This week’s “Top Ten Tuesday” book theme at The Broke and the Bookish is “The Top Ten Books I Want to Give as Gifts.” My answers:
The Joy of Cooking – For anyone who is just starting a home or depends on frozen Stauffer’s lasagna every night. Many “beginner” cookbooks lay out individual dishes that send you to the store for specific ingredients, half of which are wasted after you make the discouragingly complicated dish (alternatively, they tell you to boil a pack of noodles, add a can of this or that, and enjoy your casserole of gooey mush). The Joy of Cooking starts you at ground level and builds from there. “Chicken thighs were on sale. What’s the most basic way I can make them without shopping for extras? How about if I want to use them in a special dinner? Ten ways to prepare broccoli?…” The Silver Palate or Mastering the Art of French Cooking would be a great choices for someone who already loves to cook.
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel – For our nephew, when he gets a little bigger and less drooly.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis – Carl looks forward to sharing this book (and other Lewis works) with his sisters as they grow into adulthood. Lewis is helpful to anyone as they work through intellectual and moral challenges in high school, college, and adult life. He pushed me to think through my faith intensely as a teen, shifting from just listening to the answers parents gave to investigating and acting on Christian thought independently. Carl fell in love with Lewis when I sent him a few books while we were dating. Plus? The man is really funny.
The Way Things Work – For any kid (or adult) fascinated with cars, planes, engines, moving parts, technology or inventions.
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope – For someone who enjoys classics. I don’t know why Trollope’s works are less well-known than other British novels like Vanity Fair, Jane Eyre, or the works of Austen and Dickens. Trollope’s later stories became increasingly bitter, but his Chronicles of Barsetshire are priceless: well-written, funny, gentle, and vivid. Barchester Towers is my favorite in the series.
The Boy Scout Field Book (an old version) – For any kid who loves the outdoors. Newer versions of these books have a broader focus on the environment, urban areas, and the like. That’s fine, but not the reason I loved this book. We owned my grandfather’s 1948 copy and spent countless hours in the yard and woods lashing together shelters, building fires, orienteering, measuring distances, drawing maps, practicing first aid, making tents, and looking at animal tracks. The older Field Books (vs. Handbooks) focus on with-your-bare-hands-and-a-knife type wilderness skills – great for kids who love the wilderness or fantasize about surviving alone in the mountains. I wish I had my own copy now.
The 39 Steps and other Richard Hannay stories by John Buchan – A great series written between 1915 and World War II. Great for anyone tween to adult who loves a good adventure – even the ones who are resistant to classics.
The Pacific War by Saburo Ienaga – For someone who likes history, especially military history. A well-written, engaging account of World War II in the Pacific from the Japanese perspective. This book was a favorite from college – I couldn’t put it down, especially since almost every other Pacific War account I’d read was written by Americans.
Lone Cowboy: My Life Story by Will James – For the wanna-be cow puncher in your family. I must have checked this out of the library a good 20 times as a kid. James’ blend of fiction and autobiography tells a rip-roaring story, while his original illustrations paint the scenes. The “author” is abandoned as an infant, raised by a French-Canadian trapper, and becomes a cowboy and artist roaming the west as an adult. irresistable. Another one I wish I owned a copy of – it’s out of print now, though used copies with James’s illustrations exist.
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather – For anyone who loves a good book. This one is a masterpiece, one of the finest 20th century American novels, and, in my personal opinion, the best thing Cather ever wrote. In the 1850s, Bishop Latour is sent to remote New Mexico where he serves, teaches, and struggles among humans of every kind.