The winter holidays are full of celebrations, parties, get-togethers, and feasts with our friends and families. But it’s also a time to curl up in front of a fire with your favorite book or read a holiday favorite to your children all snuggled up in their beds. For so many reasons, this season makes us think of books: books we’d like to give to those on our gift lists, books we’d like to read, and, of course, books we fondly remember this time of year. “Today” asked authors who recently have been on the show to share their favorite holiday books. We’ll be adding authors’ favorite books throughout the holiday season, so keep checking in.
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Ken Jennings, author of “Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs.” Villard, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group.
Book I’d like to give: “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.” Haruki Murakami is possibly the best novelist in the world right now, but his short stories — odd, elliptical, unsettling — are even better.
Book I’d like to receive: “The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker.” The accompanying CD-ROM has almost 70,000 cartoons on it! (In fairly low resolution, sadly, but still.)
Book I’m reading this holiday season:Halfway through two: “Rough Stone Rolling,” Richard L. Bushman’s wonderfully even-handed Joseph Smith biography, and “The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana,” Umberto Eco’s novel about a man with amnesia reconstructing his life via the pulp lit of his childhood.
Book that brings back fond memories of this season: I guess my favorite Christmas story is “The Dead” by James Joyce, so I gotta go “The Dubliners” here.
Watch Ken Jennings’ interview on “Today” and read an excerpt.
Sharon Osbourne, author of “Sharon Osbourne Extreme” Springboard Press, an imprint of Warner Books.
Book I’d like to give: Anything by Noel Coward.
Book I’d like to receive: The new Danielle Steel book: “H.R.H.”
Book I’d like to read this holiday season: I would love to re-read all of Jane Austen’s books, like “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility.”
Book that brings back fond memories of this season: Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Watch Sharon Osbourne’s interview on “Today” and read on excerpt .
Kevin Clash (voice of Elmo), author of “My Life as a Furry Red Monster” Broadway Books
Book I’d like to receive: “The Copper Sun” by Sharon Draper. I think Sharon is a brilliant writer and what I have heard about the book is just riveting.
Book I’d like to give: Any cookbook is a great gift to give. My two favorites at the moment are, “Turn Up the Heat with G. Garvin” and Emeril’s new kids cookbook, “There’s a Chef in My World.” I think cooking is a wonderful and fun thing to do with your family and kids. It is also very therapeutic.
Book I’d like to read this holiday season: “Sesame Street Dad: Evolution of an Actor” by Roscoe Orman. Roscoe is a very good friend of mine but also, during the Sesame Street, we never really know the trials and tribulations our colleagues go through during their career and life. He is also a brilliant actor and I would love to learn some antidotes that I know he shares in the book.
Book that brings back fond memories of this season: “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore. My mom used to read us this book and it was always a story that would get us into the spirit of Christmas.
Watch Kevin Clash’s interview on “Today.”
Maurice Sendak, author of “Mommy” Scholastic
Book I’d like to read this holiday season: “The Aspern Papers” by Henry James. James at his best; an utterly breathtaking novel. Deals with personal greed, and fraudulent love with a subtlety only James could master.”
Watch Maurice Sendak’s interview on “Today.”
Joanna Schlip, author of “Glamour Gurlz,” Random House
Book I’d like to give: “The Four Agreements” was given to me by a friend just before I boarded a plane from LA to San Francisco. I read it from cover to cover before we landed. The sound and simple elegance of this book are sources of great aspiration and enlightenment. It’s just a little reminder for me that the most important agreements are the ones we make with ourselves. And to be reminded of that is a gift in and of itself.
Book I’d like to receive: “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen. I have heard so much about this book. How it looks at a whole culture — our culture stretching from Midwest in the mid-century to Wall Street of today — in a funny and powerful way. It sounds right up my alley.
Book I’d like to read this holiday season: “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle. This book is a light-hearted autobiography as well as a travel guide and cultural study of the south of France. I am going to re-read this book and recount my years of living aboard in a humorous and affectionate way that will motivate me to plan my August 2007 summer vacation!
Book that brings back fond memories: “Eloise at the Plaza” by Kay Thompson. This story is hilarious. Eloise is a fun-loving whimsical role model with a fantastic sense of adventure. I bought this book to read with my nieces and I loved it just as much as they did! It has now become our tradition to read it together during the holidays.
Watch Joanna Schlip’s interview on “Today.”
Adriana Trigiani, author of “Home to Big Stone Gap,”Random House
Books I’d like to give: “Act One” by Moss Hart and Elizabeth Berg’s “The Handmaid and the Carpenter.” I also like to give cookbooks, such as “The Silver Spoon” (Italian edition) as well as anything else that strikes my fancy when I’m standing in the bookstore. That could be “Mama Dips Kitchen” and anything by Scott Peacock, Julia Child, Mario Batali, and Nigella Lawson.
Books I’d like to receive: Out of print early editions of “Fifteen” by Beverly Cleary; a hardcover first edition of “Charlie” by Ben Hecht; coffee table books about home decorating, old Hollywood, castles in Europe, Italian villas, fabrics, and cookbooks of all types
Books I’d like to read this holiday season: “Miss Garnet’s Angel” by Sally Vickars; “I Capture the Castel” by Dodie Smith; “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte, and Mary Poppins (the series) by P.J. Travers.
