Giving gifts can be tremendously fun, but only under the right circumstances: I see something that reminds me of someone, I'm reasonably certain they will appreciate it and that they wouldn't/couldn't buy it for themselves, and I can afford to spare the money to buy it for them. This idea of having to run about frantically trying to buy something for everyone in my family/friend circle/neighborhood because of holiday tradition is both stressful and, it seems to me, unnecessary. And then there's that whole pressure to be a consumer, which I don't buy into (pun intended)...
Diatribe aside, I know that many people truly enjoy giving and receiving gifts at this time of year. That it is, in fact, important to many people. People who don't share my cynicism and lack of romanticism about the gesture. If you are one of those people, this post is for you, for here I have compiled lists of books and one writing tool that you might consider purchasing for a beloved reader or writer in your life.
And if you're not the gift-buying kind, you can always pick up one of these items for yourself. Perhaps at the library? ;*)
Books that Inspire Me
They make me want to write more, to write more honestly, to write more beautifully, and/or more creatively. These are the books I turn to for inspiration when I'm feeling stuck.
- Return to the City of White Donkeys by James Tate (prose poetry)
- The Tunnel: Selected Poems by Russell Edson (prose poetry
- The World Doesn't End by Charles Simic (poetry)
- New and Selected Poems, Vol. 1 by Mary Oliver
- A Defense of Poetry by Gabriel Gudding (line & prose poetry)
- The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valente (short stories & poems, speculative fiction)
- No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July (short stories, contemporary fiction)
- Wedlocked by Jay Ponteri (memoir, my review)
- I Thought I Was Your Favorite by Emily Schikora (prose poetry)
- Dismember by George Marie (poetry)
And I have just realized that I have met five of the above authors. That makes me feel special.
Books that I've Recently Recommended
Because they're great reads.
- The Touchstone Trilogy by Andrea K. Host (science fantasy, an awakening narrative)
- If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino (magical realism)
- The Sundered by Ruthanne Reid (science fantasy)
- The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness (paranormal - vampires, witches, daemons; an awakening narrative)
Books that Changed My Life
By which I mean they changed the way I think about other people, myself, and/or the world.
- The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov (science fiction)
- Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever (nonfiction)
- Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions by James W. Pennebaker (nonfiction)
- The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (speculative fiction)
- The MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood (science fiction)
- Against Love: A Polemic by Laura Kipnis (nonfiction)
Books Recommended by My Twitter & Facebook Contacts
Solicited by announcing that the first five people to respond with recommendations would have their suggestions included in this post, and that people could suggest books they've authored. (Yes, I realize there are six, not five people's recommendations.)
- Wayland Smith recommends his book In My Brother's Name, The Six-Gun Tarot by R. S. Belcher, and Once Upon a Rhyme by Jack Heckel (fiction)
- Chanel Sulc recommends Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson (poetry)
- Sue T. recommends The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (fiction)
- Emily K. recommends Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (speculative fiction)
- Mari Wells recommends Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (classical lit, fiction)
- Jolene Haley recommends Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (young adult fiction)
You may have heard of it already. I raved about it back in 2012, when I first started using it. If you haven't heard of it, get your virtual self over to the website and check it out. You can download a free trial, which comes with a rather extensive tutorial. Best part about the free trial is that it's 30 days of use, not 30 calendar days, which means if you download it today, play around with it a bit and forget about it until you've recovered from the holidays in mid-January, you still have 29 days left to play. GO NOW AND LOOK AT THIS! It changed the way I write! Did I mention it's available for both PC and Mac and only costs $45.00?