It’s become a tradition for me to post ideas for books to give this holiday season. In my opinion, books are always the best gift! I wrote about my favorite books of the half-year in late June, and did not include any of those titles here, though I refer to that list as another resource for gift ideas. Many of the books I give regularly don’t change year to year: Miss Rumphius, Space Boy, and Roxaboxen for small children, The Phantom Tollbooth for older children, Dani Shapiro and Katrina Kenison memoirs (especially Devotion and The Gift of an Ordinary Day) and Mary Oliver’s poetry for adults. But each year there are current or recent reads (not always recent releases) that strike me as great gifts. I wanted to share some of those here.
For teenagers (I asked Grace and Whit what their favorite reads were this year):
Grace: The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas. Once in a great while Grace presses a book she’s read into my hands and says: this. you must read this. She did this with THUG and she was right. Wow. That’s all I can say. Must. Read. Probably a lot of teens (and adults) have read this by now, but if they haven’t, I think it’s a great gift.
Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi. Grace read this in school and loved it. She described it as eye opening and said it made her think about feelings of identity and safety.
A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson. Grace read this over the summer and fell for Bryson’s voice, as did I when I read it. He is funny and warm and inspiring all at the same time. What a classic.
Whit: Ready Player One – Ernest Cline. Whit tore through this over spring break and I want to read it too (I have a surprising-to-some affection for sci fi as a genre). We haven’t seen the movie yet.
The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain’s Journey – Linda Greenlaw. Whit read this this summer and really enjoyed it. Entertaining and thought-provoking.
North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail – Scott Jurek’s memoir is an inspiring story of persistence and determination. Great gift for any athlete or person undertaking a large challenge.
There Are No Grown-ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story – Pamela Druckerman’s book made me laugh, hard, and it also made me think. This topic is one that’s near to me as I prepare for On Being 40(ish) to launch in February!
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love – Dani Shapiro. This is cheating because it doesn’t come out until 2019, but pre-order it for those you love anyway. What a read. This book is written in Dani’s trademark poetic prose, and it is full of questions about who we are, where we come from, and what family, love, and secrets really mean. I loved this book and reviewed it here.
Fiction As we’ve established, I’ve been reading novels which entertain and engross me this year. Some of those that rise to the top of my list and which I’d gladly wrap up are:
Charlotte Walsh Likes To Win– Jo Piazza. Entertaining story about a female politician clearly inspired by today’s world. I really liked this story.
How Hard Can It Be? – Allison Pearson. The author of I Don’t Know How She Does It revisits her characters a decade and a half later. I am grateful to be the same age as Pearson, because everything she writes rings an almost uncomfortably-familiar bell. I’m right here, right now: teenagers, career, parents: midlife. Juggle, juggle, juggle. This novel manages to be both hilarious and deeply reassuring. I loved it.
Laura & Emma – Kate Greathead. This novel is spare and observant, managing to build a fully-realized world out of short vignettes. Greathead’s musings on motherhood made me think.
I’m curious to hear what’s under your tree this year! Please share.
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