Hark! Here is a gift guide for the holidays. Some books are for grown-ups, some for children. At the end of the post, I've linked each title to Powell's. I have no affiliation with the store, but have ordered from it successfully in the past.
For the writer who doesn't mind a fist fight or two (or twenty):
Townie, author Andre Dubus III's memoir of his surprisingly hardscrabble upbringing—one of the best books about writing that I've read in ages.
For the subversive fifth grader in your life:
Spy vs. Spy Omnibus, vintage Mad Magazine cartoon comedy.*
For the friend who wants to cook more often and better:
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. The subtitle says it all: "How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices Into Fearless Home Cooks."
For the student artist:
Drawing from Memory, Allen Say's fascinating picture-book memoir of an apprenticeship to a famous Japanese cartoonist.
For the grown-up fan of Doctor De Soto:
Cats, Dogs, Men, Women, Ninnies and Clowns: The Lost Art of William Steig, a collection of previously unpublished work by the New Yorker cartoonist and children's book author.
For the parade lover:
Balloons Over Broadway, a captivating picture book about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and the puppeteer who started it all. Readers of all ages will want to look at it again and again to see the details of the art.
*Note: The hardcover Spy vs. Spy Omnibus is the only one on this list that I haven't read. I am going by my son's love for the library copy of an earlier paperback collection, Spy vs. Spy: The Complete Casebook (2001).
Dubus, Andre III. Townie: A Memoir (W.W. Norton, 2011).
Flinn, Kathleen. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices Into Fearless Home Cooks (Viking, 2011).
Frederick, Heather Vogel. C.F. Payne, illustrator. Hide-and-squeak (Simon & Schuster, 2011).
Prohias, Antonio. Spy vs. Spy Omnibus (MAD Books, 2011).
Say, Allen. Drawing from Memory (Scholastic, 2011).
Schanzer, Rosalyn. Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem (National Geographic, 2011).
Steig, Jeanne. William Steig, illustrator. Cats, Dogs, Men, Women, Ninnies and Clowns: The Lost Art of William Steig (Abrams ComicArts, 2011).
Sweet, Melissa. Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade (Houghton Mifflin, 2011).
Woodson, Jacqueline. Sophie Blackall, illustrator. Pecan Pie Baby (Putnam, late 2010).