Algonquin staff picks their favorite titles for the holidays

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Algonquin staff picks their favorite titles for the holidays

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Editado: Nov 24, 2008, 10:33am

Leading up to the holidays, I will be listing books recommended, in their own words, by the folks here at Algonquin. These are some of our favorite Algonquin titles and ones that we think make perfect gifts for those friends and relatives who are so hard to buy for. So when you’ve reached the peak of holiday shopping stress, peer back here to for the gift ideas that will finish off your list. These titles are available at,,, or your favorite independent bookstore, which you can find at

Now let’s get started.

From our lovely International Marketing Manager and doer of all things:

Tab Hunter Confidential by Tab Hunter – perfect for tabloid fans, movie lovers, and those interested in old school Hollywood

Gardener’s Latin by Bill Neal – for all gardeners

And recommended by both our International Marketing Manager and our Publicity Assistant is
Hemingway & Bailey’s Bartending Guide to Great American Writers by Edward Hemingway and Mark Bailey – for every college student, English Major, and cocktail lover. Or as one fine Algonkian put it: "I gave it to a lot of my English major buddies who liked to drink. That is to say, i gave it to all of my friends."

More to come!

Dez 2, 2008, 1:53pm

I don't know about you, but I'm reaching the peak stress level of not having gifts yet and not having the time to look for them. Hopefully you're a little more organized right now than I!

And now for the second edition of Algonquin staff's favorite picks for holiday gifts:

From our Marketing Director: Rising to the Occasion - "Martha Stewart meets the Boy Scouts. From carving a turkey to jump starting a car, this entertaining compendium is perfect for those of us that are occasionally perplexed."

French Dirt by Richard Goodman - "A perfect hammock companion. I absolutely loved this book."

Our Director of Foreign Rights jumped on the chance to announce a slew of her favorites:

Love, Loss and What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman – "quirky and edgy enough to appeal to the woman who has everything."

My Father’s Paradise by Ariel Sabar – "perfect Chanukah gift! Great for Jews, for parents, for people of a certain age."

Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan – "excellent gift for history buffs."

Stealing with Style by Emyl Jenkins – "for Angela Lansbury fans (i.e., everyone’s grandmother)."

The $64 Tomato by Bill Alexander, From the Ground Up, The Earth Moved, and/or Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart – "fun books for gardeners."

Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World by Joan Druett – "great for men who, like my husband, will read anything by Patrick O’Brien or Bernard Cornwell."

Coal Black Horse by Robert Olmstead – "for lovers of literary fiction (this is the book I’d most like to receive)."

And the list will continue...

Dez 2, 2008, 3:44pm

Thanks for the list, Lindsey!

Dez 10, 2008, 2:33pm

And now for the latest installment of Algonquin picks for the holidays! (and in case you're wondering, I'm halfway through my shopping list!)

Two people picked Rock On: An Office Power Ballad by Dan Kennedy, and I have to say, I agree. This book had me guffawing out loud on the bus, then sheepishly looking around to see if anyone was leering at me.

Our Publicity Assistant said "I love giving Dan Kennedy's ROCK ON away as a gift. It's the first book I've given to family members and friends that consistently returned reports of 'It's the first book that I actually laughed out loud at in years,' 'People kept looking at me on the bus because I was giggling so hard,' and 'I almost peed my pants, it was that hilarious.' Dan's memoir of his time working for a record label appeals to music lovers of all generations, from dedicated decades-long followers of the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin to modern-day fans of pop icons. And it's got a delightful Gary Baseman illustration on the jacket - attention-grabbing, bright, and fun!"

The Publicity Director praises "This memoir about working in the music biz is one of the most hilarious books I’ve ever read and would be the perfect gift for anyone who loves David Sedaris or Chuck Klosterman."

Definitely a great choice for that teenager who shuns the typical presents OR that husband who still dreams of being a rock star.

Dez 10, 2008, 5:16pm

My Father's Paradise has been the #1 best-seller so far at my temple's Chanukkah book fair. :-)

Dez 11, 2008, 8:56am

That's wonderful! It's a book that's been slow to catch on, but I think once it's in the right hands will receive the recognition it deserves.

