A Holiday Gift Guide to Giving Books This Season

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Doesn’t it seem like your gift list grows each year?

One new member of the family by birth, three more by marriage. Two “adopted” kids who call you Mom or Dad just because. Friends who have become dear.  A new Secret Santa program. It adds up, as it subtracts from your holiday budget.

But here’s a great suggestion: books!  Books are cost-effective. They’re like taking a trip without going anywhere. They give and give again, and they’re share-able. What more could you want to give?

So. Without further ado, here are some great books you can give to the people on your give list this holiday season…

General Fiction

Perfect for historians who love a good novel, “The House of Special Purpose” by John Boyne takes a fictionalized trip back to czarist Russia with an elderly man who must lay secrets to rest before he dies. Give this book as a gift – and borrow it back!

Does your giftee like the kind of novel that’ll keep her guessing?  Then “The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards” by Kristopher Jansma will be exactly what you want to wrap up. At first, it seems like this is a book about rivalry between two writers, but there’s so much more to this story. Suffice it to say that unwrapping this book isn’t going to be the only surprise your giftee gets – particularly when you pair that book with “This is How You Die,” an anthology with the premise that every character knows the end is near… they know how, but they don’t know how

So how well do you know that new family member?  In “The Darkling” by R. B. Chesterton, a family takes in a teenager who’s been orphaned and they hire a tutor to get the girl up to speed. But there’s something about the girl that just doesn’t seem right – something that will scare the daylights out of your giftee. Wrap it up with “Seduction” by M.J. Rose, which is a literary-based novel of suspense and chills.

For the person who likes a little terror with their holiday, “The Demonologist” by Andrew Pyper will give them that, abundantly. This is the story of a professor who accepts a dark offer that’s too good to be true. Problem is, it’s not to good to be horrifying.  Wrap this one up with “ Domino Falls ” by Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due, for a perfectly frightful night-ful.

If your giftee loves a novel that sprang from real events, then wrap up “My Mother’s Secret” by J.L. Witterick, a fictionalized tale of two women who sheltered a Jewish family in their Sokal, Germany home during World War II. It’s a bit of a thriller, made even better because it’s based on a true story.

Fans of suspense won’t be able to resist opening the covers of “Storm Front” by John Sanford. In this thriller, an ancient stone has been stolen, which sparks an international manhunt that settles in Minnesota . Yes, it seems like a movie plot but for fans of this genre, this book is far from mere drama. Team it up with “Dead Insider” by Victoria Houston, for the most thrilling gift you can possibly give.

If a danger-filled novel is what that certain someone on your list would love, look for “The Return” by Michael Gruber, a book about a man who isn’t who he seems. Yes, he looks like an easy-going guy, but revenge is really what’s on his mind… and he’s not going to stop until he finds it. Wrap it up with “Island of the White Rose” by R. Ira Harris, a historical novel of revolution (in Cuba ) and intrigue, love and danger.

For the reader who loves a good murder novel, “Love Gone Mad” by Mark Rubinstein might be what you want to wrap. When a famous heart surgeon and a nurse meet at work, it seems like romance is in the air. But no, it’s danger they sense, and a fight for their very lives.  Wrap it up with “The Russian Endgame” by Allan Topol, an international thriller with political undertones, and watch your giftee smile.

The person on your list who loves a good romance will enjoy “Love Rehab: A Novel in Twelve Steps” by Jo Piazza.  It’s a story filled with all those things you DON’T want to do when lookin’ for love. And for something different, wrap it up with “Dying for Dinner Rolls” by Lois Lavrisa, the first in the Chubby Chicks Club mystery series. Food and murder… what more could you want?

Cookbooks

No doubt, your giftee will want to put a little color on the table with “Sprinkles! Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts” by Jackie Alpers. The recipes in here – I need to warn you – are fun and addicting. I mean, who won’t want to eat homemade pop tarts, homemade donuts, cupcakes, waffles, and more?  Pass the dessert, please, but don’t pass up this book.

Music

Perfect for photography fans and fashionistas alike, “Kylie Fashion” by Kylie Minogue & William Baker is a huge coffee-table-sized book filled with photographs featuring the fashion and career of the award-winning singer. Yes, there’s a little bit of narrative here (and a forward by Jean Paul Gaultier), but mostly… it’s pictures, and more pictures.

If there’s a future musical star on your gift list, you’ll be wrapping up a winner when you give “The Worst Gig,” by various musicians and band members, as told to Jon Niccum. In this book, rock & roll has never looked more soul-crushing… or more fun.

