Boston is a city of readers, and so it’s not surprising that many of us choose the bookstore for our holiday gift shopping. The Globe asked a handful of local writers to tell us about the most memorable books they’ve given – and received.
Tom Perrotta (“Nine Inches: Stories”): One of the books I’m giving this holiday season is “Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football” by Nicholas Dawidoff. I’m in the middle of it right now, and it’s an unusually smart and revealing (and often funny) look at the quirky subculture of pro football.
Jamaica Kincaid (“See Now Then”): Here is a book, given to me by my children, called “Sex, Botany, and Empire: The Story of Carl Linnaeus and Joseph Banks” by Patricia Fara. They are perhaps more than any one else of their time, responsible for how we know the garden today.
Robert Pinsky (“Singing School: Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying With the Masters”): “A Field Guide to American Houses” by Virginia and Lee McAlester is a book I’ve given often to many different kinds of people. As a wild-flower guide might be to a walk in the country, this book and its illustrations make driving through any residential neighborhood, town or city, an adventure. For me, it’s a little like reading the poems of William Carlos Williams or the meticulously drawn comics of Bill Griffith.
Elin Hilderbrand (“Beautiful Day”): This Christmas, I am giving my daughter, Shelby, age eight, “A Little Princess” by Frances Hodgson Burnett (with the Tasha Tudor illustrations — very important!), which was a book I received for Christmas when I was eight.
Henry Louis Gates Jr. (“The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross”): I’m giving “Bartlett’s Black Familiar Quotations,” edited by Retha Powers, and Solomon Northup’s “Twelve Years a Slave” as gifts this year.
J. Courtney Sullivan (“The Engagements”): My friend Laura and I always exchange books at Christmas. We both love Ann Patchett, and this past summer I was lucky enough to give a reading at her Nashville bookstore, Parnassus. Ann was there, and I asked her to sign a copy of “Truth & Beauty” for Laura. I recently saw Ann read in New York and asked her to sign her latest — “This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage” — for Laura’s growing collection.
Margot Livesey (“The Flight of Gemma Hardy”): I’ll be giving Andrea Barrett’s wonderful new collection of five linked stories: “Archangel.”
Scott Heim (“Mysterious Skin”): “Haunted Air” is a hardcover book of found photographs, compiled by artist and musician Ossian Brown. It showcases Brown’s obsessive collection of vintage Halloween images, many quite eerie and disturbing. “Haunted Air” might be more fitting for Halloween, but for me, it was the perfect Christmas gift.
Megan Marshall (“Margaret Fuller: A New American Life”): I’m giving Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch” to my sister-in-law, a Bennington alum like Tartt and me, sort of. I transferred after two-and-a-half years, but my loyalty is high to the college and to Tartt’s fiction.
Michael Lowenthal (“The Paternity Test”): Though we were raised in D.C., my sister, Linda, and I were raised to love all things Boston-related. Along these lines, I was riveted by Esther Forbes’s novel “Johnny Tremain,” published by Houghton Mifflin, the distinguished Boston-based publisher. A few years ago, with both of us having settled in Boston, and recently after I published my novel with Houghton Mifflin, Linda gave me a copy of the gorgeously illustrated, hardcover Newbery edition. It’s one of my favorite possessions.
Kate Tuttle, a writer and editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.