Dean Koontz: Books make great gifts because your friends and family need something scary to read other than their 401k report.
Maya Angelou: Books make great gifts because they’re a celebration of family and friendship.
Carl Hiaasen: Books make great gifts because people love supporting endangered species.
Rachel Ray: Books make great gifts because they’re as hefty as a fruitcake, but enjoyable to devour.
Barbara Walters: Books make great gifts because they’re a great way to get a conversation started.
Judy Blume: Books make great gifts because no assembly is required.
Suze Orman: Books make great gifts because they are a great investment in your relationships.
Toni Morrison: Books make great gifts because they bring back fond memories.
Jeff Foxworthy: Books make great gifts because your friends have heard your saga a thousand times. They deserve a new story.
Stephanie Klein: Books make great gifts because the coffee table sort make an ass look positively diminutive.
The truth is, I don’t get to read all that often, but I buy books like I’ve all the time in the world to read them. Stacks of them. Mostly cookbooks, while I’m speaking the truth. And if I’m going for the whole honesty thing, I should correct myself. I don’t read all that often obviously because of the way I prioritize my life. I’m very Jack Sprat about reading: an extremist. A man who can eat no fat, married to a woman who could eat no lean. There’s no middle ground. Either I’m relay-racing through one book after the next or there’s a pile of pilot scripts at my bedside. Though each day I do find myself reading picture books to the kids, which is almost as stimulating.
When I do binge-read, I go for the guilty pleasures: books with name brand mentions and walks along 5th Avenue, spoiled grown ups who tan on the French Riviera. I escape and don’t want to think too much. But when I’m reading to be a better writer, there’s a whole different set of books on my to-read list. That’s when I look to Katherine Mansfield, William Trevor, Alice Munro. Then Katherine Anne Porter, Don DeLillo, Tom Perrotta, but no, I can’t get into Philip Roth. I haven’t read J.M. Coetzee since college. For storytelling, there’s John Irving, my favorite (especially A Prayer for Owen Meany). Of course there’s always Jonathan Ames, David Sedaris, and humorist Michael Ian Black (whom I recently met when we were on a book panel together in Atlanta, and I love his sense of humor).
Here’s what I do know: I always light up when someone gives me a book as a gift. I can’t help but wonder why this person got me a certain book. Did it make them think of me? So the whole time I’m reading I’m looking for some clue, wondering what is it in this one book they thought would appeal to me? I totally make it about me, when in actuality it might have been some last-minute grab. Still, I love to give books as gifts. It’s like giving someone a ticket to strange. You get them out of their own head for a while–unless it’s a self-help book, in which case I hope wine and sleeping pills are involved. Good that my own memoirs can be found IN THE SELF HELP AISLE! I digress.
I’m also often asked what books I recommend for writers. This is easy, so easy. I own more books on writing than actual books to be read for pleasure. So here are my pics, listed in a post below.