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Seeking the perfect holiday book

Kaye Hansen and her daughter, Gloria Hansen, 10, of Austin look over books for Christmas gifts Thursday at the first day of the Friends of Austin Public Library book sale at the library. The sale continues today and Saturday.

AUSTIN — Peggy Keener saw the people crowded into a small room of Austin Public Library at 4 p.m. Thursday and thought, great, more money for the library and more people who know how to find perfect gifts.

"It (the crowd) doesn't surprise me because I love books and I can't see how anyone else doesn't love books," she said.

She's a member of the board of Friends of the Austin Public Library , which began its first holiday book sale Thursday as a way to raise money for the library and give people help in selecting that great gift. Austin doesn't have a book store, so the sale is a way to provide them, she said.

Friends went to the Barnes & Noble store at Rochester's Apache Mall and selected hundreds of books from Dr. Seuss to romance novels, to books on history, fiction and nature. All tend to be more upbeat and fun, she said.

Besides being a lover of books, she is also the author of an award-winning book "Potato in A Rice Bowl" about her 18 years living in Japan.


She believes books are one of the best holiday gifts. They tell the receivers that you cared enough to think about them, to not just grab a toy or red sweater and call it quits. It means you put in some time, put thought into it. "It makes it very personal, it's a real compliment," she said.

She has strong opinions about what that perfect gift book should be.

Keener suggested a gift book be something the receiver wouldn't normally think about, "take them in a totally different direction," she said. She especially likes contemporary books. "Hit them with something that's happening today," she said. "This is not history, this is now."

She has some more tips:

• The book's cover should grab you. If it does, open it up to the middle and see how easy it will be to read. Some have more complicated type fonts or go too deep into the binding so it's hard to see the final words. "I want to enjoy the book, I don't want it to be a test of my endurance," she said.

• Look at the first paragraph, "boy, it has got to catch me," she said.

• If the first chapter has too many characters, it's going to be hard to follow.

• Look for punctuation. If it's complicated or missing, forget it. She also detests long paragraphs, "you visually need a break," Keener said.


• If it has foreign or complicated words without any explanation, don't buy it.

• Read some sentences to see if they have a good rhythm. "Rhythm is vitally important to reading," she said.

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