Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Better to Give?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: It’s a classic way to enrich and expand your characters’ personalities—what’s in their fridge? What’s in their wallet? What’s in their wastebasket?
But dear friend of Reds Laura DiSilverio has another idea. What gift do they give? And she’s giving YOU a prize—her brand new book AND a t-shirt--if you have the best answer.

Better to Give

Reading Rhys Bowen's recent post about her upcoming Molly book Away in the Manger, I realized that in my 15 published books, none has a Christmas scene. Not one. I plan to rectify that, but in the meantime, it got me thinking about the Readaholics and what Christmas would mean to each of them. 

Even though their new adventure, The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle, is set in August, I'm fast-forwarding them to Christmas and spying on their present buying.

         - Lola, with her limited budget and love of plants, gives everyone on her list (besides her Grandma and Axie), a vibrant poinsettia, or an amaryllis from her nursery, Bloomin' Wonderful.
- Brooke, the animal lover, tries to talk all her friends into adopting an aging dog or kitten (like this Misty-lookalike my daughter wanted a few years back) from Heaven Animal Haven and underwrites the adoption fee for them (since she married into the richest family in town).
   - Kerry, lover of all things practical and Heaven's part-time mayor, gives them each tickets to a singalong performance of The Messiah by the combined choirs of Heaven's churches and high schools, thereby killing three birds with one stone--increasing the audience for a town-sponsored event, boosting the coffers of Heaven's Arts Council, and giving them all a chance to celebrate the season together.
   -Maud gives all the Readaholics custom-made calendars constructed from photos her significant other Joe (a wildlife photographer) took of them and the beautiful areas surrounding Heaven, Colorado.       

-Amy-Faye, founder of the Readaholics, gives them all books (of course!), carefully hunted down at used bookstores and garage sales throughout the year. For Maud, she has two Helen MacInnes spy thrillers that she knows Maud has been looking for to complete her collection. For Lola, she found a signed copy of The Language of Flowers.  For Kerry, she got Nora Ephron's essay collection, I Feel Bad About My Neck (because Kerry has begun complaining in a humorous way about the downsides of aging now that she's closing in on fifty), and for Brooke she got the illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone because they read the whole series together back before there even was a Readaholics book group.

Let's take it a step farther, now that we're thinking about characters and presents. What would your favorite literary character get that special someone on his or her Christmas list? I can see Hannibal Lecter gifting bottles of Chianti, or Jack Reacher tucking a toothbrush into a stocking.  Ishmael might wrap up that special bit of scrimshaw.  

I'm giving a copy of The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle plus a Readaholics T-shirt to the best comment (chosen with total capriciousness, so it might be for the funniest one or the most insightful, or simply the twenty-second one).

HANK: Books, books! Love this.  Charlotte McNally still gives All the President’s Men, she’s old school. Jane Ryland gives the Complete Sherlock Holmes, since she’s all about tracking down bad guys and solving crimes. She’s also giving subscriptions to MORE Magazine, because, yeah. Non-book gifts?  Hamlet is giving a Magic 8 ball, to help his friends decide at least. And Lady Macbeth? Hand sanitizer. 
Please, Reds.  You can do better.
And YAY! The Readaholics gets a starred review from Booklist! Laura, tell us everything!


Laura DiSilverio is the author of the Swift Investigations and Mall Cop mystery series, as week as the standalone thriller THE RECKONING STONES and the new best-selling READAHOLICS series.
After twenty years as an Air Force intelligence officer – serving as a squadron commander, with the National Reconnaissance Office, and at a fighter wing – she retired to parenting and writing full-time.
Laura says: Spying was easier.


  1. I'm such a bad gift giver much of the time. Trying to come up with gifts for other characters to give? I'm not so sure I can do that. But I loved reading about these gifts from the Readaholics.

    I've read this second Readaholics book, and it is wonderful. Go out and buy a copy. Then, if you win this one, you'll have one to give to a friend.

    (Does that tie me in to the theme of the day enough?)