Dez 11, 2008, 3:21pm

I read My Father's Paradise for the Vine program, and thought it was wonderful! I've recommended it to friends and am suprised to hear is has been slow to catch on...

Dez 16, 2008, 4:45pm

You know, when I first thought to post the Algonquin staff picks for the holidays I thought, "I have plenty of time." And look! Hanukkah has begun and Christmas is next week! How did that happen??

Anyways, here are a few more favorites among the office. Hopefully one of these will strike your fancy.

Our Publicity Assistant loves Seasoned in the South by Bill Smith: "Seasoned in the South is on my to-give list this year. It has enough stories interspersed with the recipes to make an interesting read--be sure to check out Jimmy Carter's visit to Crook's Corner. And the recipes, sweet baby Jesus, are incredible. I'm dying to try the honeysuckle sorbet and crab stew...and feeling very depressed that I'm having leftovers for lunch. Sigh."

Likewise, one of our editors (she edited Mudbound and Between Here & April) is ga-ga over Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover's Companion to the South by John T. Edge: "Whether you live in the South or are thinking of traveling through, this is the sort of book that should be in your glove compartment and use as your North Star, to guide you to the best and oldest genuine Southern restaurants, bbq stands, fish camps, pie sheds, and every other little out-of-the-way place that will give you the truest and best taste of the South, run by people who have been cooking for decades. Anyone who lives in or loves the South needs to own a copy of this indispensable book."

One of the forerunners of Algonquin recommends Love Poetry Out Loud by Robert Rubin: "A perfect gift for anyone you love, romantically or not. Rubin compiles the best love poems ever written in English and, in the margins, gives the stories of the poems and their authors, suggests ways of reading it aloud, and just generally imparts his own love of poetry."

Alright, I'll have one more installment next week. If you don't have all your holiday shopping in order by then, I wish you the best of luck!

Dez 19, 2008, 9:18pm

French Dirt was the first book of it's kind I had ever read. I absolutely loved it. Every book I've read since then about an American, British, or Australian transplanted to France or Italy or wherever, has to stand up to it.

Dez 22, 2008, 2:58pm

Alright, this is my final installment of Algonquin favorites as oh so shortly, I'll be heading up to my parent's house in PA for Christmas and relaxation. Long mornings, late nights, and good conversation. I'm very fortunate to have such amazing parents! But I digress, as promised, here are our final suggestions:

Our Associate Publisher raves about The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness by Joel Ben Izzy. She writes: "Wouldn’t everyone like the gift of happiness this season? I love this little book about the stories we tell, the stories that make us who we are. It’s filled with fables from around the world and wisdom from the heart. It’s an inspiring true tale to which we all can relate. Anne Lamott said it best, 'What a gift, what a blessing, funny, brilliant, wise.'"

Our Publicity Assistant recommends Hemingway & Bailey's Bartending Guide to Great American Writers, as did a couple other Algonkians. She writes "Books & booze – what could be better? This perfect (and practical!) little gift book pairs up great American writers with recipes for their favorite cocktails. Read, drink, and be merry!"

And finally our Assistant to the Publisher recommends two books by Diana Wells: 100 Birds and How they Got Their Names and 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names.

Alright, I am spent and ready for some egg nog.

Happy Holidays everyone! Be safe, be happy, and cherish all the moments with your loved ones!

Dez 22, 2008, 5:04pm

#7, it's been slow to catch on probably because the subject is so specialized (Iraqi Jews) and because I think a lot of people who aren't Jewish may find it difficult to approach- they may simply not be interested, or they may think that they wouldn't "get" it, etc. I've recommended it to many, many people, Jewish and non-Jewish, and I've found it to be a harder sell among non-Jews, no matter how much I loved it.

Jan 2, 2009, 5:08am

#11- interesting. I'm am Irish Catholic myself, but perhaps am not the norm since My Name is Asher Lev was required reading my freshman year. I loved the book for the way it addressed the life and death of a language- I guess I just didn't focus as much on the religious aspect of it all. It was a really great book that I would love to see take off...

Jan 2, 2009, 11:19am

#12 i agree completely! :-)