We know there are often people (uncles, dads, grandpas) in your life who are hard to shop for. So we have compiled for you a few books that are sure to please that person on your Christmas list.
For the knowledgeable man:
• “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power” by Jon Meacham (Random House, $35) Know anyone who likes politics? Or America? Or history? Someone who has everything? Consider your Christmas present found. Thomas Jefferson was a man of many accomplishments, including the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark expedition and Declaration of Independence. And he had many passions, including architecture, women, family, Paris, friends. But he always loved America foremost. He never gave up the idea of a successful government, even when economic change and uncertainty threatened. Jon Meacham allows us to get to know Jefferson in the first person, using unpublished papers written by Jefferson himself, as well as archives from the United States, England and France. Jefferson’s story is one that definitely resounds in today’s world.
— Renee Navarrete
For the hunter-gatherer man
• “Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter” by Steven Rinella (Spiegel & Grau, $36) This memoir is for that hunter (or would-be hunter) in your life. Rinella’s riveting writing style could match many a good sportswriter, and he has endless tales to tell. Rinella and his brothers were raised to hunt and fish. He idolized Daniel Boone and later chose his college based on its proximity to good hunting ground. His book will take you through 10 hunts throughout his life, from fur-trapping to tracking the elusive Dall sheep in Alaska. There are even tasting notes at the end of each story, providing the reader with either cravings or disgust.
— Renee Navarrete
For the dangerous dad
• “Backyard Ballistics: Build Potato Cannons, Paper Match Rockets, Cincinnati Fire Kites, Tennis Ball Mortars, and More Dynamite Devices” by William Gurstelle (Chicago Review Press, $16.95) I received the first edition of this book a number of years ago. In short, it’s great. My brother-in-law already had a potato gun, so there was no real reason to build one of those, but there are plenty of other wonderful projects to eat up those weekend hours.
This second edition expands on the content from the original book, including the piezo-electric twin of the spud gun and the electromagnetic pipe gun. With more than 15 different devices, I’ve still got some left to complete from the first edition, but it doesn’t mean this book won’t be on my Christmas wish-list.
— Jason Navarrete
For the aspiring chef
• “How to Cook Everything, The Basics: All You Need to Make Great Food” by Mark Bittman (Wiley, $35) My wife is a wonderful cook. I am wonderful at eating. I’m also fairly decent at following directions, which is where Mark Bittman’s latest cookbook helps me to not completely ruin a meal. This is not your traditional cookbook of recipes; it’s more a book on how to cook.
The book is filled with fundamental information such as dicing onions, roasting chicken and making your own burgers from scratch. You’ll find important building blocks to making great food, and it’s supplemented with color photos of each and every ingredient involved in the process.
Bittman finished his Minimalist column for the New York Times early last year but continues with this book to show you the bare essentials of making good food. There’s a chicken cutlets with quick pan sauce recipe that tastes great and is easy to make, and thanks to this book, grilled chicken was a regular occurrence at our house this past summer.
— Jason Navarrete
• Renee Navarrete works at Inklings Bookshop. She and other Inklings staffers review books in this space each week. This week, Navarrete enlisted her husband, Jason, for help with gift ideas.