The Gift of Reading

by Katie O'Sullivan

Looking for the perfect holiday gift? Step into one of Cape Cod's local bookstores and you'll find tons of wonderful choices for everyone on your list – including your son's teacher, your toddler niece and that hard to buy for teen.

Books can be tailored to individual interests, and the staff of the local shops are happy to help you find something new and unique, from brilliantly illustrated coffee table books to the latest in humorous how-to's.

The abundance of independent bookstores on Cape Cod makes it easy to "buy local" and support our communities and neighbors. Booksellers agree that gift certificates from a favorite bookstore are always an appreciated gift for teachers, as they're then free to choose something for their own reading interests or for the classroom.

Caitlyn Doggart, co-owner of Where The Sidewalk Ends Bookstore (WTSE) in Chatham, also suggests giving your favorite teacher the game Bananagrams.

"Bananagrams is this amazing Scrabble-like letter game that comes in a Banana-shaped package," writes Caitlin. "Personally, my Spanish-teacher husband uses the Spanish version in his classes, but we have a family set, too. They're a lot of fun in and out of the classroom."

We've gathered a few more recommendations of new and unique books and gift suggestions to help you get started with your holiday shopping.

For the Future Scientist, Mariner or Surfer in your life:

The Wave book cover

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey.

Casey is the editor-in-chief of O: The Oprah Magazine and the author of The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks (another good gift idea, in light of the recent great white hoopla off Chatham's coast!)

Casey's latest book examines big waves from every angle. She traces the history and recent scientific confirmation of physics-defying ocean waves at heights previously thought impossible.

Casey describes both the efforts of the scientific community to understand the phenomenon and the pursuits of extreme surfers like Laird Hamilton of Hawaii to ride these dangerously large waves.

For the Writer in your life:


Inklings from Cape Cod, by Stephanie Boosahda

Inklings from Cape Cod is an eclectic mix of traditional and non-traditional writing lessons and the student pieces that they inspired. This collection of exercises and stories has something for readers of all ages, writers of all levels, and teachers of all venues.

The writing pieces featured in Inklings are authored by students in 6th through 11th grade. Unlike the Chicken Soup series, this text is unique with motivating mini writing lessons accompanied by the creative student responses.

Thirty-six enthusiastic Cape Cod summer writing workshop students inspired multi-award winning teacher Stephanie Boosahda to create this anthology.

"I would recommend this volume of prose and poetry to students and teachers alike," writes Kathleen Lenox, a school librarian from Orleans. "Students will find value in the writing exercises and the published works of fellow student writers.

Teachers will find the writing techniques invaluable and the writing a model for their own students. What a joy to read fresh voices!"

For a little humor in your holidays:

Garden Gnome Attack book cover

by Chuck Sambuchino

This is a tongue-firmly-in-cheek book detailing home defense against deadly gnomes. Yes, the red-hatted, white-bearded garden variety.

Filled with faux serious advice and wonderful action photographs by Andrew Parsons, the book begins with the line: "Keep reading if you want to live."

The slim 112-page hardcover gives the reader "vital" information on assessing risk, gnome-proofing homes and gardens, and instructions for hand-to-hand combat, including a section entitled "Ten Tips that Could Save Your Life."

It's a fast, funny romp of a read that's guaranteed to make a reader smile if not laugh out loud.

While seed catalogs are usually all a gardener wants to read during the long winter months, this little "How To" guide makes a wonderful counterpoint to the more serious business of farming and gardening. Because, really, what good is picking out the right seeds from Johnny's Selected Seeds or the right tools from Gardener's Supply if in the end the gnomes take over your garden?

For a Coffee Table Instant Classic:

A favorite gift idea from the staff at WTSE is the 1858 Map of Cape Cod, edited by Adam Gamble and illustrated by Henry Walling.

1858 Map of Cape Cod book cover

1858 Map of Cape Cod

Walling was a 19th century map maker, and this coffee-table style book is based on his five-foot by five-foot "1858 Map of the Counties of Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket Counties."

The book showcases each county, town, village, and the major bodies of water that surround and connect them, including each home and business, road by road, with the names of 19th century property owners and important geographic features. These maps were originally produced at a time when industry was going strong on Cape Cod, and whaling and salt-making were still a way of life.

The book also includes commentary from some of the region's most insightful writers and scholars. Readers are able to view and understand 19th-century Cape Cod and the Islands in a new and detailed way. This book will fascinate both history buffs and anyone who just loves the Cape.

Something New for Young Readers:

The Present book cover

The Present by Bob Gill

Just published at the end of September, The Present by Bob Gill promises to become an instant classic about the act of gift giving. Already recommended by Caitlyn at WTSE bookstore, the illustrated hardcover from Chronicle Books is for readers aged 4-8.

The publisher's website describes it as "a simple and timeless tale of spontaneous generosity, told with understated humor, a great warmth and a brilliantly direct graphic style which go to the very heart of the human experience."

For slightly older readers, don't forget that the latest installment of the Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid series is coming out this winter!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid book cover

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, by Jeff Kinney

His fifth book of the series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, is due on shelves at the beginning of November (just in the nick of time for the holidays.) The 2010 movie based on the series is also now available on DVD and Blu-ray, and makes a great addition to a Wimpy Kid gift pack.

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Independent Bookstores

Katie O'Sullivan

Katie O'Sullivan is the Editor of this magazine.

She lives in West Harwich with her husband, children and dogs. Her second book, Perfect Strangers, was just released by Moongypsy Press. When she's not writing, editing, or playing "Mom's Taxi," you can find her curled up with a good book or blogging about the antics of her new Puppy.

Visit Katie's website, check out her blog, and friend her on Facebook.

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