Over the course of this year, I've had the opportunity to interview many talented authors on my iTunes' podcast Whine At 9. Some were friends and some have become friends. Either way, through the course of reading their work, I discovered some great books that cover a lot of gift-giving ground. Don't take my word for it though; sample a few pages online. If you're searching for ideas, consider these six gift categories as you brainstorm.
Note: The reviews and opinions are my own.
#1 The Gift of Inspiration
When Mary Lou Quinlan's beloved mother died, she searched for her mother's God Box. Instead of finding one box, Quinlan found 10 boxes stuffed with notes spanning the last 20 years of her mother's life. Examining each note, Quinlan learned even more about the faith, love, patience and perseverance of the most special woman in her life. The God Box: Sharing My Mother's Gift of Faith, Love and Letting Go is a touching and beautifully designed gift book that highlights the power of relationships, parenting and prayer.
In her book Loose Diamonds: ...and Other Things I've Lost (and Found) Along the Way, author Amy Ephron crafts a beautiful mosaic of her fascinating life. Filled with unique experiences, humor, joy, success and disappointment, Ephron's reflections capture the life lessons of women in an insightful gift book that's hard to put down.
#2 The Gift of Friendship
Alan Zweibel is an original Saturday Night Live writer and the pen behind some of SNL's most beloved character's like Gilda Radner's Roseanne Rosannadanna and John Belushi's Samurai. During the course of his SNL tenure, he and Radner forged a unique friendship. His book Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner -- A Sort of Love Story, is on my gift list this season. Written as a series of dialogues between Zweibel and Radner, the book chronicles a special friendship with hilarious observations, wonderful SNL "insider" moments, refreshing vulnerability and heart-wrenching sadness. SNL fans will love this, as will anyone celebrating the power and complexity of friendships.
#3 The Gift of Nostalgia
Baby boomers grew up with My Three Sons' Ernie Douglas, the adorable youngest son played by actor Barry Livingston. In his book The Importance of Being Ernie: From My Three Sons to Mad Men, a Hollywood Survivor Tells All, Livingston shares his life story and secrets of an inspiring career. This well-written autobiography is chock-full of Hollywood nostalgia. From Lucille Ball to Elvis Presley and Mad Men, the stories Barry shares will make you want to take him to lunch. This book is a fabulous gift for boomers and sitcom and comedy buffs.
#4 The Gift of Humor & Parody
Author Chuck Sambuchino's Red Dog/Blue Dog: When Pooches Get Political, blends humor, dogs and politics in a winning gift book for pet lovers and political junkies. Pet portraits (submitted by pet owners) and one-liners are sure to make liberal and conservative readers smile.
Donna Cavanagh is a journalist and author who has a knack for nailing humor. I must admit feeling a bit jealous when my mom said, "She's one of the funniest writers ever.", but now that Donna has agreed to make Mom her Fan Club President, I'm over it. Her tongue-in-cheek Try and Avoid The Speed Bumps is the latest compilation of observational humor essays that'll leave you laughing. From families and friends to work and relationships, Donna tackles those bumps in the road we all encounter but spins them with just the right amount of sarcasm and wit.
For anyone who couldn't get enough of Fifty Shades of Grey, it's time to move on to Karen S. Exkorn's Fifty Two Shades of Blue-ish. This Jewish parody will stir up more than matzo ball soup. A unique Hanukkah gift or Secret Santa purchase, Fifty Two Shades of Blue-ish proves that there's always room for humor even if that room is the bedroom. Warning: Rated "almost R" for laugh-out-loud but mature(!) content.
#5 The Gift of Empowerment
Many people struggle with the concept of self-promotion, yet selling yourself is one of the most important elements of maximizing success. Fortunately two PR powerhouses joined forces to share their secrets. Jessica Kleiman & Meryl Weinsaft Cooper's Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired, and Rewarded at Work, teaches the basics and beyond. I read this with a highlighter in hand and continue to use this book as a reference tool. It's the perfect gift for authors, college students, and those in the middle of creating new projects or re-creating themselves.
#6: The Gift of Suspense
Contemplating some novel ideas this season? Bruce Ferber is an Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated comedy writer and producer who served as Executive Producer and showrunner for Home Improvement. His first novel, Elevating Overman is a funny and painful story of redemption that pairs superpowers with second chances. This novel concept might be the perfect gift for the adventuresome reader on your list.
A born storyteller, Robin Lamont taps her diverse careers as actress, private investigator and prosecutor to craft a page turner. Wright for America blends mystery, comedy and politics in just the right way. The former Broadway actress (Godspell) will make mystery lovers glad she traded in those dance shoes for a computer keyboard.