Give and get: Penguin continues a holiday tradition by asking some of their authors what books they want to give and get this year (not limited to Penguin books!). Some highlights: Tana French (high on our own list of best authors to give) is giving Watership Down (not just for kids!) and George MacDonald Fraser's Black Ajax, and would most like to get new copies of read-till-they-fell-apart favorites like National Velvet and The Once and Future King (also not just for kids!); Dinaw Mengestu is giving David Vann's Legend of a Suicide and wants Jennifer Egan's Visit from the Goon Squad; and Sarah Dessen and Khaled Hosseini both want Keith Richards's Life. And I'll second Nick Hornby's recommendation of Sarah Blakewell's delightfully and appropriately nontraditional biography of Montaigne, How to Live, which he celebrated at entertaining length in his latest Believer column (available online only as a teaser).
Blomkvist the bimb The WSJ prints two emails Steig Larsson sent to his editor Eva Godin, which are also included in the extra volume, "On Stieg Larsson," that's part of the new Millennium Trilogy Deluxe Boxed Set, and which provide some interesting background on his thinking about the series (warning, though: I'm midway through book two, and the first email contains a major spoiler about that book!):
I have tried to create main characters who are drastically different from the types who generally appear in crime novels. Mikael Blomkvist, for instance, doesn't have ulcers, or booze problems or an anxiety complex. He doesn't listen to operas, nor does he have an oddball hobby such as making model airplanes. He doesn't have any real problems, and his main characteristic is that he acts like a stereotypical "slut," as he himself admits. I have also deliberately changed the sex roles: In many ways Blomkvist acts like a typical "bimbo," while Lisbeth Salander has stereotypical "male" characteristics and values.
Geek gifts: The NYer's Book Bench offers some gift suggestions for the "art and design geek" in your life, including a delicious-looking "book" I am planning to give and hoping to get:Postcards from Penguin: One Hundred Book Covers in One Box.