We don't know about you guys, but around here books are our favorite gifts to buy our friends and loved ones for all occasions, but most especially for the holidays. We know it can be tough to figure out what book would make the best gift for someone (adults are hard to shop for!) and so we're here to help with a handy guide of titles to suit any personality in your life!
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For your dad who has too many way books and can't get enough of American history...
He's probably read a dozen presidential biographies and has gruesome war books displayed prominently on his shelves. There have been some great new books in this wheelhouse lately, and we like:
The Three Lives of James Madison | Noah Feldman- A deep dive into an American history giant, this biography of James Madison is clearly very well researched. It's loaded with documentation and photographs and just an incredible amount of information about this founding father, who he was as a man, as a politician, as a diplomat, as a patriot, and his importance to the United States and to the world.
Grant | Ron Chernow- Let's fast forward in history a few decades! This one has gotten a lot of buzz in the past year for taking a really in depth look at the life of Ulysses S Grant and the political times he navigated through, and all the battles he fought during the Civil War. We've heard it reads beautifully, and it has a ton of accolades to prove it. My dad has this one wrapped up and waiting under the Christmas tree for him!
Moonglow | Michael Chabon- For a fictional approach to some of these same themes of complicated men, changing worlds, and major wars (but in more modern times) pick up Moonglow. This was one of my favorite books this year; it's a beautifully written look at how extraordinary an ordinary life can be. It's memoir-esque and moves through one man's experiences in war, space programs, and family life, all wound up in just wondrously beautiful prose.
For your best friend who spoils your kids and loves light contemporary fiction...
Did she swoon while reading Me Before You? Does she consult the bestseller list before choosing a new book? Can she never get enough light hearted romance or contemporary family drama? Check out:
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo | Taylor Jenkins Reid- This has just about everything you could want in a contemporary fiction novel: glamour, politically relevant themes, mystery, love, drama....just everything. The book world fell head over heels for Evelyn Hugo this year, because it's such an uncommonly engaging novel doing some interesting things.
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper | Phaedra Patrick- A lighthearted little adventure that ultimately is about how well we truly know the ones closest to us, and about the enduring power of love and family. Arthur Pepper is a seriously quirky little book that is a perfect read for someone who enjoys family drama in the warmest way possible.
Little Fires Everywhere | Celeste Ng- One of the most popular books all year in the contemporary fiction world, this one got rave reviews from most everyone we know. Picture perfect family meets major secrets and complications is the theme here, and watching it all fall apart is the fun of reading this gem. This one is highly character driven and emotionally powerful.
For your cousin who is always good for a late night chat and loves a touch of magic...
If she can quote "Practical Magic" to you verbatim, but still has a bit of a dark streak in her reading life, try:
Big Fish | Daniel Wallace- This one is hard to describe, but it hits all the right notes of magical and wistful and also somehow deep. The major theme here is a man struggling to know and connect with his dying father, a man who has been intent on recounting his life in a series of tall tales. The line between truth and fiction is blurred and toyed with, to wonderful effect.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane | Neil Gaiman- For a book in a slighter darker vein, pick this one up. It's set in the real world....until it's not. A little unsettling, a little bit fable-esque, and a whole lot of gorgeous is packed into this slim volume. Gaiman's works are all just so odd and lovely, and this is no exception.
Reincarnation Blues | Michael Poore- Much more lighthearted in tone than Gaiman, but still dealing in macabre subject matter, Reincarnation Blues hits all the right notes of dark humor and irreverence in the best way. It's completely absorbing and almost reads like short stories, with all of Milo's various lives. The entire novel had me laughing out loud while simultaneously being wise and gory and fascinating and beautiful all in one glorious rush.
For your sister-in-law who has a knack for decorating and keeps up with all the new releases...
If pre-ordering a book that hasn't come out yet is the only way to ensure she hasn't read it, and her killer sense of style carries over into her taste in books, try:
The Immortalists | Chloe Benjamin - This one is poised to be a smash hit early next year. It releases January 9th and is getting great advance reviews, us included. The idea of knowing the date of your death is always an interesting one, and The Immortalists follows the lives of 4 children who find out exactly that. This book is on nearly every list about the best books coming out in 2018, so wrap up a pre-order slip for her, and she can spend the middle of January lost in what-ifs with this novel.
The Great Alone | Kristin Hannah - The author of the beloved Nightingale has another novel coming out, already with immense anticipation from fans. Set in Alaska in the '70s with a family in crisis that will test the strength of human spirit.
