The gift list was easy this year.
For once, you knew what to get everybody. Every. Single. Giftee. Easy-peasy… except, oops, that one person who vexes you each year.
What to get? Well, books are always good gifts, and they’re super-easy to wrap, too. How about one of these great selections for that One Person…
For the independent traveler on your list, “Paris for One & Other Stories” by Jojo Moyes might be a great bon voyage gift. It’s a collection of short stories about change, opportunity, independence, and life in general. Pair it with “The Jungle Around Us: Stories” by Anne Raeff. It’s a collection of tales with the jungle, its mystery, darkness, and richness, as both metaphor and connecting force here.
The reader on your gift list who prefers books set in other time periods will love “Cruel Beautiful World” by Caroline Leavitt. It’s a 1960s-era story of a woman who chooses a man over the sister who basically raised her, and the dynamics of family. Put it together with “Jazz Moon” by Joe Okonkwo, a book set in Harlem, 1925, where Paris is where it’s at, baby.
The person who loves a little mid-century drama will enjoy “The Jealous Kind” by James Lee Burke. It’s a bit of a Romeo-and-Juliet novel set in the 1950s in Texas, at a time when the line between the “haves” and the “have-nots” was drawn in the sand with danger, and money talked a lot. Definitely wrap it up with another great drama-mystery, “Manitou Canyon” by William Kent Krueger. Cork O’Connor is back and sleuthing. Fans, rejoice.
I’m guessing there’s a mystery fan on your list. Imagine his face when he unwraps “Seduced: A Hannah Smith Novel” by Randy Wayne White. In this novel, fishing guide and part time PI Hannah Smith goes in search of heirloom orange tree seeds – or maybe even rootstock – to save an industry. But what she wants…? So do others, whose intentions aren’t as pure.
Historical novel lovers will devour “News of the World” by Paulette Jiles, a book set in Texas in the years following the Civil War. When a down-and-out former Captain of the military is hired to deliver an orphan girl to her distant relatives, he partakes in an adventure – not just through rough terrain, but through rocky childcaring, too. Wrap it up with “The German Girl” by Armando Lucas Correa, a multigenerational novel about home, based on a true story.
Dog lovers will howl over “Jonathan Unleashed” by Meg Rosoff. It’s the story of a man who’s at the end of his leash, and his brother’s dogs, who begin to show him that dogs are smarter than they seem. Wrap it up with another perfect book for your dog lover: “Lily and the Octopus” by Steven Rowley, the story of a man, his aging best friend, and love.
And won’t the pet lover on your list love getting “A Guinea Pig Oliver Twist” in that package, too? Yes, it’s Dickens as you’ve never seen him before…
The gourmand on your list will love “Super Sushi Ramen Express” by Michael Booth, an examination of Japanese food as seen through a family (including two small children) who travels the length of that country in search of adventure and, by the way, good food.
Pair it up with this unique book for foodies: “The Farm on the Roof” by Anastasia Cole Plakias, a book about a food farm that, over two rooftops in two areas of New York, grows enough food to feed several families.
What’s it like to feed the people in America’s largest city? Your giftee won’t be able to wait to read “Food and the City” by Ina Yalof, a book about the chefs, cooks, street vendors, and others who serve up apples (and more) in the Big Apple. To make it an even tastier gift, pair it with “The Book of Spice” by John O’Connell, a book about all the things that make meals zestier.
MUSIC / MOVIES / TV
There’s someone on your gift list who loves music of all kinds, and “They Call Me Supermensch” by Shep Gordon will be a welcome gift. Gordon was a manager for a number of Big Name music acts, as well as an innovator in the entertainment industry. Who can resist a book like that? Nobody, especially when you wrap it up with another mensch-y book, “Seinfeldia” by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong. It’s a book about “nothing,” which surely became a great big something.
For the midnight-movie fan who can’t get enough of toast or Janet, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ” by Dave Thompson is exactly what you want to give. This book is absolutely jammed with facts, stories, and fun-to-know details, everything you ever wanted to know about Frank-N-Furter and more.
