Gifts for Readers
Readers seem to have a special understanding and appreciation of each other. If a hundred people were walking through an airport and I had to choose five to speak to, I would unabashedly pick those who were carrying a book. If there were more than five carrying books, then I would look at the titles and choose based on what they were reading. Although I could get it totally wrong and would certainly miss some interesting people who carry books on their i-pads, kindles, and phones, there is still something that draws me to people who read the physical bound version.
As the holiday season draws closer, thoughts of gifts for readers may be on your mind. Books are hard to choose for people because there are so many genres – fiction, non-fiction, classics, literature, cooking, history, graphic, children’s, young adult, self-help, photography, fashion, and more. Consulting the New York Times Book Review section on Sunday or the Bestseller List is always helpful as are the lists of prize winners (Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, the Man Booker Prize, PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, Newberry Award, Booker Prize, Caldecott Award, and the Iowa Short Fiction Award). But, if the choice is too difficult, consider one of the alternatives listed below:
Subscription to the Paris Review: The Paris Review is a quarterly literary magazine – written in the English language – that covers fiction, interviews with writers and poets, poetry, art, and non-fiction. Often referred to as America’s literary magazine, the Paris Review is an international treasure. The magazine emphasizes the creative work of writers, poets, and artists without the criticism often found in literary magazines. An annual subscription (4 issues) is $40 via www.theparisreview.org.
Subscription to the New Yorker: Having a subscription to the New Yorker magazine is like receiving a coveted gift 47 times a year (the magazine is published weekly although 5 issues cover a 2-week period). Although many focus on the fiction pieces written by some of the best writers, there are also commentaries, the hysterically funny column “Shouts and Murmurs,” poetry, critiques, and the very entertaining cartoons that always capture the culture of the times. An introductory subscription is $12 for 12 weeks ($6 for 12 weeks for students and educators) with an annual renewal rate of $49.99 at www.subscribe.newyorker.com.
Tickets to a writer’s forum: Throughout the country, performing art centers, Jewish Community Centers (JCC’s), libraries, banks, bookstores, and other organizations host or sponsor a literary speakers series where one or more writers are invited to a forum to speak about his or her books and writing. For example, R Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, Powell’s in Portland, Oregon, The Strand in New York City, and the Bookshop Santa Cruz offer events weekly. Surprise your favorite reader with tickets to one of these events.
Readers Gift Bag: Buy a gift bag and some tissue paper. Inside place a beautiful bookmark, a bag of small tasting chocolate squares (more than 300 types available through www.chocosphere.com) which are perfect to snack on while reading a book, a set of highlighters or a beautiful pencil set (available at art supply stores), and a gift certificate to a local bookstore.
A night at the Library Hotel in New York City: The Library Hotel is inspired by the Dewey Decimal System (how cool is that!) where each of the ten guest room floors honor one of the ten categories (Literature, Social Sciences, Languages, History, Math and Science, Technology, Arts, Religion, Philosophy, and General Knowledge) of the Dewey Decimal System. Each of the 60 rooms have a collection of books and art representing a distinctive topic within the category it belongs to. Guests also enjoy a reading room, a writer’s den, a poetry garden, a complementary breakfast buffet and evening wine and cheese reception. Located at 299 Madison Avenue in midtown (close to Grand Central Station and the New York Public Library), the rooms at the Library Hotel start at $187 a night (gift certificates available). See the official website: www.libraryhotel.com.