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Good Reads

Giving the gift of books


If you are like most of us, you are already starting to buy gifts for family and friends for the holidays, or at least beginning to think about it. If you are that rare, very organized person who has already done most of your holiday shopping, good for you! Either way, you may want to consider books as the perfect gift for just about everyone on your list.
Books make great gifts because they are thoughtful and can be thought-provoking, too. Just like the cards you might spend time selecting, books convey sentiments, can be humorous and can help you say things you might find hard to put into words. Gift books can promote reading in a child, or they may encourage an adult to get back into reading. Also, books as gifts can help someone build a personal library, and nothing is better than having your very own selection of books to reread and share with others.
When you think about it, books make the best gifts for many reasons. They don’t wilt, they don’t make you gain weight, and they are a lot more interesting than socks.
Here are a few books that might be just the thing for the people on your gift list.
1. “Gracie’s Gift’’ by Caroline Merino
For the young readers on your list, “Gracie’s Gift,’’ written and beautifully illustrated by local artist Caroline Merino, is about a little girl named Gracie and her pet goat, Pip. When they suddenly receive a mysterious gift, they find themselves on a journey that teaches them the joy of compassion and giving.
2. “The Monster of the Gunpower River’’ by Michael Stang
Not at all scary, this book is a compilation of thoroughly entertaining, easy-to-read short stories told with deliciously dry humor. The characters are ordinary people confronted with unearthly beings and phenomena, but they react with calm and practical understatement. The stories’ humor results from this unexpected imbalance between action and reaction. Author Michael Stang, who has written more than 40 stage plays, obviously understands comedic timing and the importance of not letting his characters “overact.” This is a book for anyone who enjoys a good story told with wit and insight.
3. “Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions’’ by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss
Biographies can be so much fun when you learn the behind-the-scenes stories of one of your heroes. Fans of Steve Martin will read about his movie career, stand-up comedy, banjo playing and his incredible humor. And we see his extraordinary writing and cartooning talent in this book with the gorgeously illustrated cartoons by Martin and famous New Yorker magazine cartoonist Harry Bliss.
4. “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times’’ by Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams
During these difficult and uncertain times, we all look for things that give us hope. World-renowned naturalist Jane Goodall talks with author Douglas Abrams about her life and what she has learned during her remarkable career. She shares her optimism that there is hope for the future if we act now, take the climate crisis seriously and become advocates for our planet.
5. “The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: A Memoir by Paul Newman’’
Paul Newman is remembered for the wonderful movies he starred in like “Cool Hand Luke,’’ “The Hustler,’’ “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,’’ and so many others. When he died in 2008, he left behind taped conversations about his life that his daughters used for this book. It details Newman’s early life, his problems with drinking, his shortcomings as a husband and father, and his highly decorated movie career. If you know someone who loved his movies, or even just his blue eyes, this is the book for them.
6. “HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style’’ by Elizabeth Holmes
Many of us have become “royal watchers” over the years, especially with the recent stories about Elizabeth, Diana, Kate and Meghan. Fashion is one of the things that catches our attention and makes us want to know more about these four royals and their distinctive styles. “Her Royal Highness” is a collection of gorgeous photos along with true stories to bring each of these women’s majestic style to life.
7. “Fairy Tale’’ by Stephen King
Many of us like to get lost in a good book over the holidays. Stephen King has written just such a book about a teenage boy who is given the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war. When Charlie Reade meets a dog named Radar and her reclusive master, Howard Bowditch, we sense that something strange is going to happen. When Bowditch dies, he bequeaths several things to Charlie, including the keys to a parallel world. Charlie and Radar travel together through the portal to the other world, where they get involved in the battle that not only threatens the other world but our own planet as well.
And my final recommendation is not a book at all, but a poster. The 100 Books Scratch Off Posters are a wonderful way for friends to keep track of what they have read and to spur them to read more. There are different scratch-off poster selections for all ages and interests, and they can be hung anywhere to show one’s reading progress. Family members can make a contest of it with each member displaying their own poster.