BidVertiser ClickADu HilltopAds

Not sure what to read next? Or to give as a gift? Look no further than SFGN’s holiday reading and book giving guide

Every year, your gift list gets longer.

Some of the newbies on your list are also new to the family. Some are friends to whom you’ve grown close. There’s that neighbor who’s so awesome, the new supervisor at work, an uncle who’s visiting this year, your child’s new teacher, and a Secret Santa program you’ve joined. And usually, you’re able to keep up with your list and know exactly what to give… but then there’s that one person who’s so hard to shop for.

Why not give a book? Books never run out of batteries, they don’t have to be turned off before bedtime, and they’re totally calorie-free. Take a look at these suggestions…


If historical fiction is of great interest to someone on your gift list, then look for “Desert God” by Wilbur Smith. This novel, set in ancient Egypt, includes a hero who is very close to the Pharaoh… almost too close. Magic, love, war – what else could your giftee want?

The Neil Gaiman fan on your list is in luck this year: first, “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains,” illustrated by Eddie Campbell is a novel with aspects of graphic novels and the flair that Gaiman fans relish. And your giftee will know that this years’ best gift came from you when you wrap it up with “The Art of Neil Gaiman” by Hayley Campbell, foreword by Audrey Niffenegger, a book filled with notes, artwork, poetry, reflections, and more from The Master.

Western lovers will love reading “The Ploughmen” by Kim Zupan, a story of a green lawman and the older jailed killer he’s tasked with watching. Set in the Old West, this book is laced with a tautness that modern readers will love. Wrap it up with “Painted Horses” by Malcolm Brooks, a novel with a modern setting and a romantic spin.

For the suspense fan who loves a little ghost story, too, how about “Haunted” by Randy Wayne White? This suspense novel features White’s newest character, Hannah Smith, who is tasked with saving a supposedly-haunted house. But is the rumor of a ghost worse than the reality of a murderous flesh-and-blood human? Wrap it up with “Remains of Innocence” by J.A. Jance, a suspenseful novel about a dying woman and her money, a dead man and a scandal, and the sheriff who must solve both terrible cases.

The thriller fan on your list will love “Mercy 6” by David Bajo, a novel about a mystery disease that’s killing people in a California hospital – or is it? Are the patients dying of illness or something else? Grab this one, and toss “Bones Never Lie” by Kathy Reichs, in the bag, too. It’s a novel of suspense featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

If you’ve got someone on your gift list who’s itching to start all over, preferably as someone else, then “How to Build a Girl” by Caitlin Moran could be the just-right gift. This sassy novel is about a teenager who tries to reinvent herself but, of course, things like that don’t always work so well…

You may have a visitor to Mitford on your gift list this year, and there’s no doubt that she misses her favorite town and her favorite pastor – so “Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good” by Jan Karon is a sure-fire gift. In this book, Father Tim returns to Mitford with his wife and family after a five-year absence, only to find that some things change – and not just a little.

For the reader who loves faction (fact + fiction), you’ll want to find “The True and Splendid History of the Harristown Sisters” by Michelle Lovric. Based on a real family of sisters who grew their hair long (LONG!!) and performed in public, this book imagines their relationships with one another, the jealousy, and the scandal.


There is absolutely no trivia fan in the world who could be without “1,339 Quite Interesting Facts to Make Your Jaw Drop” by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, and James Harkin. This totally fun book is filled with I-didn’t-know-that facts that practically beg to be read aloud. It’s the kind of book you want to take on the ride to Grandma’s this holiday, so you can share it on the road.

If there’s someone on your gift list who likes to poke the bear and stir up trouble, then “Villains, Scoundrels, and Rogues” by Paul Martin may be the right thing to wrap. This book is filled with short chapters on all kinds of real-life troublemakers and shady citizens. How fun is that? Wrap it up with “Madam Belle: Sex, Money, and Influence in a Southern Brothel” by MaryJean Wall, for an even more rascally gift.

For the person on your list who seems to be Google’s biggest user, “Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It” by Ian Leslie could be just right to give. This book proves that curiosity isn’t at an all-time high, like you might think; in fact, it’s on the wane and that’s bad.

For the True Crime aficionado, “Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a killer to Justice” by Kate Clark Flora might be the most thrilling gift she opens this year. It’s the story of a missing woman, murder, and the cooperation between law enforcement departments in two countries.

Your connoisseur of cocktails will love opening “Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit” by Dane Huckelbridge. This book takes a look at this drink that’s older than you think, and uniquely American. Pair it up with a couple of good glasses and “Moonshine Nation” by Mark Spivak. It’s a history of the spirit, and your giftee will absolutely love that it contains party-worthy recipes!

For the lead on the debate team, “Impolite Conversations” by Cora Daniels and John L. Jackson Jr. will be a welcome gift. This discussion on all the things that start an argument in polite circles (race, politics, sex, cash, and God) may provoke thoughts or anger; either way, it’s perfect for the person who loves a good, challenging argument. Add “Living with a Wild God” by Barbara Ehrenreich – a nonbeliever’s quest for a higher power – for a debatably perfect gift.

