If you don't want to get addicted to an author, look away now. Melina Marchetta's books are some of the most captivating I have ever read; from page one you will be absorbed by characters and worlds that will feel both incredibly familiar as well as wonderfully mysterious. But don't just take my word for it—Melina won the Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association for On the Jellicoe Road in 2009, Looking for Alibrandi was turned into a movie in 2000 in her native Australia, and her books have been translated into eighteen languages.
This is the first year I'm spending Christmas (and my birthday—Boxing Day baby!) in America, away from Mom, my family, and Yorkshire pudding. Which means the presents I send and receive this year need to be light enough to ship across the Atlantic without breaking the bank. Many of us have friends and family far away from where we live, but we still want our gifts to be thoughtful, personal, and come in lovely little packages. With that in mind, I've collected a number of gift ideas that are light on shipping but heavy on holiday cheer (as with last year's gift guide, I've tried to keep reasonable budgets in mind).
Rabbi Marc Katz is that rare person who can go from teaching a room full of restless children to a room full of work-weary adults, speak passionately about the environment and feminism and then relate them to Torah passages, and lead a powerful sermon before telling you in detail where exactly you should go for pizza in Park Slope. Marc is the Associate Rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, has published a number of articles, and his first book came out in September, The Heart of Loneliness: How Jewish Wisdom Can Help You Cope and Find Comfort. Here, Marc talks about what it's like to be a first-time author, the struggles of self-marketing, how loneliness seeps into all of our lives, and the ways in which we can reach out for ourselves and for others.
Rachel Cohn is not only a New York Times bestselling author nor is she just an author who has published thirteen YA and children's books (with four more due out in the next couple of years!); she also happens to be my brilliant half-sister. If it weren't for her, I may never have entered the world of publishing (or been an extra on her book-turned-movie, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist). Rachel was kind enough to be my first subject for Behind the Desk, so I'll let her take it away...
To get home for the Christmas holiday, I have to take two subways (1.5 hours), wait at the airport (2+ hours), fly in the sky (6.5 hours), hop on the tube (1 hour), and hopefully not miss the train (2+ hours). You know what that means...13 hours of reading! Not to mention the mandatory time spent hiding from family members that drive you crazy. My "Reading Survival Guide" aims to give you some book recommendations that could help you cope with this hectic time.
Not only is this my first ever blog post and my first ever gift guide, but it's also the first day of Chanukah! And there are only 19 days until Christmas! Chooray! Or chelp, as the case may be. I'm firmly on the latter and in fact the main reason for doing this blog post was to procrastinate from actually buying presents. The good news is that nearly everyone in my family, including me, appreciates a carefully chosen book or a literary-themed item. The bad news is that nearly everyone in my family, including me, has a birthday between October-January, so while the presents are doubled the bank balance is halved. With that in mind, below are book-related items for specific sorts of people, but anyone's budget.