Jessica Day George

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Last Minute Gifts

So, Christmas Eve is this Friday! Hooray! But: you've just realized that you forgot one of your nephews, or some friends are coming that you didn't expect to see until New Year's, or maybe you were knitting someone a scarf but so far it's only potholder-sized and made from flammable yarn . . . at any rate, you need a gift, my friends!

And Auntie Jessica is here to help! I have some go-to last minute Christmas gift ideas, and wouldn't you know they'd be books?! I mean, sure, you can always get someone a gift card, but that's kind of admitting that you didn't know what to get someone (unless they really love gift cards, as Mr. Jessica Day George does).

So here's some lovely, lovely books that will make a fine gift for your last minute guest, forgotten relation, or person who just gave you a gift that you weren't expecting!

Christmas specific:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, illustrated by P. J. Lynch
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, illustratied by P. J. Lynch
(You know I'm a fan of Lynch's beautifully detailed illustrations, so check out how they illuminate these classic Christmas stories!)
Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (Mr. Legal Thriller brings you a funny and heartwarming story of a modern Scrooge and his comeuppance.)
The Legend of Holly Claus by Brittney Ryan (The novel is beautifully illustrated, but there is also a picture book version with charming full color illustrations for younger readers or picture book fans!)
Miracle by Connie Willis (This collection of science fiction stories for Christmas is a must!)
Olivia Helps With Christmas by Ian Falconer
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss (I'm surprised by how many people don't have a copy of the Grinch, or Polar Express!)
The Twelve Bots of Christmas by Nathan Hale (Nate's latest Christmas book is funny and cool, and my son has been singing it for weeks!)
A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz (There are a variety of book versions of the classic Christmas special. We have it in board book form, my sister has an anniversary edition that includes backstory about the making of the cartoon, you can even get a miniature book that comes with a small tree and Linus' blanket!)

For the wee:
The Llama, Llama books by Anna Dewdney
Perfect Piggies, Snuggle Puppy, or the Pookie books by Sandra Boynton
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed! by Mo Willems
The Olivia books by Ian Falconer (In the new one, Olivia takes Venice by storm!)
Princess Hyacinth by Florence Parry Heide and Lane Smith
Animal House by Candace Ryan and Nathan Hale
The Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems (These are a delightful series for young readers about an uptight elephant named Gerald and his best friend, a sweet and funny pig! Our 6 year old loves them, and so does our toddler!)

For the in-between:
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (Everybody's read Hunger Games, I'm sure, but have you tried her first series? Wonderful!)
Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst (A fun book for middle grade readers, with fairy tales getting loose on an unsuspecting town!)
Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst (And for the college bound . . . )
Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor
A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (This year's Newbery winner was delightful for all ages, from 10 to adults!)
The Graveyard Book, M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman
Jane by April Lindner (This modern take on Jane Eyre wowed me! Why not include a copy of the Bronte original with this great book for teens!)
Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan

For the grown-ups:

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay (Magnificent! Fantasy, in that it's an imaginary world, but it's light on the magic, and would thrill any fan of historical fiction, Ancient China, or just plain old good writing!)
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (If there's someone out there who HASN'T read this book, they really need a copy!)
The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson (Ditto my note above, but with an R-rated content warning.)
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Monster Hunter Internationl by Larry Correia (For the man in your life, I suggest this heavily armed, let's blow up monsters thrill ride!)
The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik (It's the Napoleonic War, only the cavalry is dragons!)
The Hamish MacBeth mysteries by M. C. Beaton (Set in the Highlands of Scotland, these short, fun mysteries feature the most put-upon policeman in Scotland!)
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Fantasy at its best!)
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell (Vowell is an NPR commentator obsessed with presidential assassinations. Hilarity and history ensue.)
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (It's Civil War-era America . . . with zombies!)

I hope that this helps you with your last minute gift buying!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Oh, I love Christmas! Love it, love it, love it! Baked goods, turkey, ham, candy, presents, snow, yummy smelling things . . . what is not to love? NOTHING!

So here we are getting ready for Christmas at Maison le George, and it's looking good. The trees are up and decorated (we have three, one is fancy, one is dripping with Star Wars and other pop culture ornaments, one has Old World Father Christmases on it), the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, the kitchen towels have been switched from brown and orange to red and green. I'm knitting something red with sparkles in it! AH!

I'm also reading some great, great books. It's what I do, and every year I recommend them as well!

Like "Let it Snow" by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle.

Or, speaking of miracles, "Miracle" by Connie Willis.

But let's not forget the classics, like "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens! This year I'm reading it aloud to Boy, with translations from ye Victorian as I go. It's the beautifully illustrated version by P. J. Lynch, he whose "East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon" is a big inspiration for my "Sun and Moon."

I've alread read "A Highland Christmas" by M. C. Beaton, and I can't decide whether to go with "The Legend of Holly Claus" or "A Christmas Story" when I'm done with "Miracle."

Boy and I have read some picture books together, too, like "Olive the Other Reindeer", "Llama Llama Holiday Drama", "The Grinch" and "Merry Christmas, Splat!" And we'll be reading "The Polar Express", "Red Ranger Came Calling", and "Santa Calls" in the next few days, I'm sure!

We've watched some of our favorite movies as well. Like "Elf", "A Christmas Story", "The Muppet Christmas Carol", and "Rudolph." We watched "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town," which never really holds the kids' interest, and always makes my husband and I snicker naughtily. (I'm sorry, but there is a song in there that is wildly inappropriate in today's more cynical world. Watch it, and see if you can tell which one!)

A great deal of hot chocolate has been drunk already, and will continue to be drunk. My sister has made sausage dip, and I have partaken of it. There have been things baked with Andes bits, and I have made sure that my recipe for Pumpkin Empanadas (which has become our Christmas morning breakfast of choice) is close at hand.

Because it's Christmas. I'm being nicer to people. I'm occasionally giddy about things, like Christmas music, and wrapping paper. It's a wonderful time, a time when anything is possible. A time to think about so many miraculous things, like flying reindeer, talking snowmen, fat men who can slide down chimneys, but also babies being born in stables, new stars shining in the sky, and peace on earth.

Raise your glass of hot chocolate with me, won't you?

Merry Christmas, and God bless us every one!