The 2014 Chronicle Books #GiveBooks Pledge


This holiday season, instead of eating yourself into a ham coma, I encourage you to participate in the free Give Books Campaign (click it!) sponsored by Chronicle Books. I suppose those aren’t mutually exclusive. One could, technically, gorge on festive meats and share his or her love of literacy with those less fortunate. I can’t tell you how to live your life, but if you’re in the bizarre predicament of having to choose between a ham coma and giving books, I think you know what to do

Here’s how it works: for every #GiveBooks tweet, pin, and online pledge, Chronicle will donate a children’s book to First Book, a non-profit organization that provides new books to children in need. This year Chronicle hopes to donate 10,000 books. I have no idea how they can afford it, but isn’t that the magic of the holidays?

This year, I’ve agreed to help out, not only by writing this weird piece that’s mostly about ham, but also by taking the pledge myself and suggesting ten books that would make great gifts. To be clear, these are only suggestions; you can pledge, and gift any book you’d like. I understand that you have different friends and family than I do. A book about Eddie Van Halen might not be appropriate for your Nanna, Grammy, Muma, Ginger, Hossenfeffer, Towelette – whatever bizarre thing you call your grandmother. Okay, I’ll get to the books.

Press Here-1

One of my favorites this year is a children’s book called, Press Here. It’s a deceptively simple experience that will have your kids believing that maybe—just maybe—they’re in control of what happens on the next page. Trippy, I know.


Sh*t Rough Drafts is a hilarious and imaginative take on the writing process. It covers everything from the creative misfires in early drafts to the comments made by clueless editors and TV/movie executives who consider it their job to take everything seriously and miss every single joke.

The Doorbells of Florence

The Doorbells of Florence I spent two of the greatest years of my life in Florence, Italy. This book brought me back in a way I didn’t realize was possible. I’d forgotten the little things, the unique minutia that makes a place. While reading it, I remembered just what the gardens behind the Villa Rosa smelled like; the sound of the meter in a taxi; the taste of a perfect Puttanesca sauce. Do you think maybe it’s time for me to go back for a couple of weeks?

Hello NY-1

Having recently left the NYC area, I can only look at a few pages of Hello NY before the pangs of sadness bloom in my stomach. I recover quickly upon remembering the hillocks of beige ice that accumulate on NYC sidewalks this time of year. Anyone who lives, has lived in NYC, or has a love-hate relationship with The Big Apple (or apples in general) will covet this little gem.

This Is Ridiculous

The fact that I wrote this book has in no way tainted my objectivity. This is Ridiculous This is Amazing is h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s, and a great gift for any parent or parent-to-be. Plus, just look at the pretty colors!

Eddie Van Halan

Eddie Van Halen—People who appreciates Rock n’ Roll photography – especially photos of David Lee Roth doing the splits in spandex, and Eddie Van Halen licking the neck of his Kramer guitar – will love this book. I’ll be perfectly honest; it’s my favorite of the bunch. Yes, I like it better than the book I wrote. How could I not? The forward is written by Slash.

Happiness Is

Happiness Is —A sweet little book, reminding us of 500 things to be happy about. Things like “Remembering an old password on the first try” and “The mere existence of the didgeridoo” are complemented with adorable illustrations. Of course, if you need something more effective than gratitude, try the next book.


Marijuana For Everybody Marijuana is basically legal now, so you’re going to end up eating a pot brownie at some point. If you’re gluten intolerant, you’ll go with a THC infused gummy bear. Either way, you’ll need to know what to expect and how much/how many to eat. Once you’re thoroughly entrenched in the cannabis culture, this great little book can teach you how to talk the talk, bake the bake and grow the green. It is an apropos companion gift to the Eddie Van Halen book.

You're a Genius All the Time

You’re a Genius All The Time How can you not love a book that compliments you right in the title? You – Yes YOU – are a genius ALL the time. Sort of makes me wonder why I haven’t made any contribution toward a unified theory of gravity (or whatever). With opinions and suggestions from Jack Kerouac, this book reminds us that we can, essentially, do whatever we want, as long as we do it well. I suggest it prudent to trust such adages, especially from a man who legitimized – if not invented – the em dash.

Comic Genius

Speaking of people who are geniuses all the time, any book with Steve Martin on the cover is bound to be good (pun apology). Full of creative portraits of creative people, Comic Genius is a perfect gift for anyone in your life who would appreciate seeing Conan O’Brian in a jumpy castle.
Recap: To participate in the #GiveBooks campaign, simply share this post with the hashtag #GiveBooks (or write your own post or tweet and share) and Chronicle will make a donation. You can also pledge here while eating ham if you like.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

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