One-Minute Book Reviews

December 13, 2007

Gifts for Readers — Sterling Silver ‘Cat in the Hat’ and Beatrix Potter Ornaments From Hand & Hammer

[This week I’m running extra posts, in addition to reviews, on suggested gifts for readers. No kickbacks from the sellers. These are just gifts I like. Museums sell these ornaments, but I couldn’t find any in the U.S. that had them in stock, so I’m listing other suppliers.]

My favorite Christmas decorations include these sterling silver Cat in the Hat and Peter Rabbit ornaments. Each is part of a series with scenes or characters from books by Dr. Seuss or Beatrix Potter (also available as charms and, in some cases, brooches). I first saw the Peter Rabbit ornaments in the gift shop at Hilltop, Potter’s home in the English Lake District, part of the Britain’s National Trust. In the U.S., you can order them for about $45 each from the venerable Hand & Hammer Silversmiths www.handandhammer.com, which also has the Seuss ornaments. This venerable Virginia company has made presentation silver for every president since John F.Kennedy, who received copies of Paul Revere’s lanterns for the Oval Office. I’ve ordered from its vast selection of sterling silver ornaments without problems. If you’re interested in a Seuss ornament, you might also try Seussland www.seussland.com, which has a good selection.

The ornaments shown are “The Cat in the Hat,” left, and “Mrs.Rabbit and Her children,” right, both from the Hand & Hammer Silversmiths online catalog.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

Coming Tomorrow — The 10 Best Books of the Year (and Funny Gifts for Readers)

Coming tomorrow …

The 10 best books of 2007, hand-picked by Jan Harayda, editor-in-chief of One-Minute Book Reviews. This list will include fiction, nonfiction and poetry and books from small presses and soul-destroying multinational conglomerates.

Funny gifts for readers. One-Minute Book Reviews has been running extra posts every day this week (in addition to the usual reviews) with gift ideas for readers. Another suggestion will appear later today. Tomorrow this site will entertain you with funny gifts for readers that didn’t made the list

The One-Minute Book Reviews list of the 10 Best Books of 2007 will be posted by 8 a.m. Eastern Time. The funny gifts will be posted by 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

Force majeure clause: It’s snowing here, and a nor’easter is on the way.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

December 12, 2007

Gifts for Readers – Pillow With Thomas Jefferson Quote ‘I Cannot Live Without Books’ From the Library of Congress Shop

[This week I’m tossing in extra posts, in addition to the usual reviews, on suggested gifts for readers. No kickbacks from sellers. These are just gifts I like and will help to support libraries or other friends of books.]

Know someone who defines the necessities of life as “food, clothing, shelter and books”? Here’s a possible gift: a small pillow that shows a comment Thomas Jefferson made to his friend John Adams in 1815: “I cannot live without books.” (A few books stand to the right of the legend.) The pillow is a 12” x 14” cotton-and-polyester blend that sells for $34 the Library of Congress Shop www.loc.gov/shop/. I can’t link directly to the picture in its online catalog, but you can find it by clicking on the “Home Accessories” page or searching for “pillow” on the site. The catalog says the pillow is navy blue, though it looks burgundy, and usually ships in 3–4 business days. The shop also sells mugs, T-shirts and tote bags with the quote. The Library of Congress has more than 3,000 books from the collection of the third president.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

December 11, 2007

Gifts for Readers — Hobbit Poster From the Bodleian Library at Oxford

[I’m tossing in a few extra posts this week with suggested gifts for readers. Again, no kickbacks from their sellers. These are just gifts that I like and help to support libraries or other friends of books. Today’s review appears in the post below this one.]

Most book posters are artless enough to appeal only to fans of the titles they promote. Not this handsome poster published by the Bodleian Library at Oxford University for an exhibit marking the 50th anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit in 1987. The poster shows one of Tolkien’s drawings for the first edition of the novel, depicting the scene “Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves.” It has the dates of the exhibit and sells for 5.95 pounds (about $12) at Bodleian Library Shop Online shop.bodley.ox.ac.uk/acatalog/index.html. The shop has other Hobbit posters and literary gifts, including cards imprinted with quotations from Shakespeare or reproductions of the covers of Victorian gardening books owned by the library. A related gift: The Hobbit: 70th Anniversary Edition (Houghton Mifflin, $25) www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com, just published in the U.S., which has Tolkien’s original drawings and an introduction by Christopher Tolkien.

