Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Quick Questions: Holiday Giving

We asked some of our pals in the book business two questions--1. What is the best book you received as a gift this holiday season? and 2. What is the best book you gave/sold?  Here are some of the answers.

Seth Ransom Osborn– musician, BookPeople bookseller, pal of Vanny (pictured)  
Gave: Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey.
Seth's pal Vanny

Received - I got a pretty ok picture book of Big Bend but that's it. I bought myself a copy of The Way to Start a Day by Byrd Baylor. It's real pretty.

Alison Kothe Nihlean – Mother of two and BookPeople bookseller

Books I gave as presents this christmas:
Bossypants on cd
Plenty by Ottolenghi
I Want My Hat Back by Klassen

Books I loved to hand sell:
The Tiger's Wife
Cutting For Stone
Home Field
Homesick Texan Cookbook

Chris Hoyt -- BookPeople receiving guy and proud Texan

The only book I was gifted this year was a Jack Chick tract from a well dressed hobo squatting near the Walgreen's Redbox. It was the perfect gift.

Elaine in the snow.
As for gifts given, I've lost count of how many copies of Dobie's Tales of Old Time Texas I've given to people. Strangers often stop me on the street asking how is it that I have come to embody all that is rugged and handsome and utterly Texas. To this I reply Dobie. 

Elaine “Lainey” Rathgeber – Sales representative for Southern Territory Associates and tennis nut

One of the best books I gave (because the recipient was so happy to get it) was The Art of Fielding and one of the best books I received was Rules of Civility.

Charley's pal Ophelia
Charley Carroll – Barnes & Noble Bookseller, community relations manager and generally cool person

You probably already know my book of the year...Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. I handsold his first, The Name of the Wind, dozens of times and gifted it to my brother. Sadly, I did not receive any books as gifts.

Elizabeth Jordan – BookPeople book buyer and woman after Gianna’s heart

Best received: A signed first printing of The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. (It's the best not only because it was the only one I got).
Elizabeth...and a firearm.
Best given: The Complete Pogo Strips Volume 1 by Walt Kelly. My 80 year-old grandmother is obsessed with Pogo - quotes it all the time. She's not reading much anymore so it was great to see her so excited about a book again.

John Kwiatkowski, Anne Kimbol and Matt Keogh from Murder by the Book in Houston 

Apparently, our friends and family don't seem to love any of us. None of us got books as gifts this year.

Anne’s book that she gave/and hand sold the most was Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James.
John, who loves Celine Dion

The book Matt --gave was The Friends of Eddie Coyle be George Higgins.

I (John) gave my nieces and nephews a big box of some of my favorite YA books for Christmas. Here's what was in it: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, Spellwright by Blake Charlton, Heist Society by Ally Carter, The Oracles of Delphi Keep and The Curse of the Deadman's Forest by Victoria Laurie, Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz, and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

Michele Sulka -- Liz's Random House rep partner for Colorado

Best received: A Storm of Swords, otherwise known as Book # 3 in George Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, because I have gone completely batshit crazy for these books. Can you say batshit on your blog? [We've certainly said worse.  You go with your batshit self!] I flew through book #2 and made it known that if book 3 wasn’t immediately at the ready when I needed it, there might be violence. People have described the series as The Lord of the Rings but with lots of sex, and that’s pretty accurate, but I like to think of it as The Sopranos with swords. And dragons. And lots of sex.

I gave a copy of Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl to my best friend’s daughter, who is 11 and reads constantly. We’re not sure where she got it because neither of her parents are great readers but she devours books and she’s in love with Jerry. She called to thank me and was so excited that it was one of the best moments of the whole holiday season for me.

Jeremy Ellis – Store Manager, Brazos Bookstore

Danielle wins the prize for giving me the best books this year. First, a beautiful edition of James and the Giant Peach in French, because we like to imagine we can read/comprehend the French. And second, an amazing craft edition of Rimbaud's A Season in Hell, in French and English, translation by Nick Sarno. 

I gave lots of copies of Schott's Quintessential Miscellany (at least 6) because they're endlessly fascinating and everyone can find something neat inside. The book I enjoyed handselling most was We Need a Horse by Sheila Heti, painted by Clare Rojas from McSweeney's Press. It's not for everyone, but for those who connect with the fable, it is the among the most remarkable illustrated books they have ever read.

Danielle Dubois Dimond – Bookseller and buyer at Brazos Bookstore

BEST BOOK I RECEIVED THIS HOLIDAY - The best book(s) I received this year were first editions of three volumes of Anais Nin's Diaries.  I don't believe the whole set is still in print, so my husband did a little local used-book sleuthing for me.  I love reading authors' diaries because, as a writer myself, I'm really interested in what's going on behind the scenes with an artist's creative process.  Nin's diaries are kind of the holy grail because not only are they beautifully written, exhaustive, and subtly psychedelic, but they're naughty as hell, too.  High-brow wank material is clearly where it's at.

