Books are, without exception or doubt, my go-to present. The holidays are hurtling towards us, and as I do every year, I’m starting to amass gifts for the people in my life. Last year I shared the books I was planning to give to various people in my life and I loved hearing your suggestions back. Some of my go-to books are perennial and don’t vary year to year. For example, when I have a small child to give a book to, I’m likely to choose Miss Rumphius, Roxaboxen, Space Boy, and the others in the small-child category from last year’s post. Equally, I often give Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems, Volume One or the work of Katrina Kenison (especially The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir) and Dani Shapiro (especially Devotion: A Memoir) to adults.
But on my list each year are also recent finds, either by me or by my children. So, here are a few books we will be giving this year. I’d love to hear what’s on your list.
For children (mostly older, though it’s worth noting that my kids, 9 and 12, still like picture books):
Rosie Revere, Engineer (Andrea Beaty) – Both Grace and Whit love this funny, inspiring tale of young Rosie and her unquenchable desire to invent things. She’s briefly daunted by negative feedback but bounces back with positive input from a mentor. I love this book and recommend it to children young and old of both genders.
Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun (Joshua Glenn) – To call Whit obsessed with this book is a ridiculous understatement. We’ve been giving this as a present to any and all birthday parties all fall, and this year many boys close to our family will receive it under the tree. The highlight of Whit’s fall, perhaps, was meeting Joshua Glenn in person. The follow up book, UNBORED Games: Serious Fun for Everyone, is also excellent.
Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World (Cynthia Chin-Lee) – This book tells the story of 26 women whose lives and work impacted history. The illustrations are a beautiful mixture of collage and drawing. I’m always a fan of books that showcase the often under-reported achievements of women and I think Amelia to Zora does so in an approachable, entertaining way.
The Secret Series Complete Collection (Pseudonymous Bosch) – Whit has devoured this entire series with an enthusiasm I’ve not often seen. A great gift for an elementary-school aged boy (or girl) who is looking for a world to dive into.
Grace for President (Kelly DiPucchio) – I wish the protagonist in this book wasn’t named Grace, since my adoration of the book (which my children share) has nothing to do with her name. I cry every single time I read it. Every. Single. Time.
I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition) (Malala Yousafzai) – Grace loved this book and, having read it, was incredibly excited by and invested in Malala’s Nobel Peace Prize win. Interesting and inspiring non-fiction for tween girls.
Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life (Erin Gates) – This book would make a beautiful hostess gift and would please any design-minded woman on your list. In addition, Erin’s voice is both hilarious and deeply honest and compelling. I wrote a more complete review of my most-anticipated book of 2014 at Great New Books.
Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace (Anne Lamott) – I love every book of Anne Lamott’s I’ve ever read, and her newest is no exception. Lamott manages to make me feel like she’s speaking directly to me, and as though she has access to the innermost reaches of my heart and mind. I loved this book.
Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table (Jenny Rosenstrach) – This book isn’t new (though the companion volume, also wonderful, Dinner: The Playbook, is) but I love it and plan to give it often. Jenny’s recipes are easy and delicious and more than anything, her philosophy is one I embrace. I believe in family dinner and we do it whenever we can (though that’s certainly not every night, and I do think that the outsize pressure to have family dinner every night can be punitive to mothers).
It’s been a year of fantastic novels! If you have a novel-lover on your list, I recommend All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (reviewed here), Euphoria by Lily King (mentioned very briefly here), Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (reviewed here), and Lila by Marilynne Robinson (reviewed here).
What books are you giving this holiday season?
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