Cuddle up in a nook, not with one
Gift ideas for the bookworm: Nothing beats a real page turner
Nothing beats a book, a blanket, and steaming hot drink on a cold winter’s day. Houston may not be Minneapolis, but as the Gulf Coast weather swings from balmy to blustery this December, add a few books to your holiday gift-buying list. Here are some recommendations for the Houston bibliophiles in your life.
I’ve always loved the spare opulence of Art Deco, and Houston’s own Bright Sky Press has the perfect choice for the architecture aficionado in your life. Jim Parsons and David Bush’s Houston Deco: Modernistic Architecture of the Texas Coast (Bright Sky Press, $24.95) promises an elegant tour of the best Deco around, from the beautiful 1929 Gulf Building (now the JPMorgan Chase Building) downtown to the iconic Alabama Theater on Shepherd.
For me, the gorgeous lights of the Alabama Theater are better than the most impressive holiday lights. If you’re wondering just what the cinema landscape of Houston looked like before the advent of the megaplex, check out David Welling’s award-winning Cinema Houston: From Nickelodeon to Megaplex (University of Texas Press, $45.00). While we’re at it, maybe we could encourage the city of Houston to make a collective New Year’s resolution and preserve both the Alabama Theater and the River Oaks Theatre.
While you’re at the University of Texas Press site, check out Stephen Verderber’s love-song to Houston’s sister city. Delirious New Orleans: Manifesto for an Extraordinary American City($45.00) promises an appreciative photo-tour of high and low, pre and post-Katrina New Orleans. If you order from the UT Press website, you’ll get one-third off the price.
David Theis aims to prove that Houston is indeed a place for book lovers in Literary Houston (Texas Christian University Press, $32.95). This handsome volume gathers a wonderful selection of accounts of Houston from Walter Cronkite and Frederick Olmsted to Simone de Beauvoir. For those familiar with the University of Houston’s impressive program in Creative Writing, you’ll recognize contributions by Edward Hirsch, Mark Doty, Donald Barthelme, Antonya Nelson, and Tony Hoagland. And who would complain about rounding out a read with Larry McMurtry?
While you can also find Literary Dallas, Literary Austin, and Literary El Paso, the best of this book idea has been realized in Art at Our Doorstep: San Antonio Writers and Artists (Trinity University Press, $29.95), a beautiful blending of visual and literary arts edited by Nan Cuba and Riley Robinson.
If you’ve always wanted to learn more about the guiding impulses behind the scene at the Menil Collection, pick up a copy of Art and Activism: Projects of John and Dominique de Menil (The Menil Collection, $65.00), which considers the theory and practice behind those most distinctive of Houston visual arts venues. This book may seem a little hefty for a stocking stuffer, but you’ll find it well worth the cost for vintage photos, unpublished correspondence, and wonderful texts about the founding of the Rothko Chapel, the Menil Collection, the Cy Twombly Gallery, the Dan Flavin Installation, and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum.
If you have family visiting or if you’ve managed to lure your friends into moving to Houston, you have The Insider’s Guide to Houston (Globe Pequot Press, $18.95) waiting for them under the tree. It’s hard to beat the up-to-date maps and recommendations for eating, staying, and seeing the sights.
Thinking local about Houston books also means shopping locally. For the last 36 years, Brazos Bookstore has weathered the storm of national chains and online purchasing to provide the best in Bayou City independent book-buying. Stop by to pick up the store's own holiday book list and to browse some favorite selections from Inprint’s phenomenal slate of authors. Brazos Bookstore’s No. 1 pick, Texas Artists Today ($95), is also a CultureMap favorite.
As you curl up with some good reads this winter, remember: a book and a cup of hot cocoa will still keep you warmer than a Kindle or a Nook.