A New Year of Reading Pleasures – by Charlotte Canelli

I’m sure that no one will be surprised that books are some of this librarian’s favorite gifts – both to receive and to give. As a young child and through my teenage years my mother surprised me each Christmas and birthday with a book. I remember unwrapping Johanna Spyri’s classic “Heidi” in 1960 with incredible joy.

I eventually owned an entire bookshelf of hardcover Illustrated Junior Classics by Grosset and Dunlap. These included “The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew” and “Little Women” with a price of $6.95 on the inside cover. While the cost of books has skyrocketed in a half century, I can only imagine what an expense this was to my family at the time.

So it’s no wonder that these books remain some of my favorite gifts and that these books have always received a coveted place of honor on my bookshelves. And so books are always on my gift-giving list and this year was no different.

Our daughter, Jill, spent several years teaching children at various Audubon centers in New England and you might call her an “extreme animal softie”. She has also inherited her father’s love of birds. The “Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America” (2009) by Roger Tory Peterson was a perfect choice for Jill who currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Jill and Alyssa can spend their free time watching birds in their own backyard or in ours when they visit us in New England.

The librarian and curator of the Thoreau Institute at Walden Pond, Jeffrey Cramer, became a friend of mine after we served on the same executive board for a few years. When I first visited Jeff at his beautiful library in Lincoln, Massachusetts, I learned the correct pronunciation of Thoreau’s name (with the accent on the first syllable and rhyming with ‘furrow.’ Apparently, the Concord, Massachusetts schools drill this into students who live in the same town in which Thoreau did in the 19th century.)

My colleague, Jeff, is also an author and scholar of both Robert Frost and Henry David Thoreau. This year, then, a personally-autographed copy of Jeff Cramer’s latest book, “The Quotable Thoreau” was a perfect gift for our daughter-in-law Alyssa. The book is an annotated and exhaustive collection of Thoreau quotes from the most common, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately” to the more obscure, “I would exchange my immortality for a glass of small beer this hot weather”. Alyssa will have a complete range of quotations at her fingertips – from the witty to the profound – to add to her own writings in the years to come. I have a feeling she might remember that second quote someday in early summer in Hot’Lanta.

Our son Gerry, Jr. and our grandson, Colin like to fiddle with electric guitars. Both of them received an assortment of guitar and sheet music books. We have another practicing guitarist in our family, our soon-to-be son-in-law Pat and we gave him a very cool book called “The Dream Factory: Fender Custom Shop” by Tom Wheeler. Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Bruce Springsteen and others have all had one-of-a-kind guitars specially made by the Fender Custom Shop and this beautiful book illustrates them in full color. We caught Pat several times admiring his book rather than paying rapt attention to the other gifts being opened.

Our daughter, Ciara, is getting married this coming May and she loves to bake for her guitar-playing fiancé, Pat, and the numerous friends that visit their Hoboken apartment. While her cute kitchen might be better described as a closet, she prepares amazing desserts in that compact space. We picked out the “Baker’s Field Guide to Chocolate Chips” and the “Baker’s Field Guide to Cupcakes” knowing that she will put both of them to good use.

Our daughter Beth, a newlywed and graduate student at Harvard, finds baking and cooking a welcome diversion from the stresses of academia. Her sometimes hilarious, always insightful posts on her personal blog include tips on such things as making English muffins, herbalicious ice cream and fresh gnocchi from scratch. Her energy both enthuses and amuses us and our gift of choice to her this Christmas was “Cake Pops: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for More Than 40 Irresistible Mini Treats” by Bakerella. Included, of course, were a cake pop baker and a multitude of cake pop sticks so that she can pass some of these yummy treats off to her relatives.

This past summer our large family was lucky enough to stay together in a lovely rental home on the Cape that the owner, Carol Gordon, used to run as a working bed and breakfast. While cooking in her kitchen one morning, I discovered that she had written a book, “Sleep on It: Prepare Delicious Meals the Night Before That You Can Pop In the Oven the Next Day!” We gave copies of the book to all of our daughters and look forward to them using the recipes on family vacations in years to come.

Our son-in-law Rob is the one of the animal lovers in our family and he has been a penguin fan since childhood. What better book for him, then, than a personally-autographed copy of “The Great Penguin Rescue: 40,000 Penguins, a Devastating Oil Spill, and the Inspiring Story of the World’s Largest Animal Rescue” written by my friend, Dyan DeNapoli.

I’ve suggested many books that I gave as gifts to members of my family this year. Of course, family members all have different interests and thankfully there are thousands of books published each year. If you think someone you know will like one of the books above you can be assured that all of them are owned by our library or one of the libraries in the Minuteman Library Network. If you need help searching for any of them, please call our Reference or Information desks (781-769-0200) or visit the library in person. Happy New Year!

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