Drawing: (c) The Trustees of the Tolkien Estate 2005.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

December 10, 2007

Gifts for Readers — Men’s Tie With a Book Design From the Los Angeles Public Library

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[I’m tossing in a few extra posts this week with suggested gifts for readers. Again, no kickbacks from their sellers. These are just gifts that I like and help to support libraries or other friends of books. Today’s review appears in the post below this one.]

Men’s club ties can get kitschy, but the book design on this one is as discreet as you would expect from a library. It’s 100 percent silk, designed by the architect-turned-art-director Josh Bach and sells for $38 at the online Library Store at the Los Angeles Public Library www.lfla.org/cgi-bin/store/0943.htm. And it might delight that teacher, tutor, librarian or parent who’s always encouraging children to read. The Josh Bach Book Tie will allow a man to keep books – literally as well as figuratively – close to his heart.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

December 9, 2007

Gifts for Readers – ‘The Reading Woman Boxed Notecards’ Set From the New York Public Library Gift Shop

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[I’m going to toss in a few extra posts this week, in addition the usual reviews, with suggested gifts for readers. No kickbacks from the sellers. These are just gifts that I like and will help to support libraries or other friends of books. Jan]

Want to say thank-you to that hostess who always bakes her famous Irish Coffee Cheesecake for book-club meetings instead of picking up few packages of Milanos like everybody else? Consider giving her “The Reading Woman Boxed Notecards” set, which costs $14.95 at the online Library Shop at the New York Public Library www.libraryshop.org/notstat.html. It has twenty 5” x 7” blank notecards with five copies of each of four paintings of a woman reading, one of which you see here. The deadline for UPS ground shipments is Thursday, Dec. 13, but you might find the cards at another library or museum shop with a looser time frame.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

November 28, 2007

2007 A-to-Z Holiday Gift List Coming Soon – Here Are Three of My Favorite Books From the 2006 List That You Can Still Find Easily

COMING SOON …

… the second annual One-Minute Book Reviews A-to-Z Holiday Gift List with books for everyone from an attorney to a Zen Buddhist. A few of my favorites from last year’s list:

What to give to …

A FOOTBALL FAN After a decade out of print, Jerry Kramer’s Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer (Doubleday, $21.95) returned last year in an edition with a foreword by Jonathan Yardley, the Pulitzer Prize–winning book critic. Give this one to football fans young enough to have missed it when it first came out in 1968 (and maybe also to baby boomers who’ve always regretted giving that first edition to Goodwill). Kramer, a former All-Pro Green Bay guard, wrote this modern classic with the late Dick Schaap, one of the best sportswriters of the 20th century. www.jerrykramer.com

A JANEITE Devout Jane Austen fans call themselves “Janeites.” But you don’t have to fall into that group to enjoy Josephine Ross’s Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners: Compliments, Charades & Horrible Blunders (Bloomsbury, $14.95), with charming watercolor illustrations by Henrietta Webb. Ross doesn’t try to extrapolate a set of 21st-century rules from the behavior of Elizabeth Bennet and others. Instead she offers a literary companion, masquerading as a Regency-era etiquette book, that explains the complex codes of behavior followed by Austen’s characters. www.bloomsburyusa.com

A KINDERGARTENER Mother Goose characters write letters to each other in Allan and Janet Ahlberg’s The Jolly Postman: Or Other People’s Letters (Little, Brown, $19.99, ages 4-8), which has a real letter tucked into in an envelope on every other page. This British import has been delighting children for two decades and has come out in a 20th anniversary edition. The books in “Jolly Postman” series are great gifts partly because children often can’t get them at libraries, which have trouble keeping them on shelves — the letters keep disappearing from their pockets. www.allanahlberg.com. A sequel, The Jolly Christmas Postman (Little,Brown, $17.99, ages 4-8), is shown at right.

Many other books on last year’s list still make good gifts. Click here to read the full list www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2006/12/01/.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

November 27, 2007

Carol Saline and Sharon Wohlmuth’s ‘Sisters,’ a Holiday Gift for Women Who Think That Having a Sister Is ‘Like a Marriage Without the Sex’

Sisters of many ages talk about what they give to and get from each other

By Janice Harayda

“It’s like a marriage without the sex,” the folksinger Anna McGarrigle says of her relationship with her sisters, Kate and Jane. If you know a woman who has similar feelings, your search for an ideal holiday gift book might begin with Sisters: The Tenth Anniversary Edition (Running Press, 164 pp., $29.95) www.sistersbook.com.

