My new Christmas shopping theory is — give ‘em what they want, as long as it’s a book.
What a simple solution to Christmas shopping, especially as years go by and more people are added to the list. No longer will I have to wonder what size the friend’s second husband wears in sweaters.
First on my list for all older brothers is the new John Le Carre book, “A Legacy of Spies.” The wonderful, droll British sentences are as good as ever as the 85-year old writer revisits his earlier famous characters in a kind of prequel to his gems involving British secret agents during the Cold War. There are world-weary witticisms as expected, but also the modern twist of angry lawsuits filed by ungrateful citizens. And the author photo on the back cover is worth the price of the book; Le Carre couldn’t better embody the crusty gentleman author than in this image of him writing with an elegant pen, his arm propped on a pillow and bushy white eyebrows in full display. Of course, he’s wearing a herringbone wool vest.
My family has more than its share of picky grammar girls. For daughters and nieces who never tire of arguing about the Oxford comma, there’s a book entitled “a world without whom.” The “whom” is nicely crossed off on the cover of the book by Emmy J. Favilla, whose interesting job title is Buzzfeed Copy Chief. Since Buzzfeed is a modern version of an internet news (and everything else) site, Favilla’s job was to edit writing to keep it grammatical, but still breezy and relevant.
If you’ve ever wanted revenge on a young person who dares to edit your emails, this is your choice. It’s full of clever advice from an author who describes herself as having “always followed the rules, but from a safe distance” to preserve both practicality and fun. She throws in results from a Buzzfeed poll on language, such as the votes on “email” versus “e-mail.” The word without the hyphen, “email,” won 71 percent to 29 percent. That choice came with the description, “Language and words evolve; toss the hyphen.”
Clearly, only a certain kind of person (me) would cherish this book. Others would use it for kindling on a cold night and feel no guilt.
And finally, what not to choose as your fail-safe gift — “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.” Sure, it sounds like anyone could learn something useful from this book and use it to plan a special trip. But it’s seems like a slightly depressing and judgmental approach to travel writing. First, does the title imply that you are expected to die soon? If you can get past that and leaf through the book, you’ll immediately feel like a slug if you’ve only seen five of the 1,000 recommended places.
So, I’m sticking with my two favorites for the male and female of the species. And, in fact, I want both.