The gift of books: 25 voices

November 17, 1996

What book are you giving this season to people who are very special to you, with the firm hope that their lives will be enriched by reading it?

And what book would you give to a prominent person whom you have never met, but would very much like to know?

In two sentences or less explain why those books and identify the stranger.

Parris Glendening

Governor of Maryland

A children's book, "The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate The Wash," by Trinka Hakes Noble, is my book for a special person. There are few greater joys than reading to children. Whenever I have an opportunity to visit a school, this book is one of my favorites to share. I would give this book to my adult friends, in the hope that they too will experience the same pleasure.

I would really enjoy meeting film director Steven Spielberg. I truly admire him, not only for his science fiction films, but also for his love of history and his commitment to preserving a record of the Holocaust. I would give him "The Foundation Trilogy" by Isaac Asimov. He has probably already read it, but it would be great to discuss it with him.

Carla Hayden

Director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library

This year I plan to give the most special and supportive people in my life - my mother and grandmother, who are both great readers - Alice Steinbach's "The Miss Dennis School of Writing and Other Lesson's from A Woman's Life." Her collection of experiences will hopefully touch and comfort them while also giving them a better sense of the city I now live in.

The person I would like to meet is a pioneer and visionary in the information technology environment and I would like to present a copy of the very entertaining and informative "A History of Reading," by Alberto Manguel. I think that Bill Gates, the founder and CEO of Microsoft, might find Manguel's excursion through the reader's world will give additional conceptual depth to his efforts.

Diane Rehm

Executive producer and host of the "Diane Rehm Show" on National Public Radio broadcast from WAMU-FM in Washington.

"No Free Ride," by former Maryland Rep. Kweisi Mfume. An inspiring story of a man who moved from the anger of deprivation into a world of education, community responsibility and achievement. The perfect gift for anyone who is struggling to find a way of life.

I'm also going to give people a copy of the new book of photographs by Santi Visalli titled "Washington," for which I wrote the introduction.

"Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West," by Stephen Ambrose. The most momentous expedition in American history, across the North American continent, from the Mississippi to the Pacific. An incredibly moving story of partnership, loyalty and persistence, and the ability to overcome unimaginable hardships. The book also documents the leadership role played by President Jefferson, and his ability to work with hostile Congress to achieve his aims. My recipient would be President Bill Clinton.

Sue Karen Donaldson

Dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.

To my special friends I plan to give the book "Sophie's World" by Jostein Gaardner in the hope that they will experience the joy of a rekindled sense of wonder as they read this mystery novel.

I would give Gail Sheehy the book "Written by Herself," edited by Jill Ker Conway because she along with women in this anthology of autobiographies inspire me to continue striving to contribute meaningfully to the human experience of life.

W. Paul Coates

Director of Black Classic Press.

The book I will give over and over this year will be "Merry Christmas Baby," by Paula Woods and Felix Liddell. This is a wonderful collection of essays, poems and illustrations celebrating Christmas and Kwanzaa that will enrich readers all year long.

If the opportunity presented itself, I'd present any one of Walter Mosley's books to Mayor Kurt Schmoke. The mayor often seems like an uptight guy. He should follow Bill Clinton's example; find a quiet place and curl up with Walter's now famous characters, Mouse and Easy Rawlins. Mouse could possibly teach the mayor how to win friends and influence people - like the governor.

Tzvi Hersch Weinreb

Rabbi of Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Baltimore

This year is the 250th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, the great 18th- century mystic and pietist. To my oldest granddaughter, I will be giving a biography of Rabbi Luzzatto, "Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto: His Life and Works," by Yirmeyahu Bindman, and published by Jason Aronson. I hope it will help her to enter adolescence with an appreciation of Jewish poetry and thought.

I would very much like Pope John Paul II to understand the Jewish tradition as I experience it. I would therefore like to give him a copy of a work done by Rabbi Luzzatto, "The Path of the Upright: Mesillat Yesharim." Jason Aronson has also published this work with an English translation.

Peter A. Jay

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