Archived Reading Room

Here’s to inflation-fighting holiday gifts

Here’s to inflation-fighting holiday gifts

According to a recent U.S. News & World Report article, “The 15 Richest Counties in the U.S.,” five of these counties are next door neighbors to Washington, D.C. These are the bedroom communities for the capitol, the home of politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists, and others who have their finger in the federal pie and tell the rest of us how to live.

Some of these are the same folks who brought us our current inflation, Republicans and Democrats, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, all of whom printed out boatloads of money in the last four years and some of whom even today tell the rest of us that inflation really isn’t so bad.

Those who dare utter those words clearly don’t do their own shopping at the grocery store like us peasants. Anybody with eyes to see and half a brain — apparently those are disqualifiers for most of our politicos — has only to push a cart through their local store and look at the prices. (I’ve given up the juice for a bit, allowing my liver to convalesce, but I did notice that the price of my favorite boxed wine has risen not a penny in six months. A blessing on the head of those vintners.) 

Some say that with our ongoing supply chain issues, the rise of fuel prices, and a possible diesel shortage, the costs of food will continue to eat up the bucks in our billfolds. 

By now, you may be wondering, “Okay, Minick, you’re dragging us down. Aren’t you supposed to be shooting out a book review here?”

I’m glad you asked. Here are some books that will not only help fight inflation, but will also make fine holiday gifts and bring families closer together.

Related Items

First up is Danielle Kartes’ “My Very First Cookbook: Joyful Recipes to Make Together” (Sourcebooks Explore, 2020, 96 pages). Aimed at kids from pre-school through third grade, this guide to the kitchen and cuisine encourages cooking at home, sharing the pots and pans with the budding chefs in your home, and having some fun together. With sweet pictures by Annie Wilkinson, “My Very First Cookbook” includes more than 45 recipes for such tasty delights as fluffy lemon and ricotta pancakes, easy-peasy tomato soup, turkey pinwheels, and creamy soda fountain egg creams. Instead of trotting the little ones off to some fast food restaurant, teach them to prepare some of these treats. 

Canned goods make great inflation fighters, as they’re still generally cheap and can sit on the pantry shelf for years. “A Man, a Can, a Plan: 50 Great Guy Meals Even You Can Make” (Rodale Books, 2002, 43 pages) is aimed at men, right down to the stain-resistant pages, and offers easily-prepared recipes that mostly come from a can. But anyone can use this book to put together such dishes as mondo nachos, green grocer goulash, and cowboy stew. David Joachim and the editors of Men’s Health have also produced two follow-up volumes: “A Man, A Can, A Plan, A Second Helping” and “A Man, A Can, A Microwave.” 

I’ve used some of these recipes off and on over the years. Are they the equivalent of a gourmet feast? No, but they’re tasty and inexpensive. 

Enough about sustenance for the body; now let’s do the same for the heart and soul.

Two of our great American treasures are our public libraries and our bookshops, new and used. There we can browse at our leisure, poking through shelves of novels, biographies, art books, and whatever other topic snags our fancy. The bookshops are ideal places to locate gifts for the holidays, and the libraries provide alternatives to the digital life for the kids, especially over the winter months when snow blankets our mountains and the temperature outdoors is as enticing as the inside of a butcher’s freezer.

But what, we might wonder, might be a great read for our high school nephew or a book suited to our 8-year-old sports loving daughter?

Enter Gladys Hunt.

Hunt gave us two books that should be front and center in the home library of every parent and grandparent: “Honey for a Child’s Heart” (Zondervan, Updated and Expanded Edition 2021, 272 pages) and “Honey for a Teen’s Heart” (Zondervan, 2002, 304 pages). Though Hunt died at age 83 in 2010, these two great resources live on, maintained by the publisher and by some of her descendants.

“Honey for a Child’s Heart,” appropriately subtitled “The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life,” aims to inspire parents and guardians in the uses of literature and to act as a guide to hundreds of books, all arranged by topic and geared to the child’s age. Here, for example, we find fiction for the 9-12 year-old gang by authors like E. L. Konigsburg, Scott O’Dell, Beverly Cleary, and Jean George as well as classics by Kipling, Frances Burnett, and James Daugherty. What’s wonderful too is that once your child discovers an author like Katherine Paterson or Theodore Taylor, the library will likely stock other stories by that author as well.

“Honey For a Teen’s Heart” performs the same fine service, giving teens and parents hundreds of ideas for books as well as inspiring them to read in the first place, including tips on how to read a book and how to question what you read. 

Hunt also wrote “Honey for a Woman’s Heart,” which would make a great gift for any female from grandma to your fiancée. (Guys might enjoy this one, too, at least surreptitiously.)

A devout Christian, Hunt does include works on Christianity and novels of faith in these lists, but readers of all religious persuasions can find gold in this literary mine.

Here are books that will guide you through the library, but also give you plenty of reading without spending a fortune. 

So there you are, some inflation-busting gifts for the holidays.

Enjoy!

(Jeff Minick reviews books and has written four of his own: two novels, “Amanda Bell” and “Dust On Their Wings,” and two works of nonfiction, “Learning As I Go” and “Movies Make the Man.” This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

Leave a comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.