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The Book Pages: The book gift that keeps on giving – to you

Today marks the official opening of one of my favorite parts of the holidays, one I bet many readers are familiar with as well.

Call it Thanksgetting or Giftsmas or whatever you like. It’s when, while dutifully shopping for others, you manage to, almost inadvertently, pick up a few books for yourself. As tomorrow is Small Business Saturday, you might give it a go while at your local independent bookshop choosing a manga for your nephew or a classy tome about your partner’s Very Particular Interest.

I probably do this every year, and it’s definitely a boost when you’re flagging at the bookstore. It’s also a practice not guided by cost; there were lean-ish years when I shopped library book sales or secondhand shops for good finds.

So getting myself a book is how I stay focused on the real aim: finding gifts for people in the hope that they will feel seen. It doesn’t always work out. I did a years-long “Karate Kid”-style training montage in order to shop for my father, who only read thrillers and detective novels and would subtly let you know if you didn’t nail it. (Reader, I did not nail it.)

“Reading ‘Round the Christmas Tree” is a lesser-known holiday classic. (Getty Images)

Buying myself things also makes me feel a bit guilty. And maybe that twinge of guilt is a good thing, as it helped spur another holiday tradition at our house: Looking back at the year and its challenges and each of us chooses some organizations to support. These days, we use Charity Navigator, along with some direct giving, and it’s a small attempt to help others and balance things out.

Plus, there’s no way I can donate anything to myself, which is a plus.

OK, I attempted (and failed) to keep the newsletter brief today, as I’m at home sick and this weekend is a busy one for many, including those who have to work. On holidays, I usually try to slip away to a corner or outside and read, and this weekend I’m reading Gwendoline Riley’s “My Phantoms” and “Strange Adventures,” the collected comic book series by Tom King, Mitch Gerads and Evan Shaner.

I’m also in the midst of finally undertaking the 35+ hours of Juliet Stevenson’s reading of George Eliot’s “Middlemarch” and I’ll report back on that in the future.

What are you reading? Let me know your recommendations at epede[email protected] and I may include them in the newsletter.

Next week, we’ll be back with more interviews and Q&As – there are some terrific writers we’ll be featuring – and I’d like to thank you and everyone who’s read the newsletter. I appreciate it, and I wish you all the best.

And I hope you get some good books this holiday season.

Thanks, as always, for reading.


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(Courtesy of the publishers)
(Courtesy of the publishers)

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"The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times" by former first lady Michelle Obama is the top-selling nonfiction release at Southern California's independent bookstores. (Courtesy of Crown Books)
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