I like to give books for Christmas: tokens of adventure, learning, beauty, romance — all the loveliness of the world.

Hemingway: “All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. ”

(The weather: tres important.)

I also like to get books for Christmas and usually spend the whole of Christmas afternoon lost in sentences and narrative and words. Some of my favorite volumes for sharing:

Let’s Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By. There are odes within to cuckoo clocks, bed curtains, and calling cards. I love my cuckoo clock.

Speaking of cuckoo clocks, I could have another. These are $68, SF Museum of Modern Art. I love the raw wood version. It comes in white here.

The clothbound Penguin Classics above are well-praised and loved already, but what I love is giving my friend Christina a few new volumes each year. We are building her collection.


Pictorial Webster’s is beautiful, and there are frame-worthy flashcards available now to match.



boxed set of J.D. Salinger‘s work — on my wishlist. It includes one of my favorite sentences:

“If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a dam*n if she’s late?  Nobody. ”


Attracted just by the cover — but it’s also one of the best books of 2011: The Lover’s Dictionary, by David Levithan.

I forgot to tell you about the Crack Pie I had in New York at Momofuku’s Milk Bar. It is butter pie, people. BUTTER PIE. This cookbook has the cult-worshipped recipe, along with others worthy of extreme caloric sin.

For kids: I found this at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. and went mad for it. There is a real hole through the entire book, which becomes so fun — the kind of book that also becomes a memory. Herve Tullet’s books are a good place to start..

And Ed Ruscha’s They Called Her Styrene — which is art and words and paint and modern West Coast culture by a modern-day artist who fascinates me.

I asked for this the minute I saw it:

Who doesn’t love maps? This is a gorgeously illustrated tome about mapmaking and the lore of the trail.

And lastly, because I love him so:

P.S. You can now comment below with your Facebook ID. A holiday miracle! It’s been too lonely around here for too long. Tell me about your standby gifts. I have a non-reading friend who is puzzling me.