Book giving guide 2024 for winter reading

By Bryn Manion

Here are some suggestions to fill the quiet hours of winter or to help you find just the right present for your loved ones during this frosty, snowy time of the year.

Books for the winter season: Ours is a multi-faith family. These are some of the books we pull out every year to read together.

In Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, bravery hinges in a single moment, a decision to break from the norm. May we each have a moment of clarity and determination that matches the father in this story.

Our children get a kick out of The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket and Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel.

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper, illustrated by Carson Ellis and The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice by Carolyn McVickar Edwards help our family celebrate the long nights and inevitable lengthening days to come.

I am also a great fan of Jane Yolen’s marvelous Owl Moon, illustrated by John Schoenherr. It pairs well with any of the many full moon walks offered by our local parks in the winter.

Books to give:

James Turrell: A Retrospective is back in print as of this July, and it is a stunning gift not only for those who admire Turrell, but for anyone who has gasped at a sunset, played with a shadow during an eclipse or walked into a sunlit room in January and felt transformed by light.

Turrell was raised Quaker and brought to his art his life experiences in aviation, science and psychology. All of it informs his visionary installations, including his outrageous, genius-or-madman work-in-progress, Roden Crater. Perhaps this book will inspire a trip to see Sky Pesher at the Walker or an epic road trip in 2024 to experience as many Turrells as possible?

Our neighborhood in St. Anthony Park teems with gardeners. In Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden, poet and scholar Camille T. Dungy recounts the seven-year odyssey to diversify her garden in the predominately white community of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Dungy weaves together gardening, social justice, motherhood and environmental advocacy with her poetic sense of language. She connects readers to a sense of the holistic profundity gardening gives us, our children and humanity.

Musicians have been incredibly prolific authors in the last year: Dolly Parton brings us some tacky, glitzy fun with Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones. This is a memoir told through vignettes and photos — perfect for all Dolly fans. And really, who isn’t a Dolly fan?

Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) has a gem of a gift book with World Within a Song, where he escorts readers through 50 songs that changed his life. He delves into the connective power of music, the community and shared experience it affords, as well as the unique personal self-exploration it provides each of us. The book includes songs by the Replacements, Mavis Staples, the Velvet Underground, Joni Mitchell, Otis Redding, Dolly Parton and Billie Eilish.

Similar to Parton and Tweedy, Willie Nelson’s Energy Follows Thought is a retrospective of his songs and life. He dips into 160 of his songs and dishes on his collaborations with Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings, Ray Charles, Merle Haggard, Ray Price and Dolly Parton with wisdom, kindness and intelligence.

Lovers of The Artist’s Way, Writing Down the Bones and Lammott’s own Bird by Bird should like adding Rick Rubin’s The Creative Act to their book shelves. Rubin is the founder of Def Jam Recordings and has produced a variety of artists from Adele to Black Sabbath, Johnny Cash to Jay-Z.

And just for fun, why not pick up a copy of the Taylor Swift Little Golden book for your favorite Swiftie? Not a Swiftie but still have a sense of humor? Little Golden Books has put out several fun kitschy books featuring The Beatles, The Golden Girls, Bob Ross, Dolly Parton, Betty White, the Bee Gees, Willie Nelson, Grumpy Cat, Lucille Ball, Bruce Springsteen, The Rock, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Happy reading to you all! 

Bryn Manion lives in St. Anthony Park and wrote this column for the Bugle.

Leave a Reply