Lisa Genova is the author of three novels: STILL ALICE, LEFT NEGLECTED and, most recently, LOVE ANTHONY. She and her husband are both book lovers who discovered upon first meeting each other that they were reading the same book: Bill Bryson’s A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING. Since then, they look forward to giving each other books for Christmas --- fiction, nonfiction, books of poetry, travel books, you name it. Lisa has been kind enough to share with us some of these titles, which represent their love of literature and, more importantly, for each other.
When my husband, Chris, and I first met in May 2004, we discovered that we were both in the middle of reading the same book: A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING by Bill Bryson. Fate! I thought. And Good, this gorgeous guy is also smart.
We are both book lovers. One of our favorite dates was (and still is) an unstructured, leisurely browse through a bookstore. When we travel, we like to listen to audiobooks together (we especially love books read by the author; Bill Bryson is still a favorite, and Tina Fey’s BOSSYPANTS is laugh-out-loud hilarious). When we’re not too exhausted (rare, we have three kids), we like to read to each other before bed. I love when he reads Hemingway aloud to me. And every Christmas, we exchange books.
This will be our ninth Christmas together. When I was asked to write this piece, I went through the bookcases in our house --- in our bedroom, our living room, my office --- collecting some of the books we’ve given to each other over Christmases past, reading the inscriptions.
“For the next book, Love Chris.”
“Bedtime stories! Love, Lisa.”
“May the poetry and adventure stay with us always. Love, Chris.”
“Merry Christmas, Love and Joy, Lisa.”
Fiction, nonfiction, books of poetry, books on writing, travel books, photography books. Books he chose with an intimate understanding of the woman I am and the woman I’m growing into. Books I selected that I hoped would teach, entertain, and inspire the man who teaches, entertains and inspires me.
I’ve now made a stack of these books on the coffee table. The titles, the covers, the stories we’ve given and read and shared. It all makes me swoon. There is so much love in this stack of books. So much love.
Here are some of our Christmas gifts from 2004-2011:
- BIKEMAN: An Epic Poem by Thomas F. Flynn
- THE ILLUMINATED RUMI
- A DEATH IN BELMONT by Sebastian Junger
- THE EVIL B.B. CHOW AND OTHER STORIES by Steve Almond
- THE CONFERENCE OF THE BIRDS by Peter Sis
- THUNDER AND LIGHTNING: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft, by Natalie Goldberg
- QUEEN OF AMERICA by Luis Alberto Urrea
- THE BOOK OF NIGHTMARES by Galway Kinnell
- 100 SELECTED POEMS by e.e. Cummings
- ANNIE LEIBOVITZ: A PHOTOGRAPHER'S LIFE
- AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN
- ERNEST HEMINGWAY ON WRITING
- SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY by Edgar Lee Masters
- SHAKESPEARE, THE WORLD AS STAGE by Bill Bryson