I'm not alone. I grilled a few of my favorite writers to see what books they hope to find under the tree. The responses arrived fast and fevered:
Rick Campbell calls himself an "accidental reader." As a professor at Florida A&M University, the director of Anhinga Press, and the author of three poetry books including Dixmont, he's got a full life and a robust reading list. He's reading a dozen books now, including Land of Amnesia by poet Joseph Bathanti; Impetuous Sleeper by poet Donald Morrill; and Chronicles by Bob Dylan. "I've been reading these books for about two years," he says, "except for The Travels of William Bartram, which I've been reading for 30." Despite the ambitious pile, he has his eye on two more:
• Stealing Fatima, a novel by poet/novelist Frank X. Gaspar
• Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, a book about Henry VIII's consuming need for a male heir.
• True Confections by Katharine Weber, though it won't be released until January.
"And," she adds, "if I didn't already have it, I would want Karen Armstrong's The Case for God, which traces wildly varying philosophies and theologies form prehistoric times, including the shifting relationships between science and religion. Erudite and dense with scholarship but mesmerizing."
Liz Nakazawa, whose book Deer Drink the Moon: Poems of Oregon was chosen as one of 150 best books for the Oregon Sesquicentennial, has a few 2009 favorites that would make great gifts:
• Lit, a memoir by Mary Karr
• The Adaptable Man, a novel by Janet Frame
• Lights on a Ground of Darkness, An Evocation of a Place and Time, by Ted Kooser
• In Search of Small Gods, by Jim Harrison
• Another World Instead: The Early Poems of William Stafford, 1937-1947 by William Stafford, edited by Fred Marchant.
• Queen of a Rainy Country: Poems, by Linda Pastan
• Light from a Bullet Hole, New and Selected Poems 1950-2008, by Ralph Salisbury
With so many books, this list is just a start. Check back later this week for more wish lists from authors Sage Cohen, Bill Siverly, Rick Schultze, Gail Waldstein, and more.