Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Friday, December 28, 2012

A Bookish Christmas!

This year I gave lots of books for Christmas. And I make a list of which ones were given, and received. Pretty amusing and enlightening! Here is the full list for your perusal.

To my younger son:
Pym by Mat Johnson (A wacky satire involving Poe, Little Debbie snack cakes, a bag of bones and a seafaring journey)

To my eldest son who teaches history in China and travels all over:
When America First Met China by Eric Jay Dolin ("An exotic history of tea, drugs, and money in the age of sail")  ***check out the incredibly gorgeous book cover above
China in Ten Words by Yu Hua (a humorous, honest, sometimes shocking portrait of China from the 60s on)
Cambodia's Curse by J. Brinkley (portrait of a country haunted by poverty, corruption and the Khmer Rouge-solutions going forward)

To my friend who loves history & art:
Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean ("True tales of love, madness and the history of the world, from the Periodic Table")
Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut (a satire of the artworld)

To one of my writing students:
The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History by Jonathan Franzen (pieces about Franzen's childhood)

From my writing student to me:
Seven Days in the Artworld by Sarah Thornton (snapshots of the weirdness that is the artworld)

To my sister-in-law, interested in psychology and biology:
An Age of Madness by David Maine (a novel about an analyst and her estranged daughter)
Riddled with Life by Marlene Zuk (why and how we symbiotically embrace parasites!)

From my younger son to me, knowing I love DeLillo:
The Angel Esmirelda by Don DeLillo (nine stories about astronauts, nuns, terrorists and travelers, in settings from the South Bronx to outer space)

From my younger son to his older brother:
Nero by Edward Champlin (a reevaluation of the callous emperor who fiddled while Rome burned)
At Day's Close, Night in Times Past by A. Robert Ekirch (Crime, fire, theft and the supernatural: illuminating events that happen in the dark)

To me, from me!
The Twelve by Justin Cronin (Sequel to his blockbuster speculative novel The Passage) and Girl of Nightmares (sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood--unfortunately, the sequel isn't nearly as good as the first book!)

Did you give books this holiday? Did you receive books? 
Your favorites?


  1. I bought so many books for my daughter and for other people's children. They are my favorite gifts to buy. :D

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  3. I've made a tradition of buying my brother's & sister's grandkids books each Christmas. And I received The Hobbit Companion and Jian Gomeshi's 1982.
    -Karen Bass (

  4. I don't give books because it's such personal taste and I'm afraid they won't like them. Taking people to dinner or snacks is more my thing - then they can order exactly what they want. :-)

  5. I received the Ursula Le Guin 2 volume short fiction set from Small Beer Press as a gift. :-)

  6. Catherine ldf, LeGuin is always a superb gift.
    Lexa, yes, dinnner out is always a sure bet.
    Karen, I'm not familiar with Gomeshi's 1982, but anything about the Hobbit is topical right now.
    Kelly, kids love picture books!

  7. This year was a book bonanza for me:
    A biography of Leonard Cohen, 'I'm Your Man,' by Silvie Simmons
    'Telegraph Avenue,' by Michael Chabon
    'Joseph Anton,' by Salman Rushdie
    'Dalva' by Jim Harrison + a few that I treated myself to. ;-)

    Looking forward to lots of hours of happy reading.

    'The Poetics of Space,' by Gaston Bachelard is my gift to a good friend who happens to be artist.

  8. None of my friends (or family) read except my dad. He reads Newt Gingrich and stuff like that. So no...I didn't give him any books. He can buy his own.

  9. The Disappearing Spoon has caught my eye on more than one occasion.

    Cat, I hope you've been enjoying a lovely (bookish? :)) holiday!

  10. Deborah, I love Michael Chabon, and The Poetics of Space sounds good. Michael, hey, you can always give yourself a bookish present. Suze, yes, the structure of the Disappearing Spoon, set around each part of the Periodic Table, i kind of genius. I love unorthodox structures.

  11. I gave everyone money this year because of illness and no time to shop. I did buy books for me. Victoria and the Ghost by Janet K. Brown and A Shadow in the Past by Melanie Robertson-King. It wasn't exactly a Christmas present by Darby Karchut sent me an ARC of Finn Finnegan. I'm reading it now. Wow! Love Finn. Good reading ahead.

