Christmas is about Merry Capitalism. It has always been about gifts at my house.
This year we're not doing that. Everybody gets one book. That's all.
Some say they'll give gifts anyway. I don't want gifts. I don't want something electronic that fits in my purse. I don't want a goat bought for a family in Africa in my name. Let's give to charities anonymously, and if it be goats, so be it.
The rule? Don't give anything electronic or with an electric cord.
While others are opening gifts, I will turn up the heat (70 degrees is perfect), take a long bath, do some stretches to an ancient Jane Fonda tape, watch one Christmas movie (I am voting for Love Actually, but somebody else wants Steve McQueen, hardly connected to Christmas, I might add, and I think we'll be watching Bullitt!) and read books of course.
Here are five books I'll give this Christmas:
FOR FANS OF LITERARY CRITICISM BY A WRITER WHO CAN WRITE.
Nick Hornby’s More Baths Less Talking, the fourth collection of his hilarious book columns from The Believer, is one of the best books of the year. At the beginning of each month he lists the "books bought" in one column, and the "books read" in another--and they rarely coincide. He always has intelligent things to say about book, but he also is very witty about it. During a 100-mile car ride, I read parts aloud to my husband. He appreciated it, even though I'm not an audiobook.
FOR FANS OF ROCK AND ROLL FICTION:
Clyde Edgerton's charming, humorous novel, The Night Train, inspired by James Brown, Civil Rights, and friendship, is a small, deceptively simple novel. If you missed it , and you missed it if you blinked, you should check out this Southern rock-and-roll classic.Set in 1963 in the small town of Starke, North Carolina, it is the story of a music-based interracial friendship between two boys who work in a furniture-refinishing shop.
One of my favorite books of the year!
FOR FANS OF AMERICAN SUBURBAN HORROR.
A. M. Homes's new novel, May We Be Forgiven, is a horrific satire of the American Dream, laced with grief and a weird, unexpected sweetness after a tragedy undoes a wealthy family. The narrator, Harold Silver, is a Nixonologist whose brother George kills a family in a car accident, and then kills his wife after catching her in bed with Harold
The novel begins on Thanksgiving, and if you like to read about dysfunction on the holidays, you will enjoy this, but I'll warn you--it goes pretty far. Maybe too far.
FOR FANS OF GREAT WOMEN'S FICTION.
Olivia Manning's The Doves of Venus is a gorgeously-written, exuberant novel about what it meant to be female in the mid-twentieth century. This coming-of-age novel traces the career of Ellie, a young woman who leaves her home in Eastsea for London, where she finds a job painting and "antiquing" Regency furniture. She doesn't mind living in a tiny room, and is utterly intoxicated by her unfaithful lover, Quintin, the middle-aged man who seduced her and got her the promotion to work in the studio.
FOR FANS OF BRILLIANT NATIVE AMERICAN SHORT STORIES.
In the Native American writer Sherman Alexie's transcendent new book, Blasphemy: New and Collected Stories, he writes about lost cats, marriage, racism, growing up on the Spokane reservation, growing up Native American in the city without the Spokane traditions, shopping at the 7-11, cancer, alcoholism, absent fathers, obituaries, and playing basketball at midnight. His lyricism illuminates difficult moments in the difficult lives of his Native American characters, but he also deftly balances their sorrow with humor.
MORE BOOKS FOR THE HOLIDAYS TO COME!