Want to see the biggest smile ever? For the fan of the newest Pulitzer Prize Winner for Literature, wrap up “Bob Dylan: The Lyrics 1961-2012.” This book is HUGE – at nearly 700 pages and weighing, well, let’s just say the reindeer will complain and it’s also on the spendy side but if you’ve got a Dylan fan on your list, this will get you hugs through at least Independence Day. And for an even better gift, you may want to pair it with “Madonnaland and Other Detours Into Fame and Fandom” by Alina Simone. It’s a look at The Material Girl, music, and being a rock star.
Is there a musician on your list who longs to do something totally different? Then wrap up “Angelic Music” by Corey Mead. It’s the story of Benjamin Franklin’s invention, a take on a little trick you already know, and the rise and fall of its popularity. Imagine – give this gift and launch a new career.
In “Saving Delaney” by Andrea and Keston Ott-Dahl, your giftee will read the story of one little girl, her life before birth, her lesbian moms and her wealthy parents, and what happened when she entered the world with Down syndrome. Wrap it up with tissues and “Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood” by Eric Rosswood, a book filled with tips and tales of gay and lesbian folks who finally became parents.
If there’s an art lover on your gift list, they’ll love unwrapping “One Man Show: The Life and Art of Bernard Perlin” by Michael Schreiber. Part gay history, part art, this book showcases the life of a man who painted portraits of gay clubs and street life, and whose works were collected by mid-century high-society collectors, some of which still hangs in museums today.
For the mom or dad who’s just learned that their child is gender-questioning, “The Gender Creative Child” by Diane Ehrensaft, PhD might be a loving gift. It’s a book that will guide them through many early questions and thoughts they may have now, and later. Wrap it up with “When Your Child is Gay” by Wesley C. Davidson and Jonathan L. Tobkes, MD, for the answers to even more questions.
What does it mean to be a man or a woman? In “The Fate of Gender” by Frank Browning, your giftee will learn what science says about gender, brains, chromosomes, social pressures, and how other countries see gender and the spectrum. Wrap it up with “Queer Identities and Politics in Germany: A History 1880-1945” by Clayton J. Whisnant, a fascinating history book that looks at German LGBT organizations, people, publications, and the culture, especially during World War II.
PETS & ANIMALS
The animal lover on your list will howl with glee when she opens “Wildlife Spectacles” by Vladimir Dinets. This book is all about wildlife and its behavior: migration, mating, parenting, and more. Bonus: PICTURES! Bigger bonus: wrap it up with “Coyote America” by Dan Flores, a look at a much-maligned animal and its history.
On your gift list, there’s a person whose pet is a part of the family. In “Dog Gone” by Pauls Toutonghi, a family loses its dog and goes to (of course) great lengths to find him and get him home. True story. Truly a great gift. Even better when you also give “Dogs Rough & Smooth” by Lucy Dawson, a large coffee-table-type book filled with pencil drawings of dogs, pups, and pooches.
Here’s an adventure of an unlikely sort: “Heart of a Lion” by William Stolzenburg is the story of a mountain lion who roamed an unbelievable distance, and the man who re-traced the big cat’s path. You can’t go wrong, then, when you wrap “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” by Frans de Waal with it. That’s a book about animals, their abilities, and the relative intelligence they possess.
Your giftee is no dumb cluck, so for the chicken lover, “Tastes like Chicken” by Emelyn Rude will be exactly what they’ll want to open. It’s the history of chickens. Give it, and you won’t have egg on your face.
No dog lover worth his or her salt will turn down “Free Days with George” by Colin Campbell. It’s the story of a man and a dog, both very bruised by their pasts. One’s a big guy, at 140 pounds; the other’s a human, and how they heal is the story here. Wrap it up with another dog-bonding book “Love is All You Need” by Jennifer Arnold, a new approach to teaching your pup and yourself.
You know who loves dogs? Someone on your gift list, that’s who, and “Sit Stay Heal” by Mel C. Miskimen is the exact book he (or she!) wants this holiday. It’s the story of a rascally black lab and the family he shepherds through grief. I also liked “Let Me Tell You About Jasper…” by Fox New’s Dana Perino, about her most famous best friend.