Since 1994 more than a million people have bought this attractive coffee-table book that has 36 brief essays by the award-winning journalist Carol Saline www.carolsaline.com and wonderful black-and-white photos by Sharon J. Wohlmuth, who shared a Pulitzer Prize at the Philadelphia Inquirer. What accounts for its staying power? In part, an inspired mix of sisters – pairs, trios and a quintet — who talk about their relationship. Some are celebrities — Chris Evert, Melba Moore, Gail Sheehy, Dixie Carter, Barbara Mandrell, Christy Turlington, Coretta Scott King, Wendy Wasserstein. But the most memorable essays involve women unlikely to appear in “Got Milk?” ads – a Vietnamese refugee, a pair of nuns, a trio of police officers, and a 7-year-old girl who tries to comfort an 11-year-old sister with AIDS.

The tone of Sisters is warm but not cloying. And Wolmuth’s photos often have a low-keyed wit, as in a picture of three sisters in their 80s who relax at a pool in what appears to be a Miami retirement complex. One member of the trio, in a Betty Ford hairdo, stands in chest-high water and lights a cigarette. What are ashes in the pool, the picture seems to ask, when you’ve got love like this?

Caveat lector: This review was based in the first edition. The 10th anniversary edition has some new material, including updates on sisters in the first edtion.

Furthermore: The authors also wrote Best Friends and . Mothers & Daughters, which have a similar format.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

December 1, 2006

A PRINT-AND-SAVE HOLIDAY GIFT BOOK GUIDE … FOR EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST FROM A-TO-Z

Filed under: A-to-Z Gift List 2006 — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:24 pm
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Looking for a gift for that hard-to-buy-for football fan, lesbian mother, or book club member? Here are some of the best of the season’s readings.

By Janice Harayda

Looking for a gift book? Here are ideas for everyone on your list from A-to-Z. You can read a full review of most books on the list below by entering their titles in the Search box One-Minute Book Reviews www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com. Most came out in 2006 and are widely available bookstores. Older books are available from online retailers.

What to give to …

AN ATTORNEY Anonymous Lawyer (Holt, $25) is a dark and satirical novel in the form of a blog that sends up the politics of a ruthless high-powered law firm. It grew out of Jeremy Blachman’s popular blog www.anonymouslawyer.blogspot.com and has a plot that’s thin enough to read during the bathroom breaks of a long deposition. But how much time does that young law firm associate on your list have for reading, anyway? Lawyers who prefer more substantial books, or nonfiction, may enjoy Manhunt (see under History Buff below).

A BOOK CLUB MEMBER Does someone on your list keep complaining about the books selected by her book club? A bookseller can show you guides full of ideas for reading groups. But many reading-group guides do little more than cheerlead for popular titles. Discerning readers may prefer two older books: John Carey’s Pure Pleasure: A Guide to the 20th Century’s Most Enjoyable Books (Faber and Faber, $14, paperback), a collection of 800-word reviews from the Sunday Times of London, and Noel Perrin’s A Reader’s Delight (Dartmouth, $20, paperback), which gathers brief reviews of classic fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from the Washington Post.

A COSMETIC SURGERY VETERAN You have to be a bit careful about who gets Alex Kuczynki’s Beauty Junkies: Inside Our $15 Billion Obsession With Cosmetic Surgery (Doubleday, $24.95), because you would never want to appear to suggest that the recipient needs plastic surgery. But it’s a terrific book for, among others, veterans of the knife and syringe. Have you heard about the Detroit radio station that gave away free plastic surgery during a promotion with the theme “New Year, New Rear”? www.alexkuczynski.com

A DOG LOVER John Grogan wrote one of funniest memoirs of 2005 in Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog (Morrow, $21.95), recently published in a handsome gift edition. The title hardly exaggerates the exploits of a yellow Lab that, though endearing, was so rebellious that it was expelled from obedience school. Anyone who loved Marley and Me is also likely to enjoy the similarly appealing books by Jon Katz, especially A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me (Random House, $12.95, paperback). www.marleyandme.com

AN EX Still speaking to your ex? Show that you have no hard feelings (okay, only a few) by picking up Leanne Shapton’s Was She Pretty? (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $20), a quirky coffee-table book of captioned line drawings that describe the offbeat ways men and women remember their former lovers.

