The book gift Orange County Register keeps giving you

Today, the official opening is one of my favorite parts of the holiday, one that I’ll bet many readers are familiar with as well.

Call it Thanksgiving Day or Gift Festival or whatever you like. It’s when you make it while dutifully shopping for others, nearly accidentally pick up some books for yourself. Since tomorrow is Small Business Saturday, you could give it a try while you’re at your local independent bookstore picking out a manga for your nephew or a posh tome about your partner’s very special interest.

I probably do this every year, and it’s definitely a boost when you tag at the bookstore. It is also a practice not guided by costs; There were lean years when I shopped for good finds at libraries or thrift stores.

So when I buy a book, I focus on the ultimate goal: finding gifts for people in the hope that they will feel seen. It does not always work. I did a years-long Karate Kid-style training montage to shop for my dad, who only read thrillers and detective novels and would subtly let you know when you didn’t make it. (Reader, I missed the point.)

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

When I buy things, I also feel a little guilty. And perhaps that twinge of guilt is just as well, since it has helped fuel another holiday tradition in our house: as we look back on the year and its challenges, and each of us chooses a few organizations to support. These days we use the Charity Navigator along with some direct donations and it’s a small attempt to help others and balance things out.

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

OK, I’ve tried (and failed) to keep the newsletter short today as I’m home sick and this is a busy weekend for many including those who have to work. During the holidays I usually try to curl up in a corner or outside and read, and this weekend I’m reading Gwendoline Riley’s My Phantoms and Strange Adventures, the collected comic series by Tom King, Mitch Gerads and Evan Shaner.

I’m also in the process of finally doing the 35+ hours of Juliet Stevenson’s reading of George Eliot’s “Middlemarch” and will be reporting on that in the future.

What are you reading? Let me know your recommendations at and I can add them to the newsletter.

We’ll be back next week with more interviews and Q&A – there are some great authors to feature – and I want to thank you and everyone who has read the newsletter. I appreciate that and wish you all the best.

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

As always, thanks for reading.

More books

National Book Award nominee Tess Gunty will speak about her debut novel "The rabbit hutch" ahead of an LA event with author Michelle Huneven. (Image credit: Lauren Alexandra / Courtesy of Knopf)
National Book Award nominee Tess Gunty will speak with author Michelle Huneven about her debut novel, The Rabbit Hutch, ahead of an event in LA. (Image credit: Lauren Alexandra / Courtesy of Knopf)

National Book Prize Winner

Debut author Tess Gunty spoke about “Rabbit Hutch,” which won the grand prize for fiction. CONTINUE READING

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(Courtesy of the editors)
(Courtesy of the editors)

Books to read and give away

17 books by Cormac McCarthy, Celeste Ng, Bob Dylan, NK Jemisin, more. CONTINUE READING

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Frances Anderton is the author of Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles. (Courtesy of Angel City Press)

find home

Former KCRW host Frances Anderton talks about living in LA in her book, Common Ground. CONTINUE READING

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"The Light We Carry: Overcoming In Uncertain Times" by former First Lady Michelle Obama is the best-selling nonfiction publication in Southern California's independent bookstores. (Courtesy of Crown Books)
The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, by former First Lady Michelle Obama, is the best-selling nonfiction publication in Southern California’s independent bookstores. (Courtesy of Crown Books)

The bestsellers of the week

The best selling books at your local independent bookstores. CONTINUE READING

• • • The book gift Orange County Register keeps giving you

Adam Bradshaw

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