Books that brings back fond memories: “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein; “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “The Night Before Christmas” (illustrated first edition from which my Dad used to read to us.) I love the holiday season — it’s a perfect time for reading!
Watch Adriana Trigiani’s interview on “Today” and read an excerpt.
Bill O’Reilly, author of “Culture Warrior,” Broadway Books
Book I’d like to give: “Scandal: How Gotcha Politics is Destroying America” by Lanny Davis. It’s an excellent exposition about how hard it is for folks to get the truth.
Book I’d like to receive: First edition of “Casino Royale” by Ian Fleming. It’s an excellent thriller, and it’d be a valuable addition to my library.
Book I’d like to read this holiday season: “The Black Dahlia” by James Ellroy. He’s flat out the best crime writer alive.
Book that brings back fond memories: “You’re a Good Man, Charley Brown” by Charles Schultz.
Watch Bill O’Reilly's interview on “Today.”
Nigella Lawson, author of “Feast: Food to Celebrate Life,” Hyperion
Book I’d like to give: “My Latest Grievance” by Elinor Lipman. It is very rare you get to read a book that holds you enchanted on every page, but Lipman’s latest casts just that spell. She uses a deceptively easy, breezy light tone of voice, and the real joy lies in the savage obsessiveness and caustic wit that lie beneath the ingenue’s narrative path. I have been grateful for all Elinor Lipman’s writing, but this is a particular treat, and I have already given six copies away — before even the holidays have begun properly!
Book I’d like to read this holiday season: “Everyman” by Philip Roth. It’s hard not to fall a little too greedily upon a new Philip Roth, as he gets older each book threatens to be his last. And it is this, the dying of the light, that continues to be his theme. The point is, though, he attacks it with such ironically undimmed vigor and energy: there is something brutal and merciless and utterly, heartstoppingly captivating about his later style. His narrator/alter ego may despise the work of age, but reading his latest book, one wishes a record-breaking, long life upon the author.
Try some of Nigella Lawson’s holiday recipes from “Feast.”
Lynne Cheney, author of “Our 50 States,” Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Book I’d like to give: A book I’m giving as a gift this year is Nathaniel Philbrick’s “Mayflower.” In this scholarly and dramatic retelling of one of our national stories, Philbrick makes clear how hard and heroic the journey to the New World was and how bitter and deadly the fight between the new arrivals and those who were already here.
Watch Lynne Cheney’s interview on “Today”; read an interview with Robin Preiss Glasser , illustrator of “Our 50 States.”
Amy Sedaris, author of“I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence”: Warner Books
Book I’d like to give: “What is the What” by Dave Eggers.
Book I’d like to receive: “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook.”
Book I’d like to read this holiday season: “The Fever” by Wallace Shawn.
Book that brings back fond memories: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.
Watch Amy Sedaris’s interview on “Today” and try some of her recipes.
Lemony Snicket, author of “The End,”HarperCollins
Book I’d like to give: Dino Buzzati’s “The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily.” It’s my favorite book, which everyone should read.
Book I’d like to receive: The complete “Natural History” by Pliny. I can’t find one myself.
Book I’d like to read this holiday season: Homer’s “The Odyssey.” I want to read this in preparation for my next journey.
Book that brings back fond memories: “Auntie Mame” by Patrick Dennis. I don’t believe in Santa Claus, but I do believe in Mame Dennis.
Watch the interview of Lemony Snicket’s official representative, Daniel Handler, on “Today” and read an excerpt.
James Patterson, author of “Cross,” Little, Brown & Company
Book I’d like to give:“The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game” by Michael Lewis. I generally don’t read books about sports, but I loved his other book on sports, “Moneyball,” and “The Blind Side” is even better. Lewis explains how things work and don’t work — in this case, in football — better than anybody else. It’s a great gift for sports fans who like to read.
Watch James Patterson’s interview on “Today” and read an excerpt.
Samantha Ettus, author of “The Experts’ Guide to the Baby Years: 100 Things Every Parent Should Know,” Clarkson Potter
Book I’d like to give: As for giving, I love books that work well for several people on my holiday gift list. Two this season are:“Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook” for those who are passionate about their homes and William C. Taylor and Polly LaBarre’s “Mavericks at Work” for those who are passionate about their work.
Book I’d like to receive: “Monique and the Mango Rains” by Kris Holloway. This is an account of her time in the Peace Corps and her friendship with an African midwife. My fascination with mothers of courage has only heightened since working on my recent book.
Watch Samantha Ettus’s interview on “Today”; read her advice for “Today” readers.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” Viking Books
Book I’d like to give: “The People’s Act of Love” by James Meek. This year, I'm trying to make everyone read this brilliant British novelist’s book. It’s a love story (though admittedly a dark and complex one) set in Siberia in the final days of the First World War, and it reads so much like a classic Russian novel, you’ll be constantly checking the cover to re-verify that Tolstoy didn’t write it.
Watch Elizabeth Gilbert’s interview on “Today” and read an excerpt.
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