A FOOTBALL FAN Hallelujah. After a decade out of print, Jerry Kramer’s Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer (Doubleday, $21.95) is back in an edition with a foreword by Jonathan Yardley, the Pulitzer Prize–winning book critic. Give this book right now – before it goes out of print again – to any football fan young to have missed it when it first came out in 1968. Kramer, an All-Pro Green Bay guard, wrote this modern classic with the late Dick Schaap, one of the best sportswriters of the 20th century. www.jerrykramer.com

A GRIEVING WIDOW The holidays are often no holiday when you’ve recently lost someone you love. Four 9/11 widows tell how they coped in Love You, Mean It: A True Story of Love, Loss, And Friendship (Hyperion, $23.95), by Patricia Carrington, Julia Collins, Claudia Gerbasi, and Ann Haynes with Eve Charles. This book may especially help a widow who is coping with a sudden death that didn’t give her time to prepare emotionally for the loss. www.loveyoumeanit.com

A HISTORY BUFF Why did John Wilkes Booth really kill Abraham Lincoln? And why did it take the government more than a week to capture him after he fled from Ford’s Theatre after shooing the president? Lawyer and Lincoln scholar James L. Swanson offers answers in Manhunt: The Twelve-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer (Morrow, $26.95), one of the year’s best historical true crime stories. www.jameslswanson.com

AN ISRAELI AT HEART Have a friend who visits Israel often and dreams of living there? The Man Who Fell Into a Puddle: Israel Lives (Vintage, $13, paperback) is a poignant collection of profiles of immigrants that shows a side of the country rarely seen in news reports of war in Middle East. Author Igal Sarna, a tank commander in the Yom Kippur War and one of Israel’s leading journalists, writes with a high style somewhat reminiscent of Joan Didion’s.

A JANEITE Devout Jane Austen fans call themselves “Janeites.” But you don’t have to fall into that group to enjoy Josephine Ross’s Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners: Compliments, Charades & Horrible Blunders (Bloomsbury, $14.95), with charming watercolor illustrations by Henrietta Webb. Ross doesn’t try to extrapolate a set of 21st-century rules from the behavior of Elizabeth Bennet and others. Instead she offers a literary companion, masquerading as a Regency-era etiquette book, that explains the complex codes of behavior followed by Austen’s characters.

KINDERGARTENER Mother Goose characters write letters to each other in Allan and Janet Ahlberg’s The Jolly Postman: Or Other People’s Letters (Little, Brown, $19.99, ages 4-8), which has a real letter tucked into in an envelope on every other page. This British import has been delighting children for two decades and recently appeared in a 20th anniversary edition. All books in the “Jolly Postman” series are popular gifts partly because children often can’t get them at libraries, which have trouble keeping them on shelves — the letters keep disappearing from their pockets.

A LESBIAN MOTHER Harley Aizley tells how she and her partner had a child using sperm they ordered by mail in her wisecracking memoir, Buying Dad: One Woman’s Search for the Perfect Sperm Donor (Alyson, $14.95, paperback). Aizley also wrote Confessions of the Other Mother: Nonbiological Lesbian Moms Tell All (Beacon, 2006), a collection of personal stories by lesbian mothers. www.harlynaizley.com

A MOVIEGOER Two of Hollywood’s top casting directors tell how they matched stars like Julia Roberts and Tom Cruise with roles in A Star Is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood’s Biggest Movies (Harcourt, $25), written by Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins with Rachel Kranz. www.janeandjanet.com

A NEW YORK WOMAN Long before Bridget Jones stepped on a scale, Sheila Levine embodied a certain kind of New York woman – smart, funny, overweight, and desperate to get married. So it was good news when, a couple of years ago, a publisher reissued Gail Parent’s blistering 1972 satire of mating rituals in pre-Sex and the City New York. Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York (Overlook, $13.95, paperback). A good gift for fans of Bridget Jones’s Diary, whether they live in Manhattan or Kenosha.

AN ONLINE DATER Judsen Culbreth suggests ways that female baby boomers can find love on the Internet in The Boomers’ Guide to Online Dating: Date With Dignity (Rodale, $12.95, paperback). She should know: At the age of 52, she married a man she met through an online matchmaking service. www.judsenculbreth.com

A POET Newspaper editor David Tucker’s writes about his work and makes it work in Late for Work (Mariner, $12, paperback), an award winning collection of poetry with a foreword by Philip Levine. Not all the poems deal with newsrooms or deadlines. But like a good newspaper story, all have solid roots in the details of everyday life.

A RECENTLY ENGAGED FRIEND Philip Delamore’s The Perfect Wedding Dress (Firefly, $35) wouldn’t work for a bride-to-be who’s bought her dress. But this coffee-table book could delight someone who hasn’t been engaged long enough to hit the bridal salons. It has more than 300 photos of classic styles, including many pictures of wedding dresses worn by celebrities such as Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Liv Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Diana, Princess of Wales.

