What marks the start of the holiday season for you?
Thanksgiving—it's an occasion in which the entire family gets together, and it feels festive.
Does your family have a special holiday tradition?
At the end of the holidays, we have a family reunion with extended family. On the last night of that get-together, the kids (college age) take the tree and the wreath out into the snow and set fire to them. The bonfire that results is spectacular against the winter sky.
What’s your favorite holiday book or song?
It's hard to pick one among all the Christmas carols, which we begin listening to right after Thanksgiving, but I think "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" is my favorite.
Why do books make the best gifts?
Books make the best gifts because they offer hours of pure pleasure. When I lived abroad, my parents would send me a box of books for Christmas. It was the most wonderful gift imaginable. I'd start reading right after Christmas morning and wouldn't stop for days.
What books are you planning to give to friends and family?
Elinor Lipman's The Family Man; Mameve Medwed's Of Men and Their Mothers; Richard Russo's That Old Cape Magic; Michael Connelly's Nine Dragons; Ron Hansen’s Mariette in Ecstasy; Joan Wickersham's The Suicide Index; W.G. Sebald's Austerlitz; Bernard MacLaverty's Cal; and The Given Day by Dennis Lehane.
What’s your number one resolution for 2010?
Same as for the last 10 years: exercise and eat more sensibly. I really ought to pick a new one this time around, since it's clear I can't make this one stick.
Review of Change in Altitude