You’ve probably figured it out by now: Haley and I are both inveterate listmakers. And one of my favorite things about Christmas is the excuse to make lots and lots of lists. Gifts I want to give. Gifts I’m going to give. Gifts that I would give if I could afford them. Gifts that would be perfect for teachers, friends, and my kids in a few years. And for you: some bookish gifts for grownups!
This isn’t a “best books” list; it’s much more idiosyncratic. Whenever I finish a book I’ve loved, I immediately begin casting about for someone to give it to. Think of this as an odd collection of notes that either or Haley and I have jotted down, over the year, when we’ve read something and enjoyed it. Maybe one of these would bring some joy to someone you love, too.
- The Brothers K: Baseball. Family. Religion. A shout out to Dostoevsky. Baseball. What more could a novel-lover want? (And if you don’t think baseball is novelistic – please, please, reconsider this position.)
- Excellent Women, Barbara Pym. “I was so astonished that I could think of nothing to say, but wondered irrelevantly if I was to be caught with a teapot in my hand on every dramatic occasion.”
- Peace Like a River, Leif Enger. If you haven’t read it yourself, put it on your list. If you know anyone who loves a good story, put it on theirs.
- Sense and Sensibility – pair it with this amazing movie version. Because, really – Jane Austen is always, always appropriate.
- That Distant Land, Wendell Berry. Introduce someone you love to Port William. Only, watch out: they may not want to come back.
- Kristin Lavransdatter, Sigrid Undset. Fourteenth century Norway. But a universal story. For some of us, this has been a life-changing trilogy.
- Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Rebecca West. If you have a travel or history buff on your list, this book is the best of both. And actually, it’s a classic of English letters. History, politics, culture, theology, music, art – it’s all there. In an intelligent, penetrating voice.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Eric Metaxas. We reviewed it already. It’s a fabulous, inspiring, deeply historical and theological read.
- Desiring the Kingdom, James K.A. Smith. An academic look at how desire is formed, and how we can educate so that students desire the Kingdom of God.
- The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, Alan Jacobs. A book club delight! Fun to read, and a lovely encouragement to read for joy.
- A Reader’s Delight – he has a volume on kids’ novels, too. Essays by a Dartmouth professor on the books you missed. For the friend who has “run out of Jane Austen novels”!
- Real Love for Real Life, Andi Ashworth. Haley told me a few weeks ago that I needed to read this book about caregiving as a vocation. It’s on my own Amazon wishlist. You know, in case you were wondering.
- Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne. “A manifesto for protecting the grace of childhood.” A lovely gift for anyone with a child in their life.
- Christian Seasons Calendar Haley and I both have one. The art is gorgeous. And I love being reminded what time it is, not as the world measures time, but as God’s people do.
- Book Embosser For anyone who needs to channel that inner librarian. Plus it gives the reader in your life a good excuse to buy more paper books!
- Framed Literary Quotation I want one! ASAP! Also, one of these. And some Shakespeare hairpins in my stocking wouldn’t go amiss, either.
- eBook Cover For the loved one who has made the digital leap.
- Books & Culture subscription Anyone who loves books, loves ideas, and is interested in an intelligent Christian literary review. I have about 8 years’ worth of past issues sitting in my attic.
- Image Journal subscription A beautiful journal of the arts. Literature, visual arts, essays, and interviews. Again, boxes of past issues are weighing down my attic. They’re so beautifully produced, I can’t part with them.
- Moleskine journals. For starting a commonplace book!
- Donation to International Justice Mission. It’s not bookish. But it is an amazing organization, and a cause close to the Lord’s heart.
Great, great lists! Thank you so much for sharing! Do you also have any favorite Christmas CDs you like – for children / family? Kindest regards, lg
Well, Haley’s going to post on an Advent playlist soon, and I don’t want to totally steal her thunder! But I can tell you that Bach’s Advent cantatas have been on heavy rotation in our house of late. We also really, really love Sufjan Stevens’ Christmas album – which isn’t exactly for kids, but my children love the brightness and joy in it.
And / or Advent meditations books for parents / family / adults?
Great question! Living the Church Year, by Bobby Gross, has devotions for each season of the church year, along with great explanations of the traditions surrounding each season. I’ve been reading through the Advent meditations this year.
Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas (a compilation) is also a nice collection of short meditations.
My husband and I have simply been reading through the first half of Isaiah (1-39), along with a commentary, which is really interesting to do during this season of waiting. Anyone else have suggestions?