Day 11: Christmas stories, a gift guide

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s no better gift than a good story, so with that in mind we offer a few bookish ideas for the people on your holiday shopping list.

Before Turner Broadcasting turned “A Christmas Story” into a Christmas Eve movie tradition, humorist Jean Shepherd told the charming tale in his memoir In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. In this funny, nostalgic book Shepherd spins tales from his post-war childhood in Hammond, Ind., with the same dry wit that marks Ralphie’s quest for that Red Ryder BB gun. (Don’t miss Shepherd’s soliloquy on driving to the Indianapolis 500 every year with his father and neighbors.)

For kids, Ellen recommends Harvey Slumfenberger’s Christmas Present, by John Burningham: Santa returns home after delivering presents on Christmas Eve to realize he forgot Harvey, whose present still sits at the bottom of his sack. Harvey lives at the top of Roly Poly Mountain which is far, far away, so Santa and his reindeer set out on an epic journey to deliver Harvey’s present before he wakes up on Christmas morning.

Cathi’s favorite read this year was Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, a novel which gives voice to a socially awkward woman while revealing the past that made her and the present that remakes her. Up next is You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, National Book Award winner Sherman Alexie’s memoir about his complicated relationship with his mother, and how his family shaped the man he became. Also on her list: Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art, Sam Watson’s chronicle of the rise of improv comedy, its Chicago beginnings and how it spread into an influential art form with reach into all areas of art and society.

For those interested in visual storytelling, we suggest two gorgeous books: Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza, masterfully captures the heart and soul of an American president and presidency; and Annie Liebovitz: Portraits 20015-2016. Leibovitz’s portraits are beautifully lit and staged, and while this is her latest release any of her books provide ample photography inspiration.

Finally, if photography is your New Year’s resolution, Read This if You Want to Take Great Photographs by Henry Carroll teaches the basics through plain talk and examples from some of the medium’s best.

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