On Twitter, where I spend more of my social media time these days (@BelleBoggs, that’s me), people have been posting early 2016/now photos that represent how they feel. I don’t have any kittenish photos of Mischief (RIP), but this sums up my mien, post-November 8:
Anyway! I am giving mostly books for Christmas presents. Here are some top picks:
What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell. An exquisitely painful, gorgeous read.
Proxies by Brian Blanchfield. Smart, precise, candid, wide-ranging essays.
We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge. I have loved this novel since I first heard Kaitlyn read from an early draft at Bread Loaf, in 2010. A captivating, character-driven, important book about history, race, and belonging.
Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens. I adore this surprising, unconventional, claustrophobic-feeling novel. You don’t have to have given birth to appreciate this story, but it’s one of the most compelling and visceral descriptions of that experience I’ve ever read.
Boy Erased by Garrard Conley. Considering we now have a VP-elect who believes in “ex-gay” conversion therapy, Conley’s memoir is more important than ever.
Half Wild by Robin MacArthur. Honest, heartbreaking, tender stories set in Vermont. I hope it doesn’t presume too much to say I feel like Robin is my Northeastern sister.
The Home Place by J. Drew Lanham. I think this memoir of growing up black in the South, and becoming a naturalist and ornithologist, is one of the biggest sleepers of the year. (You can read Dr. Lanham at Orion).
In September, I wrote about The Little Virtues by Natalia Ginzburg for the New Yorker’s website. For a while it became an Amazon top seller. Ginzburg, who suffered and survived Fascist rule in Italy, says we should teach our children “not the little virtues but the great ones. Not thrift but generosity and an indifference to money; not caution but courage and a contempt for danger; not shrewdness but frankness and a love of truth; not tact but love for one’s neighbor and self-denial; not a desire for success but a desire to be and to know.” I think everyone should read Ginzburg on family, love, and courage.
You could always give someone you love The Art of Waiting. It’s on some great best-of-2016 lists, including Oprah’s! If you’d like a clover to tuck into the copy you give (or receive), please send me an email and I’ll mail you one from my collection.