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The Oklahoma book holiday gift guide


Here’s a novel idea: Give the pleasure of state-related reading this holiday season.

Rod Lott December 21st, 2011

As Full Circle Bookstore owner Jim Tolbert told me last year, “At Christmas, people come back to books. A book is a gift.”

OK, so he’s biased, but he’s also correct. Book sales increase significantly during the holidays.

This season, instead of giving the reader on your list the Steve Jobs biography, Stephen King’s “11/22/63” or a box set of “The Hunger Games,” consider something that literally strikes closer to home. The past year has offered no shortage of worthy titles, among several categories.

Art
Loved the exhibit? Buy the book! Missed the exhibit? Buy the book! Often, you can do so right from the respective museum’s gift shop.

For the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, that includes the paperback “La Serenissima: Eighteenth-Century Venetian Art from North American Collections” (OKCMOA, $35) and the hardback “Michael Eastman: Havana” (Prestel, $60).

For Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman, it means “Robert Rauschenberg: Prints from Universal Limited Art Editions, 1962-2008” (FJJMA, $25), “The Eugene B. Adkins Collection: Selected Works” (University of Oklahoma Press, $29.95) and “Tea and Immortality: Contemporary Chinese Yixing Teapots from the James T. Bialac Collection” (Phoenix Art Museum, $16.99).

Fiction
Oklahoma City journalist B. Kent Anderson, who wrote a four-book “Department Thirty” series under the pseudonym David Kent, debuts under his own name with the hardcover thriller “Cold Glory” (Forge Books, $24.99). Following a template popularized by “The Da Vinci Code,” the story follows a professor on the run — with a woman in tow — from shadowy figures who seek the same historical artifact. In this case, it’s a cache of Civil War loot, found at a site familiar to Sooners: Fort Washita.

Another novel with historical context is “A Rainbow in the Dark” (Neoziel Publishing, $16.99), cowritten by Bethany physician Wade McCoy in his debut and Tulsa-based third-time author Patrick Chalfant. The book is set in 1945 rural Oklahoma (Weatherford and Atoka) amid a white-collar crime scheme. Notably, it’s a fictionalized account of the life of longtime educator Henry Kirkland, to whom a few of his former college students pay tribute following the tale.

I would be remiss not to throw in a brazen plug for the winter anthology “Sleigh Ride” (Buzz Books USA, $12.95), edited by my wife, Malena Lott. I’m justifying it because one of the seven female writers featured is Oklahoma Gazette’s former ShopGirl and lifestyles editor, Jenny Coon Peterson, with her first piece of published fiction. We knew her when.

Legends
Local attorney Kent F. Frates’ “Oklahoma Courthouse Legends” (Courthouse Legends LLC, $49.95) takes a county-by-county look at state courthouses and the notables who either served there or had justice served upon them there. As fascinating as the architecture and personalities featured is the crisp color photography by David G. Fitzgerald, whose work is never less than excellent.

“The Garner Files”
(Simon & Schuster, $25.99)
by James Garner and Jon Winokur, recounts the life and career of Oklahoma’s first draftee of the Korean War. Of course, we know him now as the star of TV’s “The Rockford Files” and “Maverick.” At the end, Garner rates his own movies and pulls no punches, i.e. “Another piece of crap” and “[The director] didn’t know his ass from second base.”

Nostalgia 
With seemingly as many entries as those “For Dummies” titles is Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” collection. Although the publisher is based in South Carolina, it offers 56 books dedicated to cities, counties, groups and other aspects of the Sooner State, including two new ones: “Route 66 in Oklahoma” by Joe Sonderman and Jim Ross, and “Guthrie and Logan County” by Glen V. McIntyre. Whether you’re a frequent traveler or an armchair historian, these photo-packed paperbacks ($21.99) should delight.

Once the head of the University of Oklahoma’s journalism college, David Dary shares more than 50 “Stories of Old-Time Oklahoma” (University of Oklahoma Press, $24.95) in a collection that reprints many columns originally published in The Norman Transcript to celebrate the state’s centennial. Rather than rest, however, Dary has revised them for this hardback, and added some that never had seen print. Among other things, he writes about the naming of our towns, the outlaws who tore across them, the treasures that never were found in them, and the disasters that befell them.

Photography
A state as photogenic as ours deserves some solid books of photography ready-made for display on your coffee table. Just keep coffee and other beverages away from them.

“Life at the Kiowa, Comanche, and Wichita Agency: The Photographs of Annette Ross Hume”
(University of Oklahoma Press, $34.95)
presents the work of a 19th-century shutterbug in Anadarko, with text by Kristina L. Southwell and John R. Lovett.

J. Don Cook’s “Shooting from the Hip: Photographs and Essays” (University of Oklahoma Press, $29.95) may bear a pun of a title, but the OKC resident is a seriously good photographer. How else could he convince James Garner to provide the introduction?

Finally, “Portrait of a Generation: The Children of Oklahoma — Sons and Daughters of the Red Earth” (Southwestern Publishing, $65) is a charming collection of beautiful shots by M.J. Alexander that is as much a tribute to the land as it is to those of us lucky enough to live on it.

Check it out
Do you trust your friends to take good care of the books you loan them? Then godspeed, and pick up the Personal Library Kit (Knock Knock, $16) to keep them honest. It contains 20 self-adhesive pockets to stick into the endpapers, plus the checkout cards, a date stamp with ink pad, and an appropriate nub of a pencil. What your charge for late fees is up to you, but I recommend stiff penalties.

 
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