Books are a big part of my life. I like to read them, look at them, feel them, smell them… And I love giving them as gifts – especially big, glossy coffee table versions that create an impact. Added bonus: I find that a fabulous book is a great choice for those on my list who are hard to shop for. Here are a few that I’m considering that might be right for the challenging giftees on your list too:

Vanity Fair Book

For the culture vulture: Vanity Fair 100 Years

The Kate Moss Book

For the fashionable one: The Kate Moss Book

Slim Aarons La Dolce Vita Book

For the aesthete: Slim Aarons: La Dolce Vita

Rock n Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip

For the music lover: Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip

Shake Book

For the dog lover: Shake

Los Angeles- Portrait of a City

For the proud Angeleno (or enthusiastic transplant): Los Angeles: Portrait of a City

Jerusalem Cookbook

For the cook with a taste for adventure: Jerusalem a Cookbook

Beautiful Lego

For the Lego lover of any age: Beautiful Lego

Moments That Made the Movies

For the movie buff: Moments That Made The Movies 

Happy gifting! Happy reading!

Claudia, WCM



In honor of the end of the World Series, I thought I’d share an old post about a good baseball book. (Even though the Giants won…)

I’ve just started reading The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach, and although I wasn’t sure I would like it, I have to say, I’m really engaged. It’s a beautifully written novel about friendship and opportunities and love – with a dash of baseball thrown in. Normally, this wouldn’t be a selling point for me, but now that Miles is “all little league, all the time” and Rob is one of his coaches, it behooves me to have some sort of interest in what they are doing. This book is not only a captivating read, but it also gives me a bit of perspective on a game that heretofore I never cared about unless I was guaranteed hot dogs and nachos while I watched.* So, if you’ve lost your household to “the boys of summer”, you may want to give this satisfying novel a try.

Claudia, WCM

*Okay, I still kind of need them…


David Sedaris

The first David Sedaris book I read was “Me Talk Pretty One Day”. I don’t know how I found it – if someone recommended it or if I just read a review – but I’m so, so glad I did. As I mentioned in my previous DSMMH post, he is one of the wittiest, most clever writers around, and this book is the perfect introduction to his strange, dry humor. I had no idea what I was in for when I began reading, but I was soon completely enamored by Sedaris’ stories. His childhood experiences – growing up in a typical all-american town when he wasn’t typical at all – are perfection. And his commentary on life in Paris as an American transplant are side-splitting. I’ve read and re-read it and even listened to it during a road trip, and it cracks me up every time. If you haven’t read this book, you really should. And if you have, you should read it again, because guess what? It’s still totally funny.

Claudia, WCM


About 10 years ago, my friend Heather, Rob and I decided to see “Twelfth Night” on a random summer evening. On the night of, we got dressed in our “theater” clothes and went to the show at a venue none of us had been too before. When we arrived we quickly realized the following:

  1. The play was held outside.
  2. Everyone had picnics. (We did not.)
  3. Everyone had blankets. (We did not.)
  4. Everyone was in their comfy, casual clothes. (We were not.)

Despite not being prepared in the least, we enjoyed the play immensely and vowed to go again – but with a plan…

The following year we found The Independent Shakespeare Company of LA (originally at Barnsdall Park, now at Griffith Park) and it’s absolutely perfect. Each year we get a group together, plan a charcuterie, cheese and wine fueled picnic, load up the blankets and head out. We usually go in August so it’s become an “end-of-summer” ritual that we look forward to all year. The atmosphere is relaxed, the players know their stuff, the set and costumes have a modern accessible feel, the park itself is lovely and temperate (what?), AND IT’S FREE. Yes, free. Of course, you can donate at the end of the show (and believe me you’ll be more than willing) but if you can’t, you can’t and that’s okay too. It’s a wonderful experience, even if you’re not a dorkie Shakespeare fan like me. I urge you to give it a try – Saturday night we saw “The Taming of the Shrew” and it was amazing – there’s still a couple of weekends left, so check out ISCLA.org and enjoy!

Claudia, WCM



When I was in kindergarten, my mom started taking me to the library every weekend. I proudly received my own library card and happily hung out in the children’s section searching through the colorful books or reading in the beanbag chairs. While I enjoyed our time there, the highlight of those outings was when we left and I was allowed to check out as many books as I wanted. I felt SO lucky! Like most, my childhood was filled with limits: only two cookies, five more minutes of park time, roller skating or bowling, so the idea that I had carte blanche was pretty thrilling. Each week I would load up on books – my check out stack absurdly high – and though most were new to me, there were a few favorites that I added again and again. Here they are:

IMG_2354Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
By Judith Viorst

I loved that this book was written from the perspective of a grouchy kid. Alexander complained, he was mad, he got in trouble, he didn’t get what he wanted and well, he just had to deal with it. The only silver lining at the end of his terrible day was that it was over. The reality of that appealed to me even then.

By Ezra Jack Keats

This book was my first thriller. There was a street fight and “big boys” who chased the main characters! I rooted for the heroes and was proud of them when their teamwork and guts got them home safely. (And their dog was really cute.)

IMG_2356Ira Sleeps Over
By Bernard Waber

Ira and his friend Reggie’s plans for their upcoming sleep over fascinated me: playing office, pillow fights, ghost stories, gum wrapper chains, the list went on and on. Throw in the comeuppance of a bratty older sister and a few key points about being true to yourself and you’ve got one pretty satisfying read.

IMG_2355Miss Nelson Is Missing
By Harry Allard and James Marshall

Ah, the kids in Miss Nelson’s class were horrible. They were the worst, most disruptive, non-listening group you can think of. They made me feel so well-behaved! Not to mention the story and drawings made me laugh and I felt oh-so-clever when I figured out the ending ahead of time.

IMG_2352Bread and Jam For Frances
By Russell Hoban

Every time I read this book I got hungry. The precise and loving descriptions of both Albert’s and Frances’ lunches made me long for elaborately produced school meals complete with paper doilies and cardboard salt shakers. Everything sounded delicious and perfectly presented. Sometimes when I’m making Miles’ lunch I’m reminded of them and think, “Wow, Albert and Frances would be horrified.”

IMG_2350I’ll Fix Anthony
By Judith Viorst

This was probably my favorite. I loved reading about this nameless every-kid and all the things he was going to do once he turned six and was old enough to “fix” Anthony, his bully older brother. He would skip faster, he would dive off the diving board, he would start reading the New York Times, he would mentally add multiple numbers and sharpen pencils and memorize his zip code! Never mind that his brother was going to clobber him any minute, he had a PLAN.

So there you have them, my six favorite children’s books. Miles has enjoyed them all and soon I’ll be reading them to Duke. Sharing them has allowed me to revisit those beloved library trips with my mom – reading books, lounging in the beanbag chairs and feeling lucky.

Claudia, WCM