Books and beats for the holidays
You can spend your holidays this year in a jazz lounge, a fantasyland – even the Colonial U.S. – because there are CDs and books out for all planes of consciousness this season.
Kathy Westover, owner of the Bookworm in Edwards, highly recommends Robert Sabuda’s elaborate pop-up book, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
“It’s a pop-up book, but it’s a pop-up book for everyone,” Westover says. “Sabuda makes the most amazingly, intricate pop-up books you’ve ever seen.”
Sabuda puts out a pop-up book just about every holiday season; past books include “The Night Before Christmas” and the “Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
While we’re on children’s books, Dr. Seuss’ 100th birthday will be commemorated this holiday season. The beloved children’s author and illustrator died in 1991, but a movie version of his classic, “The Cat in the Hat,” is being released and bookstores are stocking up.
“We have pretty much all of his books in stock,” says Robert Aikens, owner of Verbatim Booksellers in Vail Village. Verbatim also has Dr. Seuss-character stuffed-animals to go along with the books – and fill out the stockings.
A big seller locally this year, says Aikens, should be “The Last Ridge: The Epic Story of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division and Hitler’s Assault on Europe,” by McKay Jenkins. The 10th Mountain Division, of course, trained up the road from Vail in Camp Hale and spawned Vail Mountain’s two founders, Pete Siebert and Earl Eaton.
In the history section, one of this year’s more-popular reads is “Benjamin Franklin: An American LIfe,” a biography of the inventor, philosopher and founding father, by Walter Isaacson, Aikens says.
Westover says, right now, she’s reading “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger.
“It’s a very unusual book,” Westover says. “It’s about a woman married to a man who has a genetic disease that lets him travel back and forth in time. He visits times in his own past or his future.”
Suspense and crime writers John Grisham and David Baldacci are both out with holiday books. Grisham’s is called “Skipping Christmas” and it’s about a guy who hates the holidays, but ends up revising many of his beliefs. Baldacci’s book is called, “The Christmas Train.”
“It’s about the rudest, ickiest man you’ve ever met,” Westover says. “He has to go home for Christmas but he’s so rude and nasty, the airline kicks him off and he has to take the train home.
“And he learns his lesson on the train,” she says.
A sure bestseller should be Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” Albom, who wrote the mega-bestseller “Tuesdays With Morrie,” has published his first work of fiction.
“It’s the story of the man – a really good man – and he dies,” she says. “He doesn’t think of himself as a hero and he goes to heaven to meet five people that have affected his life. It’s a real sweet, uplifting tale.”
Brian Mangual, at B-Side Music in Edwards, has a list of cool recordings to wrap up and put under the tree. He says “Christmas With the Rat Pack” is a sure winner. The album features those original slicksters, Frank, Dean and Sammy, singing such Christmas favs as “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow,” “Silver Bells” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
“My first pick would be “Verve Remixed 2,'” Mangual says.
That CD features recordings by Dizzy Gillespie, Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and Hugh Masekela remixed by contemporary DJs, including Felix the Housecat, the Funky Lowlives and Dan the Automater.
Mangual also recommends “Hotel Costes 6,” a recording of French lounge music.
“If you’re having a cocktail party or a dinner and you want something a little more sophisticated, but up to date, that’s exactly what these are,” Mangual says. “This is all fresh stuff.”
In the same genre, Aikens suggests Pink Martini’s “Sympathique.”
“It’s really, really cool,” he says. “When people walk in, they hear it and they have to buy it and sometimes they also buy it for their friends.”
There’s also the Buddha Bar series, named after a bar in Paris.
“Any of the Buddha Bars are incredible,” Aikens says. “It’ll blow your mind. They’re a little pricey, but they’re worth every penny.”
During the holidays, Mangual says, never forget the reggae fan in the family.
“For the Reggae fan –it’s the Easy Star All-Stars’ “The Dub Side of the Moon,'” he says. It’s Pink Floyd’s classic “Dark Side of the Moon” done island style.
“It’s done faithfully, note for note, so it still matches up with the “Wizard of the Oz,'” he says. Those who know about the connection, know what Mangual’s talking about. Finally, Mangual has some advice for parents trying to buy music for teen-agers.
“If you want to know what music your kids want for Christmas, just ask,” he says. “Kids are so hot and cold with what they want to hear. Find out what they want, and get them that.”
What we mean by classics is that Jimi Hendrix has released a new live album, “Live at Berkeley,” with renditions of “Purple Haze,” “Foxey Lady” and Voodoo Child.”
And in August, Neil Young put out a batch of old albums never-before released on CD, such as “On the Beach,” an obscure mid-’70 masterpiece that’s far better the Young’s latest release, the stumbling song-cycle, “Greendale.”
Other venerables who have new albums out include Elvis Costello, who has gone miraculously mellow on “North.” But never fear, he’s also re-released some of his torpedo-rockers from the late ’70s and early ’80s, “Get Happy” and “Trust,” a pair of rock “n’ roll classics.
And the Del McCoury Band also has a new record, “It’s Just the Night,” that’s up to par with most of the sizzling bluegrass band’s previous releases.
Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.