Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best Books of 2012: Gift-Giving

As my last installment of the best books of 2012 series, I want to recommend my top choices for books that make excellent gifts.

My primary choice is One Thousand Gifts, as I already talked about on the first day of this series. If you visit the website, there are also a lot of other great gift ideas to accompany the book, such as a devotional journal and book of photographs.

My remaining picks are divided according to who the gift is for:

  • For your mom, or a best girl friend:

She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems

I received this book as a gift myself (after hinting that I wanted it last year!) and think it makes a thoughtful gift. Caroline Kennedy selected each poem and arranges them according to topic. She introduces each section with personal reflections connected to the poems' themes on the topic. Her selections are excellent and range from the Romantic poets to those of modern day.

"Poems distill our deepest emotions into a very few words - words that we can remember, carry with us, and share with others as we talk and weave the cloth of life."

  • For the aspiring author, or anyone who appreciates memoirs:

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions of Writing and Life

Author Anne Lamott is simply hilarious. As she describes her writing process and publishing books, she brilliantly weaves in funny personal stories. For any aspiring novelist this is a great read for a famous writer's perspective on the deliberate and frustrating - yet freeing and rewarding - process known as writing.

"You don't have to see where you're going, you don't have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard."

  • For the social advocate: 

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

This national bestseller is a moving account of oppression around the globe. Journalist Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, discuss how to fight global poverty with touching, sad, and inspirational stories of women worldwide. Among the shocking accounts that Kristof and WuDunn have witnessed are also stories of hope and practical tips on how each one of us can turn oppression into opportunity.

"Helping people is difficult and unpredictable, and our interventions don't always work, but successes are possible, and these victories are incredibly important... We may not succeed in educating all the girls in poor countries, or in preventing all the women from dying in childbirth, or in saving all the girls who are imprisoned in brothels. But we... remember a Hawaiian parable...

A man goes out on the beach and sees that it is covered with starfish that have washed up in the tide. A little boy is walking along, picking them up and throwing them back into the water. 'What are you doing, son?' the man asks. 'You see how many starfish there are? You'll never make a difference.' The boy paused thoughtfully, and picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean. 'It sure made a difference to that one, he said."

  • For your dad:

Since this book made my top nonfiction pick, I won't summarize it again here. But this book is an interesting read that any business person would enjoy for understanding the choices we make at large and individually.

  • For the athlete:

This is another book from my nonfiction favorites, but it would be a great gift for any athlete, especially runners. The incredible training and races that these superathletes put themselves through is inspiring to read about.


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