They Didn’t Fit: More books for giving and/or reading

The week of Winter Reading, you could give us the whole paper and we’d still want more space. And, for that matter, more time; it’s the time needed to read, consider and review that keeps Winter Reading somewhat under control.

But there are always more books that look nifty. For the past two years, I’ve had room in the Procrastinators’ Gift Guide to list some of those cool-looking books — generally the ones I haven’t read — as some additional book-gift suggestions. This year, I ran out of space — and now I’m pretty much out of time, too. But the stacks are still here, and hey, even if you don’t need to buy more books for others, maybe you’ll need some reading for yourself once the holidays are over. Or you’ll have gift cards to use. Or whatever. It’s not like you need an excuse to buy books.

Here, then, are a few of the semi-themed piles that have been sitting on my desk for several weeks:

Books for Film Geeks
• The grandpappy of this stack is David Thompson’s “Have You Seen…” A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films. It’s hefty but not dense; each film gets one two-column page of history, context and commentary. The few writeups I’ve read so far give the impression that these almost serve better as afterwords than introductions — the context of having seen the film makes Thompson’s take just that much more interesting. David Gilmour’s The Film Club is less about film than it is about the process of watching a child become an adult, but Gilmour’s premise — that he let his son drop out of high school if he agreed to watch three movies a week — is fascinating for a film buff all the same. And The B List: The National Society of Film Critics on the Low-Budget Beauties, Genre-Bending Mavericks, and Cult Classics We Love offers both an interesting list of writers (including Roger Ebert, Kenneth Turan, Stephanie Zacharek and — for those who like tormenting themselves — Peter Travers) and an odd list of films. Are Reservoir Dogs and Croupier B movies? Most of those films included, however, seem to pretty neatly fit the bill: Carrie 2: The Rage, anyone?

Books for Snobs
• Are you or do you know someone who only wants the very best? There’s always Best Music Writing 2008 — this year guest-edited by Nelson George — or Best Food Writing 2008 or any number of other best books, like Best Places Portland. It’s kind of overwhelming how many best books there are. Also, it’s kind of a bummer that Rob Harvilla’s awesome “Hot Hot Heat” only turns up in Best Music Writing 2008 in the list of other notable music writing of 2007, because it’s wicked funny. Maybe the graphics kept it out of the book.

Books for People Who Like Pretty New Editions & Compilations
• I’m totally drawn to these pretty, pretty George Orwell compilations, All Art is Propaganda: Critical Essays and Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays. Weirdly, though, the images on both and aren’t images of the books I’m presently holding. Huh. Well, anyway, the new edition and translation (“based on the restored text”) of Kafka’s Amerika is nothing to shake a stick at. And Kingsley Amis’ Everyday Drinking is so charming, a colleague already stole my copy.

… to be continued … maybe.