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A very wordy holiday

Books for the whole family

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Ah, to be one of the fundamental faithful, content with a single sacred book read and reread reverently by the whole family. OK, so some of them have a few sacred books, but you get the idea. Book buying is a bit more complicated in the Totally Non-Denominational Winter Holiday Spectacular, where one reader's manga manna is another's melodramatic mush, and no one can agree on what's poetic prose or pulp.

Creative Loafing comes to the rescue with book recommendations for all.

FOR Big Brother

TY.disORG (True Youth Dot Disorganization), as your son insists on being called, is convinced that the world order will be overthrown (and good riddance) by iPods, peer-to-peer networks and open source code. He might be right, according to Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System. Vaidhyanathan examines the hyper-text-messaged clash between oligarchy and anarchy in the networked and digitized world, searching deeply for a liberal humanist solution. $26. Perseus Books. 253 pages.

For Grandma:

We know you've always suspected that Grandma was once the same freedom fighter who went by the name of Cumulonimbus, lieutenant of love-ins for the '60s anarchist cabal the Meddlesome Meteorologists. Well, CL has just learned that the Feds are hot on her tail (and what a hot tail it still is, Granny!). So you better hurry and buy her a copy of The Freedom Outlaw's Handbook: 179 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution by Claire Wolfe (if that is his or her real name). The book is packed with practical tips on hiding your money in offshore accounts, anonymizing your online activities, building your own machine shop, outwitting lie detectors, forming cells of leaderless resistance, and otherwise sticking it to the man without getting stuck in jail. $20. Loompanics Unlimited. 186 pages.

For Dad

Speaking of the man, Daddy Lotsabucks is the man. (Makes for interesting Thanksgiving Day conversations, we bet.) And Dad wants to read about all the alpha guys (and plucky gals) who invented the system Granny is trying to overthrow. He'll love They Made America by Harold Evans, and not just for the shiny copper dust jacket or the SUV-sized dimensions of this coffee table book. Within, the stories of pioneers including Robert Fulton (who it turns out didn't actually invent the steamboat, but dammit, he was the first guy to figure out how to make a buck off it), Herbert Boyer (biotech), Gary Kildall (true founder of the personal computer revolution, before those upstarts Gates and Jobs came along), Thomas Watson (IBM), and, to take the edge off, Joan Ganz Cooney ("Sesame Street"). $40. Little, Brown and Company. 496 pages.

For Mom

A refined, elegant, self-made woman, Mom doesn't often talk about her modest youth. For the rest of the world, she's all pate and beef Wellington, but you've caught her late at night cooking up some spoon bread or maple cake. Tell her you bought her Maya Angelou's Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes for the high-society sightings (dinner with Oprah!) and sophisticated culinary creations of the former celebrated cook at San Francisco's Creole Cafe. (Oh, and we hear she wrote some poems or something, too.) Let the lyric stories from Angelou's childhood and the down-home recipes that accompany them be Mom's little secret. $29.95. Random House. 240 pages.

For Mistress

With Mom always away at her high-society functions, a certain Manolo Blahnik-wearing mistress has been left to handle the, uh, stocking stuffing. Make sure she's getting her hard-earned O (and maybe set the stage for a threesome?) with The "On" Position: The Sexual (Mis)adventures of a Hollywood Journalist, Katie Moran's hot and heavy memoir-style guide to adventurous sex for women (though Dad might enjoy reading it, too). Includes handy instructions on determining a potential partner's FQ! $24.95. Bonus Books. 250 pages.

FOR Uncle

In the promo materials for Oliver Stone's Alexander, Warner Bros. refers to the ancient warrior king's "intense bonds with his closest companions." Local author Michael Alvear is a tad less circumspect in his iconoclastic biography, Alexander the Fabulous: The Man Who Brought the World to Its Knees. With hilarious irreverence, Alvear tells of Alexander's hot boyfriends, grooming rituals, advance publicity team and ... there was something else ... oh yeah, his military tactics. $14.95. Advocate Books. 200 pages.FOR Sister

Honor your favorite riot-grrrl vegan with the ComicsLit version of the book that has permanently spoiled many a carnivore's appetite for sausage and lard, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, adapted to a grim and grainy graphic novel by Peter Kuper. While she's grossing out self-righteously over illustrations of "boiled" beef (with extra oozing puss), you can rest assured that she's also learning important leftist lessons and union solidarity. $15.95. ComicsLit. 48 pages.

FOR Little Brother

Junior's book is also gross and has the appearance of something educational, but some of the information -- OK, pretty much all of it -- is suspect in Your Disgusting Head: The Darkest, Most Offensive -- and Moist -- Secrets of Your Ears, Mouth and Nose. There is some question whether Fernando de la Mancini-Goldfarb was the original designer of the human ear. The world's supply of personal snot may not, in fact, be manufactured entirely in Detroit. And your budding young biologist probably should not stop brushing his teeth. Actually, a budding biologist probably shouldn't read this at all, but the next generation's Dave and Toph Eggers (they "helped" authors Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey) will thank you for this introduction to deadpan absurdist humor for the under-10 set. $16.95. Simon & Schuster. 63 pages.

Thomas.bell@creativeloafing.com

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