Leaving New York edited by Kathleen Norris (out of print). A wonderful, unusual mix of essays and poems about New York and its physical, emotional, spiritual pull. Includes backwards glances at the city from Henry James, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joan Didion, and Toni Morrison.
The Norton Anthology of American Literature and The Norton Anthology of Poetry (Norton, $134 and $63). The Ruth and Gehrig of all anthologies. The list of essential reads in these two books goes on and on, from Thomas Paines Common Sense to Washington Irvings The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Emersons Self-Reliance. Plus, they make phenomenal stocking-stuffers.
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Our Mothers Spirits edited by Bob Blauner (ReganBooks, $12). Bob Blauner is a client of mine, though oddly, hes not a relative. When his mother died, he wanted a book like this one, to help him through his grief. Not finding it, he decided to do it himself. The result is an intensely moving collection of stories by men about their mothers, a book that, at a minimum, every man who has lost his mother should read.
25 and Under/Fiction edited by Susan Ketchin & Neil Giordano (DoubleTake/Norton, $25). A 1997 showcase of then new, under-26 authors, including Judy Budnitz and ZZ Packer. The opening story is Jason Browns poignant The Dog Lover, about a recovering junkie who cant bring himself to shoot his dying dog.
The Best American Sports Writing of the Century edited by David Halberstam and Glenn Stout (Houghton Mifflin, $18). A true Hall of Fame collection, starting off with Gay Taleses profile of a moody Joe DiMaggio, and including Tom Wolfes The Last American Hero.
Dog Culture edited by Ken Foster (Lyons Press, $17). The writers showcased here are writing not just about their own dogs but on dogs as social lubricant, and other such themes. The collection kicks off with What Coco Ate by National Book Award finalist Rene Steinke, and also features excellent pieces by Nicholas Dawidoff, Annie Bruno, and Pearl Abraham. Made me miss my old collie, Drummer.