Book Guide / by Kate Brightbill


I love books.

As a child, I was either talking or reading. My mom told me that if she just needed a few moments of quiet, she would say, "Kate, didn't you just get a book that you wanted to read?" and I was always game to go to my room to pore over it. 

If I was playing, I was talking. If I was coloring, I was talking. Always talking... so reading calmed me and kept me quiet and interested for long periods of time. My family loved when I read, and I loved when I read, so it was always a win-win.

These days, I find myself with far less time to sit and engage with a book, or even a magazine, but my love for books runs deep.

Hands down, our favorite books are from Chronicle Books. My favorite cookbook, the prettiest children's books that are worth displaying on the girls' shelves, the most interactive endlessly fun books... Chronicle really just manages to get books right. 

Because books are a great last-minute gift, and because so many of the gifts wrapped beneath our own tree are books, I wanted to share with you some favorites for friends and family that may be on your wishlist!


one. I find pretty coffee table books to be a lovely gift. I've received several over the years and I'm always thrilled when I open them. I may not have time for stories with hundreds of pages of text these days, but I'm always up for flipping through books with gorgeous photos of pretty places and spaces. My favorites are Victoria Smith's See San Francisco and Anne Sage's Sage Living.

two. I'm personally loving cookbooks that offer ideas for healthy meals to inspire my dry well of meal planning. Amanda Haas is a friend AND the incredible chef who works as Williams-Sonoma's test kitchen chef, and she created (HANDS-DOWN) my most earmarked and cooked-from cookbook, The Anti-Inflammation Cookbook. Beautiful recipes full of flavors, and practical ways to create healthy meals regularly and stock the pantry and fridge. This is the perfect gift for a friend working to be healthy in the new year, without sacrificing flavor and appeal. 

three. for a friend who loves arts and patterns, Pattern Studio is inspiration. It provides ideas for those stumped with how to explore their art further. This one is under my tree for my artistic pattern-creating sister

four. I've referenced this series of books so many times as my favorite children's books, so I cannot leave them out. These books are interactive books that tell the reader to push here or shake the book or leave a handprint, while also teaching concepts like mixing colors and cause/effects. The newest in the series is called Let's Play, and it follows the similar concept to the first two. These are a go-to gift for children and have been for years. I find ages 3-6 enjoy it most, but younger and older may like to engage with the book too.

five the Flora books. Ohhhh I love these. The illustrations are gorgeous, the colors are incredible, and the girls can create stories for themselves as they go through the pages. Sophie has these displayed on her shelf whenever they are not being read. They are gorgeous.

six. This story is a brand new one called Bunny Slopes. It's absolutely adorable. Kids shake the book and tilt the book to guide the bunny on the slopes. It's another one that my children devour-- it seems to be a pattern that my children (and a lot of others?) enjoy the books where they feel they have a part in the outcome because they are engaging all the way through in a tangible way. 

Maggie reading  Mix it Up  last year // photo by  Sarah @ModernKids

Maggie reading Mix it Up last year // photo by Sarah @ModernKids


Thank you, Chronicle Books, for partnering with me on this book gift guide. Select books were sent for review, and others we have purchased on our own over the past few years. All opinions are our own. We truly love all the stories and books we have from Chronicle, and were so pleased to be able to share our favorites with you.