Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris (Little, Brown & Co., $16.99)
There is something very elf-like about Sedaris. Maybe it’s his wacky, little Seven Dwarves reading voice, or the elfin mischief suffusing his prose. So it seems only natural that he did time working as an elf named Crumpet at the SantaLand in Macy’s Herald Square, and that he spins one heck of a yarn about it.
Recommended pairing: Evan Williams Egg Nog, available at any fine state store—oh, I’m sorry, I meant Wine and Spirits Shoppe.
Apples I Have Eaten by Jonathan Gerken (Chronicle, $14.95)
Beautifully photographed apples appear whole, then halved, in each spread. Totally porn for apples—if apples were into that kind of thing.
Recommended pairing: Hot apple cider. High Point Café makes a mean one.
The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket (McSweeney’s, $11.00)
It’s a latke, damn it, not a Christmas donut! Why do people insist on making it something that it’s not? Snicket reminds us that unfortunate events sometimes befall foodstuffs, too—not just the hapless Baudelaire orphans.
Recommended pairing: Egg nog latke—erm, latte. Your local Wawa makes decent egg nog, believe it or not. Pour some of this into your morning coffee then make that shushing sound like you have an espresso machine.
Awkward Family Photos by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack (Three Rivers Press, $15.00)
It’s not really polite to make fun of your own family during the holidays, so thankfully Awkward Family Photos lets you make fun of other peoples’. A gnarlier collection of feathered hair and tacky sweaters ne’er was seen.
Recommended pairing: Mulled wine. I don’t have a good recipe for this so I suggest asking a British person. She can also tell you what wassail means.
The Elements of Style, Illustrated, by William Strunk Jr., E.B. White, and Maria Kalman (Penguin, $16.00)
Kalman’s quirky watercolor illustrations transform this style manual into a charmingly surreal meditation on life. To quote White: “Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. Start sniffing the air, or glancing at the Trend Machine, and you are as good as dead, although you may make a nice living.” Advice not just for the writer, but for the human being.
Recommended pairing: Champagne, of course, liquid joy—the only way to weather a cold winter’s nap and spring into a new year.
December 2010, Erica David