We finally finished up in-law Christmas so all the books are unwrapped and I can (almost) remember what I gave to everyone! I always gift quite a few books- it’s the go-to present for grandpa who we try not to buy more ‘stuff’ for (books don’t count) and my husband, who never wants very much and buys what he needs- but this year may have set a record for book gifting. I’ve decided that all the gifts I give next year will be books, no other junk, because it made shopping so much easier! We spent Christmas afternoon and the following day snowed in, cozy and content curled up in our respective reading spots with a new book.
My mother-in-law received Summer Miller’s New Prairie Kitchen, along with a beautiful solid wood cutting board handmade by the guy up the road. I don’t know how useful the cookbook will be, I think it is hard to know about recipes until you start cooking, but the photographs are beautiful. We know some of the people and have eaten at restaurants featured in the book, which is cool.
My father-in-law got two books: a signed copy of Linda Hasselstrom’s latest The Wheel of a The Wheel of the Year: A Writer’s Workbook, because after decades of writing and performing cowboy poetry he thinks he wants to write a book, and a memoir about sustainable living in either South Dakota or Iowa, so somewhat locally.
My husband received two books just for him and one I wanted to read… kind of like the shotguns and fly fishing rods I sometimes get. Brew Better Beer by Emma Christensen was recommended as one of the best cookbooks of the year. Hopefully with this book he can break away from home brew kits and into brewing directly from grains, most of which we have from making bread from scratch. There is nothing in the fermentation bucket yet, but the husband thinks the many ingredient conversion charts will be very useful. He also got Dave Eggers’ The Circle and now, halfway through the book, he’s scared to use Google and wants to delete himself from Facebook. The book we are sharing and have both read and love of course, is Jason Reynolds’ The Boy in the Black Suit. It’s just as good as the two other books of his I’ve read. When he finished reading it, the day after Christmas-he’s slow reader, the husband said he knew some kids who needed to read this book. Exactly the same comment he had for All American Boys.
My oldest daughter got car insurance and college textbooks for most of her Christmas gifts but in her stocking she found the first two books of Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers trilogy, I Hunt Killers and Game, Sold by Patricia McCormick and a grown-up coloring book so she will keep her hands off mine. She’s now finished the two serial killer books and really liked them, but she left after Christmas for a week-long stay at her older brother’s with the second one, right when I was getting ready to snag it, so soon we will need the next ones. When she opened Sold, she was excited. Apparently she had read it from the library in sixth grade and couldn’t remember what it was called but loved it and always wanted to own it. Now I can steal it to read, so we are both happy.
My youngest son is more of a gamer than a reader and he got a new tv, but in his stocking was When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds. I thought this book needed to be in our house. He says he started it but the husband is itching to read it, so he better hurry or he’s going to lose it for a couple days. He also got a remainder book about building muscle without machines that the husband ordered. He’s not a fan of the boys who hang out in the weight room at school and doesn’t like to leave his basement cave so he’s a fan of this book. I know he’s reading it because he keeps quoting random facts about how many calories are in all the foods I like to eat and resistance.
My youngest daughter found three books among the fuzzy socks in her stocking: Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth by Jeff Anderson, Wonder by RJ Palacio and What We Lost by Sara Zarr. She is really picky about books but I want to read all three, so no loss if she doesn’t like one. I am confident she will like them all if she puts down her iPod long enough to give each a try. Actually she wants to read these books during SSR at school instead of the book in her tested required reading level: Dodger by Charles Dickens. I’m working on a note and the research to back it up for Monday.
It’s always a struggle to shop for my niece and nephew who are glued to technology and get everything they might think about wanting before they want it. This year they each got a book, accompanied by a bunch of earrings for one and a funny t-shirt for the other. I think we’ll go with books from now on because it was simpler to pick from authors I heard at NCTE than trying to find a gadget they don’t own. One received Kevin Anderson’s The Fellowship for Alien Detection and the other unwrapped the first book in The School of Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani. They both read the back cover synopsis immediately so I’m hopeful they will unplug and turn pages. Maybe their middle school doesn’t require SSR according to tested reading levels.
Of course this book buying frenzy included one book for myself that I couldn’t disguise as a gift for someone else. Waiting for me under the tree was A Search Past Silence: The Literacy of Young Black Men by David E. Kirkland. I’m about halfway through, and although the book is different than I expected and not even close to hearing Kirkland speak, it’s pretty good.
About half of these books were purchased at an independent book store while Christmas shopping and half came courtesy of Amazon’s two-day Prime shipping because I am a procrastinating shopper. This year I hope to acquire a pile of books for each family member throughout the year so I have time to order in through our local bookstore instead of Amazon. I don’t know if I can hoard books without reading until Christmas though! Most of these books were new authors I discovered at NCTE or heard excerpts from at Steven Layne’s read-aloud session, I think proving the power of relationship building and reading aloud