I didn’t need socks this year. The bottom drawer of my dresser is jammed so full I struggle to close it sometimes, so Smartwools weren’t on my list.
Similarly, I’ve got plenty of scarves, hats, gloves.
I didn’t need any kitchen gadgets, but I got a few new ones. You’ll never hear me complain about that.
But many of the people in my life bought me books for Christmas, a treasure trove for which I am grateful. Here’s the 2022 stack.
Anyone who’s seen the bookshelves in our house knows the multiple meanings of this picture—(a) my friends and family are generous when they feed my hunger for books and (b) it’s time to box up some of those I’ve already read to make room for the new arrivals.
At the turn of each year, we cull books we don’t feel the need to keep into sturdy boxes and deliver them to one of the several libraries in our lives, then fill the gaps on the shelves with fresh literary loot. This year brought some terrific fiction and non-fiction, and I cannot wait to dive in.
Fintan O’Toole writes for the Irish Times, primarily. He’s also been a drama critic for the New York Daily News and written for The Guardian and The New York Review of Books, among other publications. I appreciate his sharp eye and incisive writing style, and was so pleased to find his newest book, We Don’t Know Ourselves – A Personal History of Modern Ireland under my tree.
On the subject of journalism, I was thrilled to unwrap Margaret Sullivan’s memoir, Newsroom Confidential, Lessons (and Worries) from an Ink-Stained Life. The former media critic for The Washington Post, Sullivan also served for three-plus years as public editor of the New York Times.
Last month I heard her being interviewed on the CBC, and it was evident her lens on the media was shaped by her many years at The Buffalo News—a regional rather than a national newspaper—one reason I’m especially eager to read this book.
Staying with the newspaper theme, last year I enjoyed Val McDermid’s 1979, featuring rookie newspaper reporter Allie Burns fighting for scoops at a scrappy daily in Glasgow around the same time I was in journalism school. 1989 is the sequel, with Allie ten years older and wiser, and the world a different place for a multitude of reasons. I’m hoping for a snowed in weekend to devour this one.
I’m also keen to settle in with the other books in my stack—Eli Cranor’s Don’t Know Tough is drawing raves, I’ve been tardy getting to Rosalie Knecht’s Vera Kelly books, and Kathryn Shultz’s memoir Lost & Found promises to be a powerful, moving read.
Sharp eyes also will spot a cookbook, The World in a Skillet, by the fabulous cooks at Milk Street Kitchen. This will complement the beautiful cast iron skillet I received as a gift last year, which has become my go-to pan.
Finally, an important hole in my bookshelves has been filed by two books by one of my favorite children’s book authors, the late Robert McCloskey. I don’t know what happened to my earlier versions of Burt Dow, Deep Water Man and One Morning in Maine, but I’m glad to have received replacement copies this Christmas. These are great to have on hand when young friends visit. But sometimes a woman just needs to settle in with a book ostensibly written for kids, and McCloskey’s illustrated tales —like those of E.B. White, who also set his children’s stories in Hancock County—are deeply pleasurable reads no matter one’s age.
Happy New year to all of our readers here at MCW. Please let us know in the comments what books you received as gifts and/or are looking forward to reading in the new year.
Brenda Buchanan brings years of experience as a journalist and a lawyer to her crime fiction. She has published three books featuring Joe Gale, a newspaper reporter who covers the crime and courts beat. She is now hard at work on new projects. FMI, go to http://brendabuchananwrites.com