Recommendations for Holiday Giving


One of my favorite parts of the holidays is selecting books for my family and friends.  There is no greater gift than when one of them tells me that they loved a book I had chosen. Over the years, many friends have begun asking me to recommend books for their own holiday giving ,and I’ve had great fun writing lists for them.  I’m a list maker by nature (kind of like Santa without the supernatural powers) and, for years, I have written book lists for friends to take along on their own holiday shopping missions.  So, I have an idea that could be mutually beneficial.  Between now and the end of December, this blog will be devoted to holiday gift ideas.  I’m going to make up imaginary relatives and friends and provide a few reading suggestions for the cold months ahead.  Kind of like a reading doctor!  This will serve you (I hope) by giving you a few places to start and give me an outlet for my list-making obsession.

Today’s imaginary recipient is expensive to buy for. They love big art books. I understand these people because I’m one of them. This list includes a few of my own favorites and a couple I’m hoping my husband will read about here and get the hint! 

Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty (We were in Phoenix a few years ago, and during a walk around the Desert Botanical Garden, we came across sculptures made from tree saplings.  This was my first encounter with Patrick Dougherty, and I’ve been a fan ever since.  The North Carolina-based artist constructs whimsical sculptures that can now be found all over the world.) 

Yin Yu Tang: The Architecture of Daily Life of a Chinese House by the Peabody Essex Museum (I love this book. It’s about a house that a Chinese merchant built for his family in the Chinese countryside. After seven generations of his family lived in the house, it was taken down, piece by piece, and painstakingly moved to Salem, Massachusetts where it was put back together again. Now, visitors to the Peabody Essex Museum can stand in the house’s courtyard and almost hear the voices of the families who lived there.  This is a grown up version of Virginia Lee Burton’s classic, The Little House.)

Holland Frozen in Time: The Dutch Winter Landscape in the Golden Age (I’m not a big fan of snow and ice, but this book almost makes winter look fun! )

Luis Melendez: Master of the Spanish Still Life  (This is the catalog from an exhibit that was in Boston last winter. Melendez painted everyday objects like food and pottery, but his paintings make them feel otherworldly in the way they use color and light.  Melendez’s paintings glow.)

Henri Matisse: Rooms with a View by Shirley Blum  (My favorite Matisse paintings all feature interiors with windows and this is a whole book of them!  If the view outside your window is getting too grey, Matisse’s vivid colors could be the cure.)


2 thoughts on “Recommendations for Holiday Giving

  1. Oh, Shelley, this holiday season now holds the promise of special fun. I’m so glad you’re doing this. (And that stick book has me intrigued…)

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