Archives for December 8, 2015

Good Books for Gift Giving

good books for gift giving

I love making book lists!  This is an updated version of last year’s book list with new additions at the beginning of each category.

Adult Fiction:
So Big was one of my favorite reads in 2015.  Rebecca was another one.

I would like to collect all the Black Dog Opera Library collection.  I started with La Traviata earlier this year, and appreciate having background on the composer, the story of the opera, along with the complete Libretto (text of the opera itself–yes, I had to look that up!), commentary, and the opera on CDs.

Kristin Lavransdatter is one of my all time favorite books. This edition is especially beautiful as well.

I love Rumer Godden, and especially In This House of Brede and Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy. Another favorite is An Episode of Sparrows (New York Review Children’s Collection).

Willa Cather is probably my favorite author and I love these two volumes of her novels: Early Novels and Stories and Later Novels.  I read Shadows on the Rock (Vintage Classics) and it is one of my favorites of hers, after My Antonia, one of the very few books I have read more than once. Just typing the title, I want to go pick it up and read it again right now.

Katherine is sooo good.

And Wilkie Collins! The best of his that I’ve read is The Woman in White .

And finally, epic and beautiful if not rather long, The Betrothed: I Promessi Sposi (Penguin Classics).  I will re-read it someday.

Jonny’s favorites:
One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, and Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage (Seth and Keats read this one as well).

Jon Krakauer is a favorite author, Michael Perry is another.


I really loved My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir.

I’m reading The Reed of God now. It’s perfect Advent reading.

I find Mother Theresa’s writings to be very encouraging and recommend No Greater Love and Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta.

I also love St. Therese and while I have read her own Story of a Soul, I also really liked this little book: The Love That Keeps Us Sane: Living the Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux (Illuminationbooks.).

Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry is lovely and so is A Mother’s Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul.


I am often asked for camera and photography advice. The book I always recommend, and the one I used to learn how to shoot in manual mode from is Understanding Exposure. That book would make a great gift for someone wanting to learn. A similar book by the same author, that I also recommend (and possibly prefer) is Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Photography Field Guide: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera.  Along those same lines, though not a book, this is the lens that is on my camera 95% of the time.

Nature and field guides:

Nature Anatomy is so fun!  I think it would make a particularly great gift.

For the tree lover, we are on our second copy of Remarkable Trees of Virginia (you don’t have to live here to appreciate this book.) I also really like The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-Ups.

Some of our most used field guides include: North American Wildlife: An Illustrated Guide to 2,000 Plants and Animals (we’re on our 3rd copy), Wildflowers and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont: A Naturalist’s Guide to the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia (Southern Gateways Guides), Caterpillars of Eastern North America, Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, and A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides). I don’t have a favorite tree identification field guide, but have Native Trees of the Southeast: An Identification Guide on my wishlist.

Homesteading and Beekeeping:

Sylvia’s Farm: The Journal of an Improbable Shepherd and Goat Song were my top two farming reads this year.

Jonny’s reading Adventures in Yarn Farming right now.

The Heirloom Life Gardener: The Baker Creek Way of Growing Your Own Food Easily and Naturally, Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening, and The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers.

The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally is our favorite beekeeping resource, though my favorite book about beekeeping in general is A Book of Bees: And How to Keep Them.

Natural Dyeing:

My favorites are Wild Color and Harvesting Color.

The Knitter’s Book of Socks, The Knitter’s Book of Wool, and The Knitter’s Book of Yarn would all make great gifts.

Anything by Elizabeth Zimmerman is probably a good choice. I have and love Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac, Knitting Without Tears: Basic Techniques and Easy-to-Follow Directions for Garments to Fit All Sizes, and The Opinionated Knitter.

Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book really is a great resource.

And finally my favorite Stephanie Pearl-McPhee book is Knitting Rules!: The Yarn Harlot’s Bag of Knitting Tricks.

For Children:

We have a dozen or more collections of poetry for children, and I occasionally add a new title.  I want to add A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children to our collection.

We have read several of the books in Tomie DePaola’s 26 Fairmount Avenue Series and I highly recommend them. Endearing stories of family life with a nice bit of humor, they make great read-alouds that will span a wide range of ages as far as interest goes. I also think they would make great first chapter books for young readers.  I just ordered a few more of them to put under the tree this year.

We have really enjoyed this Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales for years. You can’t go wrong with Beatrix Potter!

We also like the Calla edition of Stories from Hans Christian Andersen. The illustrations by Edmund Dulac are some of my favorites. Many of the Calla Editions look beautiful.

James Herriot is another favorite. This volume for children looks lovely: James Herriot’s Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Tales by the Author of All Creatures Great and Small (we have an older version of it.)

Picture Books:
(the images themselves are links to the books, more fun that way for pretty children’s books!)

(I better stop now!)

Board Books:

And finally, there are some good lists in my Amazon bookshop including my favorite books written and/or illustrated by Tasha Tudor, and some of my boys’ favorite chapter books, along with more favorite picture books and more board books.

My previous gift list is here.