Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide: The Christmas Gift, An Amish Christmas and A Christmas Odyssey

These three books with a Christmas focus just couldn’t be more different, making it possible for you to choose the one that will make the perfect gift for someone on your list. All three are small and slender and would fit handily into a generous stocking. And, in their various ways, all three focus on varying aspects of the best of the season.

As you might imagine, the gift mentioned in the title of The Christmas Gift (Burgess Adams) isn’t something you can get at the mall. Rather, the book focuses on a story about traditional Christmas values, wrapped in a heartwarming contemporary tale about living and giving. The fact that the blurb on the cover is from Stephen R. Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) will give you a clue to the content and texture of the book. Motivational. Inspiring. And, as I said, heartwarming. If that’s the sort of mood you’re in this holiday -- or if you’d like to be -- The Christmas Gift might just get you there.

If you’re teeth don’t ache too badly after The Christmas Gift, you can take a run at Cynthia Keller’s An Amish Christmas (Ballantine). A suburban family hit with hard times due economic turmoil find something they’ve been missing in the Amish community. About the book, author Keller has said that her “own concern about the environment made the Amish mode of living seem especially important to understand. Global warming, slow living -- all the buzz words of today are addressed in Amish life.”

Those with a taste for something a bit grittier might enjoy Anne Perry’s eighth Christmas mystery, A Christmas Odyssey (Ballantine). Though Perry is best known for her mysteries featuring Thomas Pitt and William Monk, her Dickensian narratives have garnered much critical acclaim and many fans. This Victorian take on the prodigal son story takes some sharp holiday twists and turns. Mystery lovers will not be disappointed: the only thing really Christmassy about this one is the snow on the ground and the time of year. ◊

Monica Stark is a contributing editor to January Magazine. She currently makes her home on a liveaboard boat somewhere in the North Pacific.

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