QUIZ KID What do you give a star high school or college student? How about Ken Jennings’s Brainaic: Adventures in the Curious Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs (Villard, $24.95), or Bob Harris’s Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy! (Crown, $23.95), two books by former quiz -show champions who have proved that it pays to remember what you learned in school? www.ken-jennings.com

A SHORT STORY LOVER Know someone who always turns first to the short story in The New Yorker? Consider wrapping up the sparkling Noël Coward: Collected Short Stories (Methuen, $17.95, paperback), a 1999 book available from online retailers and others. One of its advantages as a gift is that even the most ardent short-story lovers tend not to own it (or even know that the celebrated English playwright also wrote some of the finest stories of the 20th century). Also highly recommended: Elisa Albert’s How This Night Is Different: Stories (Free Press, $18), a collection of stories about young Jews struggling to fine meaning in the traditional customs and activities of their faith. www.elisaalbert.com

A TODDLER In an ideal world, every toddler would own We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (McElderry, $17.95, ages 1-6), a picture book full of elements young children love, including animals and nature sounds. First published in 1989, this version of the classic tale was illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, two-time winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal, England’s equivalent of the Caldecott. If a toddler on your list already owns a copy, consider Five Little Ducks (Orchard, $12.99, ages 1-6), a new version of the nursery rhyme with sunny illustrations by Ivan Bates.

AN UNEMPLOYED EXECUTIVE Barbra Ehrenreich writes about her effort to find a white-collar job in Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuite of the American Dream (Owl, $13, paperback), a scathing portrait of a “transition industry” full of career coaches, resume consultants and others who may offer little in exchange for their steep fees. Ehrenreich never found the kind of job she wanted but offers a more realistic look at unemployment than many authors who tell job-seekers, often cruelly, that being fired is “the best thing that ever happened to you.” www.barbaraehrenreich.com

A VERMONTER (OR VERMONTER-AT-HEART) Noel Perrin admits Vermont has “a rotten climate” and other drawbacks as a place to live. But his love for his state – and for New England in general – shines in Best Person Rural: Essays of a Sometime Farmer (Godine, $24.95), an eloquent collection of essays on such topics as calving, maple sugaring, and the influx of tourists, introduced by Terry Osborne.

A WOMAN OF A CERTAIN AGE Nora Ephron takes on all those books about mellow menopause I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (Knopf, $19.95), a collection of blunt and witty essays on getting older and related topics.

AN X-RATED TALKER Okay, movies no longer have the “X” rating. But a lot of us still have at least one friend whose off-color jokes all seem to have originated back in a fraternity house. You’ll find plenty more of those politically incorrect lines-to-make-you blush in Steve Ochs’s National Lampoon Jokes Jokes Jokes: Collegiate Edition (National Lampoon Press, $10.75, paperback). Just don’t encourage the recipient to read your gift aloud at your holiday dinner.

YOUR CHILD’S SOCCER COACH The World Cup: The Complete History (Aurum, $24.95) isn’t a narrative history but an encyclopedia of every World Cup from the 1930 to 2006. Author Terry Crouch complied this book late enough to include all the 2006 qualifiers but not the winner. So your child’s soccer coach may be amused to learn that because of their “solid defense and slick counter attack,” the Italian team members look like “good bets to get to the last four this time.”

A ZEN CHILD Know a child whose parents do yoga, don’t eat meat, and see themselves as Buddhists in spirit? Track down the 2005 picture book Zen Shorts (Scholastic, $16.95, ages 4–8), which tells three classic Zen tales, wrapped around the story of a giant panda who befriends two young boys and their sister. Author John Muth says the panda is “based partly on the Zen artist/teacher Sengai Gibbon (1750–1838), whose drawings were used as gentle teaching tools.”

Finally, dare I suggest my own first novel, The Accidental Bride (St. Martin’s, 1999), which tells the story of a young reporter who decides to bail out of her over-the-top wedding for 350 guests? Publishers Weekly called the book “a witty and wise comedy of manners that pays homage to Jane Austen” (www.janiceharayda.com/mybooks). And Kirkus Reviews said: “Sparking with wit and humor, this is a story that charms.” And if you put more faith in ordinary readers than critics, here’s what one fan said in the “Reader Reviews” on Amazon, www.amazon.com. “Not since Bridget Jones’s Diary have I laughed like this! I loved this book — I found myself excited to crawl into bed at the end of the day and read. It let me drift off into another place and leave the stress of my day behind — the definition of a succesful book! Especially great if you are a Jane Austen fan.”

Watch for other gift book lists later in the season on One-Minute Book Reviews, including the Last-Minute Holiday Gift Book List and the Grandparents’ Guide to Gift Books for Children. Please bookmark this site or subscribe to the RSS feed to avoid missing these posts.

© 2006 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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