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Declaration of Independents

Local experts point the way to great gift books.


<Nick Cooke, owner
Black Swan Books, 2601 W. Main St.

“A beautiful gift book would be H.L. Mencken’s ‘Christmas Story’ (Knopf, $25), which takes a sardonic look at Christmas from one of the twentieth century’s most popular journalists. Or for the serious collector there’s the first English edition of Winston Churchill’s ‘A History of the English Speaking Peoples’ (Cassell, $1,250). These books show the range of collectable books we sell as well as our ability to cater to different tastes.”

Ward Tefft, owner
Chop Suey Books,1317 W. Cary St.

“I really like this book called ‘Freak Show’ (Chronicle, $9.50), by Carl Hammer and Gideon Bosker. It features reproductions of sideshow banner art that appeared in circuses from the ’20s through the ’50s. Also ‘Rising Up and Rising Down’ (McSweeney’s, $120), by William T. Vollmann. It’s a seven-volume set on the social and cultural history of violence. I think both of these books represent what Chop Suey has to offer. They’re both kind of oddball but really interesting, which is a lot like us.”

Kelly Justice, manager
The Fountain Bookstore, 1312 E. Cary St.

“For kids I like ‘Bill in the China Shop’ (Bloomsbury, $16.95), written by Katie Weaver and Diane Vuhane, and illustrated by Tim Raglin. It’s a great story about a bull whose taste draws him to a china shop, but whose size keeps him from buying what he wants. For adults, ‘Author Photo: Portraits, 1983-2002’ (Simon & Schuster, $35), by Marion Ettlinger. Ettlinger is the Annie Leibovitz of author photography, and this book is filled with fascinating portraits of writers. Both of these books show both the uniqueness and range of our store.”

Paula Price, owner
Price & Sons Book Store, 1332 Sycamore Square.

“The first American edition of ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ (Lea & Blanchard, $125) by Charles Dickens would make a great gift. This edition was pirated and Dickens didn’t make a cent on it. Also ‘Robert E. Lee: An Album’ (WW Norton & Co., $10) has photographs and a brief biography which would be great for any history buff. Both books reflect our specialties of classic literature and Virginia history.”

Frank Saunders, buyer
Café Gutenberg, 1700 E. Main St.

“I really like the anthology ‘Life Turns Man Up and Down: High Life, Useful Advice and Mad English’ (Pantheon Books, $26.95), selected and introduced by Kurt Thometz. It’s a collection of unique Nigerian market literature popular between the ’40s and ’60s and it makes a great gift. Also ‘The Eye Club’ (Fraenkel Gallery, $65) by Jeffrey Fraenkel showcases a wide range of work covering the history of the medium of photography. The photographs come from the Fraenkel Gallery, one of the first galleries to feature photographs as works of art. We feature both foreign literature in translation as well as art books like these.” S

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