Monday, November 29, 2010

holiday gift list: books

carlingford chritmas stars copyright kerry dexter

Several books to consider as you make out your holiday gift lists -- or at any time of year, really.

Rosanne Cash’s book Composed is, as she subtitles it, a memoir, not an autobiography. It is a mostly chronological reflection and narrative of her development as an artist and events in her life, well written, and containing a number of vivid stories and ideas that may well illumine your own path as an artist. Though Cash didn’t set out to with that in mind, I doubt she would be opposed to the idea. It is, rather, the story of one woman making her way, thus far, in the midst of a famous family and a career in which one has to seek out her own road maps. Read it for the stories, read it for the writing, read it to listen.

Andy Hall’s A Sense of Belonging to Scotland is a book where word and image meet. Hall is a photographer. He asked a number of well known Scots to reflect on a place within Scotland that means something to them, and he set out, over many miles and a good bit of time, to make images which would, in his words, see these places through their eyes. The people Hall asked for ideas include visual artists, musicians, athletes, business people, those in involved in broadcasting. some well known outside Scotland, some perhaps better known within its borders, people such as novelist Ian Rankin, musician Eddi Reader, actress Emma Thompson, actor Ewan MacGregor, and musician Donnie Munro. Their written reflections are as varied as the landscapes they choose, some quite straightforward, some nostalgic, a few poetic. The same could be said of their choices, and of Hall’s photographs of them. They range from places in Scotland’s cities to remote coasts in the Western Isles, berry picking regions to busy harbours, mountain to sea coast to loch to glen. Both the photographs and the stories to go along on varied occasions show the touch of history, the touch of the Creator, and the touch of nature.

Niall Williams and Christine Breen live in County Clare, in Ireland. They are both writers, Williams originally from Dublin, and Breen raised in New Jersey. They'd been living in Clare for some years when they decided to make a point of visiting other places in the island, and writing about them. They wrote The Pipes are Calling in 1993, but in some ways that makes it all the more worth reading. Some things have changed, some have not, and some have changed and changed back again. In any case, they both have a good way with words and with telling the stories of the people and situations they meet on their journeys, which include trips to Kenmare, Dublin, Donegal, Belfast, and Galway.

If there is a nuts and bolts minded person who likes how to books on your gift list, or someone who wants to learn about blogging or learn how to improve a blog, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, an ebook by Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, might suit them very well.

Speaking of Ireland, The Country Cooking of Ireland is a varied and interesting -- and beautifully photographed -- look at Ireland's food. Some of the recipes are gathered from cooks and chefs at top restaurants, some inspired by old cook books, and some newly created by Colman Andrews, former editor of Saveur. Photography is by Christopher Hirschheimer.

If you’re looking for a bit of spiritual reading, or if someone on your gift list has questions about vocation, Parker J. Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak could be just the thing. It’s a short book, not exactly comforting nor intended to be, but thought provoking on many levels.

How about a Christmas story? Christmas in Harmony will do the trick for that. Set in small town Indiana, it’s tale filled with characters you will recognize whatever your small town experiences or big city neighborhoods. Gentle humor and real sense of place, and a main character who is a thoroughly human and not at all preachy Quaker pastor.

you may also wish to see
Music Road: Amy Grant: Mosaic

Music Road: Shannon Heaton: Oil for the Chain

Music Road: Emily Smith, Jamie McClennan, and Robert Burns

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Anonymous Vera Marie Badertscher said...

Oh, sigh. How could I give these books away--I'd want to read them first! Great collection. Thanks.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous NoPotCooking said...

I want to read ALL of these!

8:08 AM  
Blogger Susan Johnston Taylor said...

Sounds like a great list! I hardly know where to start.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi said...

A Sense of Belonging in Scotland sound fantastic. I'll be keeping an eye out for that one.

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

Oooo, I'd love to know more about Irish cuisine.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous ruth pennebaker said...

What a wonderful list. Thanks for getting my started in the right direction -- the season can be overwhelming.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Stephanie Stiavetti said...

Love love LOVE Rosanne Cash. Thanks for the heads up about her book!

3:38 AM  

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