At Powell's, we feel the holidays are the perfect time to share our love of books with those close to us. For this special blog series, we reached out to authors featured in our Holiday Gift Guide to learn about their own experiences with book giving during this bountiful time of year.
Today's featured giver is Neil Patrick Harris, author of Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography.
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Do you have a favorite children's book to give budding readers?
I love Roald Dahl. His books are so quirky and odd — and great bait to get kids interested in reading. They all have odd, dark elements yet are filled with humor and humanity. One of my favorites is Danny the Champion of the World — a beautifully written story of a boy and his father, and their adventures hunting quail. I'd love to make it into a movie someday.
Have you ever bought a book that you intended to give as a gift but ended up keeping for yourself?
Indeed! And often! It's one of my favorite pastimes: shopping for others and buying for myself. Most recently: S. by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. I bought it online to give to my mother, but when it arrived, the physical book was so immersive and layered and epic that I didn't want to give it up. I eventually bought many more copies for friends, but I needed to go first.
What's the best book you've received as a gift?
My charming assistant/sidekick Zoe gave me Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves a few years ago. I'm a fan of unique structure (as you may have noticed), and this book is all over the place. I must confess, I still haven't read it — I know it's a book you really need to pay attention to, and I just haven't had the time yet to dedicate to it. But it looks amazing, and she insists it will be my new favorite book.
What's the strangest book you've received as a gift?
See answer above! It's crazy — full stories in footnotes and backward pages. Backward pages! Crazy.
Do you have any book-related holiday traditions?
We are big book readers to our kids. So now that they are four, we are looking forward to lots of holiday reading traditions.
What type of book makes the best cold-weather reading?
My instincts say the classics, but that's probably because I've been in California for most of my life. I have that romanticized idea of sitting in some snowy cabin on the East Coast reading Moby-Dick or The Sound and the Fury. Though given my current list of to-reads, it'll likely instead be biographies of magicians from the past or books revealing the secrets of magic's history. But true to form, I'll probably be smoking a pipe. Wearing an ascot. Drinking port in a snifter.
Rudolph, Grinch, Claus, or Krampus?
Rudolph, circa the 1964 stop-motion-animated TV special. Nothin' but happy holiday charm.