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Originally published Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 7:02 PM

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Lit Life

The books that authors want for Christmas

Even people who write books for a living are hoping for more books for Christmas. Find out what's on the list of Bruce Barcott, Bonny Becker and Katherine Harmon.

Seattle Times book editor

Lit life |

Giving a book to someone involved professionally in books — author, publisher, bookseller, librarian — can be a coals-to-Newcastle proposition. I myself have tried to steer friends and relations away from giving me books by throwing out helpful alternative suggestions. Emerald earrings? (A girl can dream, can't she?) A tasteful mud scraper? A set of custom-made bookshelves, to hold the books I've already got?

For a book-glutted person to ask for a book — it has to be a pretty good book. So I asked some local bibliophiles what book they are wishing for during the gift-giving season. This week's column features local authors; next week's, booksellers and librarians.

Bruce Barcott, Bainbridge Island author of "The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw" and recent winner of a Guggenheim fellowship: "I'm hoping to get "Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City" (Abrams), an amazing envisioning of Manhattan as Henry Hudson saw it in 1609. Landscape ecologist Eric Sanderson and illustrator Markley Boyer spent 10 years re-creating New York before pavement, subways, cabs and bankers. I stumbled on a copy a few months ago at Elliott Bay Books, grabbed by the gorgeous cover and gobsmacked by the audacity of the idea. Finding it was like discovering one of those Andy Goldsworthy books for the first time — you end up standing there, pawing through page after page, letting your bus (or in my case, ferry) sail without you. "

Bonny Becker, award-winning Seattle-based children's author ("A Visitor for Bear"): " 'When You Reach Me' by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books). I've already read this contender for this year's Newbery, but I'd like my very own copy so I can study how Stead accomplishes so much in just 200 pages. She combines time travel, a clever mystery, life in '70s New York, family dynamics and a coming-of-age story into one highly readable book."

Katherine "Kitty" Harmon, book packager and author of "The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Maps": "Every Christmas I ask for the Booker Prize winner; this year it's 'Wolf Hall' by Hilary Mantel (Henry Holt), set in King Henry VIII's court. In addition, I'm tempted to ask for 'Everything Bad for You Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter' by Steven Johnson (Riverhead), so that I can spend 2010 watching DVDs. Now if only Johnson made a case for the health of peanut butter and bacon sandwiches on white bread ... "

Congratulations: To The Elliott Bay Book Co., which will move from Pioneer Square into a new Capitol Hill location at 1521 10th Ave. in March. This surely was a wrenching decision, but now that the die is cast, please support this iconic bookstore every way you can during the transition. And a heartfelt high-five to the University Book Store, which celebrates its 110th anniversary in 2010. More on this festive event later.

Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or mgwinn@seattle times.com. Mary Ann Gwinn appears on Classical KING-FM's Arts Channel at www.king.org /pages/4216533.php

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