Friday, December 5, 2008

A holiday message from James:
The holidays are upon us once again. Certainly, in different stages of my life, I would have phrased that differently: It’s almost Christmas! (for my childhood); It’s almost ski season! (high school); This semester is almost over! (college). But this holiday season, I look at the calendar and no other word choice seems appropriate. The month of December has come like a lion out of the brush upon me, a stupid gazelle drinking lazily from the water.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the holidays. I love snow and decorations and the general good cheer that everyone seems to have about them as the end of the year approaches. And I love presents, both giving and receiving, though I am finally reaching a stage in life where this aspect is more about the giving. As a child, the old adage “it’s the thought that counts” might ring true, but as one enters adulthood, giving a gift takes on new, important meanings.

I think that, from one adult to another, somehow gifts have become a process of explaining how much you know about someone. And, as a book lover/bookstore employee/bookstore website columnist, it should come as no shock that I often buy and give books as gifts. Most of the time, selecting the right book is not a problem. For example, I’m going to buy my dad Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson because my dad is very much into scuba diving and the family is going on a scuba diving trip for the holidays. I think I will buy my mother a few P.D. James mystery novels and An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear (the newest Maisie Dobbs mystery) because that is what she likes to read on airplanes and on beaches while my dad scuba dives. My teenage brother likes Garfield books and episode guides to the Simpsons, so that is what he will get.

But there are many friends in my life that don’t read a lot, or I don’t know what they read or what they have already read. They are the ones that make this holiday season – and every holiday season – seem to rush up out of nowhere. I can never seem to get the right gift until, suddenly, its only two days before Christmas. This is where calendars come in. Everyone needs a calendar, and luckily Broadway Books has a tremendous selection.

But I am thinking of taking a different angle this year. It might be a little unorthodox, but I think magazines will solve all my problems this gift giving season. Magazines are great because often, if you get the right one, it’s like three or four books bound together. The New Yorker, for example, has humorous pieces, cartoons, short fiction, and pieces about interesting things/events in the world. I like the Believer because it has interviews with all types of artists, authors, thinkers, and generally amazing people. Their advice column, answered each month by a new guest, is great. And their pieces are quirky/humorous most of the time.

Magazines work great as gifts for people like me – those with poor attention spans. The variety of content is also a great way to ensure that the recipient is going to like something inside, which isn’t always guaranteed for a book. And, typically magazines are less expensive than books, which is nice for those budget conscious gift-givers like myself.

So, when you’re browsing in Broadway Books for that perfect gift, stop by the magazine rack for a minute. If you buy one, we’ll even wrap it up for you!

1 comment:

  1. There are several locally published magazines that would make excellent gifts: Tin House; Glimmer Train; Poetry Northwest; The Portland Review, published by Portland State University; and The Grove Review: A Literary Journal (whose home is literally a few doors away from Broadway Books on 16th). I have a complete list of local periodicals in my book, "City of Readers: The Book Lover's Guide to Portland" on Pages 49-54.


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