SFGN'S 2018 Holiday Gift Guide: Book Lovers

The mistletoe is hung, and so are the garlands, the ornaments, window decorations, and lights. You’d be ready for the holidays, too, if you weren’t hung up on a gift for that one certain person.

SFGN Gift Books 2018

Now what?  Now head to the bookstore with this column in-hand, and look for one of these great books…


If your giftee is a lover of memoirs, “Woman at 1,000 Degrees” by Hallgrimur Helgasonis a novel they may like, too. It’s told in the voice of 80-year-old Herra Björnsson, who is at the end of her life and she’s in the mood to share… Wrap it up with “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” by Kate Morton, a novel of an archivist, a very old manor, and a bit of a mystery that transcends time.

Your cat lovers will take to “Talk to the Paw” by Melinda Metz like catnip. It’s a little bit romance, a little bit angst, a theft, and a purr-fect ending.

If it’s not tootimely to be a good gift, look for “Only Child” by Rhiannon Navin.It’s a book about a school shooting and a mother’s actions when her son is injured in ways that can’t be bandaged. 


The short story fan will be glad to unwrap “Sweet & Low” by Nick White.This book is full of Southern fiction, characters you forget are not real, and situations that make a good yarn great. For true short-story fans, pair it with“Everyday People: The Color of Life – A Short Story Anthology” edited by Jennifer Baker.

For the giftee who sometimes wishes for a life-rewind, “The Dinner List” by Rebecca Serle could be a good choice to give. It’s a story about one evening, one meal, a lot of loved ones (past and present) and a chance to make things right. Pair it up with “The Dream Daughter” by Diane Chamberlain, a book about a mother’s first chances.

If you give “The Witch Elm” by Tana Frenchto your suspense-novel lover, be prepared to be ignored for the rest of the day. Not on purpose, but because this is a story of an injured man, a decades-old mystery, and plenty of spine-tingles. 

For the historical fiction fan, look for “A Well-Behaved Woman” by Therese Anne Fowler.It’s a multi-generational tale of wealth and high-society (and the Vanderbilts), set in the years following the Civil War, and one woman’s desire – need? – to make it to the top of New York’s social scene.


For the person who can’t get enough of John, Paul, George, or Ringo, “Visualizing the Beatles” by John Pring and Rob Thomas is something they’ll want to hold in their hands. It’s a graphic history of the Fab Four, so lots of pictures, easy to browse, fun to have. Pair it with “The Cutting Edge” by Leslie Cavendish,who was the woman who cut and styled the Beatles’ hair.

Yes, Earth is a pretty good place to live. Oxygen, water, trees… but what is our presence doing to the planet? “Darwin Comes to Town” by Menno Schilthuizenis one of those books that’ll answer your giftee’s questions while also inviting them to think. How is our world thriving andsurviving?  Pair it up with “The Simpol Solution” by John Bunzl and Nick Duffell, a book about fixing the global problems we face today and our children could face tomorrow. Consider more with “The Disaster Survival Guide” by Marie D. Jones, a book that’s a good primer for coming out the other side of nature’s worst and mankind’s unthinkable.

If your giftee would love something otherworldly, try “Sister of Darkness: The Chronicles of a Modern Exorcist” by R. H. Stavis with Sarah Durand. Yes, this book is for real. Yes, it could scare the Dickens out of someone.

For the fashionista, you can’t go wrong when you give “Fierce: The History of Leopard Print” by Jo Weldon. Yes, that’s what this book is about – the evolution of a wild fad that shows no signs of slowing down. You know what kind of paper to wrap this book in, don’t you? Wrap it up for the perfect gift for the giftee who mourns the end of summer from October to May: “Hollywood Beach Beauties” by David Wills.It’s a large picture book full of starlets on the beach, circa 1930 into the 1970s. Not just fun for sun lovers, but for fashion followers, too.  Another book to try: “An Atlas of Natural Beauty” by Victoire de Taillac and Ramdane Touhami. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a book of recipes for them to naturally enhance their gorgeous looks.


So your giftee likes to have something to take while waiting for his or her part in the community theatre? “Shakespeare’s Ear” by Tim Rayborn couldn’t be a better book, then. It’s filled with interesting tales and little-known secrets from the world of theatre. For your favorite actor, it is to be. Also look for “Messiah: The Composition and Afterlife of Handel’s Masterpiece” by Jonathan Keates.

