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8 Books to Put Under the Tree



Giving books for Christmas is always a good idea. For children, you will be instilling a love and respect for reading. For young adults, you will be cultivating their interest in a wide range of subjects. For the adults, a good book will give them something to dig into after all the food has been eaten, the family has gone home, and the other gifts have been put away for awhile. With the pandemic still keeping many people from big holiday gatherings, a good book can sure help fill that void. Books are easy to wrap; they don’t need batteries; and they can be opened over and over again. The key is to find just the right book for each person on your list, and I hope some of these suggestions will help.

1/“THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU WILL BE” BY EMILY WINFIELD MARTIN For the new baby in the family, this humorous and beautifully illustrated book expresses all the loving things parents think about when they look at their children. Children love to hear the same story over and over again and grown-ups will love reading it to their kids young and old.

2/“THE PENGUIN BOOK OF CHRISTMAS STORIES: FROM HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN TO ANGELA CARTER” EDITED BY JESSICA HARRISON It is always a delight to learn how people in other countries celebrate Christmas. This collection brings together some of the most magical Christmas stories from around the world. We read about Santas, ghosts, trolls, unexpected guests, and miracles of Christmas as told by some of the greatest story tellers of all times.

3/“A TREASURY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN CHRISTMAS STORIES” BY BETTYE COLLIER-THOMAS This marvelous collection of stories by well-known black writers has been out of print for years. The stories were originally published in African American newspapers, periodicals and journals between 1880 and 1953 and featured enchanting Christmas tales that are part of the black literary tradition that flourished after the Civil War. Bettye Collier-Thomas put together many of the original stories with new material for this newly released edition. The short stories and poems feature family and romantic love and faith as well as more serious topics such as racial identity and poverty.

4/“ANXIOUS PEOPLE” BY FREDRIK BACKMAN This is my new favorite book! I found myself laughing out loud so many times, only to have my heart wrapped in the beauty of humanity shown by the “anxious people.” Right before New Year’s Eve, a distraught parent, short on rent money and afraid of losing child custody, decides to rob a bank. When that goes badly (it’s a cashless bank), the would-be robber, still wearing a ski mask and carrying a toy gun, attempts to hide out in an empty apartment, only to find that it is actually hosting an open house. The perplexed perpetrator now has a hostage situation. As police close in, the failed bank robber sobs and apologizes, “I’m having quite a complicated day here.”

5/“D (A TALE OF TWO WORLDS) A MODERN-DAY DICKENSIAN FABLE” BY MICHAEL FABER A modern-day Dickensian fable and a celebration of friendship and humanity, this is a young adult novel that readers of all ages will enjoy. The story begins one day when the letter D disappears from the language. It vanishes from conversation, then from road signs, and soon the local dentist and a neighbor’s Dalmatian are missing. This story of friendship and bravery in an uncertain M world is a celebration of moral courage and a reminder of our human capacity for strength, hope and justice.

6/“A CHRISTMAS CAROL” BY CHARLES DICKENS The real thing! This story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation after visits by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future should be in everyone’s library. The classic tale of redemption, humanity, and kindness toward our fellow human beings makes the perfect holiday gift for everyone.

7/“THESE TRUTHS: A HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES” BY JILL LEPORE In this one-volume history of America, the author presents a masterly account of the origins of the rise of our now divided nation. With a devotion to facts, proof, and evidence, she places truth itself at the center of our country’s history. Thomas Jefferson felt that the American experiment was based on three “truths” – political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of the people. Has our nation delivered on these promises?

8/“MANSFIELD'S BOOK OF MANLY MEN: AN UTTERLY INVIGORATING GUIDE TO BEING YOUR MOST MASCULINE SELF” BY STEPHEN MANSFIELD It seems the Western world is suffering from a lack of honor, dubious integrity, and phony manliness. How do we recover what we have lost? In Mansfield’s witty and compelling book, he offers guidance to the men in our society using examples of manhood from past cultures. Caution: This is a gift for the man with a sense of humor! This is just a sampling of many literary gift options. Books as presents need not be your fallback position. Rather, they can be the first and best thing you think about as gifts! You will be surprised how much your friends and family appreciate your thoughtfulness in choosing a special book for them. And along the way, you may even find something for yourself! With grateful appreciation to my lifelong editor, and so much more, Hank Parfitt.

Diane Parfitt can be reached at citycentergallerybooks@gmail.com.