Part III of our annual list of holiday gift suggestions from distinguished readers and writers. Today: R.R. Reno, Andrew Roberts, Roger Scruton, Brad Thor, R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., and David Weigel.
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I AM SO BEHIND with my reading that I have still not read the complete Dante, let alone the works of Shakespeare. Rarely, therefore, do I take time off from the unending task of catching up with the classics in order to read the things that are being talked about.
However, in recent years, I have come across some remarkable books that don’t have the recommendation that they have stood the test of time. Here are the books that I would certainly give for Christmas, if I approved of Christmas and were not incurably curmudgeonly: J. Kennedy Toole’s wonderful comic novel A Confederacy of Dunces, describing a New Orleans that is now, alas, gone forever; Alex Ross’s story of modern music, The Rest Is Noise; and—recently reread for the fifth time, and ever fresh and surprising—Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo, the last word about South America.
Roger Scruton’s latest book is How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism (Oxford University Press).
WHILE I’M VERY PUBLIC about my patriotism, I’m normally pretty private about my personal life. Nevertheless, when The American Spectator asked me to put together a great Christmas reads list, I decided to share something I have not made public before.
As you might expect, I love a roaring fire and a terrific thriller, or a rainy day and an in-depth work of articulate nonfiction, but there’s another genre of book that I enjoy just as much and can often be found spending hours poring over. I love powerful, evocative images that depict the greatness of America. Yes, I’m talking about coffee table books.
Not only do I own all of the books listed below and have them proudly displayed in my own home and office, but I also give them often as gifts. Trust me when I tell you that you can’t go wrong with giving any of these this Christmas, or at any time during the year.
• Ronald Reagan and the American Ideal by Steve Penley. I own two books by American artist and patriot Steve Penley, and I highly recommend them both. The first is Penley’s art focusing on Ronald Reagan. This is a very special and unique gift for every Ronald Reagan fan in your life.
• The Reconstruction of America by Steve Penley. The second Penley book I own, it chronicles the story of America, how it came to be, and how we hold it together, through the author’s amazing and incredibly innovative artwork.
• America 24/7. Not only is this book a wonderful photographical history of America that I never tire of looking through, I received it as a gift from my agent, who customized it with a photo of my daughter as she crawled for the very first time in the living room of my agent’s apartment. This is not only an incredibly thoughtful gift, it is the perfect coffee table book that will add the ultimate personal touch to anyone’s home or office.
• American Writers at Home by J.D. McClatchy and Erica Lennard. Obviously, this book speaks to me and has personal significance in my life as a writer. But even for the non-writer on your list, this fascinating view inside the homes of literary giants such as Ernest Hemingway, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, and Herman Melville (among many others) will be treasured for years to come. I feel I have developed a deeper understanding of all of these authors by getting a peek at the surroundings in which they carried out their everyday lives.
• The Great American House by Gil Schafer. As a deep admirer of the Founders, I have always wanted to create a little bit of their era in my own. One of those ways is through architecture, and I love books that attempt to capture the essence of the true American home. To that end, this book is one of my favorite recent additions to my collection.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?