Books are always good gifts, and they’re super-easy to wrap, too. How about one of these great selections for that One Person…
For the independent traveler on your list, Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes might be a great bon voyage gift. It’s a collection of short stories about change, opportunity, independence and life in general. Pair it with The Jungle Around Us: Stories by Anne Raeff. It’s a collection of tales with the jungle — its mystery, darkness and richness, as both metaphor and connecting force here.
The reader on your gift list who prefers books set in other time periods will love Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt. It’s a 1960s-era story of a woman who chooses a man over the sister who basically raised her, and the dynamics of family. Put it together with Jazz Moon by Joe Okonkwo, a book set in Harlem, 1925, where Paris is where it’s at, baby.
The person who loves a little mid-century drama will enjoy The Jealous Kind by James Lee Burke. It’s a bit of a Romeo-and-Juliet novel set in the 1950s in Texas, at a time when the line between the “haves” and the “have-nots” was drawn in the sand with danger, and money talked a lot. Definitely wrap it up with another great drama-mystery, Manitou Canyon by William Kent Krueger. Cork O’Connor is back and sleuthing. Fans, rejoice.
Historical novel lovers will devour News of the World by Paulette Jiles, a book set in Texas in the years following the Civil War. When a down-and-out former Captain of the military is hired to deliver an orphan girl to her distant relatives, he partakes an adventure — not just through rough terrain, but through rocky childcaring, too. Wrap it up with The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa, a multigenerational novel about home, based on a true story.
Dog lovers will howl over Jonathan Unleashed by Meg Rosoff. It’s the story of a man who’s at the end of his leash, and his brother’s dogs, who begin to show him that dogs are smarter than they seem. And won’t the pet lover on your list love getting A Guinea Pig Oliver Twist in that package, too? Yes, it’s Dickens as you’ve never seen him before…
For the true-crime buff, Trials of the Century by Mark J. Phillips & Aryn Z. Phillips is a great go-to gift. What made Sam Sheppard’s case, the Lindbergh baby, and Charles Manson leap onto the headlines? This book looks at those famous cases, and more… Add on I Will Find You by Joanna Connors, a story of a reporter who finally reveals a crime she had to hide, and the man who committed it.
Is there someone on your gift list who loves nothing more than to be scared? The one who longs for a different holiday? If so, The Monster Book by Nick Redfern is what you want to wrap up. Using quick chapters and scattered photos, this book informs, entertains and (good for your giftee) scares! Definitely wrap it up with Real Visitors, Voices from Beyond, and Parallel Dimensions by Brad Steiger and Sherry Hansen Steiger. Ooooooh, then shiver!
For the woman who’s just about had enough this year – of everything – you’ll want to get The Bitch is Back, a collection of essays edited by Cathi Hanauer. This no-nonsense sequel to The Bitch in the House is just as empowering and strong as its predecessor, and it’s perfect for the strong woman on your list.
Science fans will love The Point Is by Lee Eisenberg, a book on who we are, why we’re here, and how we can make the most of life until we die. For the know-it-all on your list, Head in the Cloud by William Poundstone might make a great gift. Why, Poundstone asks, do we know celebrities but not mathematics? When we can look things up online, why should we know things in our heads? You can’t go wrong with this gift if you also give A Field Guide to Lies by Daniel J. Levitin, a book about critical thinking and believing (or not) everything you see online.
In Saving Delaney by Andrea and Keston Ott-Dahl, your giftee will read the story of one little girl, her life before birth, her lesbian moms and her wealthy parents, and what happened when she entered the world with Down’s syndrome. Wrap it up with tissues and Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood by Eric Rosswood, a book filled with tips and tales of gay and lesbian folks who finally became parents.
If there’s an art lover on your gift list, they’ll love unwrapping One Man Show: The Life and Art of Bernard Perlin by Michael Schreiber. Part gay history, part art, this book showcases the life of a man who painted portraits of gay clubs and street life, and whose works were collected by mid-century high-society collectors, some of which still hangs in museums today.
For the mom or dad who’s just learned that their child is gender-questioning, The Gender Creative Child by Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D. might be a loving gift. It’s a book that will guide them through many early questions and thoughts they may have now, and later. Wrap it up with When Your Child is Gay by Wesley C. Davidson and Jonathal L. Tobkes, MD, for the answers to even more questions.
What does it mean to be a man or a woman? In The Fate of Gender by Frank Browning, your giftee will learn what science says about gender, brains, chromosomes, social pressures and how other countries see gender and the spectrum. Wrap it up with Queer Identities and Politics in Germany: A History 1880-1945 by Clayton J. Whisnant, a fascinating history book that looks at German LGBT organizations, people, publications, and the culture, especially during World War II.
