I hope you’re surviving these last few crazy days before the holidays. I just finished my Christmas shopping yesterday, and it felt great to get it done.
Except that as soon as I thought I’d finished, I realized I needed to buy one last thing. And then I remembered I also have to wrap that giant stack of packages that’s going to show up on my doorstep tomorrow. And I hate wrapping. Hate it really deep.
I’m not good at it; it takes forever; it never comes out right; it seems like a big waste of paper. (Says the girl who pulps trees into books for a living.)
But you know what’s really, really easy to wrap? Books. They are always rectangular. Let’s just take a moment to reflect on how magical that is. A rectangular item is a glorious reprieve when we’re elbow-deep in tape and trying to figure out how on earth we’re supposed to wrap a burlap bag of Virginia peanuts (tip: make Jarrett do it).
The other wonderful thing about books is that you can still get them in time for Christmas without having to even leave your house. Yes, right now! Even on the Thursday before Christmas! If you have 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime, you can drop a few books in your cart, check-out, and still get them Saturday morning, in time for some panic-wrapping. Or go for that next-day shipping, if you’re not into the adrenaline-chasing high of leaving things to the absolute last minute.
Of course, if you can buy a few minutes off today or Friday, you could hop over to your local bookstore and pick out a book for each person on your list. No shipping wait time there! Even better, you’re supporting a local business. Even, even better, they might have little elves at the store who’ll wrap up the books for you. Ahhh, heaven.
In my dream world, I’d have an unlimited budget to buy a giant stack of books, and I’d sprinkle them over everyone I know like fairy dust. A book for you, and a book for you, and a book for you. (I hope you can hear me doing that Oprah thing!)
But of course, people need “practical” things like socks and kitchenware and vacuums and alcohol. Even so, it never hurts to check off someone’s list and then add a little book in there for fun. Books make especially fantastic stocking stuffers, and they’re the perfect little something extra for that person you want to completely delight.
Another life hack? Buy a few extra copies of that one book you know that everyone would love, wrap it up, and have it in your back-pocket for that person or two who got you something unexpectedly. You’ll be giving them the gift of an afternoon spent in one of your favorite worlds, and it’ll give you two lots to talk about next you see each other. What’s better than that?
Here are the books I’ll be gifting this year:
Home Cooking and More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin
For: A friend
Because: She hasn’t read any Laurie Colwin yet! I can’t think of a better treat to give anyone who loves food & writing.
How to Relax by Thich Nhat Hanh
For: My dad
Because: He needs it—haha!
Appetites by Anthony Bourdain
For: A family friend
Because: He loved Bourdain’s first book and mentioned this one in passing.
For: My sister
Because: She misplaced her old Kindle, and no one should have to live without a good e-reader.
Buck, Buck Moose by Hank Shaw
For: A family friend
Because: He’s one of the most skilled hunters and cooks we know. Perfect match.
The Whistler by John Grisham
For: My mom
As I wrote about here, every year I give my mom the newest John Grisham book, and every year I write a short little inscription inside—usually just the date and a few notes.
Do you add inscriptions to books you give as gifts? If not, you should! It’s a wonderful way to track the history of your library and to turn simple books into cherished family mementos. Usually it’s the notes and scribbles and inscriptions in our books that make them meaningful to us (read the comment thread on this article if you don’t believe me!), and they’re what help us remember the time and place in our lives that was marked by that reading experience.
This year, I finally decided it was time to level up and add more character to my inscriptions, so I created these printable bookplate gift tags to put in all the books I’m gifting.
I especially love that these bookplates remind me to jot down why I picked a book for a certain person. A book is such a personal gift, and it’s important to take a moment or two to tell someone why you thought this one was just right for them.
Hopefully, each time they page open that book, they’ll think of your friendship and be reminded of how much you love ‘em.
By the way, these would also work fabulously as printable bookplates for donated books if you plan to donate some new or used books to your local library this year. I know many people love to add a little bookplate to donated books, and this one allows you the space to jot down why you love your library and choose to donate to it.
And if you’re still not sure what book to give those last people on your list, try these lists:
- The 10 best books of 2016 (The New York Times)
- NPR’s book concierge: our guide to 2016’s great reads (NPR)
- These 32 books will please everyone on your gift list (New York Post)
- Cookbooks to give this holiday (Serious Eats)
- The greatest science books of 2016 (Brain Pickings)
- 2016’s top selling new releases (Amazon)
- Books everyone needs to complete their spiritual library (Mindbodygreen)
- 18 non-book gifts for literary people (Literary Hub)
What I’m reading this week:
7 Reasons to Give Books This Holiday Season (Chronicle Books blog): In case I didn’t give you enough reasons above, here are a few more!
What Is a Hybrid Publisher? (Jane Friedman): It’s extremely important for aspiring authors to understand that hybrid publishers can vary wildly in their practices. Here’s a good primer on how to evaluate a hybrid publisher.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About How the New York Times Book Review Works (Emily Temple for Literary Hub): A nice little look into how the review process works to land on one of those coveted best-of-the-year lists.
Free Printable Bookish Holiday Cards (Bookish): In case you want a printable book gift card to match your bookplate!
32 of the Most Beautiful Book Covers of 2016 (Buzzfeed Books): So much pretty. Even if these books aren’t the kind of thing you’d normally read, you’ll be impressed by how much can be done within those little rectangles we call book covers.
What we’re eating this week:
Well, between Thanksgiving and my birthday, I am officially in hibernating-bear mode. To try to counteract all those cookies, I planned us a light but hearty week of food, all from the Clean Slate cookbook. Yes, I know that’s the prototypical post-new-year’s cleanse cookbook, but I think that if I’m detoxing for the sole purpose of retoxing over Christmas, I should be forgiven.
Monday: Poached chicken with bok choy in ginger broth. This broth was divine. Make extra and freeze it, and add a fried egg to the soup when serving if you’re a hungry person like me.
Tuesday: Spaghetti with collard greens and lemon. I fell in love with this recipe! It was immediately filed into my mental cabinet of keepers. It’s super simple, requires just a few pantry ingredients, and it has plenty of healthy greens. Win, win, win.
Wednesday: Cook’s day off = Chinese takeout.
Thursday: Red lentil soup with turnip and parsley. Soup can be just as healthy as salad but 1,000,000,000 times better.
Friday: Enough with the healthy already–let’s have some beef stroganoff. This one is from the Comfort Food Makeovers cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen. Yes, it’s made-over, but it’s still delightfully rich and old school.
I’ll be off next week to sleep off my hibernation pudge and spend a quiet week with Jarrett, but I hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year!
(By the way, I only share books I’ve read or that I’m genuinely excited about sharing with the people I love. Life’s too short to read mediocre books. But if you do feel like picking up one of these books as a gift, it’d be great if you bought them through one of the Amazon Associate links above. It supports the many hours of work this team of two [me and Jarrett] put into this little corner of the web!)