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Welcome to The Save, where we ask interesting people what they order when they’re in a pinch.
As far back as she can remember, Rachel Dawson “was a bookworm, and always had a book in hand.” Her first year after college was a reader’s revelation — finally, she could read exactly what she wanted, instead of sticking to what her professors required. “I set myself a goal to read 50 books in a year,” she remembers. “I blew it out of the water; I read 80 books. These days, I read about 200 books a year.”
Dawson chronicles the adventures and worlds she finds within these many, many pages on her TikTok @alltheradreads. By day, she manages social media for a university. “Creating content and telling stories is what I love,” she says. “I can’t turn my brain off.” We’re glad she can’t, because her reading challenges, cheerful drawings, and love for books makes for a joyful, meaningful digital destination. Here’s what she’s ordering and gifting this holiday season.
What do you order when…
…you’re having friends over?
All the snacks. They have to be allergy-friendly but taste really good, too. I usually have both sweet and salty.
…you need reading fuel?
I always have chips and salsa on hand, plus popcorn in my pantry. I’m vegan and I love to add nutritional yeast for that cheesy element. I love Quinn gluten-free pretzel nuggets — the bag is kind of big, but it’s a single serving for me.
…you want to treat yourself after a long day?
Plant-based ice cream. I usually go for a fruity sorbet, but when I want to treat myself, there will be chocolate. Maybe mint and chocolate, or coffee and chocolate…something indulgent.
...you want to restock your pantry with your faves?
Lentil pasta, rice and grains for stir fries, chia seeds and hemp seeds for smoothies and salads. Plus, lots of nuts, maybe some with fun flavors. I’m always trying to get protein. Dates and peanut butter is my go-to healthy but sweet snack.
…you’re ready to restock your bar cart?
I’ll need at least one bottle of wine; Malbec is my favorite. I love to keep a bottle of Champagne in my fridge for a celebration. You never know when you might need to celebrate. I also love to try a new fun flavor of seltzer. I’m always on the lookout for an interesting flavor combo or something local.
…you need a gift for a kid who loves books?
I love “The Big Book” series. They’re these beautiful, tall nature books, full of illustrations and facts, activities, and prompts. Toddlers and bigger kids love them. It’s fun to gift from a series, so when you need to bring another present, you can choose the next book.
…you need a gift for a grownup who loves books?
I’d want to get to know them really well and give a super personalized recommendation. It can also be hard if they read a lot, because you don’t know what they’ve already read. Instead, I like to focus on creating a great environment for reading. Maybe a cozy blanket, something yummy to drink while you’re reading, a nice candle, or fun pens for annotating and taking notes.
I’m also a big fan of giving kids’ books to grownups. I love giving Oliver Jeffers books — they’re gorgeous. Cookbooks are also a great gift.
…your favorite gift that doesn’t break the bank?
I think local. That way I’m supporting a small business in my area, and the gift has a story and a connection. The best gifts feel personal and intentional — they’re handmade and creative, or they connect to a memory you have with the person.
…you want to get yourself a gift?
I do that very often! Books are something I buy myself. If I’m reading about a book a lot, I don’t want to miss out on the hype. I also love fun earrings.
…you want to indulge in a holiday treat?
Something on my winter bucket list is getting a seasonal beverage from a local coffee shop — especially one I can’t easily make myself. I had this mint matcha that was absolutely delicious. Maybe a dirty chai with a seasonal spin. Bonus points if there’s an allergen-friendly baked good that I can enjoy with it, which is rare and wonderful.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Rachel Dawson