  2. Wow . . . this is a toughie! I loved reading the Readaholics gift ideas but I am definitely not good at this sort of thing.
    How about:
    Nancy Drew . . . magnifying glasses
    Sherlock Holmes . . . a briar pipe
    Eve Dallas . . . she’ll do everything she can to get someone else to do the shopping

  3. Joan, I just burst out laughing. Eve Dallas is PERFECT.

    And Mark, I'm sure Laura agrees!

  4. Improving conversation and little pink cakes from Albert Campion of Margery Allingham fame.

  5. Russ picks out a signature fragrance for Clare at the local Rexall, "Obsession."

  6. Good morning, all. Thanks for the kind words, Mark--yes, you qualify for the theme of the day. :-)

    Joan--I love your Eve Dallas answer. BTW, I can't believe the times at which some of you posted. Go to bed, people!

    Great answer, Margaret. We could probably get a lot of humor mileage out of picking out perfumes/men's cologne for characters. Obsession is perfect.

  7. Hayley Snow would of course give baskets of homemade goodies, including noccialato fudge. If it was Krista Davis's Paws and Claws heroine, it would be baskets of pet treats. Just don't mix the two up!

    Laura, looking forward to reading this one! maybe it'll be in my stocking...

  8. It's hard coming up with an answer before my morning caffeine, but I'll try: Goldy Schulz from Diane Mott Davidson's mysteries would give people a tin of her cookies, along with the recipe printed on a pretty card. Each person would get their own favorite cookies from her.

  9. I'm liking the "giving food" theme, Lucy and Deb. Maybe Hayley Snow and Goldy Schulz have me on their Christmas list. My church has a HUGE cookie sale every year (this coming weekend, in fact) and I always buy several pounds of homemade cookies of different varieties, fudge, and bacon peanut brittle (sounds awful but is very tasty) to give neighbors. (And, no, I don't claim credit for making them all myself, although I've thought about it.)

  10. What would your favorite literary character get that special someone on his or her Christmas list?

    So immediately I'm thinking: what would Hannibal Lechter give Clarice Starling. And yes, my thoughts did drift to food. I must be having a warped morning.

  11. Continuing the food theme, my protagonist would give a six-pack of locally brewed craft beer (probably something along the lines of a porter/stout).

    I can see the classic Sherlock giving the briar pipe and tobaccon. Modern and classic might enjoy a nice wine.

    My current read is a revisit of the third Zoe Chambers and Zoe is a farm-girl/horse lover, so... I dunno. A gift certificate for riding lessons?

  12. Impossible to choose a favorite character! There are far too many to choose from nowadays. Love everyone else's answers, though. Also, waving to Laura.

    However, in real life I'm giving my longtime and very dear hairdresser a copy of the essay collection Hallie Ephron contributed to this year, "Me, My Hair and I". Alicja is Polish, and not a native English speaker (although you would almost not know it), so reading English is still less fun than reading in her native language. I'm hoping she will enjoy an essay collection, especially one that will speak to her so closely.

  13. I love you, Karen I O! ME, MY HAIR... is a terrific gift. I just bought 2 copies to give. It's one Anne Shirley might give to Marilla or Diana.

  14. I think Sherlock Holmes (In Laurie R. King's world) would give Russell a top of the line set of lock picks and a fine throwing knife.

  15. I must get a copy of Me, My Hair and I. Why have I never heard of this? The title alone is enough to convince me I must have one.

    So true, Libby. Isn't it nice when one partner knows the other well enough to forsake department store stuff (not that such stores existed in Holmes' day, but you know what I mean) for lock picks and throwing knives?

    Waving back at you, Karen!

    The riding lessons are a fun idea, Mary. I like "experience" gifts more and more as I age.

  16. Margaret, I may have to include the "Obsession" in a book some time! Also, Russ is super practical. I can see him giving his loved ones emergency hand-crank radios, 7-in-1 car tool kits, etc.

    Hmm, famous literary characters...well, we already know what Marmee gives in Little Women. Oh, I know! Pip in Great Expectations gives Monopoly sets...with extra Get-out-of-Jail-Free cards.

