I don’t know about you, but I still have some holiday gift shopping to do. The boxes I have to send are sent, and last night I pre-gifted myself a set of six-oz. flannel sheets in a beautiful shade of blue. Yum! Just the thing to slip between on cold winter nights. But for the rest of my shopping list, I think I’ll buy books, purchased from my local independent bookshop, which carries a nice selection of new and gently used books. People are still staying home, and they need something to read. It’s a win!
Normally I like to linger in bookshops, but in This Year of Covid-19, I think lingering is not advised. So I went hunting for ideas so that I’ll be prepared when I get there.
The Library Journal has—among other lists—a comprehensive and interesting “best of” list of crime fiction (my favorite genre), but I have to tell you: there are a lot of books on that list that, were I compelled to make a selection based on available descriptions, I would seek out the cookbook department. This year I am unable to read or watch much that is difficult, violent, or suspenseful. And the adjectives for the various books on this list are “heartbreaking,” “high-octane,” “depravity,” “intense,” and “vigilante,” among many others that make me want to move along.
The book on this list that looked most interesting to me was Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden about drug activity on Native lands (dubbed “Native noir”), and there’s a cozy mystery (The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman) that doesn’t appeal to me but at least is not described as “depraved.” For those of you who enjoy a gripping read, the books on this list might be just what you’re looking for.
There’s also a seven-year-old boy whom I want to shop for, and I think I’ll look for a volume from the list that aMightyGirl.com recommends, called “Elementary, My Dear Mighty Girl: 50 Books Starring Mighty Girl Detectives.” It’s probably high time that he start learning that women hold up half the sky.
Another list I’m taking to the bookshop is BookRiot’s rather specific “7 Great Books by Writers of Color From the First Half of 2020.” This list has some titles that I find promising, starting with The Chai Factor by Farah Heron, a romance that’s described as “laugh-out-loud” funny, about a Muslim Canadian who’s on the verge of finishing her master’s thesis when she falls for Duncan, a member of the barbershop quartet now renting her grandmother’s basement. That sounds like something I’d write, in fact, and maybe I’ll just get that one for myself.
(And, for those of you who might be interested in checking out the efforts of the Ladies, here are the author pages of Jilly Wood, Jeanne Oates Estridge, Michille Caples, Justine Covington, Nancy Yeager, and me.)
I’m looking forward to a trip to the bookshop, because indie bookshops have been struggling through the pandemic. The American Booksellers Association estimates that one independent bookstore has gone out of business in each week of last year. (For a great graphic round-up of how a few of the indie bookstores are doing, check out this cartoon by Bob Eckstein.)
And for those who might not have a handy, local, indie bookstore to patronize—and if you don’t want to shop Amazon—check out Bookshop. It’s an online indie bookseller billing itself as the indie alternative to Amazon, and a chunk of its proceeds go back to small stores. It’s a bit of David to Amazon’s Goliath, but it might be worth taking a look.
What about you? Do you give books as gifts for the holidays? And if you do, what are you buying this year?
And to all of you—happy holidays!