Red Wheel Weiser Staff Picks: Holiday Gift Guide
Publishers love books, but we also love to read them! And it’s not just the editors who do all the reading. We’ve scoured our library shelves to bring you staff picks from our back and front list, from the people who make them!
Pick 1: Death Poems
Classic, Contemporary, Witty, Serious, Tear-Jerking, Wise, Profound, Angry, Funny, Spiritual, Atheistic, Uncertain, Personal, Political, Mythic, Earthy, and Only Occasionally Morbid
Edited by Russ Kick
Disinformation Books. Paperback, $21.95.
Death Poems seems an odd choice for a holiday gift, eh? Not really. Though it offers a vast survey of death (320 poems by 200 poets) including the death of children, funeral rites for serial killers, war, elegies for famous people, and more death-ish-ness, it is actually life affirming! Readers will find Walt Whitman celebrating death as an important part of the richness of life. Lord Byron pens a beautiful epitaph for his beloved dog. Emily Dickinson goes for a carriage ride with Death, and Dylan Thomas pleads with his father to go gentle into that good night. Kick offers a “finely wrought kaleidoscope of ideas, attitudes, and experiences.” Celebrate the season (and life) with Death Poems!
~ Bonni Hamilton, Director of Marketing & Digital Content
The Showings of Julian of Norwich
A New Translation
Hampton Roads. Paperback, $18.95
Julian was a fourteenth century mystic who was an anchoress at the church of St. Julian in Norwich, England. She is called Julian after the church where she served; her real name is lost to us. An anchoress literally lived in a very small addition to the church she served at. Her function was to pray, and the only human contact she had was through a small window to the outside world. Her only other point of contact was either with the priest assigned to the church or her cat, which she kept with her.
What makes Julian remarkable to me are her visions of Christ, set at a very patriarchal time, which fairly sing with love, peace, optimism, compassion, and most of all, of motherhood. Julian proclaimed the motherhood of God at a time when doing so could result in a quick trip to the nearest stake with a match.
She was insistent in proclaiming God’s tender love for all people; she looked deep into God and said there was no punishment, only understanding and love. She identified “sins” as mistakes and urged all to simply get up, not waste time on guilt, but throw themselves into the arms of a God who loves with a tender mother’s love for healing and grace.
If that’s not an appropriate holiday message, I don’t know what is.
~Meg Richardson, Sales Manager
Pick 3: Everyday Energy Boosters
Everyday Energy Boosters
365 Tips and Tricks to Help You Feel Like a Million Bucks
Sondra Kornblatt and Susannah Seton
Conari. Paperback. $17.95
With the constant running around, over-scheduling, overworking, and undersleeping who couldn’t use an energy boost? This book offers easy ways to make the most of your day and find that second wind. There are far too many things to see and do and not enough time to waste.
~Kimberly Ehart, Publishing Associate
Pick 4: The Museum of Lost Wonder
The Museum of Lost Wonder
Weiser. Hardcover w/ paper model kits, full color throughout. $49.95
This book is a real trip. A trip in the sense that it takes visitors through a series of mysteries for which there can be no absolute answers, but leaves them understanding more than when they set out. It’s an adventure through various wonder-full ideas which reside at the base of human questioning. The Museum of Lost Wonder is one of those rare books which provides a lesson as an object, not just within the text. This lovely, oversize, full-color illustrated and illuminated book is perfect for delving into, parts at a time. Pull-out card stock models provide activity which stimulates the hands as much as the mind. It doesn’t so much explain what Wonder is as directly engage readers in Wonder, inviting us to re-experience and treasure Wonder in our lives.
Careful readers of this recommendation will note that there are not too many specifics given. This is a difficult book to summarize in a pithy gift-book review, but an easy pick to recommend as a gift book. It’s a Big-Picture (and illustrated!) kind of book, exploring eternal questions of humanity through a lens of mystery and awe. This is one of those gifts where a recipient will look at it–and you–quizzically, but may very well launch late night discussions about Big Issues months down the road, or remain a true coffee table curiosity object for visitors to peruse.
Over-the-top production values, truly unique and thought-provoking content, and a presentation which makes this a book which can be read at any point for however long a visitor wishes to remain in The Museum make it a perfect gift, especially for those who have everything: who couldn’t stand a bit more Wonder in their lives…?
