With some 200 suggestions for holiday gifts featured in four e-mail catalogs and displayed in-store at Boulder Book Store in Boulder, Colo., shoppers should be able to find presents for even the hard-to-please.
Staffers have curated titles for everyone from foodies (The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by award-winning blogger, photographer and home chef Deb Perelman) to feline lovers (Francesco Marciuliano's I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats). For fiction fanatics, there is Junot Díaz's story collection This Is How You Lose Her. "No one packs as much into a story as Diaz does," said Arsen Kashkashian, the store's head buyer.
Family and friends on Kashkashian's gift list are all receiving copies of books he has read and loved, including his dad, who will be unwrapping The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy by David Nasaw. Among the store's other offerings for biography buffs are Jon Meacham's Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power and William Manchester and Paul Reid's The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965.
For those feeling especially generous, Boulder Book Store is spotlighting higher-end titles like Becoming van Gogh, the companion book to an exhibit currently on view at the Denver Art Museum; Net of Being featuring artist Alex Grey's mystic paintings; and the $625, six-volume boxed set Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. (The more modestly priced Modernist Cuisine at Home is $140.)
Kashkashian said, "In the end, I just want the booksellers talking to customers about books they love, whether it's a New Directions title by Clarice Lispector or Neil Young's autobiography or a zombie compendium."
|Photo: Jennifer S. Altman/USA Today
Also smitten with The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is Suzanna Hermans, co-owner of Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck and Millerton, N.Y. The recipe tome and Sherry and John Petersik's Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love are "my two favorite home and kitchen books of the season," she said. "Those are the books I'll be giving to my friends for the holidays."
Another top handsell is Leave Your Sleep, a collection of classic children's poetry adapted to music by singer Natalie Merchant, a Hudson Valley denizen, and illustrated by Barbara McClintock. The hardcover book and CD combo is "the perfect gift for little ones, as well as Natalie's adult fans," Hermans said. "It's a gorgeous book and blew out of our store on Black Friday weekend."
Other favorites for kids are Caldecott Honor medalist Marla Frazee's picture book Boot & Shoe, featuring a pair of canines; Stefan Bachmann's middle grade tale The Peculiar, a murder mystery-gothic fantasy-steampunk adventure; and Maggie Stiefvater's YA novel The Raven Boys, the first in a new series.
|Photo by Pamela Gerard
It's a bountiful season for epicureans. Celia Sack of Omnivore Books on Food in San Francisco has a pair of appetizing suggestions for her customers: a "well-within-your-comfort-zone book" like Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer's Canal House Cooks Every Day and an "out-of-your-comfort-zone title" like Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.
The former, a year's worth of seasonal recipes, "is a beautiful book that anyone can cook from," noted Sack. She has made the "fantastic" beet soup and dished up the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving; the Canal House version is now a staple for her holiday meal. Hamilton and Hirsheimer will be giving a talk at Omnivore Books on December 10.
Jerusalem authors Ottolenghi and Tamimi appeared at the store last month, and Sack also hosted two dinners for them at local restaurants. "Their food is amazing, and their partnership gives us hope for peace," she said. The restaurateurs were born in Jerusalem in the same year--Tamimi on the Arab east side and Ottolenghi in the Jewish west--and later met in London, becoming colleagues and close friends. Along with 120 recipes, they share personal stories about growing up in Jerusalem and insights on the city's melting pot cuisine.
For more global flavors, Sack recommends Fäviken by Magnus Nilsson, whose restaurant is located on a 20,000-acre farm in northern Sweden, and Origin: The Food of Ben Shewry by a head chef at a Melbourne, Australia, restaurant. A perennial stocking stuffer choice is the annual Best Food Writing anthology. And if anyone is thinking of gifting Sacks with a book, she'd like a good novel--one that has nothing to do with food. --Shannon McKenna Schmidt