Christmas Gift Ideas, Part II: BOOKS and DVD’s – UPDATED!

For the first time ever, I’ve had to split the Annual Gift Ideas post into two part. Part I, which is all about appliances, clothes and really mostly girly things can be found here.

Now, for books, music and DVD’s!

On DVD’s: okay, given that Pope Francis was just named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, this one is a no-brainer: Francis, the Pope from the New World

If your family loves Downton Abbey a video set is a nice idea, but incomplete, as the series is still running. This is a little pricey but for a “family” gift The Complete Larkrise to Candleford is something that will bring the whole gang together — my husband couldn’t get enough of it and wants to watch it again. This series which is based on the memoirs of Flora Thompson and speaks such truth about families, classes and the way we get along together. It’s really great.

BOOKS: Note that most, not all, of the book links I am providing are for print books, not for Kindle or Nook or whatever. I have nothing against Kindle (Deacon Greg raves about his Kindle Paperwhite and fills me with a bit of envy) but you know, a book is a book. It’s still different.

Given all the news stories about citizens being spied on, I’m recommending Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You, which is both fun and informative. I’m giving it to the same person who last year I gifted with The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography.

Two books I reviewed here on the blog, both of which would make terrific gifts for Christmas, Judith Valente’s Atchison Blue and Lino Rulli’s Saint. Buying them together would actually be a nice one-two punch for any couple.

Another great “couples” gift — and people actually do rave about this book — Dr. Gregory Popcak’s Holy Sex!: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving. Give them that with a couple of glasses and a nice bottle of wine!

Also, I wrote earlier this year about the exciting release of Flannery O’ Connor’s Prayer Journal, but to be honest, in the end, I preferred Province of Joy, The: Praying with Flannery O’Connor

When I went on a few days R-and-R last month, I brought with me Brian Doyle’s The Thorny Grace of It — wonderful, wonderful essays which make my own poor efforts seem like so much dross — an exuberant commingling of Irish word-love and American Christ-love. Killed me. You can read more about it, at Patheos’ book club.

If you have someone you’d like to attract to faith via baby steps, I love this title: Deathbed Conversions: Finding Faith at the Finish Line.

For some teens: For the athlete, stuff a stocking with And Nobody Got Hurt!: The World’s Weirdest, Wackiest True Sports Stories. If you have a hockey fan in the family here you go, and if you’re trying to encourage someone to read Jane Austen, may I suggest you try a couple of inexpensive Georgette Heyer novels as “training wheels” — well-researched and often hilarious, her books are. You can’t go wrong.

I don’t know if this is actually a great “gift” book. It might be for the right person, but it might also be good to give to yourself as a “present” from the Holy Spirit. Fr. Scott Hurd has written a book that I love so much I agreed to blurb it, but I have never found time to tell you how good When Faith Feels Fragile: Help for the Wary, Weak, and Wandering really is.

Read Fr. Scott’s interview with Kathryn Lopez, and consider picking it up. It’s one of those books that feeds you when you need it.

Another book that is excellent “food” is the one put out every year by The Christophers, called Three Minutes a Day. Edited by Tony Rossi, this book does what The Christophers do: it lightens what is heavy, brightens what is dark. This is a terrific gift to give for hassled family members and work pals, too! And it helps the great mission of the Christophers. It’s inexpensive, it’s available as an ebook and it’s kind of priceless.

Last year I recommeded Paula Huston’s Simplifying the Soul, but if things still seem too cluttered, there is yet a more practical take on the subject of decluttering, and it suits our Franciscan mood: Blessed by Less: Clearing Your Life of Clutter by Living Lightly. You can read an excerpt of it here. Also speaking of Huston, her lyrical novel A Land Without Sin was the first fiction book accepted by the Patheos Book Club, and you can check that out here, as well.

Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s Angels for Kids is such a pretty book, it’s hard to believe it’s for children! She has so many titles it is difficult to choose one, but I also liked this a lot.

Two books I’m getting a lot out of right now: Emily Stimpson’s beautifully written and reasoned These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body and Teresa Tomeo’s God’s Bucket List: Heaven’s Surefire Way to Happiness in This Life and Beyond, which is a particularly good read at this time of the year, when we start thinking of New Year’s Resolutions that always fail because…they’re our plans, not God’s.

