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.
There are many reasons Jaclyn Moriarty is one of my all-time favorite authors. Aside from the fact that she is an incredibly lovely person with excellent taste in chocolate who wrote her undergraduate thesis on Roald Dahl, her writing is so thoroughly enchanting and gripping that I constantly find myself wishing I was living in one of the many extraordinary worlds she has created. From the pie-loving Farms in the Kingdom of Cello to the home of the Zings and Listen Taylor, Jaci's imaginative plots and unique voices will keep you enthralled time and time again.
Before I ever knew Paul, I read Ten Mile River and was so blown away by his writing, his intensity, his ability to look vulnerability in the eye and somehow leave the reader feeling stronger, that I knew I had to meet him. In person, Paul is one of the most warm-hearted individuals I have ever come across and I'm thrilled he agreed to be interviewed for Behind the Desk. His new book, When Friendship Followed Me Home, is out today (June 7), and is already being hailed as one of the best summer reads!
Kass Morgan has that special ability to make a splash wherever she goes, be it Brown and Oxford as an undergraduate and graduate, respectively, the New York publishing scene where she is an incredible editor at one of the top publishing houses, or the New York Times Best Seller List, which is where her first book, The 100, ended up whilst being turned into a hugely popular TV show by the same name. But Kass is more than just her accolades. She has a sharp wit, a passion for culture and coffee, and a fashion sense that makes you want to go out and buy hundreds of dresses. The fourth installment of The 100 series will be out in December, so catch up on the previous books if you haven't already!
I've done the math and it turns out that Jen is my oldest friend. We met when I moved to Saluda, North Carolina at the age of five, became pen pals when I returned to England at the age of eight (playlists on tape, yin yang necklaces, and lots of colorful ink were involved in these letters), and last year I attended her beautiful wedding back in Saluda. Jen is not only adventurous, smart, and kind-hearted, but she's also a champion of books and reading. Can there be a greater type of person on the planet?!
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.