Thursday, January 05, 2006


All my relatives have learned that in order to make me the happiest camper, all they have to do is give me the gift of a book for any gift-giving occasion. Actually, gift certificates to book stores are the best, followed closely by a book chosen off my wish list. I just love, love, love to get new books.

My mother, who is an avid reader herself, is the perfect gift-giver because she always gives members of her family a book for Christmas. She might also give a toy (for the kids) or a pretty sweater or some other item the giftee might enjoy, but she’s such a firm believer in the power of reading that books are a staple in her gift-giving repertoire. It helps that she works part time at a Barnes & Noble and is therefore up on what’s currently hot in reading, not to mention the fabulous employee discount.

For Christmas this year, my mother chose two books off my wish list, one practical and one fiction. The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy feeds my love of all things reference. I envision some day having a library of tomes containing every fact I might ever need to know, no matter how obscure. Sure, the internet makes this need kind of obsolete, and I do avail myself of wikipedia’s greatness several times a day. But there’s something about thumbing through pages looking for just the tidbit you need. Too, I enjoy seeing what others deem important enough to put into a book such as this one. I like testing myself to see how savvy I am and realizing how little I know.

She also got me Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, a book I pointed out to her on one of our many visits to B&N which we always manage when we see each other. While admiring the pretty cover, I told my mother about the writer’s story, which is such a fairytale that I feel compelled to read her book to see if I think she’s worth her miracle. It helps that the story’s premise sounds right up my alley. It’s been placed pretty high up on the TBR pile, and I’ll let you know how it pans out.

My husband, who usually works straight off my Christmas wish list because he waits until the last minute so has no time to be wildly creative, got me Wicked: The Grimmerie, which is the coffee table behind-the-scenes look at the hit musical Wicked. This book combines my love of all things behind-the-scenes with the fact that I think Wicked is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

I love oversized, purely whimsical books like this. Really, there is no reason to own this book except pure indulgence. It will teach me nothing practical I can put into use in either my personal or professional life. But turning the colorful pages gives me so much pleasure. Hey, if some people enjoy inhaling hazardous carcinogenic fumes into their lungs, my choice of jollies is comparatively pretty harmless.

Kind of off topic, over on Jenny Crusie’s Argh Ink, I’ve been fascinated by pictures of both Jenny’s office and its polar opposite, Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s office. I don’t have a designated office at all, so I have no room to comment. But I cannot believe Jenny can even think in that space, much less turn out the fabulous stories she does. On the flip side, SEP’s office is like my dream room. All of that glorious space designated for her use. So serene and well organized. You can just imagine some soft background music playing while she pounds out her latest, any reference needed right there at her fingertips behind those pristine glass doors. If I had an office like that, I think every excuse I have for not writing would fly right out that window with the scenic view of backyard.

Let’s see. Only twelve years until the oldest heads off for college and I can turn her room into an office...

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