Two books I also got a lot out of, but none of it made me happy: Al Kresta’s Dangers to the Faith: Recognizing Catholicism’s 21st Century Opponents and Paul Thigpen’s The Burden, which is hands-down the most unusual, and rather chilling book I have read this year.

I have meant to write about The Burden, which is a short, poetic and prophetic meditation on, essentially, where we are now, and how terribly near our current times and morals make the end-times seem. Yes, chilling.

It seems I will have to write a Part III for music recommendations. Egad…this is taking a lot of time.

Patheosi! Don’t forget some of the excellent offerings by our Patheo writers!

Simcha Fisher’s bestselling The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning is still only available on Kindle (for now), but don’t let that stop you. Unfortunately, my latest is also only available on Kindle — we’d hoped it would be in print by now — but so it goes. Kindle prices mean they’re inexpensive, so…great stocking stuffers?

For the Mom who could use a daily pick-me-up, Lisa Hendey’s A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul is one of my faves.

I just got a copy of Sam Rocha’s well-regarded book for a teacher friend of mine.

For a woman you love and want to encourage: Pat Gohn’s Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood

For Family Enrichment: Tim and Sue Muldoon’s Six Sacred Rules for Families: A Spirituality for the Home

For a Garden-loving friend on a spiritual path, my neighbor really loved Margaret Rose Realy’s A Garden of Visible Prayer: Creating a Personal Sacred Space One Step at a Time

For Personal Faith-Enrichment: Father Dwight Longenecker’s More Christianity: Finding the Fullness of Faith gets absolute raves from everyone who reads it.

Ditto for Mark Shea’s By What Authority: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition (it’s not just for Protestants. I learned a lot!) and Billy Kangas’ How the First Christians Changed Dying

Part III: Music, coming up later today!

Someone just mentioned
that in all of these titles, I forgot to suggest you give Strange Gods for Christmas. Yes! I did forget! Buy my book! :-)

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  • Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

    What an amazing list, Elizabeth! I can see that a LOT of thought went into it. I’m sure that it will help so many people with Christmas shopping, as well as folks looking for inspiring books and DVD’s for their own spiritual growth. I am honored that you have included two of my books on your illustrious list!

  • simchafisher

    Great list! Thanks for compiling it, Elizabeth, and thanks SO much for including my book. One quick note: The Sinner’s Guide to NFP, is now available for pre-order in print, and is available for sale in audiobook form.

  • Victor

    Dear Anchoress,

    I hope I’m not too far off topic again but when I tried posting something about our Catholic pope on a different blog, I was told by the hack hers, “I” mean hackers again that someone is using my account but for what “IT” is worth, they are sorry.

    I hear YA Anchoress! Listen Victor this is not normal for YA but let me see what I can do for YA again! :)



    (((It’s a sorry sign of the times that the choice was between the heir of St. Peter and a talentless attention whore. )))

    GOD (Good Old Dad) can relax cause His Holiness would never truly abolish what HIS SON JESUS THE CHRIST finished in “TIME” and someday all of U>S (usual sinners) will get to see The Product of His LOVE.

    As for the Vatican, I certainly hope that they will correct stuff like cause I wouldn’t say stuff like this to my dog. Who knows if stuff like that was stopped then maybe most would take His Holiness serious but then again what do I know cause my dog is dead now! (lol)

    Some say that our Catholic pope dances to a different tune and that the music has not stopped yet and that he may still dance in another direction but personally I wouldn’t hold my breath if YA get my Canadian Snow den drift now? :)

    God Bless Peace

  • Mary Alice

    One book that should be on every Catholic’s list is Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples. The first section is jaw-dropping stats about how we are losing so many because, at the root, we don’t make disciples. The rest of the book tells how to remedy that. In my mind, it is a must-read.

  • Karen Edmisten

    A great list, and thank you so much for including Deathbed Conversions! My daughter would love the Larkrise set, but she’s going to be getting it in bits and pieces. :) And I love my Kindle, but I agree — a book is a book, and there’s nothing like turning those pages….