Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Twelve Books of Christmas

Okay, so each day for the next twelve days I'm going to write about a book that I think is great for Christmas. Some days the books will be explicitly about Christmas but not all of them will be.

Today's book is Christmas at the New Yorker: stories, poems, humor, and art, originally published in 2005 and still widely available. This book is a terrific collection of essays, short stories, poetry and artwork (including cartoons) from the pages of the The New Yorker magazine, a Christmas anthology for grownups.
(As usual you can click on the cover if you'd like to buy it from your local Booksense-affiliated independent bookseller.)

I've been reading The New Yorker steadily since high school and what has impressed me is the consistent excellence of the writing, the breadth and depth of the articles and of course, the fact that, despite the title, it isn't really about New York at all. Of course the magazine has always had about it a certain urban sensibility but I've always loved it for how sophisticated and worldly the coverage is, as opposed to being parochially and provincially always about New York. Now, I have nothing in particular against New York- I'm just not one of those people who thinks it's the end-all be-all.

But anyway, back to the book. It's a fun book to put out on the coffee table and leaf through during a quiet moment. Sit back with a cup of tea and read a piece by John Updike or H.L. Mencken or Brendan Gill, or a poem by Robert Pinsky or John O'Hara. Vladimir Nabokov, Patrick Chamoiseau and Adrienne Rich are also among the authors included. Finally, what we all love about The New Yorker- the cartoons. Many favorite cartoonists appear in the book- Charles Addams, J.J. Sempe, William Steig and Art Spiegelman, among others. Great to own or to give, it's a collection to treasure for years.

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