  12. Well, as a big fan of Poe, I now have to add Pym to my ever-increasing to-be-read stack. Thanks a lot, Catherine. ;-)
    Some Dark Romantic

  13. i didn't give any books, but santa on the other hand gave my son diary of a wimpy kid set 1-3. he loves that!

  14. I gave a load of books to my son. He's really got in to reading over the last couple of years, since he's moved to London. It's wonderful to share with him books I've loved. Among the books was Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter, All Quiet on the Western Front and some Raymond Chandler.

  15. No...but I did buy myself some! Penguin released deluxe editions back in 2009 of classic re-prints. The cover art was done by fashion illustrator Ruben Toledo--and I had to get them. The covers are awesome.That was my gift to myself.

  16. Everyone in the house got Kindle e-readers, then rushed to the library website and checked out lots of books. I gave my daughter an actual hard copy set (well paperbacks) of Lauren Myracle's middle grade series The Winnie Years (TEN, ELEVEN, TWELVE, THIRTEEN, AND THIRTEEN PLUS ONE). She and I love to read these and they've opened many doors to what could be uncomfortable growing up girly conversations.

    I also gave my niece the Willa Bean series books by Cecilia Galante. Kristi Valiant, the illustrator, autographed the first one for her. Such a wonderful woman.

    My nephew and son got Kindle gift cards to pick out their own books. And, finally, we'll take a trip to our local indy bookstore, Kids Ink, to do a little extra shopping before school starts again. Everyone needs New Year's books!

  17. Shannon, I like hearing that kids got eReaders and are eagerly choosing eBooks! Yes, the Lauren Myracle series is good for the per--pubescent age.
    Eliza, those luxurious leather-bound classics are wonderful. And I will have to check out Toledo's illustrations.
    Potok, wise choices for a growing son.
    Tammy, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is always a hit with boys.
    Beverley, I hope you feel better now! No doubt Darby's novel is a winner.
    Mina I'm a huge Poe fan too.

  18. My husband refused to buy me books. He said I have too many.

  19. Beth, what about him buying you eBooks?!

  20. That's all I ever give anymore. I've become known as the Book Aunt, Sister, Wife, Mom.

    Hope your Christmas was wonderful and that this year brings you all good things.

  21. Catherine, what a fascinating mix here! That Cambodia's Mix is now on my TBR list. I gave books just to my son (who is 9). He got a Kindle Fire and got ebooks and print books like: Infinity Ring, Joshua Dread, Cloak. Although, now I dont want to get the ebooks as many of the authors he likes list their ebooks at $9 and hardcovers for $10. Of course I'd rather get the $10 book for my son but that defeats the purpose of the a quandry now. How to find good kids reads for cheap or on sale!

    But I did buy many hardcover books for myself including The Peculiar and The Fault in Our Stars.

    Thanks for sharing your diverse list!

  22. Those are some fantastic books! Can you believe out of all the fam and friends, I didn't get one book? Oh well. I have a few on my want/wish list I'll have to get for myself! I donated a few picture books to a library in need this Christmas, but that's about it.

  23. Ooo, the Nero book sounds very interesting!

    I gave away some copies of my own books to people as presents. Does that count? Hehe! I did use my Amazon gift cards to buy way too many books, though.

  24. Cherie, sure that counts!
    Candilynn, that's nice of you to donate books to the library.
    Donna, that is rather annoying that the ebooks your son wants to read are just about as expensive as the paper books. Hmmm...
    Lee, wear the title of Book Aunt proudly, it's a good title!

  25. I got an interesting grab-bag of books, including Kari Sperring's Living With Ghosts (I saw her at the World Fantasy Convention and she was such a hoot), Blake Snyder's Save The Cat (a plotting book), and a couple of Dion Fortune books for research.

    My best book present is still pending, though (it hadn't been released by Christmas): Here Be Dragons by Stefan Ekman. Exploration of fantasy maps. Eeeeee.

  26. Lindsay-ah, a book complete with fantasy maps, sounds wonderful! Thanks for visiting.

  27. I love all the book giving! Yeah! I got lots of gift cards to buy books- which was awesome. I also gave a lot of books. I make sure to give each of my nieces and nephews at least one book each Christmas. :)

    Happy reading and Happy New Year!