Give the Joy of Reading: Lois and Julie on the Books They Love to Share

Two lesser-buzzed-about genres of literature, cookbooks and poetry, make for fantastic bookish gifts! Check out what Lois and Julie are giving their loved ones this year.


Lois Kim, Executive Director:

For home cooks like me, nothing is more satisfying than collecting cookbooks that you can return to again and again, for family and friend gatherings as well as for those yikes-what-to-make-for-dinner-tonight moments. I find cookbooks make for surprisingly good reading, even when I don’t have anything to make and just want to be inspired and to learn.

This past year, I added these four to my cookbook shelf: Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking (I was obsessed when I got it in 2017 and the recent Netflix series has only made me love Nosrat more); Travis Lett’s Gjelina (finally scored this gorgeous cookbook with unique recipes after years of jealously seeing it on my friends’ shelves); and two great finds from our 2018 Festival: Paula Disbrowe’s Any Night Grilling (great doable recipes and beautiful photographs to help anyone master fire and smoke); and Edward Lee’s Buttermilk Graffiti (most literary of the bunch, as Lee intimately relates his encounters with immigrants and their influences to foods in specific, memorable American locales, many in the South.)

Any and each of these books would be a great holiday gift for the food lover or cook in your life!


Julie Wernersbach, Literary Director:

I love to give poetry during the holidays. The meditative, reflective moments at the end of the year offer a lovely opportunity to let new verse open us up. There are so many wonderful collections to choose from this year.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s Oceanic is a beautiful love letter to our dear planet, joyful and curious and attentive to the delicate relationships of our planet’s creatures to one another, and to the fragile balance of our partnership with Earth. Traci Brimhall’s Saudade is an engrossing, lyrical exploration of family, history, spirituality, and the long echo of the past.

I love to give (and receive) anthologies, where the multiplicity of voices, subjects and perspectives often introduce readers to new writers. New Poets of Native Nations, edited by Heid Erdrich, brings together a wide variety of work by twenty-one poets in a collection that reflects the vibrant cultural diversity of Native poetry and experience.

Evolution, the new collection by Eileen Myles, is a dash across the world of this energetic, entertaining, and enduring poet. (At a recent reading, Myles said they try to “make the poems fast as hell;” indeed, the verse flies across these pages.)

Of course, this time of year is also perfect for sinking into a sweeping, epic, touching, funny, original and unforgettable novel. For this reason, I am wrapping up copies of Little by Edward Carey, the fictionalized life of Marie Grosholtz, who grows up to become Madame Tussaud. It’s one of the best novels I have read this year!