When I was a kid my great-aunt Nora could always be counted on to give us kids gloves or mittens for Christmas. Assuming I lost at least one glove in between holidays, I would freeze my hand or hands until the next Christmas, knowing I'd get a new pair.
So it is that I have the Christmas tradition of giving a sure thing to my kids and their significant others for Christmas. Every other gift they get from ma and pa is labeled "From Mom and Dad," but this one is labeled only from me. And so their brains don't freeze, like Aunt Nora took care of my hands, I give them books. I know four out of the six usually get read. The ones that don't aren't because they aren't a great selection, it's because Junior doesn't read much unless it fits on his phone or it has to be carefully tailored to to his interests.
After much thought and research during the course of the year, I picked up the following for them:
For history professor and son-in-law Stetston: The Good Country - A History of the American Midwest 1800-1900 by Jon K. Lauck. Even though there was a flagrant omission in the book (no mention of the Haugen empire) I bought it because Jon is a coworker and a friend and I wanted to do my little part to help his sales hit double-digits.
According to Amazon:
At the center of American history is a hole—a gap where some scholars’ indifference or disdain has too long stood in for the true story of the American Midwest. A first-ever chronicle of the Midwest’s formative century, The Good Country restores this American heartland to its central place in the nation’s history.
Jon K. Lauck, the premier historian of the region, puts midwestern “squares” center stage—an unorthodox approach that leads to surprising conclusions. The American Midwest, in Lauck’s cogent account, was the most democratically advanced place in the world during the nineteenth century. The Good Country describes a rich civic culture that prized education, literature, libraries, and the arts; developed a stable social order grounded in Victorian norms, republican virtue, and Christian teachings; and generally put democratic ideals into practice to a greater extent than any nation to date.
For my son, Luke, the catcher of bad guys: Killing the Mob by Bill O'Reilly.
The tenth book in Bill O'Reilly's #1 New York Times bestselling series of popular narrative histories, with sales of nearly 18 million copies worldwide, and over 320 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
O’Reilly and co-author Martin Dugard trace the brutal history of 20th Century organized crime in the United States, and expertly plumb the history of this nation’s most notorious serial robbers, conmen, murderers, and especially, mob family bosses. Covering the period from the 1930s to the 1980s, O’Reilly and Dugard trace the prohibition-busting bank robbers of the Depression Era, such as John Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby-Face Nelson. In addition, the authors highlight the creation of the Mafia Commission, the power struggles within the “Five Families,” the growth of the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, the mob battles to control Cuba, Las Vegas and Hollywood, as well as the personal war between the U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy and legendary Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.
For Katie's Kwinn: Killing the Killers: The Secret War Against Terrorists by Bill O'Reilly.
In Killing The Killers, #1 bestselling authors Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard take readers deep inside the global war on terror, which began more than twenty years ago on September 11, 2001.
As the World Trade Center buildings collapsed, the Pentagon burned, and a small group of passengers fought desperately to stop a third plane from completing its deadly flight plan, America went on war footing. Killing The Killers narrates America's intense global war against extremists who planned and executed not only the 9/11 attacks, but hundreds of others in America and around the world, and who eventually destroyed entire nations in their relentless quest for power.
Killing The Killers moves from Afghanistan to Iraq, Iran to Yemen, Syria, and Libya, and elsewhere, as the United States fought Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, as well as individually targeting the most notorious leaders of these groups. With fresh detail and deeply-sourced information, O'Reilly and Dugard create an unstoppable account of the most important war of our era.
For daughter, Katie, and because she requested it: The Night Shift by Alex Finlay.
It’s New Year’s Eve 1999. Y2K is expected to end in chaos: planes falling from the sky, elevators plunging to earth, world markets collapsing. A digital apocalypse. None of that happens. But at a Blockbuster Video in New Jersey, four teenagers working late at the store are attacked. Only one inexplicably survives. Police quickly identify a suspect, the boyfriend of one of the victims, who flees and is never seen again.
Fifteen years later, more teenage employees are attacked at an ice cream store in the same town, and again only one makes it out alive.
In the aftermath of the latest crime, three lives intersect: the lone survivor of the Blockbuster massacre who’s forced to relive the horrors of her tragedy; the brother of the fugitive accused, who’s convinced the police have the wrong suspect; and FBI agent Sarah Keller who must delve into the secrets of both nights—stirring up memories of teen love and lies—to uncover the truth about murders on the night shift.
For daughter, Rylee: The Lost Girls of Willowbrook - A Heartbreaking Novel of Survival Based on a True Story by by Ellen Marie Wiseman.
Sage Winters always knew her sister was a little different even though they were identical twins. They loved the same things and shared a deep understanding, but Rosemary—awake to every emotion, easily moved to joy or tears—seemed to need more protection from the world.
Six years after Rosemary’s death from pneumonia, Sage, now sixteen, still misses her deeply. Their mother perished in a car crash, and Sage’s stepfather, Alan, resents being burdened by a responsibility he never wanted. Yet despite living as near strangers in their Staten Island apartment, Sage is stunned to discover that Alan has kept a shocking secret: Rosemary didn’t die. She was committed to Willowbrook State School and has lingered there until just a few days ago, when she went missing.
Sage knows little about Willowbrook. It’s always been a place shrouded by rumor and mystery. A place local parents threaten to send misbehaving kids. With no idea what to expect, Sage secretly sets out for Willowbrook, determined to find Rosemary. What she learns, once she steps through its doors and is mistakenly believed to be her sister, will change her life in ways she never could imagined ...
For daughter-in-law Kayla, I'm starting her on a new detective series I've heard about but haven't read myself. Hopefully they're good and she can lend them back to me. They're the first two paperbacks in the 18-book series.
Still Life: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel (#1) by Louise Penny.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it's a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.
Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces---and this series---with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny.
A Fatal Grace: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel (#2) by Louise Penny.
Welcome to winter in Three Pines, a picturesque village in Quebec, where the villagers are preparing for a traditional country Christmas, and someone is preparing for murder.
No one liked CC de Poitiers. Not her quiet husband, not her spineless lover, not her pathetic daughter―and certainly none of the residents of Three Pines. CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone, right up until the moment of her death.
When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, of the Sûreté du Quebec, is called to investigate, he quickly realizes he's dealing with someone quite extraordinary. CC de Poitiers was electrocuted in the middle of a frozen lake, in front of the entire village, as she watched the annual curling tournament. And yet no one saw anything. Who could have been insane enough to try such a macabre method of murder―or brilliant enough to succeed?
And granddaughter Josie begins her literary journey with: My First Disney Classics Bedtime Storybook. It includes: The Lion King, Dumbo, The Jungle Book, Bambi, Alice in Wonderland and 1001 Dalmations.
I hope you Aunt Nora or Santa were good to you as well.