Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Books for Booklovers
Nothing makes a booklover's heart patter more than unwrapping a book... unless it's a stack of books. If the booklover in your life is anything like me, they rarely get books as gifts. I've never been sure if it's because people aren't sure what books to buy us or if they've decided we have enough books already, but I'm always thrilled when people give me a book as a gift. Here are some suggestions for titles that booklovers would be happy to unwrap this holiday season.
For Fiction Fans
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach -- Confession: I hate baseball. I understand the appeal of baseball but it's just not for me. What I do like are books about baseball. Maybe it's because books about baseball aren't really about baseball. The sport provides a great backdrop for introspective novels, just like Chad Harbach's. The Art of Fielding is the story of a college baseball player that is bound for greatness and the big leagues until a bad throw puts his future into doubt and sets off a series of chain reactions that well... I can't tell you what happens. That would ruin the fun. It's a great book for both the men and women in your life.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness -- I read A Discovery of Witches in the spring when it was a BlogHer Book Club selection and I've been thrusting copies into the hands of my friends every chance I get. Diana Bishop is brilliant academic. She's also a witch and has been doing her best to forget that fact. She has the misfortune of falling in love with Matthew, who just happens to be one of the oldest and most powerful vampires in the world. With the help of their friends, including a few daemons, and a mysterious alchemical document, they throw the supernatural world into chaos. Total fun! And if you are not seeing your family until a few days after Christmas you can pick up the paperback, which comes out December 27.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern -- I fell head over heels for Erin Morgenstern's debut novel. It's one of those books where you wished everything in it actually existed. There's a circus that arrives out of nowhere and is only open at night. Two magicians do battle in a dangerous game, not completely understanding the outcome of their game. There's a love story, fabulous characters and the scent of caramel corn will follow you around for days. Wrap it up with a red scarf so the person you are gifting can join the ranks of the rêveurs.
Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature's Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress. -- Who better to add a touch of romance to holiday gift giving than the godmother of romance novelists, Jane Austen. This collection of short stories includes some of my favourite historical Jane Austen-esque authors, such as Lauren Willig, Pamela Aidan and Amanda Grange. Bonus? Toss it together with contributor Margaret c. Sullivan's Jane Austen Handbook for double your Jane Austen fun.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin -- What are the holidays without a bit of Southern gothic? Nominated for the 2011 Edgar Award and set in Mississippi, this novel is the is the story of a boyhood friendship between Larry and Silas. Their friendship is broken when Larry's date disappears, shocking their county and turning all eyes on him. His friendship with Silas crumbles and they go their separate ways. More than twenty years later they come together when another girl disappears and all eyes turn to Larry once again. Only this time Silas is a cop and both men are forced to deal with the painful events of the past.
Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History by Ben Mezrich -- Does someone on your gift list really like heist movies like Oceans Eleven? Then this book is right up their alley. Thad Roberts, a fellow in the NASA program, decided that if NASA scientists decide that moon rocks were useless after being used in experiments, what did it matter if he helped himself to few. He convinced his girlfriend and another woman to get past NASA security and steal some of the most precious rocks in the world. Turns out promising someone the moon really does work... at least until you get caught. Then you are stuck writing them letters from your jail cell and having excerpts from them start off each chapter in this book.
Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell -- I know more than a few women on my list that love a good romance novel. Sarah Wendell's made an art of loving the romance novel with her popular website, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. What better gift could you give someone this winter than the reaffirmation that they need to be the heroine of their own story? That's just one of the lessons from romance novels shared in this fun little book. I bet your recipient would love it even more if you bundled it up with a couple of delightful romance novels.
Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects by Amy Stewart -- Wicked Plants, Stewart's first foray into the nature's devious side, is one of my favorite books to gift. This second book about the darker side of nature is every bit as fabulous. In the same A-Z encyclopedia format you'll find out about bookworms that devour libraries and the world's most dangerous hornet. I always knew bugs were evil and I am tempted to pair this with a DVD of the cult classic Starship Troopers.
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Eric Larson -- I'll be the first to admit that I have a weakness for WWII-era non-fiction but let me tell you, Eric Larson writes darned good narrative non-fiction, no matter what era he's writing about. His newest book focuses on the first American ambassador to Nazi Germany and his family. There's intrigue, forbidden relationships, and more than a little bit of tension. It was one of the best books to cross my path in 2011 and I'm convinced there is at least one person on your gift list who would enjoy it.
Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life by Lisa Chaney -- Perhaps no woman drove fashion and the definition of the modern woman more in the 20th century than Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. This new biography, which draws on newly discovered personal correspondence, shines new light on this phenomenal woman. Touching on everything from her love affairs, including the one with a German soldier in WWII, this new biography shows both a darker and more vulnerable side of the famous designer and business woman. Pair it with a bottle of Chanel No. 5, of course.
Will you be giving books as gifts this holiday season? Share your recommendations in the comments!