Just in time for the official opening of the holiday shopping season. Whether you’re tying on your walking shoes and hooking a mask over your ears for Black Friday store sales, flexing your fingers for Cyber Monday, or planning to help out local independent stores on Small Business Saturday, I hope the following tips give you ideas for the book lovers in your circle. Some are my recommendations and some were curated from a survey I ran among bookish groups on Facebook.
BEST Books to give this holiday season
The first tip for selecting a book as a gift comes from my editor, Ellen Notbohm. “When you truly care about coming up with a meaningful gift, you have to let go of all your own preconceptions and personal preferences and focus exclusively on your intended gift recipient, a person who is one-of-a-kind.” Wise words from a wise woman. She offers excellent thoughts to assist with coming up with an appropriate choice. Although she wrote the post prompted by people asking her for a recommendation for an autistic child, they can be applied to any person.
If, however, you’re still at a loss and would like to wrap up a hardcover, here are a few recommendations broken out by age categories. Books are linked to Amazon to read more descriptions and reviews.
- American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. One of my favorites of 2020, my full review is available at Bookmarked: Reviews Q2 2020.
- The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni. My absolute favorite of 2020, also appropriate as a YA/Teen choice with a coming-of-age story of Sam Hill. My full review is available at Book Reviews to Start Your Holiday Lists.
- This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger, or Ordinary Grace by the same author. Tender Land is on the docket for a spring read with the CA book club I joined recently, so if anyone would like to gift me a copy (hint, hint, sons), I would appreciate it.
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is still making the favorites’ list. My full review is available at Parallel Lines.
Anything by Erik Larson is perfect for history buffs, including his most recent, The Splendid and the Vile. My full review is available at Authors on (Virtual) Tour. Multiple memoirs appeared as suggestions from the survey, including:
- The Answer Is…Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek
- Becoming by Michelle Obama.
- Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. I haven’t posted a full review as I read this one years ago, but I do highly recommend.
I’ve also heard Becoming and Born a Crime are great on Audible, both read by the authors. Did you know you can give Audible gift subscriptions? I have become hooked on listening to books while I’m walking. Wanting to get to a chapter end keeps me going longer and farther.
YOUNG ADULT / TEEN
Two books which teach the importance of acceptance of “otherness”. I’ve read both and recommend them as a means to start a thoughtful discussion with the teens in your family. I worked with the publisher of Wonder by R. J. Palacio to bring it forward into schools and classrooms based on the power of its message among students. My book club read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. My full review is available at Book Reviews to Start Your Holiday Lists.
My kids totally missed out on the Pete the Cat series by James Dean which first hit shelves in 2006 and haven’t looked back, expanding into picture, song and activity books. The other series I was surprised to see show up on the survey with a few mentions is The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner from ancient history – my childhood. Nice to see long-standing traditions can survive the test of time. Of course, anything by Dr. Seuss also fits this bill.
Another new choice out for early readers or to read aloud and share in the wonder of the season: Stars of Wonder by Rebecca Dwight Bruff. A re-telling of the gifts of the Magi from a child’s POV with beautiful illustrations. A new Christmas classic.
Too many to choose – I love picture books. The ones from my kids’ childhood are stashed away in the attic, hopeful for use by grandchildren some day. I always give a picture book for baby gifts along with a donation in the baby’s name to one of my favorite charities, Reach Out and Read. More information available here: Reach Out and Read. If I had to choose one, it would be an Eric Carle. When this horrible pandemic allows us to return to normalcy, I want to plan a road trip with my son’s fiance, a kindergarten teacher, to the Eric Carle Museum in Springfield MA. A day to look forward to…
MY top picks for Bookish gifts
How many of us vow to start a new year by getting organized? The beautiful calendar on the left features artwork by Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Mary Cassatt, and others of women reading. I picked up the Reading Log (right) for myself as well as to use as a swap gift for a few book clubs / group exchanges. At $5.99, it’s the perfect choice to stay under a $10 maximum spend. I paired it with specialty dark chocolates to complete the gift.
Under normal circumstances, I travel for work, a lot. My Kindle library has been a lifesaver, always having a book at my fingertips whether I was in a hotel room or in the middle of a cross-country flight. I use the App on my Microsoft tablet so I only have to pack one device for work and pleasure needs. For anyone who wants a Kindle only, the Paperwhite is a great choice. I’ve also found for reading on any device, reading glasses come in handy to combat blue light glare and provide magnification for tired eyes. The pack of (5) is only $14.99 making them another good choice for a swap gift. Break them apart and wrap up one pair with an Amazon gift certificate for $10. Then, share my Facebook Author page with the gift recipient. Ten dollars goes far when you take advantage of the Kindle specials I post ranging from $1.99 – $3.99.
Confession time. I have blanket envy. My sister-in-law has the most awesome weighted Sherpa blanket. I don’t understand the physics or psychological forces at work with the weight sewn in, but it works wonders to create a calming effect. Of course, to further a serene setting, you need a mug of your favorite hot beverage in one hand and fun, novelty socks on your feet. Mugs can be found for well under $10 and the socks are $10 making both of them great conversation starters for swap gifts.
Bookcases with a gift cards taped to each shelf are a great idea for young families or young adults in their first apartments. Plenty of choices can be found under $50 at second-hand shops. You don’t need Martha Stewart in the house to turn a used book case into a personal statement with a bit of sandpaper, contact paper and spray paint. Plenty of inspiration can be found on Etsy.
One more, because I couldn’t resist. For those whose book club meetings devolve into more bottles finished than discussions started…the perfect morning-after mug.
I hope these tips help you plan your attack for holiday shopping for special book lovers on your list. If you need a few more ideas, check out my earlier post about book and gift parings: Mother’s Day Bookish Gifts. I’d love to hear from you, too. Drop a comment – did you add any of these to your shopping lists? Indulge in one of them for yourself? Let me know!
Happy Shopping! Happy Gifting! Happy Reading!
Writing Journey Update, 11.18.20
- Submitted Query to Agents = 10
- Full Manuscript Requested = 1
- No Reply (4 Weeks) = 1
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