LGBT Specific

If there’s someone on your gift list who has the opposite of gaydar and a good sense of humor, then wrap up “Straight People: A Spotter’s Guide to the Fascinating World of Heterosexuals” by Jeffrey Self. This book will help anyone spot the (not-so) elusive heterosexual in its natural habitat, including its habits, breeding information, and a comprehensive overview of the various species and sub-species.

For the political animal on your list, Christine Quinn’s “With Patience and Fortitude” may be just the right biography to wrap up. It’s the story of Quinn’s life, her rise to power in New York City , her battle with breast cancer, and the secret she knew would eventually come out.

If there’s a novel lover on your list, look for “The Revelations of Jude Connor” by Robin Reardon, the story of a young man who desperately wants to reconcile his church life with the life he senses he needs to live. Can his belief stand beside temptation?

So there’s someone on your gift list who’s very close to a sibling. How far would he (or she!) go to help that brother or sister?  In “My Brother’s Name” by Laura Krughoff, a young woman is convinced by her mentally-ill brother to assume his identity, but the ruse can’t work for long…

For the person on your list who is doing a lot of self-inspection lately, “Out Your Ego!” by Staci Backauskas may help put a few things into perspective. This book will help tame an out-of-control ego to get to the root of who your giftee really is. Wrap it up with “The Scar Letters” by Richard Alther, a novel about a man who must confront the demons of his past in order to move ahead to the strong future he knows he deserves.

For the person on your list who loves the holidays – all holidays – wrap up “Gifts Not Yet Given and Other Tales of the Holidays” by Kergan Edwards-Stout. It’s a collection of short stories about the holidays we hold dear and the ways we keep them.

Pets & Animals

Pigeons. Cockroaches. Sea gulls. Why do we hate them, while we love doves, spiders, and pelicans?  In “Trash Animals,” edited by Kelsi Nagy and Phillip David Johnson II, your giftee will read a series of essays on how these creatures – which are often considered disgusting – are really quite intriguing.

If your giftee has lost a beloved family member this year, then show your support by wrapping up “Furry Friends Forevermore: A Heavenly Reunion with Your Pet” by Gary Kurz. Will we meet our furkids someday again?  Will they be waiting for us?  The author answers those questions in a very comforting way. Be sure to wrap it up with a big box of tissues. It’s that kind of book. Or add “One Big Happy Family” by Lisa Rogak, to the gift box. It’s a heart-melting book about animals of different species that care for other animals, and it might be the soothing balm that’s needed.

For the new doggy parent on your gift list, you can’t go wrong with “The Complete Book of Home Remedies for Your Dog” by Deborah Mitchell. This book starts off with the most basic of health care (nutrition) and will help your favorite pet lover take care of the new family member. Wrap it up with “Throw the Damn Ball” by R.D. Rose, Harry Prichett, and Rob Battles. It’s a book of puppy poetry, as told by several short-haired Longfellows.

No doubt you’ve got a bird lover on your list, and no doubt that bird lover would love to unwrap “1001 Secrets Every Birder Should Know” by Sharon “Birdchick” Stiteler. This is a book filled with fun-to-know facts about all kinds of feathered friends: their physical quirks, migratory habits, diet, and more – plus, tips and hints on being a successful birdwatcher. Give it to show you’re no birdbrain.

Business

If there’s an hardwired someone on your gift list this year – someone who wants to break the too-available cord - then wrap up “Boundaries in an Overconnected World” by Anne Katherine. This is a book especially for someone who longs for communication the way it used to be. Someone who wants to know how to get away from it now and then. Someone like your giftee, right? Wrap it up with “Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and Self-Doubt” by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Phd, an empowering book that will help that businessperson on your list to gain the strength to say “no” and take her life back.

It’s always nice to have a plan for the New Year, which means your business-minded giftee would appreciate unwrapping “Financial Fresh Start” by Shari Olefson. This book offers a step-by-step process for adapting to the “New Economy,’ and some of the tips can be used the minute your giftee rips the wrap.

For the person on your list who needs to know how to kick-start creativity in the workplace, “The Myths of Creativity” by David Burkus will be a welcome gift. It’s a book about how innovation starts, where the best ideas come from, and how to put that knowledge to work. Pair it up with “Unlimited Sales Success” by Brian Tracy and Michael Tracy for a well-rounded (and very helpful) holiday gift.

First, the housekeeping: some of these books may be challenging to find. Release dates are approximate. Titles may be slightly different. Still, there you have it: gift ideas for everybody you love. And if you don’t see the perfect book on this list, throw yourself at the mercy of the friendly bookseller in your hometown. She knows books and making someone smile makes her smile, too. 

Season’s Readings!


Greg Kabel

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