Friday, November 24, 2006

Holiday book shopping

When buying books for someone, I am torn between wanting to find something that might surprise them and just giving them something I know they want. At the end the most important thing is that they actually read the book. Do you take the risk of something surprising or the safe path of an Amazon wish list. If it is on a wish list, they will probably read it. If it is a surprise, maybe it will end up at Goodwill.

If you are feeling like taking a chance have a look at the NY Times 100 notable books of the year. I was reminded of some interesting titles like the new John McPhee book on interstate trucking. I'd also forgotten about the new Thomas McGuane short story collection.

If you want to break free of the focus on the latest and greatest, the Times also links to prior year notable books. Here we have the 1998 best of science fiction. Lovers of eco-scifi might want this older Kim Stanley Robinson. The best of 1994 has a number of heavy weights including Robert Wright's book on evoltionary psychology, The Moral Animal. The best mysteries of 2000 has the altogether excellent The Bottoms, a tale of backwoods racial injustice.

The risk with these older books is that they might have already read them. You can always ask the spouse/significant other/friend, but not all will know. Good luck.

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