For the last couple of years I have shared some book ideas for holiday gifts (2014, 2013, 2012). Many of the books I mentioned in those posts – particularly those for young children – are still at the top of my list. Those favorites don’t change much. Still, each year there are a few new books that my children and I have loved that I want to share. This year, I also have a couple of non-book favorites that I wanted to mention here.
Books for children:
Goodbye Stranger – Grace and I both read and loved Rebecca Stead’s new book. It broaches timely and important themes in an approachable and entertaining manner. Highly recommend!
Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods – I’ve mentioned Whit’s passion for Percy Jackson and he’s now reading the Heroes of Olympus series. This book is already set to go under the tree of him. It reminds me of D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths which is a book I myself loved as a child (and which Whit already has).
Everest – Gordon Korman’s trilogy riveted Whit (and was his only recent non-Rick Riordan reading).
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Grace is reading Sherman Alexie’s classic at school and loving it. She did point out that it’s “probaby for older kids” as it has some “inappropriate stuff.“ Duly noted.
On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein – This picture book is my favorite recent find. It has a dreamy quality and describes Einstein as a curious child who just can’t stop asking why things are the way they are. Whit, my little wonderer, adores it.
Enormous Smallness: A Story of E. E. Cummings – Another picture book that has recently captivated our house. It evokes Cummings’ joyful childhood and shares some short passages from his work. A beautiful reminder that there are many ways to dent the universe, and of the power of paying attention.
Books for adults:
Felicity: Poems – Mary Oliver’s new collection of poems has a lambent lightness and a new focus on human love (rather than the natural world) which seemed like a departure to me. I love every word this woman writes.
Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs – Sally Mann’s lyrical memoir contains pages of gorgeous photographs. A great gift for lovers of modern art, of the South, or personal history.
A Window Opens – Elisabeth Egan’s debut novel was one of my favorite reads of this year. I reviewed it in more detail here, but this is a wonderful book whose themes – being a mother and a daughter and a professional and trying to juggle a great many balls and occasionally dropping some – deeply resonated with me.
Our Souls at Night – My other favorite novel of 2015 was, rather than a debut, a final book. Kent Haruf’s beautiful story manages to be grave and graceful at the same time. I adored this book.
Brave Enough – I reviewed Cheryl Strayed’s new book of quotes recently, and think it’s a terrific gift for any person in your life who loves quotes, anyone who lives writing, anyone who seeks truth.
Nicely Noted subscription. I’ve been receiving letterpress cards in the mail from Nicely Noted for more than a year now, and I just love the concept. I’m a big fan of actual paper cards in the mail, and I love supporting small businesses, both of which Nicely Noted does in spades. Highly recommend. Olive Box has a new “card box” option that is quite similar.
Tinker Crate subscription. I’ve written before about this service, which I love. There are a variety of options depending on the age and interests of the child, but Whit receives a STEM-focused project once a month. He eagerly awaits the arrival of his Tinker Crate.