With holiday shopping now in full swing, it’s time for part 3 in my All I Want for Cleve-Mas series. Previously I talked about events that make it easy to shop local this season, as well as what’s on stage in Cleveland for the holidays.
Today, it’s all about books!
I wish I had more time to read and am very slowly working my way through a stack of books I bought over the last year. Besides being on a big Neil Gaiman and Jasper Fforde kick lately, I’ve also been catching up on my Cleveland reading.
For the “bookworms” on your list, Gray & Co. Publishing offers books about Cleveland and by Cleveland authors – from biographies and food to travel and mystery.
Here are a few of the books I’ve read or have on my to-read list. What books would you recommend for a Cleveland-centric holiday gift?
Dick Goddard’s Six Inches of Partly Cloudy
With the snow we get every year, Clevelanders need to follow the weather forecasts closely. So it’s not too surprising that Fox8 meteorologist Dick Goddard is as much a Cleveland institution as the Rock Hall. As their chief meteorologist since 1966, he has been forecasting the weather for over 40 years and was twice named most popular local television weatherperson in America.
As someone who’s not originally from Cleveland, I’ve observed that people’s love for Goddard doesn’t just come from our need to know about the city’s ever-changing weather, but also because of his personality and dedication to local causes.
Six Inches of Partly Cloudy features personal tales shared by Goddard, cartoons, fun facts, and essays about weather, pets, Ohio history and the TV business. Goddard’s friends and colleagues tell stories of the legend as well.
My favorite part of this book, though, isn’t the stories or the illustrations, but the fact that all income from it is being donated by Goddard to the cause he’s most well-known for supporting - animal charities.
Les Roberts’ Milan Jacovich Mysteries
Raised on a steady diet of Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Rockford Files, and Quincy M.E. episodes, I am a huge fan of murder mysteries. I share this love with my mom – as we have a long-standing tradition of trading mystery novels back and forth.
I know what I’ll be getting her this year after learning about Les Roberts’ series of Cleveland-based mystery novels. I was first introduced to Roberts’ writing at a Meet the Author event over the summer.
It was in honor of his recently released novel The Cleveland Creep, the 15th installment in a detective series focused on the fictional character Milan Jacovich.
In addition to capturing the gritty seediness I like in my mystery novels, Roberts’ novels also embrace the city of Cleveland as their setting. Although some of the places in the book are fictional, many of the region’s neighborhoods are brought to life on the page and Roberts takes inspiration from local people and events.
While I was at the meet-and-greet, I also bought his memoir We’ll Always Have Cleveland. His story of coming to Cleveland for a job, but finding a life-long home is something I’m proud to share. This book is sitting on my table at home – next up on my reading list.
Before Scott and I moved to Cleveland, we visited the city one weekend to check it out. While we were getting ready to go apartment-hunting, we flipped on the tv in our hotel room and stumbled upon an episode of the Big Chuck and Lil’ John Show.
We were quickly drawn into the offbeat movie-and-skits show. I remember they were playing Weird Al’s UHF and had a handful of bizarre but endearing sketches - looking back, that was one of the moments that made us realize how well we fit in here.
Sadly, right after we moved, Big Chuck announced his retirement and the show stopped airing that year (though I just read they started running their classic skits again on Fox 8 so I’ll have to set my dvr).
Having missed the heyday of Big Chuck and Lil’ John, I was excited to check out his bio. Big Chuck! features stories from his decades in television, not just on the show that bears his name, but also through his collaboration with Ernie Anderson on the infamous cult classic, Ghoulardi.
Laura Taxel’s Cleveland Ethnic Eats
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know how much I love Cleveland’s food scene. There’s a lot to discover – not just from the city’s assortment of exciting restaurants recently popping up, but also from the smaller ethnic restaurants and markets that make up our foodscape.
Food writer Laura Taxel compiled a guide to help explore Cleveland’s diverse cultures in Cleveland Ethnic Eats (8th edition, 2009). She curated information on 356 ethnic restaurants and markets to help readers expand their palate and enjoy authentic meals from more than 60 different countries and cultures.
Detailed listings make it easy to decide where to go for dinner by listing menu items and specialties. And stories and history about the different local businesses add a personal touch as well.
Neil Zurcher’s Ohio Road Trips
One of my goals in 2012 is to explore more of Ohio than just Cleveland. I’ve heard about a lot of great towns which I haven’t visited yet so I plan to be taking at least a couple of roadtrips this coming year to learn more about the state.
Because of this, Neil Zurcher‘s books are on my shopping list. As a journalist and broadcaster whose work has focused on exploring the region (especially through his One Tank Road Trip segments), Zurcher has become an expert on Ohio travel.
In Ohio Road Trips 2nd Edition, he outlines 52 roadtrips to take in Ohio which feature places like a popcorn museum (that has Scott’s name all over it!) and Amish country getaways. And his book Tales from the Road is a nostalgic reflection on the quirky experiences he’s had and people he’s met while exploring the state.
Although he’s been publishing these books for a while, they’re still fresh and helpful for an Ohioan hitting the road for the first time (like me!).
Dan Coughlin’s Pass the Nuts
A list of Cleveland gift ideas would be incomplete without books that feature the city’s storied sports history.
From The Brown’s Fans Tailgating Guide to Curses! (A Lifetime of Tough Luck, Bad Breaks, Goofs, Gaffes, and Blunders), these books often humorously look at the ups and downs of Cleveland’s sports teams and share stories about the beloved personalities who have brought us our sports news over the decades.
Pass the Nuts is the latest Cleveland sports-centric book to be published by Gray & Co. It is author Dan Coughlin’s second collection of stories about the unusual characters he has met in four decades as a sports journalist.
The Rocky River native, who traveled with the Browns and Indians, covered five major college bowl games, world championship boxing and international races, writes equally about big names like Steinbrenner and Ted Turner and just-as-crazy everyday moments like death-defying helicopter rides to cover high school football.
You can purchase any of these books online at Gray & Co.’s online store, or you can also support Cleveland’s brick-and-mortars by buying these books from places like Visible Voice Books in Tremont or the stores listed here.
Next week, I’ll have my last installment of “All I Want for Cleve-Mas” with a list of places and events that make me actually want to bundle up and enjoy Cleveland’s crisp winter. In the meantime, check out The Chef’s Widow’s post on shopping local this holiday and enter her giveaway for some great CLE swag!
Gray & Co. 411: