Thanksgiving is this week, and that means that Christmas shopping officially begins as well. Books make the best gifts — they are never the wrong size or color, and they are easy to wrap, even for the most gift-wrapping-challenged among us. And so I present the annual Books Are Great Gifts Guide.
If you’re looking to give a gift for an entire family, National Geographic has a wonderful collection of coffee table books filled with gorgeous photos and interesting facts. There’s Epic Journeys for the world (or armchair) travelers, and Atlas of National Parks for those who prefer to visit our nation’s parks. Almanac 2020is filled with fun facts and photos about the world around us.
For the biography aficionado on your list, Edmund Morris’ Edison dives deep into the life of the famous inventor. Ed Stack, the founder of Dick’s Sporting Goods (which began in Binghamton), recounts his own story in It’s How We Play the Game. Pair Sheila Weller’s Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edgewith some of Fisher’s own books for a great gift.
There are many biographies of musical icons out as well: Elton John’s autobiography Meis topping the bestseller list now, as is a biography of Prince, The Beautiful Ones by Dan Piepenbring. Holly George-Warren’s biography Janis: Her Life and Music takes the reader inside Janis Joplin’s short and intense life. Add a CD of the artist’s music, and you have a great gift.
For the chef in your life, there is a new edition of The Joy of Cooking that updates 600 recipes for today’s chef. For the Food Network fan, Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman: The New Frontier has 112 recipes for everyday cooking. Wrap it in a pretty tea towel and you’re done.
Fiction this season is all about sequels. Elizabeth Strout brings back Olive Kitteridge from her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name in Olive, Again, which continues the cantankerous Maine woman’s story. Margaret Atwood’s The Testamentspicks up life in Gilead 15 years after her 1985 book The Handmaid’s Tale. Fans of the Hulu show will want to read this one.
If your fiction reader prefers historical novels, Jojo Moyes’ The Giver of Stars is about a group of female librarians during the Great Depression who deliver books to rural residents of Kentucky, although there are people who are trying to stop them.
For the romance fan, Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire is about a young female Texas firefighter who moves to Boston with her mother, and finds male firefighters there not as welcoming — except for one handsome rookie. Linda Holmes’ Evvie Drake Starts Overis about a young widow who takes in a Major League Baseball player with a case of the yips.
Mystery fans love new books from their favorite authors. David Baldacci’s One Good Deed takes place in 1949, as a World War II vet on parole from prison takes a job that becomes complicated. Harlan Coben’s Run Away is about a father who finds his missing daughter busking for money in Central Park, and this endangers all their lives. Fan favorite Mary Higgins Clark’s Kiss the Girls and Make Them Crytells the timely tale of two women who accuse a TV newsman of sexual harassment and end up dead.
Books make wonderful gifts for children, and older teens will love Ruta Sepetys’ The Fountains of Silence, about young teens trying to survive life during the brutal rule of Francisco Franco in 1957 Madrid, Spain. Katherine McGee’s American Royalsposits that George Washington was named king of the United States, and his descendant, Princess Beatrice, is preparing to take the throne in modern times. Graphic novel fans will enjoy Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks’ Pumpkin Heads, about two teens who work in the same pumpkin patch every autumn.
Middle grade readers also like graphic novels, and Raina Telegmeier’s Guts is about a young girl whose worrisome nature gives her a constant stomachache. James Patterson’s new Max Einstein novel, Rebels With A Cause, will be a hit, and Dav Pilke’s newest Dog Man book, Brawl of the Wild, is a favorite among youngsters.