5 titles for the bookworm on your Christmas shopping list

Whether you're shopping for your kids, your parents, or your in-laws, books are always a good idea to add to your holiday shopping list.

Homestretch book columnist Anne Logan provides some holiday ideas

The Dinosaur Artist and Meet the Latkes are two titles being recommended by The Homestretch book columnist Anne Logan. (Anne Logan)

Whether you're shopping for your kids, your parents, or your in-laws, books are always a good idea to add to your holiday shopping list.

But with so many titles out there, it's sometimes hard to choose just one.

So, in an effort to save holiday shoppers some time, The Homestretch's resident book columnist Anne Logan — the mind behind book blog Ivereadthis — has highlighted five titles that would make ideal gifts this season.

This interview has been edited and paraphrased for clarity and length. You can listen to the complete interview here.

Q: Sell us on giving actual books instead of a gift card to your favourite book store. Why are books the best kind of gift?

A: A lot of people don't feel comfortable giving gift cards because they feel like it's kind of a cop-out. And books are great because I like to think of them as a sustainable gift. You read them once and you don't just throw them out like a lot of other things, you pass them on to someone else, or you keep them on your bookshelf if you're a book collector.

But most people like to pass them on when they're done reading, so it's the gift that keeps on giving.

Q: So you brought five different suggestions for us this week, where do you want to start?

Meet the Latkes by Alan Silberberg is a good read for kids, says Homestretch book columnist Anne Logan. (Anne Logan)

A: I want to start with Meet the Latkes … so this is a picture book, ages three to five, and it's just a really cute story about the about the the holiday of Hanukkah. So we start with a family of potato pancakes, latkes, Grandpa Latkes is telling us the story of Hanukkah, but he's kind of mixing it up on purpose. So instead of using the word Maccabees he calls them Megabees, and then the potato latke dog, named Applesauce, is correcting him and trying to tell the real story of Hanukkah. So it's just a really cute little story.

Q: So what makes this book a good fit for young kids?

A: There's limited text on each page which is a big thing for me because the kids get bored if you're reading and reading you haven't turned the page yet. The illustrations are really colourful, fun to look at, and it's fun to read as an adult as well. It's really funny.

Q: You started with kids, what about something for tweens, teens and other young adults?

Very Rich by Polly Horvath is about a poor boy named Rupert who ends up spending Christmas Day with a very wealthy family. (Anne Logan)

A: The second book I wanted to talk about is called Very Rich by Polly Horvath, and I kind of liken this book to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It's about a poor boy named Rupert who through some crazy circumstances, ends up spending Christmas Day with a very wealthy family and then gets kind of kicked out at the end of the day.

And this very wealthy family feels guilty about what they did to him. So they take him on all these magical adventures to try to make up for it, and he gets to experience all these exciting things that he normally wouldn't have.

Q: And what do you like about this one?

A: What I really like about this book is that the message isn't black and white, because class issues rarely are. So it's kind of teaching kids about the difference of wealth in a small community. But it's really fun to read and it lends that kind of magical air around Christmas time.

Q: We've all been roped into a Secret Santa exchanges at some time at work, what's a good book for someone you don't know very well?

A: Okay. So the book I have to recommend for that is the Golden Girls Twas the Night Before Christmas. It's you know it's us special take on Twas the Night Before Christmas with, of course, the ladies from the famous show which ran late '80s early '90s I believe. And this is great because it's a small little book.

It's cheap, it would be good for a stocking stuffer, but if you're going to a party where you don't necessarily know anyone, it's kind of almost like a gag gift, but it's something that you could put on your coffee table over Christmas, look at, talk about, then put away with your decorations.

Q: All right what about a book for dads and brothers?

The Dinosaur Artist by Paige Williams centres on a man named Eric Prokopi, who went to jail for trying to sell a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton at auction. (Anne Logan)

A: The book that I have to recommend for them is called The Dinosaur Artist by Paige Williams. And that's a work of non-fiction. It's basically about the it's about the act of fossil hunting and collecting commercially versus scientifically. And it centres on a man named Eric Prokopi, who went to jail for trying to sell a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton at auction.

Q: What about something for the Calgary bookworm in your life?

No Good Asking by Fran Kimmel is kitty approved for the holiday season, at least by Homestretch book columnist Anne Logan's cat. (Anne Logan)

A: So, the book that I have to recommend for those people is called No Good Asking by Fran Kimmel, and full disclosure she is a friend of mine because she's a local author and to be honest, I know most local authors at this point, but I would never recommend this book if I didn't believe in it 100 per cent.

This is a really good, feel-good holiday story. I kind of liken it to the Hallmark movies that you're going to watch around this time of year. It's about a family who takes on a young girl who's waiting for her foster family.

It takes place over Christmas and basically it's just about the effect that this young girl has being injected into this family life, and what's so great about this book is the really realistic and authentic depictions of what it's like to live in a family, the awkwardness of it all, which of course really rings true around the holidays.

This is just a really lovely read for this time of year.

Q: Do you include gift receipts when you're giving books? What's your strategy there?

A: Honestly I do think giving a gifts receipt is a good idea because if they just look at the cover and hate it, they're not going to want to actually read it, so yeah, definitely include the gift receipt.


With files from The Homestretch

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