In a gift giving frenzy?
As I do every year, and much to the chagrin of my nieces and nephews who would prefer a fat wad of cash, I'm giving books.
Books always fit, and rarely offend. Books are best to both give and receive (though cashmere and sea salt caramels are strong contenders, but enough about my wants).
Feel free to borrow my gift list and make it your own*:
MEMOIR (without the annoying me-me-me)
by George Hodgman
A gay man returns home to take care of his strong-willed, elderly mother, and the results are both very funny and very touching. The New York Times says "it works on several levels, as a meditation on belonging, as a story of growing up gay and the psychic cost of silence, as metaphor for recovery."
MOTIVATIONAL (without cloying platitudes)
The Best Advice in Six Words
edited by Larry Smith
We've come a long way since the first book of Six Word Memoirs. Book after book, the best-selling series works so well because creating six word snippets is both challenging and fun, and can deliver a delightful mix of messages amusing, sharp, touching and sad. (Have you written your six-word memoir? You can see mine across this website header: Push words. Pull light. Carry balm.)
SPIRITUAL (without dogma)
Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint
by Nadia Bolz-Weber
A tatooed, female, recovered alcoholic joins with homeless, gay, and transgendered friends to start a church. This is not fiction, this is faith. The kind of religion that is inclusive and real. Now a New York Times bestseller, Pastrix is described as "a book for every thinking misfit suspicious of institutionalized religion, but who is still seeking transcendence and mystery."
YOUNG ADULT (without vampires or zombies)
The Way Back from Broken
by Amber Keyser
At last, a novel that understands teen readers are hungry for complex characters and deep material. In this compelling and poignant novel, a 15-year-old boy grapples with the grief of losing his baby sister. The author "takes the reader inside the pain of loss," notes a book reviewer, "making it personal and ragged in all the best ways, so that each step toward healing builds to a life-affirming and cathartic conclusion."
ILLUSTRATED BOOK (sorta story, sorta comic)
It's been out two years but I'm just now getting to the lovefest for this sharp and amusing illustrated book. "Funny and smart as hell," says Bill Gates (yes, that Bill Gates). NPR, Goodreads, Library Journal, Elizabeth Gilbert and 3,000 Amazon reviewers love this book. And now, you can add my (not at all powerful) name to the list.
FICTION (literary, but not overly crafted)
Elegies for the Brokenhearted
by Christie Hodgen
I like my fiction deep and dark, and Elegies for the Brokenhearted delivers. Melancholic and deftly written, the novel tells the story of one woman's damaged and difficult life through a series as elegies — aching and insightful laments for the dead. Original and absorbing, this is the best book I read in 2015 (though as usual I'm late to the launch; the book was published in 2010).
* I have numerous caveats for my reading pursuits. But don't fret, it's the thought that counts. Unless you give me a cookbook, to which my response will always be, "Can't we go out for dinner?"