BOOK I HANDSOLD THE MOST - Definitely The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes - we actually sold so many copies of that one that the Knopf editors sent me a signed copy!  I read this one immediately because the super-savvy book club I run at Brazos wanted to check the new Man Booker winner out as soon as this year's prize was announced.  It blew me away.  Barnes is a serious and intellectually rigorous writer who still manages to keep the pages turning.  His ruminative exploration of memory, responsibility, and age stood out from the crowd immediately as a "grown up" book - something we don't see a whole lot of these days, to be frank.  I certainly didn't sell the book to anyone looking for light and fluffy reading, but then again Brazos isn't known for light and fluffy!  The fact that book is so short seemed to help me sell it as well; shorter books tend to make better gifts, and even those customers who were apprehensive about reading something "serious" felt that they could weather it for 130 pages.  Almost everyone I've spoke to who's read the book has read it twice through.  A definite Brazos favorite.

Toni and Pat Conroy
Toni Hetzel -- Liz's Random House rep partner for Texas and Mississippi

I didn’t get any books for the holidays. I think people are reluctant to give them to me because I work in the industry. However, I set aside a copy of The Sense of an Ending to read during my break and loved it. A wonderful present to myself!
I, in the guise of Santa, gave my kids books for Christmas this year and the one they’ve loved the most is the National Geographic Ultimate Weird But True

Nicole Magistro -- Owner of The Bookworm of Edwards in Edwards, Colorado

Are you kidding? Bookstore owners never receive books for Christmas. It's a travesty!

My favorite book sold was Peter Sis's Conference of the Birds. A work of art, and a book that can't be duplicated on a digital reader. Just feel that paper quality!
Kester Smith -- BookPeople bookseller
Kester, Harry, and Rachel
I didn't get one book this holiday. I don't get books MOST holidays.
One of the (very few) downsides of being a bookseller in the know is that people don't think to buy me books or are intimidated by the idea of buying me books. They think of ME as the guy who gets THEM books (which I am). Best book I gave? Pulphead. To more than one person. Best book I hand-sold? Same. To around 25 or so customers.

Not that you asked, but my best sale was The Red Book by Carl Jung. A customer came to my register and saw it sitting behind me (where we keep the $200 books) and asked, "Hey, is that The Red Book?" When I responded in the affirmative, he said, "I've heard it's cool." My response was then, "It is. You should buy it." And he did.

Lisa Newman --bookseller and blog princess, Lemuria Books in Jackson, Mississippi
1. Sadly, nobody gave me a book.
2. I think the best book I sold was 1Q84.

Maggie Lowery Stevenson -- bookseller, Lemuria Books

Since I started working at Lemuria no one gives me books anymore so I have to give them to myself.  This year I gave myself the Delta Magazine Cookbook.

I sold many books over the holidays, but probably the ones I sold the most copies of were The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jusi Adler Olsen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie, and Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward.  I also I am very proud that I was able to sell 7 copies of Crafting with Cat Hair by Kaori Tsutaya! [...No comment.]
Joe's son

Joe Hickman -- Bookseller, events guy, manager type, Lemuria Books, self-described "bad ass"

1.  You know no one even gave me a book. I think it's like giving a florest flowers - people are afraid to. Except I know other booksellers get books so maybe it's me - maybe I'm an ass. Actually, I didn't get too many gifts so....

2. 1Q84

Clint Carroll -- BookPeople bookseller

I didn't get any books for Christmas, but I bought myself a copy of The Collected Plays Of Tennessee Williams, and I love it. I gave only one book this year and it was Home Field, published by UT Press!

Nolan Fellows -- BookPeople bookseller and talented artist

I didn't get any books for Christmas, which isn't much of a surprise. My tastes are quite picky when it comes to books, movies, records, etc.

The book I love to tell people about and would give when I need to is How Soon is Never by Marc Spitz. It's a really great, quick read perfect for anyone who has ever loved music or a band way too much.

Gianna -- Book Land Adventurer, most willing to dispose of Liz's body in a remote location

Books I gave this year - I gave the photography book Timeless Mexico to my brother Chris, the Stephen King novel 11/22/1963 to my brother Ron. I gave my father the latest John Grisham  (The Litigators)and the ESPN book Those Guys Have all the Fun. I also gave my mother the latest Stephanie Plum book - she loves the series - and I bought my girlfriend a Running Press book called Upcycling...which she asked for...I think it's a crafty book which scares me.

I received two excellent books. One from Lizzy and one from the old lady. Liz gave me a signed first edition of the Diane Keaton memoir Then Again. I haven't read it as I don't want to mess it up. Hoping someone else will give me a unsigned 3rd edition so I can actually read it. My girlfriend gave me a truly cool book published by Lonely Planet called The Cities Book. I think she wants me to be smarter. To her I say good luck.

Liz and Gianna...awkwardly.

I also gave signed copies of Molly Shannon's children's book Tilly the Trickster to my best friend Lulu (who is a real choo choo charlie), and to my little friend Eleanor who is a class act.

I gave myself It Chooses You by Miranda July and an Art of Fielding UK first edition. I also gave myself a hangover on Jan 1st. My first in years.

Liz -- Book Land Adventurer, Gianna's foil

Despite repeated hints, no one gave me the $200 art book on my list.  I could be a little bitter.  I did receive some non-Random House books (I don't ask for RH books since I read them for work), including Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jabar and Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta.

I gave quite a few books this year, including Gianna's signed Diane Keaton memoir.  I managed to part with a signed first printing of Interpreter of Maladies; I considered keeping it for myself.  I also gave copies of In the Garden of Beasts, The Destiny of the Republic, and The Sisters Brothers...and about 10 other books.  I mostly give books because I mostly want books in return.

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