Friday, December 06, 2013

Friday Reading Assignment: The gift of books

Want to give books?  Here's a little gift guide, organized by some of the personalities you might have on your gift list.  (Update:  my links failed to work--so I've replaced them  with ordinary, non-affiliate links.)

For the literate cook: Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin.  This book is more a collection of essays than a collection of recipes (but there are recipes).  With chapters like Nursery Food,  Repulsive Dinners: a Memoir, and Easy Cooking for Exhausted People, you can't help but fall in love with this book.

For the Jane Austen lover:  Arabella by Georgette Heyer.  Don't buy a cheesy Austen spin off.  Heyer's novels are set in the Regency period and can stand on their own as witty and entertaining.  I am reading Arabella right now and the best word to describe it is delicious.

For the menopausal: The Diaries of Jane Somers by Doris Lessing.  Doris Lessing, who died recently, won the nobel prize for literature.  She first tried publishing this brilliant book under a pseudonym and it was rejected. It's the story of Jana, a fashionable career woman of a certain age, who befriends and is much plagued by an older woman.

For the cyclist: French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France by Tim Moore.  Tim Moore, a hilarious British travel writer, cycles the course of the Tour de France, with much agonizing about chafing, among other things.

For the Jane Eyre fan:  Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.  Tells the Jane Eyre story from the perspective of Rochester's mad wife.  Ordinarily, I don't like spin offs, but this one is excellent.

For the Anglophile:  Anything by P. G. Wodehouse.  I'd chose Leave it to Psmith.

For the sailor:  Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian.  The first in his famous Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin series.  Funny, superb character development and dialog.

For the person who is nostalgic for the eighties: My Search for Warren Harding by Robert Plunket.  Possibly one of the funniest books I've ever read.  Also good for the person who feels keenly the difference between east coast and west coast America.

For the adventurer: Forbidden Journey by Ella Maillart.  The true story of the author's trek from Peking through Tibet, into India in the 1930s.

For the egalitarian:  Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell.  An entertaining skewering of middle class values.


  1. My sister introduced me to Colwin's writing. What a writer and what a loss when she left us! As far as food writers go, I love Ruth Reichl! When I think about the books I want for Christmas, my mouth waters a little.