Holiday Gift Guides: For the Readers in Your World

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Through the month of December, I’ll be posting a weekly gift guide! This week, we’re talking books.

My husband and I managed to actually get Christmas gifts for every single one of our nieces and nephews (of which there are 13 and one on the way). I don’t know if we’ll always be able to pull this off (the number is just growing and growing, you guys!) but we managed it this year. And since there are so many of them and because the love and passion for reading is deep in our veins—obviously we got books for each and every kid. Picking out books for these kids… was SO MUCH FUN!

And so it got me thinking about all the books that I would buy for everyone else in my life if I had unlimited funding. Drawing inspiration from real people in my life, I came up with some ideas! So, hey, maybe there’s someone on your list that matches someone on this list?
And if they don’t, have I raved about the Book of The Month Club yet? Your recipient will always get to choose whatever book they happen to be in the mood for and they’ll get to think of you every month! Check it out.

For your best friend who loves drama and gossip but does a great job of keeping it to a minimum IRL…
Modern Lovers by Emma Straub: Former rock stars raising families and pursuing all these hard parts of living and loving perfectly ordinary lives.
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed: Advice column that gets to the heart of the matter so well compiled into a beautiful book.
The Girls by Emma Cline: Here’s what I can tell you about this book, Manson Murders. And the writing itself pulls you in so beautifully and thoroughly.
The Wangs vs the World by Jade Chang: I haven’t read this one just yet but this book is on a lot of Best of 2016 lists and follows a family on a drama-filled road trip. Family drama is some of my favorite drama.

For your sister who 2016 turned into a full-on activist…
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: This memoir is written as a series of letters to the author’s son and confronts the notion of race in America. It’s on my TBR list for 2017.
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson: With the topic of immigration playing in the back ground, this book takes a novelized look at three different Americans who moved to different parts of this nation throughout their lives.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson: This is a beautiful, beautiful memoir written in verse—winner of the Coretta Scott King award and a Newberry Honor award. This book is actually considered a children’s book but is great for everyone.
Hillbilly Elegy, a Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance: a look at the struggles of America’s white working class—a subject that I believe we all need to take a solid look at if we’re ever going to make much headway regarding race relations in this country.

For your nephew who isn’t crazy about reading just yet…
El Deafo by Cece Bell: I believe in comics and graphic novels as a bit of a gateway drug into reading other types of literature. This is a brilliant memoir about a girl who had to wear a large hearing aid to school. She turned it into her super power!
The Ultimate Minecraft Comics by Calvin Crowther: Find something that the kid loves—I promise there’s literature about the subject. A few of my nephews are obsessed with Minecraft. Another couple of them are in love with Star Wars. Find something that they love, grab a few books, and leave them around for the kiddos to find.
The Captain Underpants Series by Dav Pilkey: This is one of our most requested series by 3rd grade boys at Twice Told Tales. It’s not high literature but it’s fun and exciting! And it starts working that reading muscle so that your kid will be quick to pick up a book in due time.
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary: When I was a kid it was hard for me to read big blocks of text without getting bored but I loved an epistolary format. Dear Mr. Henshaw is a great story told in this way about a kid who’s life has changed and he’s coping in a way that’s comfortable for him.

For your niece who wants to travel the world…
A Travel Journal: I couldn’t decide between this one or this one but I like them both for different reasons and possibly for different ages.
I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Martin Ganda and Caitlin Alifirenka: The story of pen pals on different continents. From Amazon, “In this compelling dual memoir, Caitlin and Martin recount how they became best friends –and better people–through their long-distance exchange.”
A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett: The prince-to-pauper story of a girl starting a brand new life in her French boarding school (plus the Puffin in Bloom editions are so gorgeous).
Thoughts From Iceland by Lonnie Mann: Another graphic novel. I want this for my own collection. In addition to being obsessed about Scandinavian stuff lately, I love the illustrations.

