have that LOA on my list as well, Rush. It looks so awesome.

  28. I recently downloaded "River of Bees." I didn't love "26 Monkeys" (great opening line, but the story fell flat for me). I'm open to being persuaded when next we meet!

  29. I can confirm that Kavalier & Clay is available for Kindle.

  30. No one ever gives me books, though I do also get the bookstore gift certificates, which I love. I suspect people are either not willing to risk picking a book I won't like, or risk being seen buying a book they know I will like. It's fine. I enjoy the certificates!

  31. Tosy and Cosh9:24 AM

    On my Wish list and hoping to get for Christmas:

    The Sepinwall (unless I break down and buy it first)·
    Both Flesh and Not – David Foster Wallace
    The Casual Vacancy – JK Rowling
    Live By Night – Dennis Lehane
    Flight Behavior – Barbara Kingsolver
    Telegraph Avenue – Michael Chabon·
    NW – Zadie Smith
    Mortality – Christopher Hitchens·
    2312 – Kim Stanley Robinson

  32. victoria10:06 AM

    I sometimes get books as gifts -- more often than not cookbooks, which I do enjoy. One of my favorite gifts from my husband was an old gastronomy encyclopedia.

    I generally prefer not to get books as gifts unless I've already signaled that I want them, because the majority of the books I get/read I'm happy to only read once, and in that case I'd much rather get them from a library.

  33. The author has some recommendations, I'll link to them. It is hard to decide, the Vorkosigan stories now take place over about a 50 year arc, with concentrations on different characters, and even with concentrations on characters at dramatically different points in their life. Miles Vorkosigan is, to me, the single greatest space opera character of all time, with his extended family running not far behind him.

  34. http://www.dendarii.com/reading_order.html

  35. www.dendarii.com/reading_order.html

  36. Please don't call me Rush. ;)