Books for Story Lovers (or: solve your holiday shopping problems here)

November 19th, 2007 by Larry Smith

When I left traditional magazines, I figured I would never have to hear the phrase “holiday shopping guide” again. Yet here we are in mid-November, 2007 and I am about to format the follow sentence in bold: Attention holiday shoppers who love great storytelling and hate shopping!

That’s right friends, welcome to SMITH Magazine’s first and possibly annual guide to the best books to give as presents. In the tradition of these things, I’ve categorized these books to make it super, super easy. Five clicks and five problems solved. Why? Because we love storytelling. We love these books. And we’re here to help.

SW_cover.jpgFor the political animal and/or comic-loving geek and/or guy in your life you just can never figure out what to get: Shooting War by Anthony Lappé and Dan Goldman debuted on SMITH and is now being hailed everywhere from USA Today to The Wall Street Journal as the most-anticipated graphic novel of the year. The Huffington Post says we’ll all look smart if we put it on our coffee tables. Give Shooting War to anyone you want to help look smart.
Also receiving votes:The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam by Ann Marie Fleming

Red_Cover.jpgFor the smart, angsty teenage girl in your life, or pre-teen who, let’s face it, will enter a world of weirdness and misunderstanding soon enough: Red: The Next Generation of American Writers—Teenage Girls—On What Fires Up Their Lives Today, in which 60 teenage girls write with guts, emotion, humor, and the raw brilliance that comes with being a teen about the likes of love, loneliness, learning to rock climb, and starting a rock band. It’s edited by friend of SMITH Amy Goldwasser, which is one reason we know it’s dynamite. The young women she’s unearthed are 60 more.

StoryCorpsBook.jpgFor your mother, your grandmother, or anyone else who listens to way too much NPR: Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project by David Isay. From NPR’s StoryCorps, the folks who set up the oral history recording booths in Grand Central Station and elsewhere, comes the most compelling life stories from among the 10,000 StoryCorps has collected.
And another powerful take on the power of listening: The Unheard by Josh Swiller, a wonderful memoir about the author’s deafness, the Peace Corps, and finding one’s place in the world.

todo_book.jpgFor the obsessive-compulsive and/or secret Santa with a $20 cap: To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us by Sasha Cagen. A book of, yes, to-do lists ranging from delightfully disturbing (a spreadsheet mapping out a family’s plan for their stay in Disney World) to the disturbingly delightful (the stuff one woman wants to “get out of her head”). It’s sociology discussed as ephemera—and it works.
If you like To-Do List, You’ll Love..: A Lifetime of Secrets: A PostSecret Book by Frank Warren, the latest book from the brilliant online experiment in voyeurism, secrets, and probably some lies, PostSecret.

NonRequired.jpgFor the big-lit lover who would rather read than talk to you or anyone else in the family:The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007, edited by Dave Eggers, with an intro by Sufjan Stevens. An anthology of wonderful, smart and surprising nonfiction, fiction, comics, blogs, and, according to Amazon. 6WORDMEM_yellow_blue.JPG“anything else that defies categorization”—which we suspect means the selection of six-word memoirs found on page 12 that have been excerpted from SMITH’s forthcoming book from HarperCollins, Not Quite What I Was Planning: And Other Six-Word Memoirs from Writers Famous and Obscure … which is not out until February, but why not get a jump on your Valentine’s Day shopping?

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