MEMOIR / BIOGRAPHY
How do you drive someone happy this holiday? Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow by Steve Lehto, foreword by Jay Leno. This biography of Tucker, the creator of an ahead-of-its-time vehicle is a car-crazy reader’s dream.
Fans of the latest Harper Lee novel will love receiving My Father and Atticus Finch by Joseph Madison Beck. Pulling a page from Lee, it’s the tale of a white trial lawyer in Alabama who defended a black man charged with rape. Happened in 1938. Your giftee will love reading it in 2017.
The lover of Christmas will also love Tree of Treasures: A Life in Ornaments by Bonnie Mackay. It’s a memoir written through the trimmings of a tree; where the author got them, why she loves them and how they make her remember. For the person who loves a touch of romance beneath the tree, Casanova: The World of a Seductive Genius by Laurence Bergreen takes readers to Europe and through history to walk through the life and times of a man whose name is synonymous with love.
Undoubtedly, there’s a political animal on your gift list who didn’t get enough politics this year. Fear not! Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton by Joe Conason will let you check off another name. This book takes a look at Clinton ’s work in his post-presidential years. If your giftee is still wondering what happened this political year, you can’t go wrong with The Year of Voting Dangerously by Maureen Dowd. It’s a book filled with essays by the woman who’s covered elections for the past nine presidents. Nope, can’t go wrong here.
What’s it like to feed the people in America ’s largest city? Your giftee won’t be able to wait to read Food and the City by Ina Yalof, a book about the chefs, cooks, street vendors, and others who serve up apples (and more) in the Big Apple. To make it an even tastier gift, pair it with The Book of Spice by John O’Connell, a book about all the things that make meals zestier.
MUSIC / MOVIES / TV
There’s someone on your gift list who loves music of all kinds, and They Call Me Supermensch by Shep Gordon will be a welcome gift. Gordon was a manager for a number of Big Name music acts, as well as an innovator in the entertainment industry. Who can resist a book like that? Nobody, especially when you wrap it up with another mensch-y book, Seinfeldia by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong. It’s a book about “nothing,” which surely became a great big something.
For the midnight-movie fan who can’t get enough of toast or Janet, The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ by Dave Thompson is exactly what you want to give. This book is absolutely jammed with facts, stories, fun-to-know details, everything you ever wanted to know about Frank-N-Furter and more.
Want to see the biggest smile ever? For the fan of the newest Pulitzer Prize Winner for Literature, buy Bob Dylan: The Lyrics 1961-2012. This book is huge — at nearly 700 pages and weighing, well, let’s just say the reindeer will complain and it’s also on the spendy side but if you’ve got a Dylan fan on your list, this will get you hugs through at least Independence Day. And for an even better gift, you may want to pair it with Madonnaland and Other Detours Into Fame and Fandom by Alina Simone. It’s a look at The Material Girl, music, and being a rock star.
Who loves reading about the Civil War? Your giftee, that’s who – so you’ll want to get City of Sedition: The History of New York City During the Civil War by John Strausbaugh. New York played a major part, behind-the-scenes, in what happened during the War Between the States. Another volume on the war is just what your giftee wants this year. If there’s a social studies fan on your list, make White Trash by Nancy Isenberg the gift you give. It’s a look at poverty, class, American caste and how it’s been perceived for the last 240 years. The Downton Abbey fan on your gift list will love Mind Your Manors by Lucy Lethbridge, a book about keeping house (or would that be mansion?) in Great Britain in times gone by.
CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOKS
The kid who already misses Halloween will love Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick-or-Treating by Laura Gehl, pictures by Joyce Wan. It’s a tale of two friends, one of whom has a stubborn streak and is easy to scare. For the budding fashionista on your list, D is for Dress-Up by Maria Carluccio will be a welcome gift. Starting with “A,” of course and moving through guess-what-Z-word, this book doubles as a great learn-the-alphabet gift, too.
For the little one whose get-up-and-go never got up in the first place, Schnitzel: A Cautionary Tale for Lazy Louts by Stephanie Shaw, illustrated by Kevin M. Barry will be a great gift. It’s a tale of a wizard’s apprentice who takes a very ill-fated shortcut. For the child who loves nighttime, Max at Night by Ed Vere will be a great gift. It’s the story of a cat who has a very special friend. Unfortunately, the friend only comes around a few times a month.
— Terri Schlichenmeyer