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The 12 books of Christmas

Retail stores are decking the halls, restaurants are booking parties, and neighbours are balanced precariously on ladders, adorning their homes with strings of lights.

Retail stores are decking the halls, restaurants are booking parties, and neighbours are balanced precariously on ladders, adorning their homes with strings of lights. With the holiday season right around the corner, it’s time for savvy shoppers to start compiling that all-important shopping list, and instead of resorting to the boring old scarf or gift certificate for your hard-to-buy-for brother or dad, why not offer up a literary gift: a book. We’ve compiled a list of 12 good reads for 12 different people on your shopping list, making two suggestions each week: husbands, wives, crazy uncles and aunts, teenage boys and girls, tiny tots, the boss, your American (pro-Obama) friend, the foodie, the family nature nut and local political junkie. Happy reading!


For the local nature-lover: A Mountain Year, By Chris Czajkowski

Being immersed in the beautiful natural surroundings of Whistler can definitely make people a bit numb to the wonders of the great outdoors. But others still stare in wide-eyed amazement at the stunning backdrop of the mountains and lakes, and at the creatures that inhabit them. And for that appreciative person on your shopping list, check out A Mountain Year. It’s the nature diary of Chris Czajkowski, an author and artist who has called the Coast Range home for almost 20 years.

Czajkowski has authored a number of books on B.C.’s wilderness and her own experience building cabins, including bestselling titles like, Snowshoes and Spotted Dick: Letters from a Wilderness Dweller, and Cabin at Singing River. This latest book, however, is a stunning personal illustrated journal from one year of her life spent in the Central Coast Mountains, which are home to the largest grizzly and bald eagle populations in the world.

The 176-page hardcover book is “chock-full” of daily insights and observations about Czajkowski’s own experiences and interactions with the natural world in Nuk Tessli, starting in winter, and stretching out until late fall the following year. She has meticulously recorded everything, from the temperature and weather conditions of each day to cheerful notes and reflective observations of what she did that day. Despite the high level of detail, the journal isn’t tedious — rather, it creates an appreciation for the life of isolation and solitude the author lives, as her love for the natural world shines through in the writing.

And, as a side note, Czajkowski will be at the Whistler Public Library on Thursday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m., so it’s even possible to snag an autographed copy and chat with the author.


For the foodie: The Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary Edition, By Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker

While there are ladles, whisks and kitchen gadgets galore that would be great for any food lover’s stocking, what better gift to give than one of education? Speaking as an amateur cook (I love to experiment with new recipes), cookbooks are a favourite little splurge of mine, so finding one under the Christmas tree is always an exciting moment. Last year, I made an investment in what many consider to be the counter-top bible: the 75 th anniversary edition of Irma Rombauer’s The Joy of Cooking. It was money well spent.

The impressive 1,200-plus page book is the eighth edition and seventh revision of the original, and contains almost 4,500 recipes — 4,000 updated, tried and true classics, along with 500 new additions.

Seriously, it has everything food-related within its pages — how to roast a suckling pig, gut a fish, and make a pink daiquiri, of course. Those are just a few of the more extreme examples, but you get the picture. And while most people probably won’t ever find themselves in a situation where they need to know how to properly skin a rabbit, with the economy quickly tanking, these could all be valuable skills.

For the basic educational content alone — clear diagrams, charts and descriptions — it’s an invaluable resource for any kitchen. There are even instructions on how to properly set a table, basic etiquette for a variety of culinary and social settings, and an overview of wines.

The contents are clearly broken down into sections on everything from nutrition, entertaining and menu ideas, to general categories of beverages, cocktails, appetizers, soups, salads and much more.

And the recipes, by and large, are simple and easy to follow, with step-by-step instructions. So the book is a great gift for someone who is just starting out in the kitchen and is still a bit intimidated, or a resource for the most experienced cook. As an aside, it comes with a handy built-in bookmark so you can mark that particularly tantalizing page.

And as an added bonus, the recipient of this lovely cookbook may even decide to test a recipe out on you.