Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Gifts gifts gifts

In preparation for this month's Carnival of Children's Literature (check out Kelly's post). Everyone's blogging about gift books. I thought about blogging my choices to give this Christmas, but there was a really big problem with that.

See, the people who would be receiving such books? Would be reading this blog (Yes y'all you're getting books for Christmas. I'm sure you're shocked and amazed because you know, that's all I ever give anyone.)

So, I thought I'd turn it on it's head a bit and blog about books that people have given to me!

There's always a problem when giving your favorites to someone else. I'm not entirely sure my mother ever forgave me for not loving Trixie Belden the same way that she does.

On the other hand, I (and my classmates) will always love my parents for shipping a box full of John Steinbeck and Kurt Vonnegut novels to me when we ran out of English-language novels in China.

Now, my favorite books that have been given to me are cookbooks. This is interesting, because usually when I open them, I'm a little less than enthusiastic, but 3 of my top 5 cookbooks? Were presents to me. Desperation Dinners was given to Dan and me by my parents. It has the basis for my awesome Chicken/Tortellini/Pesto soup. (Um, add some tortellini.) Also, Dan's awesome white chicken chili is from here.

Dan's dad gave us How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food and when Mark Bitman says everything, he means everything. So, it not only contains the recipe to awesome pie crust, killer mocha butter-cream frosting, what to do with random chicken breasts or or how to make a good, basic marinara sauce, but when I didn't believe that whipped cream only involved cream and a wire whisk? Bitman proved me wrong (although he did suggest a smidge of sugar). When I realized I hadn't boiled an egg in a decade and didn't remember how long it should be in the water? This book told me. It also suggested that a medium boiled egg is much easier than a poached one with the same results. (My suggestion is to serve them on toast finely spread with Boursin cheese. Or on toast with crab cake.)

The third was a wedding present from our friend Alden, The Naked Chef which has some great recipes for various things and ways to do things the completely from scratch and where you can take shortcuts. I like this one because Oliver really gives you the freedom to experiment and really just provides base recipes and lets you run wild, for, as I've always said, one must approach love and cooking with reckless abandon. (In case you were wondering, my other top two cookbooks are Joy of Cooking (older editions are better) and Betty Crocker Cookbook which I DO NOT have. *hint hint*)

One gift I really remember from childhood was receiving a copy of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret from a family friend for my birthday. (Maybe 10? 11? 12? Somewhere in there.) Not only did it open my eyes to a lot of things (we must, we must, we must increase our bust) but it was the first Judy Blume book I read, but far from the last one. I now have teary-eyed moments over this book with mothers at the library.

Something about having an 18-page wish list on Amazon is that people tend to buy you things of it, which is, well, the point. But some of my favorite gifts are the little spur of the moment ones. Dan gave me 501 French Verbs when I was taking French in England and mentioned that I missed having it as a reference. The next week, we went out of coffee and he pulled it out of his bag for me. Similarly was when I was reading The Guns of August and had no idea what pre WWI Europe looked like... a few days later, he brought me home a copy of the Rand Mcnally Historical World Atlas. And then there was the supreme silliness when, right before we went down to Houston to spend Passover with his family and presented me with My First Passover Board Book...

For Christmas a few years ago, Dan's mom gave me a copy of the hysterical Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About. (MotherReader agrees that this book brings the funny). She got it off my amazon wishlist and promptly forgot about it. Until we gave her a copy this year because, really people IT BRINGS THE FUNNY.

And who doesn't love going to the bookstore with parents who pay for their books? Everything from mama buying my copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at the midnight release party (she bought one for herself and one for me... when it comes to Harry, there's no sharing.) And most recently, Hardboiled and Hard Luck.

I love getting books and hope people never stop giving them to me!


Sara said...

Awww. Your husband gives such sweet gifts...love the board book! Are you going to submit this for the "gift" carnival that Kelly at Big A, little a, is hosting?

I haven't forgotten that you tagged me. Just a little slow, is all.

Jennie said...

Thanks Sara! The board book was fun, because it was my first Passover, so even though I was 20-something, the board book was appropriate. (And it sits there, on my book shelf with the other religion books. I have to admit it looks kinda funny sitting next to such titles as Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives...

And yes, this post is for the carnival! It's my first carnival post, so hey, I'm excited. :)

Tag your time with the meme.

Susan said...

You know, i never seem to get books as gifts. A few years ago a friend gave me a collected volume of Kahlil Gibran, and I didn't have the heart to tell her that I already had it. When I was about 10 my aunt and uncle gave me Anne of Green Gables. I have no clear memory of other gift books. Strange.

MotherReader said...

If we could only get TMGAIHAA in the hands of every woman and man, the world would be a happier place. Funniest book ever.

Looking over your other suggestions - and forgot about the tag. Oops. Next week.