For your friends who decided to put down roots and buy a house…
The Old House Magazine: A magazine subscription–the original gift that keeps on giving! It’ll come to their new address and be full of great tips, tricks, and ideas for the new home owner.
Domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home by Domino: Because sometimes we just need to have beautiful things lying around the home to inspire us! Plus this is full of helpful how-to’s.
Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider: I read this earlier this year at a time when simple living was at the forefront of my mind and it got me feeling very in-charge of that vibe.
The Last Wild Places of Kansas: Journeys into Hidden Landscapes by George Fraizer: What better way to get your friends extra excited about this place they decided to call home than by giving some exciting books about the area?

For your brother in law who loves science and mystery…
Welcome to the Universe: An Astrophysical Tour by Neil deGrasse Tyson, J. Richard Gott, and Michael A. Strauss: Truth be told, I just really love the cover of this and also Neil is so hot right now.
The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed our Minds by Michael Lewis: The story of the friendship between two Israeli psychologists who published a paper in the 40’s which challenged long-held beliefs about the decision making process.
The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan: This tells the true story about the women involved in a top secret, WWII mission. Much to their surprise, they were brought to a town in Tennessee to help build the Atomic Bomb.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: From the Amazon write up, “a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.”

For the women in your life who love feminism and Jesus at the same time…
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans: Me and so many people like me are living in a deconstructionist (hopefully followed by a re-constructionist) period of our spiritual lives. Rachel Held Evans’ blog has been a place that has made me feel safe in that journey and I think that this book will have that same effect on so many others as well.
You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson: Because it isn’t Feminism if it isn’t intersectional, the white women who are embracing and claiming feminism have to make space for women of color in our lives. We have to open up spaces to hear from them and honor their experiences. Plus, you guys, Phoebe Robinson is friggin’ hillarious.
Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey: Sarah Bessey writes so beautifully and poetic and works from a highly biblical base. She’s just barely a little too Jesusy for my usual tastes but so many of my friends recommend this. It’s great for Christian women who are interested in dipping their toes in learning about the subject of Feminism.
The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston: This is such a beautiful memoir of growing up as a Chinese immigrant in America. This is one of the first memoirs I ever read about the Asian-American experience and it had a profound affect on me.

For the friends who always get together for shared meals and holding one another’s babies…
Modern Potluck: Beautiful Food to Share by Kristin Donnelly  Gorgeous photography and focusing on the heart of community—breaking bread together, in a modern way. This book also has a way of making allergen and diet-restriction awareness completely approachable and even beautiful.
It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us by Hillary Rodham Clinton: In this book, Hillary Clinton advocates for a whole society that works to meet the needs of its children.
The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron: I learned about the Enneagram from an episode of The Liturgists podcast and was super intrigued by this specific type of personality profiling. At our last gathering, we started talking about it, again. It was so exciting and made a lot of us want to learn more about it and where we fit on the spectrum.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio: The story of a boy who was born with a facial deformity and what his life is like once he starts attending a mainstream school for the first time, as a fifth grader. This book is full of quite realistic family moments—not shying away from flawed human interaction but also creating safe spaces where love overflows.

Of course if you aren’t sure what the reader in your life would likely go for, you can let them make their own selection by gifting a Book of the Month Club subscription (follow this link to find out how to get 30% off a 3-month subscription for yourself!), an subscription, or a good old fashioned gift card to either Amazon or their local bookstore.

 Recommending books is one of my most favorite activities of all time. When someone comes into the bookstore and asks for a recommendation, I do such a happy dance in my mind—try not to let it show on my face.

Is there anyone on your list that you’re searching for? Let me know and I’ll bet we can crowd-source a literary solution for you.
Anything you want to add to my lists?




One thought on “Holiday Gift Guides: For the Readers in Your World

  1. AWESOME recommendations!!! I read “Dear. Mr. Henshaw” for the first time this year and completely fell in love! If you’re looking for a non-hoaky gender neutral book for a kiddo this is the one!

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