  17. Hah! You made me laugh, Julia, with Pip's Get-out-of-Jail Free cards.

  18. I know I would happily receive any food gifts from Hayley . . . fudge or cookies perhaps? My sister gave me a scone mix in a mason jar one year, clever, pretty, and once I got around to baking, really delicious!
    I've given away many baby hats that look like apples, fun to make and always welcome, so if there are babies coming for any characters . . . ??? I once gave an apple baby hat to our tour guide in Portugal, a premature gift, as she'd just announced her engagement, but I'd just finished it and we all knew I'd not be there after that week, so into her hope chest it went.
    I've always given books to the nieces and nephews, but one year tucked a $10 bill into one nephew's Lemony Snicket book because his other gifts were a bit sparse (so much harder to select for the bigger kids). He was so thrilled with the "bookmark" that it has become my staple, a hopefully welcome book enclosing a sure-fire bookmark.

  19. Jane Eyre would give little fire extinguishers?

    Marie Antoinette would of course send cake! Oh, wait, she's not fictional.

    Mary! I LOVE the money i in the book idea. ALso, it lets you know if they read it…:-) Only works once, though.

  20. Your apple hats sound darling, Mary.

    What would Jake and Jane give each other, Hank?

  21. Julia, laughing. Russ is Rick's kindred soul. I always get the "practical" presents...

    Mary, LOVE the money bookmarks!

    Gemma would give Duncan a first edition of Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales that she found at used book stall at Portobello Market. Duncan would give Gemma a Clarice Cliff sugar bowl he's also found at Portobello Market.

  22. I can see I need to book a trip to London to visit Portobello Market to get my Christmas shopping done, Debs. Do you do all of your holiday shopping when you're across the pond doing research?

  23. I'm loving all these gift ideas from and to characters, and your Readaholics characters' giving, Laura, make me that more excited about this series being one of my winter series reads. I always try to catch up on a series or read a new one in January and February, and this winter season includes The Readaholics.

    I have to mention your beautiful daughter, Laura. I am such a fan of red hair, and my son's fiancee has red hair, and I can't wait for them to get married and give me a little red-haired grandbaby. And, of course, when I started going gray some years back, I chose to use a cover-up color that leans toward red.

    It's hard to pick just one character out of all the amazing characters I read. I must be having a bizarre thinking day, as what I first came up with was Clare Randall from Outlander giving Jamie a knitted pair of undies to wear under his kilt during the winter months, for comfort and warmth and, well, keeping that package wrapped.

  24. Gifts, both getting and giving, can be so stressful. So, Jungle Red writers, I shall give you the last stanza of Cristina Rossetti's "In the Bleak Midwinter":

    What can I give Him
    Poor as I am?
    If I were a shepherd
    I would bring a lamb;
    If I were a wise man
    I would do my part;
    Yet what I can, I give Him -
    Give my heart.

    Merry Christmas and Happiest of Holidays my friends.

  25. Well, the best gift I give is a signed book!!!

    As for characters, I think many would just give gift cards because they are too busy saving the world to actually shop. Perhaps they might give something they found while snooping around in various shops and/or markets. I hope they would not give weapons -- knives, ropes, scarves, guns -- one might eventually be used against them.

    I think the signed book without a doubt.

  26. Thanks for your kind words about my baby (now a high school junior), Kathy. My hair was that color when I was little, but has darkened as I aged and now, of course, has plenty of gray. When I want to give it a little zing, I go for something in the auburn spectrum, too.

    I am all in favor of signed books as gifts, Barbara. :-)

    A lovely thought, Ann. Thanks for reminding us of the reason for the season.

  27. Maybe to be more romantic Russ would give Clare silk long johns. He is a practical man. Gave her winter boots years before they married. I think Melrose Plant would give his Aunt Agatha lots of chewy candy so she couldn't talk while she indulged her sweet tooth. And a smoldering look from Richard Jury would work for me.

  28. Pat--What a fabulous idea for Melrose re Aunt Agatha! Just perfect! I think I'd prefer a smoldering look from DCI Lynley (or whatever his rank is these days).

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  30. Oh, what would Jane and Jake give each other? A VACATION! As they have been trying to take for four and soon, five books now. But, alas. Smoldering looks are all they get.