The Room on Rue Amelie | Kristin Harmel - If you liked Lilac Girls, here comes a novel where three people's lives come together in Paris during WW2. A powerful, richly interwoven story of fate, courage, and survival.
For the young reader who is utterly and completely obsessed with fantasy...
Renegades | Marissa Meyer- Following her incredibly successful Lunar Chronicles, Meyer crafts a futuristic story basically of superheroes...with some major deviations from the cliches. Crazy powers, secret identities, heroes, villains, and the gray areas between fuel this fantasy adventure story.
The Book of Dust | Phillip Pullman- A newly released prequel to one of the most beloved fantasy series in recent years, if your young reader loved His Dark Materials, this book will feel like returning home. These books strike the perfect balance of magical and relatable, with big themes and small delights populated with fascinating, powerful characters throughout.
Strange the Dreamer | Laini Taylor- This book was huge this year, and hinges on the concepts of dreams in a strange, fantastical land. It has all the elements of an epic fantasy: legendary warriors, romance, a mysterious city, myths, and a hero's journey, gorgeously crafted.
For your book snob co-worker who has a great sense of humor and only reads literary fiction...
If she tends to avoid any genre fiction and her signature humor means she tells the best stories, try:
The Ressurection of Joan Ashby | Cherise Wolas- This one really surprised me at how literary in tone it is, and how powerfully it explores a really deeply rooted issue. Wolas is an exceptionally beautiful writer who refuses to sugar coat her subject, and the whole thing reads like a Ferrante/Tartt love child, which of course, is perfection for the book snob in your life.
A Gentleman in Moscow | Amor Towles- This is easily Towles' best book to date, and he is a seriously impressive writer. Clever, beautiful, satisfying, and featuring an extremely likable main character (rare in literary fiction!), the story runs it's course smoothly and elegantly. It manages to run the gamut of emotion from hilarious to tense to hopeful all while crafting a beautiful structure and compelling plot. Deftly woven though it are bits of history, wine pairings, traditional manners, literature, architecture, and philosophy.
My Brilliant Friend | Elena Ferrante- This quartet is unlike anything I've ever read, and it's hard to pinpoint exactly why. They read almost like a memoir, and follow the friendship of two women from childhood through old age. Nuanced, sleek, and powerful, Ferrante's prose is deceptively simple, but there is so much to unpack in these novels. This first book quietly builds in intensity until the final scene....these books will straight up haunt the reader.
For your mother-in-law who bakes a mean meatloaf and loves some romance with her mystery...
Career of Evil | Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)- From the Cormoran Strike series comes the third, and best installment. JK Rowling's voice comes through loud and clear, and will really hit the spot for adults who miss her writing style. It's realistic and interesting, a well paced mystery, and has just a touch of budding romance. This was un-put-downable for me.
The Woman in White | Wilkie Collins - One of the first detective mysteries of its time, The Woman in White is long, but beautiful. Once you get into the plot, you can't stop reading and find yourself flying through. The story is told with different narrators giving their account of "what happened" and their encounter with "the woman in white." Incredibly descriptive and well told, a must read.
Rebecca | Daphne du Maurier - A harrowing love story that seemed perfect, until a lingering evil swoops in, set to destroy everything. A classic romance novel, well loved and stands the test of time.
For your philosophy major brother who can't get enough chills and thrills...
If he loves contemplating novel (pun intended) concepts, but still loves a good thrill in his books, try:
Dark Matter | Blake Crouch - A mind-bending, relentlessly surprising thriller from the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy. This is one that's hard to put down, and plays with alternate realities, lost opportunities, existential dread, and much more as it races through it's gripping plot.
House of Leaves | Mark Z. Danielewski- There's no other way to describe this book: it's a mind fuck, and a scary one at that. It's got a bit of a cult following behind it, and everyone I know who has read it has had a visceral reaction to it. The formatting inside it is just bonkers in a lot of places, as it's full of text at odd angles and codes and puzzles and ciphers and things like that. Ultimately, the story revolves around a family and their ever-changing, very sinister house, but this book is not about the plot.
Found Audio | N. J. Campbell- A crazy but interesting premise of an uncovered secret audio file of an adventure journalist, the book explores the idea that everything in the world, every experience you have is interesting. Well written, cleverly layered, a little dreamy, and with a lot of substance buried in it, it's a great little book.
Are you buying books as gifts this year? Who did you buy for? We'd love to hear what books made the cut for all of you!