Some books that make ideal last minute Christ­mas gift sug­ges­tions

Montreal Times - - News -

With Christ­mas just a mere few days away, and you are still scram­bling for some gift ideas for a friend, rel­a­tive or loved one, there is noth­ing like a book, es­pe­cially an at­trac­tive, il­lus­trated hard­cover that could grace any cof­fee ta­ble in the home. Here are four di­verse choices that could make it to your last­minute Christ­mas gift list.

* * * Vet­eran author and pho­tog­ra­pher Mackay L. Smith cer­tainly has a pas­sion for Mon­treal, its his­tory, and its pre­served her­itage, and he tran­scended it into four pic­to­rial tomes that fo­cused on the his­tor­i­cal rich­ness of Mon­treal’s land­marks and districts, whether it be McGill Univer­sity, Sher­brooke Street or the Golden Square Mile.

For his fifth book, Smith has lit­er­ally cen­tred his fo­cus on the ma­jor piece of greenspace that forms the nu­cleus of the city: Mount Royal. From ev­ery di­rec­tion, Smith gives a richly il­lus­trated his­tory of Mount Royal’s three sum­mits, and the many houses, build­ings, struc­tures and mon­u­ments that are sprin­kled through­out the moun­tain, and the sto­ries be­hind them, whether it be the look­outs, the CBC trans­mit­ter tower, the Mount Royal Cross, Beaver Lake, the Cartier Mon­u­ment and St. Joseph’s Ora­tory, to name a few.Through dili­gent re­search (con­cise, in­for­ma­tive texts) and 110 con­tem­po­rary and his­toric pho­tos (thanks to the Not­man Col­lec­tion at the Mc­Cord Mu­seum), Smith tells a fas­ci­nat­ing story of how a dead vol­cano turned into a much cher­ished piece of his­tor­i­cal greenspace (that was trans­formed into a much used pub­lic park thanks to Fred­er­ick Law Olm­stead, the same man who devel­oped New York City’s Cen­tral Park). A must have vol­ume for Mon­treal his­tory buffs and for­mer Mon­treal res­i­dents who al­ways en­joyed Mount Royal’s ma­jes­tic nat­u­ral beauty all year round.

* * *

Os­car-win­ning ac­tress Reese With­er­spoon (“Legally Blonde”, “Walk the Line”, “Sweet Home Alabama”) maybe Hol­ly­wood roy­alty these days, but she re­mains faith­ful to her down home Deep South roots and val­ues, which were im­parted upon her by her grand­mother Dorothea, which com­bined the qual­i­ties of beauty and strength.

And Ms.With­er­spoon has used these val­ues that she learned through her life out­side of Hol­ly­wood, es­pe­cially when it comes to rais­ing her fam­ily, liv­ing her ev­ery­day life, cook­ing and en­ter­tain­ing at home.

In her book Whiskey in A Teacup, Ms. With­er­spoon, in such aes­thet­i­cally eye­catch­ing de­tail, shows how you can live a sim­ple down home life from how to cel­e­brate hol­i­days, to how to en­joy watch­ing the Ken­tucky Derby, to hav­ing your own South­ern book club, to home dé­cor, to even a good old fash­ioned fam­ily road trip.

And there is a good se­lec­tion of Ms. With­er­spoon’s fa­vorite South­ern recipes, where you can make and en­joy such mouth-wa­ter­ing dishes as corn­bread chili pie, pe­can crusted chicken skew­ers, mint juleps, thick break­fast bis­cuits (with or with­out the gravy) and le­mon­ade stand-style le­mon­ade.

Gar­nished with plenty of beau­ti­ful pho­tos, this book is as lovely and charm­ing as Reese With­er­spoon her­self.

***

Through­out his 12year Hall of Fame ca­reer in the NHL, Num­ber 4 Bobby Orr never seemed to rest on his lau­rels.

And through­out those 12 years in pro hockey (mostly with the Bos­ton Bru­ins), Orr set the bar high for a new gen­er­a­tion of de­fence­men, led the Bru­ins to two Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­onships, and com­piled count­less NHL records and Art Ross tro­phies.

A firm be­liever of the pho­to­graph as a means to cap­ture those spe­cial mo­ments in one’s life and ca­reer, he delved into his vast col­lec­tion of pho­tos to pro­duce Bobby: My Story in Pic­tures, a per­fect com­pan­ion vol­ume to his best selling mem­oir that was pub­lished a few years ago. Through many never-seen­be­fore pho­to­graphs, the books shows the many faces of the pri­vate and pub­lic Bobby Orr, from his be­gin­nings grow­ing up in Parry Sound, On­tario, to the be­gin­ning of his pro ca­reer with the Oshawa Gen­er­als, to re­viv­ing a dor­mant Bos­ton Bru­ins team, to cap­ping off his ca­reer with the Chicago Black­hawks in the late 70s.

And of course, no pho­to­graphic au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of Bobby Orr is com­plete with­out the iconic photo of Orr tak­ing a fly­ing leap the mo­ment af­ter he scored the win­ning goal against the St. Louis Blues dur­ing the 1970 Stan­ley Cup Fi­nals. How­ever, he in­cluded one photo fol­low­ing that mo­ment that has never been seen, which showed de­jected Blues play­ers Glen Hall and Noel Pi­card mo­ments af­ter Orr scored the win­ning goal, as his Bru­ins team­mates piled upon him off cam­era.

This book is a won­der­ful il­lus­trated trib­ute by the man who de­fined pro­fes­sional hockey in the mod­ern, post-1967 ex­pan­sion era, and truly showed a gen­uine love of the game, even 40 years af­ter he hung up his skates.

***

Ernest Hem­ing­way is one of great­est writ­ers in mod­ern Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture, who showed through vivid de­scrip­tions and prose that was filled with sim­ple word econ­omy, the glo­ries of the ma­cho life that was filled with fun, ad­ven­ture and dan­ger, whether it be fight­ing a war, bull fight­ing, deep sea fish­ing, or sa­fari hunt­ing in Africa through the pages of such clas­sic nov­els like The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms.

Hem­ing­way was not only the liv­ing em­bod­i­ment of his many writ­ings, but was also a com­plex, trou­bled in­di­vid­ual to boot.Thanks to the Hem­ing­way Col­lec­tion at the John F. Kennedy Li­brary, this book gives a new face to the lit­er­ary and per­sonal side of Ernest Hem­ing­way through plenty of rare pho­tos, let­ters and ar­ti­facts, from be­ing an am­bu­lance driver in Italy dur­ing World War I; to his early days as a news­pa­per re­porter for the Toronto Star; to be­ing part of the Lost Gen­er­a­tion in Paris dur­ing the Roar­ing 20s; to wit­ness­ing and re­port­ing the Span­ish Civil War and World War II; to re­lax­ing, sport­ing and fish­ing in Key West and Havana; to his tor­tur­ous fi­nal years in Ketchum, Idaho, where he trag­i­cally died in 1961.

This book is the ideal com­pan­ion that should give read­ers a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of Ernest Hem­ing­way’s world, and what drove him to write such un­for­get­table works that were filled with so much machismo and dar­ing ad­ven­ture.

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