Books to Give Book Lovers
Of course, we’ll start with Sage’s books because she’s a member of Team Read Local. For anyone who loves a little courtroom drama, a little corporate fraud, a little sailing adventure, and a lot of human frailty, we’ve got The Venturi Effect.
If you’ve got a friend who falls for short stories, Love and Other Misunderstandings offers some quirky commentary on the human condition, be it through an exploration of dumpster diving or a review of a trip to Heaven’s salsa dance floor.
For history lovers and social activists, we’ve got Dorothy Day’s The Eleventh Virgin, a reprint of a 1924 debut novel from a woman who wrote of the radical activism of early twentieth-century New York (and later converted to Catholicism and is now making her way toward sainthood). The book touches on themes of young womanhood and love, takes readers to suffragette protests that ended in jail time, and explores another flu epidemic.
For non-team-member books, this year has yielded a number of great reads that Team Read Local believes would make great gifts.
Red Velvette loved Bernice Ende’s Lady Long Rider for those who’d like to—literally or just literarily—ride off into the sunset. Read her review here or find the book on Amazon here. She also enjoyed a Texas take on Beowulf in Donald Mace Williams’s Wolfe and Other Poems. Her review sits here and the book is on Amazon here. For the cat lover in your life, check out A Cat by Leonard Michaels. Red reviews it here, and you can buy the book here. Readers looking for love, family, Depression-era history, and a dash of nostalgia will find a treasure in Jill Caugherty's Waltz in Springtime; check out Red's review here, and buy the book here.
Rose loved Kara Swanson’s Dust, a must-read for any Peter Pan fan. Find Rose’s review here and buy the book here. With Mortal Sight by Sandra Fernandez Rhoads, young-adult readers can experience creativity in a new way, enjoy a twist on urban fantasy, and see the epic poem Paradise Lost in a new light. Rose reviews the book here, and you can buy the book here.
Liz would recommend the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award winner Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club, by Benjamin Alire Saenz, for anyone interested in beautiful prose, short stories touching on social and human themes, and a literary trip to Avenida Benito Juárez’s Kentucky Club. Find her review here and get the book on Amazon here. For armchair adventurers and pirates-at-heart, she recommends Janis Couvreux's Sail Cowabunga!; you can read her review of the book here, and buy the book here. For thriller lovers, there's Lisa Sandlin's The Bird Boys, a 2020 International Thriller Writers Thriller Awards finalist for best original paperback novel. Liz reviews the book here, and you can buy it here.
Sage recommends Brigitte Benkemoun's Finding Dora Maar: An Artist, An Address Book, A Life for the reader looking for a portal into art, creativity, and human complexity. See Sage's review here and find the book here. For Hemingway fans, grab Andrew Feldman's Ernesto: The Untold Story of Hemingway in Revolutionary Cuba. Sage reviews it here, and you can buy it here. For the literary love who "has everything," pick up Leonid Tsypkin's Summer in Baden-Baden, with its unique structure, fanciful take on Dostoyevsky, and dreamy rhythm of roulette tables and pawned wedding rings. Sage reviews it here, and you can buy the book here.
Leo sees Michael K. Brantley's Galvanized:
The Odyssey of a Reluctant Carolina Confederate as a good choice for history lovers and Civil War buffs. Brantley offers a frank, balanced look at a complicated epoch. Find Leo's review here and the book here.
Non-Book Gifts for Book Lovers
Book lovers tend to love learning, to embrace creativity, to appreciate the value of a little screen-less “carefree timelessness,” right? Sure, we’re generalizing here, but we’ve met a lot of story-loving hearts who exhibit these traits.
So this holiday season, Team Read Local offers a few ideas from their gift-giving and living experiences.
1) Electric Lit’s digital version of its card game Papercuts. In years past, we’ve given this little card game (in “hardcopy”) to bookclub friends, literary family members, and people with whom we enjoy playing after-dinner games. While the hardcopy version is currently sold out, the digital version seems like a great gift for a Covid Christmas.
2) A museum membership from a North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) Association network museum. Find a local museum in the network, grab a membership, and open doors to art, history, travel, and so much more for your giftee! Covid will end. We’ll again be exploring far and wide. It will happen. And these memberships provide for free admission at over a thousand museums across North America.
3) A state-parks pass. For those who wander through book pages and the woods, and who live in states (like Texas) that offer discounted entry to state parks through annual park passes, such passes make great gifts. Let’s go find those “two roads diverging in a yellow wood.”
4) The local coffee shop’s art night. Mackinac Island in Michigan has the Watercolor Café. Galveston Island in Texas has Clay Cup Studios. If your giftee lives somewhere near a coffee shop or art venue that offers painting nights, craft activities, ceramic evenings, and the like, the gift of creativity goes a long way. Paint a wine glass while sipping wine. Over an espresso, create a colorful glass trivet. Bead a necklace with a pastry at hand. These venues often offer a wide array of projects and options—and a night at the art table makes a great outing.