I tripped over when talking with the author about my favorite charity, Heifer International. A Mindful Christmas: How to Create a Meaningful, Peaceful Holiday by Barbara Elizabeth Kilikevicius is part guide book and part cheerleader for having a sane Christmas season with the moments of the kindness and love expressed in Capote’s Thanksgiving story. The book starts with two overarching questions–what are my intentions for the holiday season and what can I do without. With these two answers in mind, the first task is to think about what you and your family truly want from this holiday season. The premise of the book is that we all crave less craziness and, especially this year, less money spent. That’s a bandwagon I’m happy to jump onto (remember, books make terrific reasonably priced gifts). Read the rest of this entry »
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My favorite Thanksgiving story doesn’t involve Pilgrims, Indians or the Mayflower. It takes place in the Depression, so there are elements of struggling, but nothing like the experience of the Puritans. Truman Capote’s short story “The Thanksgiving Visitor” tells about one Thanksgiving in rural Alabama in 1933.
Seven year old Truman lives with four elderly cousins due to a custody battle between his parents. Miss Sook, his cousin in her sixties, is his best friend, “as she was a child herself (and many people thought her less than that . . .), she understood children, and understood me absolutely. Perhaps it was strange for a young boy to have as his best friend an aging spinster, but neither of us had an ordinary outlook or background, and so it was inevitable, in our separate loneliness, that we should come to share a friendship apart.”
Truman’s enemy was Odd Henderson, a twelve year old boy still in second grade who tortured Truman every day because he was a “sissy.” For example, Odd tackled Truman and rubbed prickly cockleburs in his scalp. Odd is a member of a proud down and out family. His mother struggles to care for nine children while his father is in jail. Miss Sook, a woman too uncomfortable to attend church but who reads her Bible daily, puts “love your enemy” into practice by inviting Odd to Thanksgiving dinner. Her experience in the Henderson house when she extends the invitation gives the reader an alternative view into Odd’s life. Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: recommended reading
One family lives the dream in Westwood
A lot of us passionate readers have a secret dream of one day owning a bookstore. When Meg Ryan welcomes children to her small independent shop in You’ve Got Mail, who doesn’t want to be that character? To spend your days surrounded by books, to introduce strangers to the books that mean the most to you, to have a reason to order every new book that catches your eye in a review . . . if you love to read, that’s just pure fantasy.
When I walked into Mystery Books on Broxton Ave in Westwood Village, I knew I had found a really appealing independent bookstore with a clear market niche. But when I started talking to the assistant manager, Linda Brown, I learned that this wasn’t just any bookstore–this was my dream brought to life. Read the rest of this entry »
I think the best gift is a book, it’s my favorite gift to both give and receive. When I’m giving a book, I like to find one that is a good fit for the recipient; when someone gives one to me, I enjoy discovering something I haven’t heard of before. This holiday season we’re putting up a series of posts with lists of good books to give as a present. I’ve asked two book group moderators for suggestions using their experience with reading the book and discussing it with a group. Julie Robinson, of Literary Affairs, leads dozens of book groups a month, a literary lunch series every fall and spring, author events every month, literary trips and is starting a new TV venture. I attend as many as I can.
Barbara Bilson is a book group moderator for several groups and has taught literature. I met Barbara in my former life as an attorney. I loved meeting with her because when we finished discussing business, I could ask her about books. Now we run into each other at our favorite restaurant and at literary events around town.
Both have thought about what books were meaningful over the last several years and recommend the following for book group junkies or anyone who loves good literature. Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: gift list
The National Book Award honors the best in literature written by American citizens. It is an award given “by writers for writers.” The award categories have expanded and contracted since it started in 1950, at one point there were several categories, since 1996 there are four: fiction, non-fiction, poetry and young people’s literature. Publishers nominate their books, although a judge can suggest an absent book (note to authors, if your publisher doesn’t send in your book and the committee nominates it, fire your publisher). The finalists are chosen by a committee of five independent judges (nominated by previous winners and nominees) and announced in October. The judges for each category meet the day of the award dinner to decide the winner and he or she is announced during a fancy event at a literary location, this year last night on Wall Street (at least something joyous occurred there). Here they are, run to your local independent bookstore to purchase them: Read the rest of this entry »