Cover Story: Holiday Gifts by the Book

Simply put, there's no finer gift than a book, reflecting smartly on both the giver and the receiver. Sublime, questioning, sophisticated, original, curious, charitable, wise, caustic -- a book

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Ryan Greis



Simply put, there's no finer gift than a book, reflecting smartly on both the giver and the receiver. Sublime, questioning, sophisticated, original, curious, charitable, wise, caustic — a book is a perfect witness to the glory and grand aspirations of the human soul.

· Soulful: What the Dormouse Said. A delightful collection of quotes from children's books guaranteed to spark irreverent resonance for grown-ups. With chapters on Defiance, Goodness, Imagination and Adventure, Silence, Greed, Envy, Pride and Sloth, Growing Old and, of course, Eating Habits, there's a bundle of youthful insight, with just enough malice to unsettle any Puritans.

· Soul searching: Big Fish, by Daniel Wallace, and All Soul's by Michael Patrick MacDonald. See Fine Print column in this issue.

· Soul food: At a very basic level, eating is a big part of holidays, celebrating the bounty of nature and the comfort of belonging. Vegetarian Planet, by Didi Emmons, has a tasty new recipe for every day of the year, with two weeks left over to repeat your favorites (350 in all). Emmons shows you how to sample a range of dishes without feeling like either a martyr or a glutton.

· Soul less: E-books. While they might fit this holiday section's "high-tech" theme, e-books have yet to declare themselves as anything more than a curiosity. But stay tuned — some day good things might come but, until then, Gutenberg rules.

· So(u)lace: Bliss: Writing to Find Your True Self, by Katherine Ramsland. By exploring on paper who you are and what you're seeking, you can more fully engage with your life to achieve emotional, spiritual and psychological balance; a perfect antidote for the Madison Avenue capitalist version of holiday cheer.

If none of the above strikes your fancy, there are 100,000 other well-deserving titles out there that celebrate life and love and soul. Browse the shelves, ask a bookseller or, once inside your favorite bookstore, close your eyes, spin around twice and then follow your finger.

No poaching from the library allowed. This is the season of hope. ©

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