We live our lives surrounded by books. We sell books to you, we talk books to each other and then we go home to our book-filled houses. It's a good life.
In honor of the gift-giving season, we'd like to share our list of sure-fire gifts. These are the books that resonate with us, the books we give to loved ones, year after year. Here, in Part 1, we offer the nonfiction books we love...
In my department we're all about the baked goods. So it is not surprising that we've got a few cookbooks to share. Lynn likes Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything ? "It's just about my favorite cookbook reference ? and I'm a vegetarian!" From Heidi: Gear for Your Kitchen by Alton Brown. "I love this book. For the cook who has everything, here's a guide to even more! What is the proper way to season a piece of cast iron and why would you store veggies in sand?" Salli, who has legendary Thanksgiving dinners, likes Cookwise: The Secrets of Cooking Revealed by Shirley O. Corriher: "Part scientist, part cook, and all storyteller, Shirley Corriher gives you the tools you need to 'fiddle' with a recipe. She gives cause and effect of ingredients, techniques, and methods for your culinary science experiments. Whether your dish succeeds or fails, you'll know why." Shelley loves Ina Garten's cookbooks, but, she cautions, "You have to keep an eye out for the recipes that use large amounts of butter." Check out her latest book: Barefoot Contessa at Home which comes with recipe note cards!
I asked Adrienne what one book she'd recommend as a gift, she said, Fruits by Shoichi Aoki. "It's a book of photographs of Japanese youth in very creative, colorful fashion, and would be so fun to get for Christmas. If you are feeling down or sad, after looking at it you will be cheered up." Drew, our not-so-new guy, has been chuckling over The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan: Classic Diet Recipe Cards from the 1970s. This hilarious book was inspired by Weight Watchers recipe cards from the 1970s. (No actual recipes included, mind you.) Pair that with Everything I Ate: A Year in the Life of My Mouth, of which India says, "It is so fabulous. One of the most interesting and addictive books I've ever seen ? a perfect conversation piece book."
Charlotte has been talking about the audio version of The Tao of Willie by Willie Nelson to everyone! She says, "Willie's musings on life, love, aging, music, and, of course, the Tao, are timeless ? just like his music." If you like David Sedaris, Serra says you should try Mircrothrills by Wendy Spero, also in audio format. And for the cynic on your holiday list, Shannon says to get David Rakoff's Don't Get Too Comfortable.
For the "serious" people in your life, Blane suggests The Elegant Universe, "Brian Greene presents the bizarre world of quantum mechanics and string theory using language accessible to all while taking the reader on an exciting journey through a truly unusual universe." Karin's pick is The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Douglas Brinkley: "Probably the best of the 'flood' of recent books on the Katrina disaster, Brinkley takes us hour by hour through the events of August 29 through September 3, 2005. By letting survivors tell their stories, he gives us a window to the great loss of culture this disaster wrought upon the region, and the country." Or Megan's picks: "Any wannabe photographer needs to read On Photography by Susan Sontag and Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes. I had to read them when I first started my photography degree and I still have my battered copies that I even took overseas."
Do you want to change your life, or someone else's? How about How to Live Well without Owning a Car by Chris Balish. Allison says, "For the auto-addict in your life, this is a practical guidebook to eliminating or minimizing reliance on the much beloved (and/or despised) oil-guzzling, four-wheeled beasts. You might accompany it with Divorce Your Car! by Katie Alvord, which delves more deeply into the destruction that the automobile has and still is wreaking on our lives." Thich Nhat Hanh's The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching is one of Andrew's favorites. Hilary loves Mountains beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder; "It's won the Pulitzer and for good reason; it's beautifully written, inspired, and gives you something to think about the rest of the year."
(Tune in next Friday for Part Two!)