For those of you still scrambling—or just starting to scramble—to find gifts for your book loving friends, here’s one final round of recommendations.
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Recommended by Garret Johnson:
JRR Tolkien: The Letters of JRR Tolkien - Edited by Humphrey Carpenter with the assistance of Christopher Tolkien:
Part autobiography, part theory-of-everything, part treatise on the author’s craft, collections of letters can be both inspiring and enlightening. They help us, for one, understand a particular author’s—or any artist’s—work itself better. But they also give us an intimate kind of connection to the author virtually impossible to get any other way. Reading these letters is like listening in on Tolkien and one of his sons having a chat that’s as wide-ranging as the man’s imagination: from topics like a theology of the Holy Spirit to German industriousness to trying to find material for fiction in the labyrinths of Norse mythology. We get to see interchanges between Tolkien and his unendingly patient publishers as they press him—literally for years—to write, and then to finish, his sequel to The Hobbit. A sequel he almost never started . . . We all know where that went. And there’s so much more here.
Flannery O’Connor: The Habit of Being - Letters edited and with an introduction by Sally Fitzgerald:
Peacocks, a Southern manse called Andalusia, a beloved but exasperating mother, chronic illness, the Eucharist, theologians and other authors galore. This is a tiny smattering of the kinds of things you’ll hear Flannery O’Connor talking over with friends in these letters. Often sharp and witty, often brimming with pathos, O’Connor’s letters—like Tolkien’s—are spiritual and personal and filled with ruminations on both the craft and the life of writing. In them, we’re also afforded a glimpse into the writer’s most intimate relationships.
What better kinds of books for cozying up to a Christmastide fire?