Christmas Basket of Books: Karen Engelmann

  • December 17, 2012

We asked the author of The Stockholm Octavo to tell us what books she was buying as gifts for others this holiday.

by Karen Engelmann

Writing this list has been a godsend — not only does it make holiday shopping a snap, it makes me giddy with anticipation! I plan to either read the books very carefully before wrapping them, or arrange to borrow them by late January and then “forget” to return them. Hohoho!

For my husband: Building Stories, Chris Ware.

A narrative constructed of 14 “books” in a box is the perfect toy for a guy who creates branded environments for a living. Moving story, flexible structure, and incredible design combined. Inspiring.

For my college age daughter: The Casual Vacancy, J. K. Rowling

We grew up with Harry, and should see what the incredibly creative Ms. Rowling has in mind for adults.

For my high school junior: The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien (Collector’s edition)

It’s important to have at least one beautiful bound book on the shelf next to the electronic tablets and paperbacks. This was a book I read aloud to her at least five or six times when she was small. Time to reread, maybe after seeing the new Peter Jackson movie.

For the girl’s godmother: Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version, Philip Pullman.

Age is irrelevant; these stories are timeless! Besides, it’s a good idea to return to the classics every once in a while and refresh your cache of stories, especially in the dark winter months when wolves and witches prowl just outside the windows. (Can be wrapped up with hot cocoa mix and a merino shawl.)

For Grandma: Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, Jon Meacham. For a woman nearly old enough to have met Mr. Jefferson, and still keen enough to devour at least a book a week, this 800 page biography will keep her happily engaged until New Year’s. The portrayal of how a master politician succeeds through compromise and improvise may alter her opinion of House Speaker John Boehner.

For mom: The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror, Christopher Moore.

Mom, a sweet Iowa grandma of 86, fell out of the practice of reading a while ago, perhaps due to a misguided sense of “should”. In a recent visit to a bookstore to pick up something “fun”, hoping to rekindle her former love of reading, she chose a novel by Alexander Sohlzenitzyn — which is all well and good, but this whacky tale of Christmas in a small town seems like a better first step.

Everybody else: The Stockholm Octavo, signed of course, by Karen Engelmann.

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