Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holiday to You - Judith Arnold

Holidays are all about tradition, and here’s mine: I always buy myself a Christmas gift, so I’ll know that at least one present I receive will be something I absolutely, utterly want.

Giving gifts to others is delightful, of course. Hunting down—or stumbling upon—the perfect gift for a loved one is gratifying, and witnessing the recipient’s joy when he or she opens the gift is a thrill. Being on the receiving end is fun, too. Sometimes the gift-givers get it right and give you something that captures your personality or satisfies a yearning. Or at least makes you smile.

However, I’m the only female in a family full of boys, and the odds of any of them guessing exactly what I want are pretty slim. They generally know they won’t go wrong by giving me some high-quality chocolate, but even I have a limit of how much Godiva I can handle. Jewelry? My husband is quite generous, but he says, “Since it’s so expensive, you really ought to pick it out yourself. I’d hate to spend all that money on a bracelet you don’t like.” Grooming items? Forget it. None of my boys—husband or sons—would be caught dead browsing in the perfume department.

Music? My sons have given me CD’s by artists I’d never listened to before, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised and happy to add these new musicians to my list of favorites. But unless I hint loudly (“I’d love that Alison Krauss-Robert Plant CD, in case you were wondering...”), they won’t give me the album I’ve been dreaming of.
Clothing? Not a chance. The last article of clothing I received as a holiday gift from one of my boys was my younger son’s worn and battered ski parka. I’d frequently commented on what a great jacket it was, and when, at around age twelve, he outgrew it, he folded it neatly inside a box, wrapped it in pretty paper and left it under the tree for me. The best thing about that present was that I can tease him about it for the rest of his life. (As for clothing my husband might buy me, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t be comfortable opening that sort of package in front of my sons.)

So it seems only sensible that I should buy myself a present, just to be sure that if Santa winds up leaving me a skimpy amount of chocolate and some hand-me-down and/or X-rated garments, a present I really, truly want will also among the parcels tagged with my name.

You probably won’t be surprised when I admit that my bought-for-myself gift is usually a book.

And here is my holiday advice for you: get yourself a book. Get yourself several. Give yourself the gift of hours of reading pleasure. Give yourself a trip to another era or another country. Give yourself some new fictional friends to learn about and fall in love with.

If you own an e-reader—if Santa is kind enough to leave one under your tree for you this year—give yourself some e-books. What good is an e-reader if it doesn’t contain its own towering to-be-read pile?

Recently, I’ve gotten back the rights to some of my out-of-print books, and I’ve begun publishing them as e-books. I’ve had beautiful new covers designed for them and I’ve priced them so inexpensively no one will suffer even a moment’s guilt over buying these books for herself. I’m psyched to know that readers who might never have had a chance to read Cry Uncle, Safe Harbor and Barefoot In the Grass—Judith Arnold classics which have not been available to readers for years—will have a chance to read them now.

Cry Uncle is a comic caper about an architect running from a hit man, a bartender trying to gain permanent custody of his orphaned niece, and the marriage of convenience they enter into so the architect can hide her identity and the bartender can present himself as a proper, stable married man. The book was optioned for a movie when it came out (alas, as with the vast majority of film options, no movie was ever made) and received a 4½-star rave review from Romantic Times.

Safe Harbor is a lyrical story about two childhood friends whose families summered on Block Island, and whose friendship is torn asunder when first one and then the other experience trauma and tragedy. Years later, they both wind up back on Block Island, hoping to heal and in the process learning to trust and to love again. This book was a RITA Award finalist when it originally came out.

Barefoot In the Grass is one of the books I’m best known for. It was the first book Harlequin ever published featuring a heroine who’d had a mastectomy. Both funny and wrenching, it explores the meaning of beauty and the courage it takes to embrace life again after facing down death. For years, I’ve heard from readers telling me this book saved their lives, and from people telling me their mother, sister, daughter or friend had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and needed to read Barefoot In the Grass. My personal supply of the book ran out years ago, and until I regained the rights to this book and made it available at the Kindle Store and Smashwords, the book was unavailable. I am thrilled that women can once again read it for inspiration, as well as a terrific love story.

So indulge yourself. Give yourself the gift you want. Hint for the chocolate, the jewelry, the music, the perfume—and get yourself some wonderful books. Happy holidays!

Judith Arnold is the author of more than eighty-five books. You can learn more about her and find easy links to her e-books at her website,


ev said...

I can't wait to get the "new" books. I have Safe Harbor, somewhere, or did, but will get them anyway.

Are they only available in Kindle format? I use that on my phone and currently have a Sony.

I bought myself a Vera Bradley computer bag/purse. It's the new Symphony of Hue pattern and I love it. No one would know or think to get it for me. I usually end up buying most of my own stuff anyway. Hubby has no clue although sometimes he actually does listen. I am one of those where kitchen appliances and tools are safe to put under the tree.

Have a great Christmas!!

Estella said...

My Kindle has over 200 unread books on it.Looks like the pile is going to get bigger!

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thank you for your post, Judith.

I agree with your notion that books make the ideal present. But if I'm buying them for someone other than myself, and that person hasn't requested a specific title, I'd give a gift card.

Of course, if a booklover doesn't have an e-reader, THAT would be the best present. I've been holding off buying one until the prices come down, and my hard drive is getting kind of cluttered with e-books!

Hope you and yours are having a happy holiday season. Keep up the good work!

Dina said...

Happy Holidays to you also. :)

Michele L. said...

Hi Mary Ann,

Ooo...your book looks great! Definitely going to have to add it to my ever growing TBR pile! Have a wonderful holiday season!