This year give a book that celebrates all that is family

‘Family, a celebration,’ edited by Margaret Campbell with photographs by Joan Beard.

Sunny Solomon Book Review(Dec. 18, 2023) — Before any book talk, I offer a heartfelt wish to all my loyal readers for the happiest of all the holidays celebrated at this time.

In years past, I would usually find a new Christmas book to suggest. But this year, I want to recommend a book I bought several years ago at a library book sale. It was in mint condition as many books are, especially coffee table books that probably never saw the top of any table.

It’s not an oversized book, but modestly sized at 10½ by 8½ inches, and it has more than pictures. I found “Family: A Celebration” to be a most fitting title for a holiday book. Pictures by gifted photographer Joan Beard enhance the memoirs, essays and poetry by authors of note and some that will be new to you.

The book is separated into six parts: What a Family Is, Families Are Human, Sounds That Bond, A Sense of Place, Work and Family, and Time Together, Time Apart. Some of the authors are no longer with us: Galway Kinnell, John Updike, Maxine Kumin, while others are still writing: Nikki Giovanni, Barbara Kingsolver, Anna Quindlen.

What I love about this book is that no matter how many times I pull it off the shelf (I don’t really do coffee table books) and open it, there’s always something special that I’ve missed or something I am happy to read again.

For the quiet moments

I have a fondness for books that don’t require a thorough read. It’s that perfect book for a cup of coffee or tea between household chores, or maybe that quiet moment before bed with a small brandy.

Recommending “Family” gives me a chance to encourage readers to take a chance on essays, poetry and memoir. While memoir may not be my favorite genre, those included in “Family” are incredibly special and none are longer than a few pages.

The work contains a remarkable variety of takes on family as a subject. Whether we are single, just beginning a family or part of the ever-growing population of grandparents with families nearby or many miles away, “Family: A Celebration” will make a wonderful holiday gift.

Dennis Saleh’s poem “Inventing a Family” is quirky, edgy and movingly satisfying. It can convince a reader that poetry is not mysterious and may even be fun. I’ve reread it many times, as I have the memoir by Susan Vreeland about dealing with her mother’s dementia.

It is a very American book in its range of ethnicity and points of view. It is reflective of our own community. And hey – it was even published in America.

Because the book is not new, I worried that it may not be readily available. However, that is not the case. New and used copies are still out there waiting for that special table or shelf to add to a family’s library.

Visit for Sunny’s latest recommendations or just to ‘talk books.’

Sunny Solomon
Sunny Solomon
Freelance writer at Clayton Book Club | Website

Sunny Solomon holds an MA in English/Creative Writing, San Francisco State University. She is a book reviewer for “The Clayton Pioneer” and her poetry and other writing has been published in literary journals, one chapbook, In the Company of Hope and the collection, Six Poets Sixty-six Poems. She was the happy manager of Bonanza Books, Clayton, CA and Clayton Books, Clayton, CA. She continues to moderate a thriving book club that survived the closure of the store from which it began. Sunny currently lives next to the Truckee in Reno, NV.