Gift Guide: 7 Books to Give This Year
A couple years ago, I created a series of gift guides that are still pretty popular--check them out here. I thought it would be fun to add to those guides with at least one new list for this holiday season. (I will try to do another one that I have sketched out--stay tuned!)
Buying books for other people can be a bit of a challenge. I always want to be sensitive to not imposing my taste and preferences on other people--just because I like something, doesn't mean that they'll love it too. But at the same time, I love putting good books in people's hands, so I strive for recommendations that will appeal to a broader audience.
For Book Nerds - The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Fiction is actually rather tough for me to give to people unless I know them really well and can find a book that I know will appeal to them. Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a sure-fired novel that will resonate with anyone who love books, bookstores and writing. It walks close to the edge of being precious, but never quite gets there. There's a snazzy new paperback edition out for the holidays, but I'm partial to the original hardback.
For an Old Friend Back Home - Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer
Nowhere But Home is a novel I've pushed on a lot of people and they've all loved it. It's a lovely one for gift-giving because it's sentimental without being full of idealized nostalgia like so many going home-themed novels are and it will resonate with anyone who has a complicate relationship with their hometown. I also think it's a great novel to trick people into reading who normally turned their noses up at "women's fiction" or "chick lit."
For Lovers of Words - Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Jacqueline Woodson's memoir in verse won a National Book Award this year, but even though it's received a ton of attention, I'm constantly recommending it to folks who haven't heard of it. If you know someone who adores poetry or simply evocative, emotional writing, this is a perfect pick. Brown Girl Dreaming is also one of those books I feel confident recommending to people of any age.
For the Teen Who Still Loves Dystopia - Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig
If you know a teenager (or a grown-up) who hasn't given up hope of finding a unique, high-stakes dystopian novel, get them the first book in Chuck Wendig's Heartland trilogy, Under the Empyrean Sky. They'll love the non-stop "corn punk" adventure and stick around for the most creative swearing in the business.
For Your Favorite New Adult - Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Seconds is a graphic novel (so it's also a good pick for someone who's into comics or art), but I can't help but think it would be especially resonant for anyone who is struggling to find their way in this weird-ass world of ours. It's funny and has a touch of the supernatural, so there's a lot of appeal for people will all sorts of tastes.
For the Aspiring Artist or Designer - Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
In my professional life, I recommend books and resources constantly. This year, I've recommended Austin Kleon's Show Your Work more than anything else. This accessible little book guides the reader through the scary prospect of putting your work out in the world in a way that's authentic and meaningful. You can also pair it with another one of Kleon's books, Steal Like an Artist, for a super-thoughtful gift.
For Your Best Buddy - Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Yes Please is obviously a huge celebrity memoir, but there's something messy and appealing about it that's not often found in these sorts of books. Poehler's writing about friendship and work will resonate with many women and there's an authenticity in the book's imperfections that made it one of my favorite reads of the year. It's also a beautifully-designed hardback, so it looks fabulous on a books shelves--a big plus in a gift book.