During the Christmas season, we scurry to find our loved ones unique gifts, suited to their personalities and interests. I read recently that the best gifts are not what people would buy themselves, but luxuries or experiences to take them out of their everyday world. See Don’t Be a Lousy Gift-Giver, by Brett Arends, Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2013.
Books are a staple on my gift list. Most of the people in my family are big readers, so books might seem to be things they would buy themselves, and many of them don’t wait for Christmas to buy their reading material. Therefore, I am challenged to find books they wouldn’t buy for themselves.
But I have an “in” to finding unique books—I know a lot of authors. Books by local authors, people I know, are a good choice for family and friends. I have often already vetted the books, watching their development from first draft to final product. I know the care and craft that has gone into these books.
I hesitate to recommend any books in particular, because there are so many good books by talented authors in my community. But here are a few books by Kansas City area authors I recommend. All of these have been published within the last year or two. All of the links are to Amazon, but some of these books are available on other online sites and in bookstores as well. Most are available in both paperback and ebook versions.
Beth Lyon Barnett (an author featured before on this blog) published Jazz Town in 2012. This novel depicts Kansas City’s rich jazz history so powerfully you want to sway to the music. The jazz era comes alive in a riveting story with interesting characters.
Pamela Boles Eglinski (also featured last year in a guest post on this blog) published the second novel in her Catalina Bonhomme series this year. She Rides with Genghis Khan is spellbinding historical fiction full of suspense and seduction.
Norm Ledgin, a prolific local author, has written a novel about Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, entitled Sally of Monticello: Founding Mother. Researched in great detail, this book will make you think about our third President in a new way, and consider how love and freedom are intertwined.
Sara Rickover has published a new novel of corporate intrigue, Playing the Game. Debuting in the top 100 in Amazon’s financial thriller category, this book features a heroine in Human Resources—someone I could really relate to—along with murder and mayhem in a struggling family-owned business.
Young Adult and Children’s Fiction:
I have a hard time finding books for boys, because I don’t read this genre typically. C.M. Lance writes fantasy that combines magic and science. Lance’s second book in the Wizard Dawning series, Wizard’s Sword, features strong characters from humans to werewolves to Amazons. Try this for the fantasy-lovers on your gift list, from teenagers to adults.
Rita Roth tells the story of a young Jewish girl during the Great Depression in 444 Pine Street. In this book, Hannah’s family struggles to survive and maintain their values and traditions in the face of both religious discrimination and serious illness. A good gift for middle grades.
Phyllis Westover has written a story of a boy and the horse he wants in Sold to the Highest Bidder. Young Jed needs friends and family to help him achieve his goal. This book is perfect for the new chapter book readers on your list, or for children who like to be read to.
Sally Jadlow, another prolific local author, has a recipe book, Family Favorites from the Heartland. I can vouch for several of the recipes from the book, which you will enjoy along with Sally’s stories. Easy to follow directions.
Deborah Shouse has written a book about her own family’s experience taking care of her mother with Alzheimer’s Disease. It is a powerful and moving collection of essays entitled Love in the Land of Dementia, with both spiritual and practical lessons for caregivers.
You may know authors in your area with new books. Consider supporting these authors by giving their books as gifts this Christmas.
Even if you don’t know any local authors, most bookstores have a “local author” section. Ask the salespeople in the stores to help you find it. You will probably find a treasure, and check another gift off your list.
How do you find good books to give as gifts?