The animal lover on your list will sit up and beg for “Animal Madness” by Laurel Braitman. It’s a book about how neurotic, anxiety-ridden, misbehaving animals – domestic and otherwise – may hold clues to our own behavior. Pair it up with “Wild Connection” by Jennifer L. Verdolin, a book about animal courtship and how we’re more like them than we know…

And for any dog lover you know, a two-pronged book will be just right. First, you’ll want to fetch “Dogs in Cars” by Lara Jo Regan, a pictorial of (you guessed it) very happy dogs in very cool cars. Then add “Shake Puppies” by Carli Davidson, a book filled with pictures of (guessed it again) puppies in the midst of a good soul-fixing shake. For sure, these books made me hug my fur-boys, and they’re double delight for your doggie demands.

I was, by the way, completely, totally charmed by “Harlow & Sage (and Indiana)” by Brittni Vega, a tale (with pictures!) of three four-footed best friends and their adventures. It’s absolutely something your dog-lover would beg for.


What do you give to the person who’s going through the trial of her life? You might wrap up “A Breast Cancer Alphabet” by Madhulika Sikka. In here, your friend will find advice, a bit of humor, information from the Been-There, Done-That crew, and more. Bonus: it’s an easy book to browse.

For the forward thinker on your list, “Cannabis Pharmacy” by Michael Backes may be just the right thing to wrap. This is a book about growing, using, and knowing about medical marijuana, from the plant to the end user and everything in between.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook incident, “The Price of Silence” by Liza Long asks the question that many mothers asked: what if the shooter was my child? This book takes a look at mental illness in children, from the perspective of a family member, and it’s a fascinating book that could make a stellar gift.

So you have a deep thinker on your list, and you’re not sure what to give? Think hard, and consider “The Slaughter” by Ethan Gutmann. In this book, the author tells the story of what he says is a dirty little secret in China – which includes mass murder and more. Warning: it’s not for the faint of heart.

For the yoga aficionado, “Going Om,” edited by Melissa Carroll will make a perfect gift. This is a book filled with essays of yoga and what it does to mind, body, and spirit. Wrap it up with a brand-new map and wait for the hugs. Add “A Book of Miracles” by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel, for a nice anthology of healing, hope, and heartfelt thankfulness.

For the med student you know, take a look at “Grief Sucks… But Love Bears All Things” by Gayle Taylor Davis. It’s a story of loss, and living through it – something your giftee may need to know about in the new career. You also may want to find “Changing the Way We Die” by Fran Smith and Sheila Himmel. It’s a book about hospice care and the hospice movement.


For another look at the same subject, you may want to look for “Unremarried Widow” by Artis Henderson (by a military widow); “Confessions of a Mediocre Widow” by Catherine Tidd (by a young widow with three small kids); or “Young Widower: A Memoir” by John W. Evans (a man’s perspective on this subject).


Do we need our ears to feed our brain? That’s the question in “I Can Hear You Whisper” by Lydia Denworth, scientist and mother of a hearing-impaired little boy. This book takes a look at the subject of learning and hearing, psychology, neurology, and the Deaf community, and it’s a great gift for anyone who’s studying or living this issue. I also liked “Struck by Genius” by Jason Padgett and Maureen Seaberg. It’s the story of a crime, an injury that could have been devastating, and a surprising gift that came out of an almost-tragedy.




For the businessperson who can’t quite conquer being on top of everything, wrap up “The Organized Mind” by Daniel J. Levitin. This book takes a look at why our brains are packed tight and how some leaders deal with business TMI. Wrap it up with another fascinating book, “The Marshmallow Test” by Walter Mischel, a book about self-control and how to conquer and use yours.


If there’s someone on your gift list who’s new to business and is just learning the ropes, wrap up “Compelling People” by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut. This book uncovers the traits that give someone the ability to sway others and, in turn, to be successful. Wrap it up with “Perfecting Your Pitch” by Ronald M. Shapiro, a very useful communications book that helps your readers reach for success, but not just in business.


For the person who’s just learning the art of managing money, “The Handy Investing Answer Book” by Paul A. Tucci is a great introduction. With a handy question-and-answer format and easy-to-understand info, it could help your giftee into the next family mogul. Hint: it could also be a nice refresher for someone who’s been around the bank a time or two.




For the person on your list who’s thinking of parenthood, “Mommy Man” by Jerry Mahoney could be just the thing to wrap up. It’s the (often very funny) story of a man who never thought he’d have a family, ever, until he and his partner decide that they want a kid – and a great story to tell him (or her!) in years to come.


If your giftee is reaching for a conclusion on religion and lifestyle, then “God and the Gay Christian” by Matthew Vines could be an excellent gift. This book delves deeply into Biblical teaching, but it also contains the author’s personal story of his relationship with family and faith.


For fans of fast-paced thriller-mysteries, “The Talk Show” by Joe Wenke may be a goodie to wrap up. It’s a novel about a controversial talk show host, a reporter who makes a deal with that devil, and the “family” who fears for the reporter’s life – as well as each of their own.


Got a traveler on your list who also loves history? Then “States of Desire Revisited: Travels in Gay America” by Edmund White will be the gift that lives in the suitcase. Part travelogue, part a look back some 40 years, this is a peek at gay life then and now, pre-AIDS and after, and how everything changed with a mouse click.


Season’s Readings!