~Mike Conlon, Production Manager
Pick 5: The Upgrade
A Cautionary Tale of Life Without Reservations
Disinformation. Paperback, $18.95
The holidays can be a busy time, although the commercials lead you to believe that it will be a time filled with sweaters and hot chocolate, in all reality it is filled with stress and frustration. So what is the best way to relax after the most reeling time of the year? Well to laugh of course. The Upgrade by Paul Carr will make you do just that. Paul Carr takes you through his self entitled “ridiculous adventure” of living out of luxury hotels and giving up all commitments. Working out that it is actually cheaper to live this way, then in his small London apartment Carr takes his readers on a hilarious adventure across the world. Although this book will make the reader laugh, Carr’s behavior tends to escalate towards the destructive, teaching a valuable lesson on what is really important in this life. This is the perfect gift to give anyone on your list, especially someone who has had an especially stressful time hanging the stockings.
~Grace Goodman, Editorial Intern
Pick 6: Darkside Zodiac
Weiser. Paperback, $24.95.
Sometimes, in a world where everyone is posting adorable little memes on facebook telling you to “shine bright” it’s refreshing to have someone tell you like it is: you suck. I laughed out loud, like LOL, when I read this line about my own sign, Taurus, “Alright, being soul-sappingly boring isn’t the most stygian you can get on the Darkside (although tell that to your desperate family, mouthing ‘kill me now’ through the windowpane at passersby as you get out the Monopoly board for your biweekly game.)” You may not like what you read about your own Zodiac sign, but you’ll get a real good laugh to see what this book has to say about the signs of your family and friends.
~Hillary Peacock, Operations Manager
Pick 7: Steampunk Magic
Working Magic Aboard the Airship
Gypsey Elaine Teague
Weiser. Paperback. $16.95
Even for the Scroogiest of us all, the holidays are the most Victorian season of the year, from Yule logs to plum puddings. Why not revel in the mood with Steampunk Magic, the only book that tells you how to invoke Queen Victoria for good fortune, celebrate your coming of age among the crew of your very own airship, and gaze into the Aether through consecrated brass goggles? It’s a little pagan, a little Dickensian, completely adorable, and the only magick system that’s just as at home with Ada Lovelace as it is with tarot divination.
~Michael Alexander, Assistant Production Editor
Pick 8: Banshees, Werewolves, Vampires and Other Creatures of the Night
Banshees, Werewolves, Vampires, and Other Creatures of the Night
Facts, Fictions, and First-Hand Accounts
Weiser. Flapped paperback. $16.95
Ventura’s little book is packed with vintage charm, full of stories of olden days, modern-day horror stories, true and terrifying tales. It’s just creepy enough to please any fan of horror, magical creatures, vampires, werewolves, monsters, fairies, and odd history. It’s good for tweens and as well as the decrepit, and holds a special charm for anyone who feels most comfortable at midnight. The package itself is perfect for a stocking-stuffer, it’s 5 x 7 with lots of charming spot art. Fans of Ventura’s other works will appreciate her inside-jokes and puns, and those new to this author will surely be charmed into wanting more. It’s one part Ripley’s Believe it Or Not, one part Bram Stoker, and three parts “sh*t, did I remember to lock the door?”
~Amber Guetebier, Editor
Pick 9: The Good Stuff from Growing Up in a Dysfunctional Family
The Good Stuff from Growing Up in a Dysfunctional Family
How to Survive and Then Thrive Karen Casey
Conari. Paperback. $16.95
I’m thinking people might like to check out Karen Casey’s latest, The Good Stuff from Growing Up in a Dysfunctional Family, because pretty much, no matter how old you are and how much “work” you’ve done, if you grew up in a dysfunctional family, things can get pretty hairy at the holiday time. This book will help restore balance and peace. So maybe multiple copies are in order—one for everybody.
~Jan Johnson, Publisher
Pick 10: 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women
The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women
A Portable Mentor
Conari. Paperback. $17.95
My pick is an oldie but a really, really goodie. Every time I open the book I get another shot of inspiration, whether I read just a few lines or curl up on the sofa with it for a rejuvenating break (we have this wonderful red leather sofa in the office, and when I’ve had enough computer time I sometimes change the scenery and sit there for reading and contemplation). Sometimes I just like to open the book to a random page and see what’s in store for me at that moment. Today’s “random” hit was this quote from poet Minnie Richard Smith: Diamonds are only chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs, you see.” Perfect for writers and editors and publishers and, well, pretty much everyone else who is trying to leave the world a bit better, a bit more beautiful, than they way they found it. I love how Gail draws wisdom from women from so many different fields and creative endeavors and finds these 12 themes—from Following Your Fascinations to Conquering Saboteurs to Surrendering to Cycles. We originally published the book back in 2000, which just goes to show that most good reads never go out of style. The book continues to touch so many creative women, and I just love that. And the new cover we added last year is so pretty to look at, too.
~Caroline Pincus, Associate Publisher
What’s on your holiday must-read/must-buy list?