Holiday Gift Books, Part II

By Manolo the Shoeblogger

Manolo says, the Manolo he continues his suggestions for the books suitable for the holiday giving, here are the few more, given in no particular order.

The Indispensible Collection

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Who does not love the charming adventures of the little boy Calvin and his friend the tiger Hobbes? This theoretical person, who does not love the Calvin and the Hobbes, the Manolo he does not wish to know. Such is the regard the Manolo holds for the oeuvre of the genius Bill Watterson.

What The Modern Italian Brides Get on The Day of Their Weddings

The Silver Spoon
The Silver Spoon

It is well known the Manolo he is something of the gourmand and the scholar of the culinary arts, indeed he has the most sizeable collection of the books of cookery and culinary history on the shelves in his humble kitchen. This book, which has been the standard item in the Italian homes for the past fifty years, it is one that the Manolo cooks from frequently, usually with much satisfaction and success. It also has the virtue of being the handsome volume, something designed by the collective of prominent Italian modernists, and thus suitable for giving as the gift.

The Horror, The Horror

Interior Desecrations by James Lileks
Interior Desecrations by James Lileks

The Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks
The Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks

The James Lileks he makes the Manolo laugh out loud. He is the master miner of the detritus of the American near past, bringing up for our disapproval the loathsome foods and the ridiculous trends in the home decorating, and in the process, turning these prosaic things into the comedy gold.

The latest book, which the Manolo has not yet read, it is entitled Mommy Knows Worst : Highlights from the Golden Age of Bad Parenting Advice. This it is not the topic that especially appeals to the Manolo, however, the Manolo he will undoubtedly read this book simply because the James Lileks he is that funny.

For the Smartie Friends Who Like to Think and Laugh

The Rebel Angels What's Bred in the Bone The Lyre of Opheus
The Cornish Trilogy by Robertson Davies

The Robertson Davies he is the long time favorite of the Manolo, and this week the Manolo is joyously racing (re-racing) through the Robertson Davies’ The Cornish Trilogy.

The three novels that comprise this masterwork they all consider, each from the slightly different angle, the important matter of art, and how it entertwines with the life and the love and all of the important things.

For the Manolo what makes them so delightful, it is that the Davies he is indeed most erudite, and his novels they are filled with the high-minded things, but at the same of the time he is not above telling the low joke, not above the common japery. And so, despite the profundity of the topics, these they are the books of great humor, and would be perfect for your smartie friends who read and like to laugh.

P.S. The Manolo he had intended to give you his recommendations for the new fiction, but then he realized that there was not much of the new fiction that he liked.

Sadly the recent trend in the literary fiction it has been inexorably inward looking, resulting in mounds of unreadable books that are about nothing but the solipsism of the authors who produce them. Bleech. This it is not for the Manolo, which it is why he is rereading the Robertson Davies this week.


26 Responses to “Holiday Gift Books, Part II”

  1. starlady Says:

    The Manolo is proved once again to be the man of my dreams! As if all his other gifts were not enough,
    he reads Robertson Davies!

  2. SpaniardintheWorks Says:

    The Manolo, he might be interested perhaps in Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, which is a modern take on E.M. Forster’s Return to Howard’s End and deals, as implied by the title, with the nature of beauty among other things. Ian McEwan’s Saturday is also good.

  3. scieppan Says:

    The Manolo does indeed have superfantastic taste! Calvin & Hobbes *and* James Lileks? You make a girl swoon.

  4. Miachelle Says:

    I just finished “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd. Great book, fast read.

    My mother doesn’t have a computer, and couldn’t get a hold of the Calvin collection. So, I ordered it from Amazon for her, at a great price reduction (retail $150, Amazon $94.50), and had to rewrap the box and mail it to her for my dad for Christmas. That box was 25 pounds! Well, my dad should be quite ecstatic!

  5. Talmida Says:

    Ahhh….Robertson Davies, didn’t the London Times once refer to him as the Canadian author so good that he shouldn’t be called Canadian?


    I personally preferred Fifth Business.

    Happy reading, Manolo, from up here in the snow.

  6. Tania Says:

    Robertson Davies! The Manolo is always recommending things that I am shocked I haven’t heard of before. Mucho kisses to the Manolo for this wonderful service.

    I too am exhausted with all the novels that gaze on navels. The point of a story is that things happen that fill your head with ideas. The navel has already been mined of its ideas, many of which have turned out to be lint.

    So ends the metaphor.

  7. Bria Says:

    Manolo, you are truly a gentleman and a scholar.

  8. pickles Says:

    Just when I think Manolo couldn’t get any cooler, he puts *CALVIN AND HOBBES* at the top of his list.

  9. Annalucia Says:

    Ayyy! The Manolo is a reader of the Robertson Davies! the Annalucia she must lie down and rest, her heart is racing so.

    If the London Times said that Davies is “so good that he shouldn’t be called Canadian,” then the London Times it is written by idiots. Davies cannot be anything but Canadian – the sensibility, the outlook on life, even the humor (though perhaps the Davies would attribute his humor to his Welsh ancestry on the side of the father.) And one learns so much from them without the feeling of being lectured. One of the delights of “The Lyre of Orpheus” is in the descriptions of the day-to-day work of staging a new opera: rehearsing the orchestra, the costume fittings, the banter between the singers, the manufacture of stage props and scenery, all of it intricate and none of it dull. Davies was an actor in his youth and his love of the stage, it is palpable.

    The Annalucia will stop now, otherwise she will quote twenty more examples of Davies’ writing and blow out the Manolo’s bandwidth. But yes, she recommends the novels of the Davies with great enthusiasm.

