To give and to get: Books to put you in the holiday spirit

Good ReadsBy John Hoover
©2015 Telegraph Publishing LLC

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Wreaths decorate doors, windows are lit with candles and, as the sun sets, twinkling lights appear to light the night. It’s that time of year when we try to find the perfect gift for everyone on our list. To help you find that “perfect” gift we’ve made some recommendations that are not only Good Reads but books that we think make great Christmas gifts.

AWellKeptHomeLynne starts us off with two titles for the homemaker. “Many years ago, I bought the book A Well-Kept Home: Household Traditions and Simple Secrets from a French Grandmother ($24.95) by Laura Fronty and Yves Duronsoy. Reading it made you feel bright and happy. There is a newer book, in the same tradition, called French Chic Living ($50) by Florence de Dampierre which will make you feel just as sparkly and will make you want to try all these lovely little tips that French grandmothers have passed down to their daughters and granddaughters. A perfect gift for the holidays and the new year. We have both books in the store. Joyeux Noel!”

SnowflakeBentleyChristmas in Vermont is a time for snow and Bill recommends a book about snowflakes. “How can you not love the fact that every snowflake is different?  There are so many of them, and they (we hope) keep on coming in their magical diversity.  A Vermonter, Wilson Bentley, long ago captured a few of them in photographs, and he became known as ‘Snowflake Bentley.’ Jacqueline Briggs Martin has written a wonderful children’s book about him titled Snowflake Bentley ($17) with wonderful illustrations by Mary Azarian. This would make a great gift for that younger person on your gift list.”

MyKitchenYearNever straying far from the kitchen (at least mentally) Amanda has a suggestion for the chefs on your list. “I recommend Ruth Reichl’s latest cooking memoir My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life ($35).  This book chronicles the period following the author’s shock upon learning that the publisher of the venerable cooking magazine Gourmet, of which she was the editor-in-chief at the time, was ceasing its publication, after over half a century in print.  With newly found free time on her hands Reichl has time to reflect (and cook!) and she shares with us both poignant reflections on her career in the food-writing business, and the results of her chance to reconnect with her kitchen, and cooking.  The beef short ribs recipe is excellent – as are descriptions of the mundane aspects (weather, family) of her ‘year’ that many of us will relate to.  An excellent holiday gift for the cook, armchair or otherwise!”

LostInTheBarrensHaving read prodigious numbers of young adult books, Kim is ideally suited to make a recommendation for the young adult reader on your list. “While trying to think of a good wilderness adventure book for my nephew’s birthday last month, I stumbled across a classic sitting on my shelf that I think would also work perfectly for a Christmas gift: legendary author and environmentalist Farley Mowat’s book Lost in the Barrens ($5.99). The story is about two young boys (one white, one a Cree Indian), who get separated from their hunting party and have to live on their own, over a long winter, in the desolate barren lands of Arctic Canada. Blizzards, snow blindness, grizzly bears — just the things to chill your blood on a cold winter’s night! A great story, by a great author.”

FindingHomeSylvan has a suggestion for the pet lover on your Christmas list. Finding Home: Shelter Dogs & Their Stories ($19.95) by Traer Scott is a beautiful coffee-table style book. It is full of many adorable, furry faces captured artistically in black and white photography with short biographies for each. This book is not only a heart-warming gift for any dog-lover, but a good reminder that many pets given as Christmas gifts end up in shelters. So, if your family is considering a new four-legged member, perhaps present this book as a promise for the future when the holiday madness is calmed and many dogs are in need of new homes.”

SomewhereSafeWithSomebodyGoodIn 1994, Jan Karon created the town of Mitford, N.C. and the wonderful character of Father Tim Cavanaugh. Ten books later comes Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good ($16). Now retired from Lord’s Chapel, Father Tim finds more time to become involved in helping others. Somewhere Safe is a “feel good” read and finds itself as my Christmas recommendation because — while it is set in the fall — it ends with a description of one of the nicest Christmas celebrations you’ll ever want to read.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeGood Reads

About the Author: After a 35-year career as a high school social studies teacher, John Hoover and his wife, Sally, retired to Vermont. He lives in Windham where he serves as a Justice of the Peace and Library Trustee. He works part time as a book-seller at Misty Valley Books, is active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and sings in several choral groups.

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