In my house of origin, stocking presents were in some ways the best part of Christmas. Mom would tell stories of the little things she’d misplaced, or how something one of the 4 kids opened was intended for another. We’d open the usual goofy Christmas socks and underwear. And as a reading family, we always each got a book.
Once we grew up, and Mom no longer ran the show, we evolved to a tradition where everyone who attends a group Christmas morning anywhere in the family brings one stocking present for everyone else who will be there.
And we still give books.
I figured you literate crew might do so as well, and I thought I’d offer a little list of recommendations for Christmas. All of which I’ve read, all of which I’ve enjoyed, all of which I’ve invented second titles for in my mind.
In other worlds, this book might have been called, “The Upper Middle Class White People Comfort Food Cookbook.” Although that might have appealed to an even more limited market, of course. The thing is, I’ve made both the Pot Roast and the Chicken Paprika, with great success. (My mom always made Chicken Paprika, in the early 70s. Yours?) If the rest of the recipes follow suit, beginner cooks will love the Preppy Cookbook for ease, while the more advanced will appreciate unfussy deliciousness. Enjoy the plaid cover, never mind the cultural references, and party hearty, as we said in the 70s after we ate Mom’s chicken.
You will perhaps have seen this book reviewed and given away around the blogosphere. That is because it’s written by our own, dear, kind, Tish Jett. You might also have thought, “Yikes, not another book about French women!” In fact, although Tish is writing about her research on French practices in beauty and style, the book is not a Francophone panegyric. It is instead a manual for how to dress and wear makeup, from a culture that has been styling since before Photoshop, supermodel apotheosis, and the glorification of the pre-teen.
Seen that way, especially through Tish’s kind and perceptive lens, a book on Forever Chic turns out to be a sophisticated but down-to-earth little manual on personal style. I kind of wanted to call it Forever High WASP Chic In California but, very small niche, that one. Her real title has worked, clearly, since the book sold out right away. They target a restock this week, check regularly in order to catch this printing.
The first and perhaps only High WASP detective in the universe. Madeline Dare lives in Upstate New York with a handsome farmer boyfriend named Dean, and solves murders. This may not be the cleverest mystery I ever read, but it is the only one with traces of my East Coast family writ large across the pages. Cornelia Read, the author, comes from 10 generations on Long Island’s Centre Island, and was brought up in Big Sur by hippie parents. Straight from her Amazon bio that is. Say no more.
It’s well-written, entertaining, and full of visual details that linger. Alternative title? Sturdy Gal Catches The Bad Guy.
Oh, and my family always wraps stocking presents in tissue. I have no idea why, but I’ve got red and green at the ready.
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