Monday, November 23, 2009

Two Books That Would Make Great Gifts

Gift Book Suggestions

I recently read two books that would make great gifts for the upcoming holidays, especially for writers.

One is a memoir by a political cartoonist, Jeffrey Koterba, titled Inklings. This is a funny, poignant, and interesting look at Koterba’s life journey that was anything but smooth and easy. In it he writes freely about his dysfunctional family, led by an alcoholic father who also had Tourette’s syndrome, but the writing is not filled with angst and anger. It is almost a celebration of the craziness that played a big part in shaping the artist Jeffrey was to become, and he shares that artistry with wonderful sketches sprinkled throughout the book.

The second book 600 Hours of Edward is a novel by Craig Lancaster, and I read this one right after finishing Inklings. This book is about Edward Stanton, a 39 year old man who has a severe case of obsessive-compulsive disorder along with Asperger's syndrome. The title comes from the 25 days, or 600 hours that chronicles the undoing of the life Edward was comfortable with and opening up a new world of possibilities. Change is not something that is easy for a man with OCD and Asperger’s to deal with, and Edward’s journey is equally funny, poignant, and interesting.

One of the things that struck me about these books was that Inklings read so much like a novel and 600 Hours of Edward could have been a memoir. The writing in each is compelling, honest, real, and reflects the characters so completely the reader feels like they are real people. Of course, Jeffrey Koterba is, and Edward Stanton isn’t, but he could be.

I suggest these books for writers as they are great examples of how non-fiction can read with the same drama and immediacy as fiction. But also because they are wonderful examples of how to write about sensitive issues like mental illness, alcoholism, and neurological problems with a frankness that doesn’t offend, yet is very enlightening.


Posted by Maryann Miller who loves to discover new books and new authors to enjoy. Visit Maryann's Web site for information about the holiday special she is offering for her book, One Small Victory. When she is not working, Maryann loves to play "farmer" on her little ranch in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas.


  1. Thanks for the recommendations! They're going on my wish list.

  2. They're going on my list too. Thanks.

  3. You are welcome, and thanks for stopping by to visit today.

    I know you will love these books.

  4. Sounds like two great books about people who overcame obstacles and became better persons for doing so.

    Morgan Mandel

  5. Morgan, I did think it was a bit ironic that I got two books to review back to back that deal with serious neurological and mental health issues. And the two do share some characteristics, which was doubly interesting since one is a real person and the other a fictional character.

  6. Thanks Maryann. These both sound very interesting. And I like the idea of reading them sort of as tutorials.

    Straight From Hel

  7. that was really nice to read this ... that was great to read this story.. nice job.. for more information regarding Pittsburgh memoir writing, Pittsburgh storytelling, Pittsburgh corporate communication u can visit


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