Gift books for writers
Published: October 28, 2005
|Writer Bethanne Kelly Patrick gives us her take on why the books in this year's gift guide are must-reads for writers.|
Chosen by Gary Shteyngart
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
When both critics and general readers wax eloquent over a novel, it belongs on everyone's holiday gift list.
Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth by Steven G. Kellman
The combination of an excellent biography with an important subject makes this selection an easy one.
Chosen by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro:
Crossing California by Adam Langer
Not only do we all want to read a great novel; we all are pressed for time.
The Reluctant Spiritualist: The Life of Maggie Fox by Nancy Stuart Rubin
As Shapiro describes, it's a good read for lots of different kinds of people.
Chosen by Diana Abu-Jaber:
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Woolf's classic novel examines the eternal artistic dilemma of work vs. life through the character of Lily Briscoe.
Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger by Nigel Slater
This blend will help writers think outside their favorite genre box.
Chosen by Caroline Leavitt:
The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse
As Leavitt says, "Every adult I love still has a lot of child in him or her."
Got A Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane by Jeff Tamarkin
When you really don't know what else to give, something on a Best Books list is guaranteed to at least get a reaction.
Chosen by Gayle Brandeis:
St. Ursula's Girls Against the Atomic Bomb by Valerie Hurley
Every writer needs a couple of "grown-up" versions of his favorite children's books.
A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
Observation of the natural world can't be overdone (although it can be overwritten).
Chosen by Geoff Dyer:
Trance by Christopher Sorrentino
Whether she's working on her own fiction or finishing up an essay, every writer needs a "big novelistic treat."
The Disappointment Artist by Jonathan Lethem
We all read lots of average essays in magazines and newspapers; reading a collection of excellent essays is refreshing.
Chosen by Ellen Cooney:
The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni
He's already read War and Peace; give him a completely surprising choice.
Clearing Land: Legacies of the American Farm by Jane Brox
Connecting to the land (it could be any land, but it's ours, so that's even better) echoes connecting pen to hand.
Chosen by Marian Keyes:
Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
Atkinson's Case Histories was awarded the LitBlog Co-op's first-ever Best Book Award in 2005.
My Life So Far by Jane Fonda
Even the most literary and dedicated of authors needs a good gossip break once a year!
Chosen by Paul Mandelbaum:
Bump by Diana Wagman
The joy of discovering an author you haven't read who has more than one book on her backlist is considerable.
The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father's War by Louise Steinman
Every writer is engaged in his own journey of self-discovery at some level, and Steinman's journey will inspire.
Chosen by Jane Turner Rylands:
Little America by Henry Bromell
Working writers often lose track of current events; bring them back gently through a work of fiction.
A History of Venice by John Julius Norwich
Writers may not be able to spend six months in Italy this year, but they can read Norwich's history and be transported.
Chosen by Mary Gaitskill:
Kafka On the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Murakami's truly original voice and style will cause even the most burned-out artist to take a second (or third, or 50th) look.
Imperial Hubris by Michael Scheuer
Maybe it's not this title your giftee needs, but remember: A dose of righteous anger can be very motivating.
Chosen by M.J. Rose:
To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman
This new novel is unlike any of mystery writer Lippman's others and reminds us all that no writer has to write one kind of book.
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
If writers haven't read it, they should. If they have, they should again. Campbell's connections open the mind.
Chosen by Fred Watson:
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (translated by David Wright)
Fine translation is a thing of beauty, but Chaucer's timeless portraits are even more beautiful.
1089 and All That: A Journey into Mathematics by David Acheson
So often, the most literate folks are also the most innumerate; it's truly a gift to show the beauty of numbers to a writer.
Chosen by Clea Simon:
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
Mantel is underappreciated in the United States and should be given to as many people as possible.
The Lady and the Panda by Vicki Constantine Croke
Quirky nonfiction books abound these days, so knowing that this one comes recommended makes it easier to choose and give.