January 23, 2020

Holiday book picks by local authors

By Kristi Kates | Dec. 10, 2016

Books are always a welcome holiday gift. With such a wide range of subject matter available, you can find something for pretty much everyone on your list.

So what do authors buy when choosing gift books? The Express spoke to three talented local scribes to find out what their gift pick would be this year – and asked one of our favorite local book illustrators to share three of his suggestions too. Here they are in their own words:

Maureen Abood: “Dorie’s Cookies” by Dorie Greenspan

“The first time I baked a Dorie Greenspan cookie was when I was in culinary school several years ago. We made her world-famous World Peace Cookie — a deeply chocolatey, wonderfully simple sliced cookie that immediately moved to the top of my often-baked cookie recipes.

“Not long after that, I met Dorie and fell in love with this very neat American expat living in France and sharing her rigorously developed recipes in her award-winning cookbooks and online.

“Just this fall she published her first cookie cookbook. I’ve been waiting all year for this one, and it was well, well worth the wait. The array of cookies is breathtaking – there are over 300 – and so are the photos to tempt us into baking and eating them all.

“And Dorie’s voice is there, too, guiding us along with her hallmark flair. This is one of the many cookbooks I own that is inspiring me to make every single recipe in it.”

Feted by both The New York Times and TV chef/personality Anthony Bourdain, Harbor Springs author Maureen Abood’s cookbook, “Rose Water and Orange Blossoms,” spotlights her family’s heritage in Lebanese cuisine and has contributed to the popularity of Abood’s food writing and blog at maureenabood.com.

Chris Wright: “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv

“I consider this to be one of the most important books written in the past 20 years. With the rapid advancement of technology, children – and adults – are losing touch with our physical, natural world and the magic it holds.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love and appreciate my computers, tablet and smartphone, not to mention the incredible advancements in other scientific fields. But as Louv points out, we’ve reached, or are quickly reaching, a point where children no longer have a knowledge of our natural surroundings.

“As a result, this generation has no bond to the wonders and beauty of nature, and the natural healing qualities it provides. Louv calls this ‘nature deficit disorder,’ and writes passionately and eloquently about the power of simply getting outdoors. It’s a fascinating, eye-opening read; Louv describes and outlines the problem, as well as offering helpful suggestions and solutions we can all use to ‘get back to nature’ on a daily basis.”

Chris Wright of Topinabee writes adult novels like “The Laurentian Channel” and “St. Helena” under his own name, and the wildly popular “Michigan Chillers”/“American Chillers” books for kids under the pseudonym Johnathan Rand. Wright started his own northern Michigan publishing company. Visit americanchillers.com.

Mardi Jo Link: “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman

 “This novel by Swedish writer Fredrik Backman is about what happens to a lifelong misfit when he gets old and lonely – but it’s also laugh-out-loud funny. I don’t read a lot of fiction, so the novels I do read have to both grab me with an interesting voice and have some bigger meaning inside them, and this one stuck with me long after I’d read it.

“The main character, Ove, is maddeningly set in his ways, judgmental beyond all reason, and equipped with a very short fuse. So when new neighbors move in next door and promptly run down his mailbox with their trailer, conflict is inevitable; yet, the result is emotionally satisfying, too.

“In our increasingly polarized lives, we could all learn a lot from Ove about unexpected friendship, forgiveness, and giving people unlike ourselves a helping hand instead of an insult. As a bonus, the movie version played at the Traverse City Film Festival and will be at the Suttons Bay film series (Dec. 11-13).

“And, if you like Mr. Backman’s writing style, he has two other novels written with the same dry wit and frank observational details, ‘Britt-Marie Was Here’ and ‘My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry.’”

Alternating between real-life memoirs rich in northern Michigan details and true crime fiction novels, Mardi Jo Link’s most recent book is “The Drummond Girls: A Story of Fierce Friendship Beyond Time and Chance”; you can find out more about her writing at her official website, mardijolink.com.

Glenn Wolff: Three illustrated books

“The Arrival” by Shaun Tan

“An illustrated graphic novel, without text, that Booklist called a ‘fantastical masterpiece.’ It tells the story of a lone immigrant’s journey to a new world.”

“Six Novels in Woodcuts” by Lynd Ward

“These are beautiful wordless novels in woodcuts, published between 1929-1937, telling American stories that could be as relevant to today as they were in the 1930s. Art Spiegelman said that Ward ‘is one of only a handful of artists anywhere who ever made a “graphic novel” until the day before yesterday.’”

“Yellow Yellow” by Frank Asch

“This is a book written by Frank Asch and illustrated by Mark Alan Stamaty. Now out of print, it can be found here and there on the web. It’s a book with cynical New York City illustrations so dense that one can’t help but fall in and get lost as a small boy finds, loses, and recovers a yellow hat. I bought this book in 1971 and it made me want to be an illustrator.”

Glenn Wolff’s nature-inspired, distinctive illustrations and mixed-media artworks have been seen in a wide range of locations, from the books of Jerry Dennis and the public collection of the Dennos Museum to The New York Times and the Central Park Conservancy. Visit glennwolff.com.

Kristi Kates is a contributing editor and freelance writer.

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