  10. desertwind Says:

    I’m so excited! Truly people — TAKE THE MANOLO’S GOOD ADVICE AND RUN — do not walk — TO ROBERTSON DAVIES.

    The Manolo and the Annalucia and others have explained the joy so well. What a happy day when I discovered “The Deptford Trilogy” at a used bookstore and then the (OT-one of the few curses of living in remote desert is the dearth of bookstores…) Why aren’t we introduced to this guy in school?

    It is with great optimism — but little hope — that the desertwind yearns for undiscovered Robertson Davies manuscripts. She’s read each book so many times, but no matter; she’ll read them again. She pushes them on all her friends and family. She is the happiest of fanatics.

    His earlier “The Leaven of Malice” is my personal favorite.

  11. Zsa Says:

    I agree with desertwind! Run out and get the Robertson Davies! Fifth Business (like Talmida) is my favourite, but also my first. (I had the luck of going to a Canadian high School where we studied the book in 9th grade.)

  12. pbird Says:

    Ah, Manolo. Your taste is invincible.

  13. Gina Says:

    Manolo, truly I consider you a kindred spirit now (if I did not already before).

    Robertson Davies’ Cornish Trilogy is also favorite of mine. (May I also recommend to readers his last two novels, “Murther & Walking Spirits” and “The Cunning Man”?) And I also feel like kindred spirits to your other readers who are Davies appreciators.

    Other evidence: Calvin & Hobbes and also appreciation for James Lileks (he had a radio show several years ago that I enjoyed very much – “The Diner”)

  14. Annalucia Says:

    Ah yes, “Murther and Walking Spirits.” the Annalucia, she was disappointed in the ending – it seemed to her hurried, and rather flat – but most of the book is very good, and there is one scene (wherein the lovely and ambitious Esme announces to her dinner companion that she is with child) which will leave the reader not only helpless with laughter but wide-eyed with delight at the merciless skewering of a shallow and spiteful little man.

    And for the evocation of sheer cold terror there is nothing like the scene in “The Rebel Angels” in which Professor Hollier attempts to buy a curse from a Gypsy woman who the mother of one of his students. Fear not: there is no blood and gore, there is only conversation. But when Madame Laoutaro says, “You have reached `What?’ without me,” it is enough to stop the heart.

    (The readers of “the Rebel Angels,” they will recognize this passage. Those who have not yet read the book, do so as soon as you may, and you will not be disappointed.)

  15. JayKay Says:

    YAY!! Calvin and Hobbes! YAY!!

  16. Amy Says:

    Hmmmm…Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea both come to mind as excellent contemporary literary fiction that involves refreshingly little navel-gazing…I think these might be the two best books I’ve read this year.

  17. Heather Says:

    I bend a knee to the Manolo, yet again, for the recommendation of the genius of Canadian literature, Robertson Davies. As an expat Canuck, it is such a treat to know others read him too. I do love the Cornish trilogy, but agree with Gina about his final two books, “The Cunning Man” and “Murther and Walking Spirits”. As well, his “High Spirits” is a great quick read for the nights around the fire and popping of the corn…

  18. wichitagirl Says:

    One of my favorite bloggers (Manolo) discovers another (James Lileks)!

    I laughed myself sick over Interior Desecrations. The images are hysterically funny by themselves; his captions put me over the edge.

    I will have to check out this other guy everyone is raving about.

  19. desertwind Says:

    Recently, one of the Manolo’s commenters posted that there was a new interview with the Miuccia (sp?) in the Sunday Times of London. I couldn’t find it, but instead read there an interview with Frank McCourt who’s got a new memoir, “Teacher Man” out. And so, the question of what to get my bruddah the teacher was solved!

    Received it today. It’s not “Angela’s Ashes”, but a lovely read nonetheless.

    Teacher Man

  20. Jessica Says:

    I am ashamed, now, to admit that all I know of Robertson Davies is his mention in the Moxy Fruvous song “My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors.” (A song which I suspect the Manolo would enjoy.)

    I am curious which novels arise the ire of the Manolo for their solipsism.

  21. Moe Lane Says:

    If the Manolo is having the problems with the badness of the books, the Manolo he should be perusing the works of the Guy Gavriel Kay and the Louis de Bernieres.

  22. tinka Says:

    Many thanks to the Manolo and the readers for their enthusiastic suggestions. I can’t wait to try many of these books!

    A usage quibble for the Manolo: The whole comprises its parts; the parts do not comprise the whole. So the masterwork of Robertson Davies comprises the three novels.

    Or so the tinka, who is neither the writer nor the grammarian and is often confused, thinks. But the cultivated Manolo, he might wish to check. But the wit,
    it is really what matters!

  23. polly Says:

    Oh, so excited to see my two blog crushes together…Lileks and the Manolo!

  24. gidget bananas Says:

    Truly, the readers of the Manolo have the best of taste! The Robertson Davies! the Lileks! the Guy Gavriel Kay! The Gidget has read only the Deptford Trilogy, but feels compelled now to read every other book written by the Davies!

  25. dimestore lipstick Says:

    “Mommy Knows Worst”, the latest Lileks, is a bit thin, but every bit as hilarious and enjoyable as “The Gallery of Regrettable Food and “Interior Desecrations”.

  26. FS Says:

    Oh Oh Oh…..Lileks!!!! Oh, how wonderful….my second most favorite site – after this, of course! Another, with the same hilarious retro feel to it is … …. with – of all things – Weight Watchers recipe cards from the 60’s and 70’s. Thanks heavens for the South Beach diet!

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