If there’s someone on your list who wonders what the future holds, wrap up “The Next American City” by Mick Cornett, a book about small cities and what the future holds for them and their citizens. Pair it with “Without a Net,” edited by Michelle Tea, an anthology about just getting by.


So you say your giftee has been following politics closely. They read “Hillbilly Elegy.” So now give “What You are Getting Wrong about Appalachia” by Elizabeth Catte.This book nicely balances fact from fiction, and it’ll give your giftee more prospective. It could even be a mind-changer.  Pair it with something your political watcher will like: “Type R” by Ama Marston and Stephanie Marston, a book about resilience and how to get more of it in today’s world. 

For the political animal in your family, “Hugs from Obama,” edited by M. Sweeneymight be just the right gift. It’s filled with pictures and quotations from the Obama years in the White House, including the end. Pair it up with “The Watergate: Inside America’s Most Infamous Address” by Joseph Rodota, for a scandalous look back in history. More books for the current events fan: “Chosen Country: A Rebellion in the West”by James Pogue is a peek at the militia movement in America; and “My Brother Moochie” by Issac J. Bailey is a book on poverty and racism.


The giftee who loves to laugh will love having “Laughter Totally Is the Best Medicine” by the Reader’s Digest folks. Filled with jokes, cartoons, and other funnies, it might also make a great stocking-stuffer. And if your giftee loves to laugh, look at “The Incomplete Book of Running” by Peter Sagal, for a fast chuckle.

And for the cook on your list, “Buttermilk Graffiti” by Edward Leewould make a great gift. It’s part history, part memoir, part foodie paradise with recipes and it’s yummy. Pair it with a brand-new cookbook for a tasty 2019, or wrap up “Moonshine: A Celebration of America’s Original Rebel Spirit” by John Schlimm with it. See what your giftee can cook up now.


Who doesn’t love a day at the beach?  Your dog lover and the dog they love do, so they’ll want to unwrap “Dogs on the Beach” by Lara Jo Regan.It’s filled with photos of doggos in the surf & sand, enjoying warm weather and taking every advantage of summer there is.

Here’s something you don’t have to tell an animal lover: animals have personalities. Even so, your giftee will enjoy “Mousy Cats and Sheepish Coyotes: The Science of Animal Personalities” by John A. Shivik.It’s all about the science, yes, but it’s also about the stories, you know?  Wrap it up with “How to Be a Good Creature” by Sy Montgomery, illustrated by Rebecca Green.It’s a memoir that includes thirteen animals Montgomery knew and loved.


Who doesn’t like a mystery? Your giftee sure does, and if there are chills inside it, all’s the better so wrap up “Sodom Road Exit” by Amber Dawn. It’s the story of a small but dying village that’s lost its last reason for tourists. Even so, one young woman lives there with her mother because she has nowhere else to go. She wishes she did, though, because her small hometown holds terror… Wrap it up with “Ruin of Stars” by Linsey Miller, the second book in a fantasy series in which the main character is gender-fluid.

For the reader who loves books that may make him think, look for “So Famous and So Gay” by Jeff Solomon. It’s a book about Truman Capote and Gertrude Stein and how their fame still lingers while so many other almost-celebrities barely get a nod today, no matter what they did for LGBT rights….

The person on your list who is thinking about transitioning (or who recently has) will love unwrapping “Trans Like Me” by CN Lester, a series of essays on gender diversity, being trans, and how to tackle tacky people whose questions are too nosy. Pair it with “Being Emily” by Rachel Gold,a book about a trans woman, now updated to include new material.

For the traveler on your list, the person who also loves history, you can’t go wrong with “Riviera Dreaming” by Maureen Emerson.It’s the true story of an architect and an ex-officer in the British Army, how they teamed up to create a mansion that took society by storm, and who vied to hire these two men to decorate their Riviera mansions. Wrap it up with “Global Gay: How Gay Culture is Changing the World” by Frédéric Martel,for a very well-traveled gift.

More fiction for the gay reader: “You Can’t Tell By Looking” by Russell J. Sanders,a romance about love between two high school boys, one of whom is also dealing with his anti-gay Islamic family; and “Aesop Lake” by Sarah Ward, a unique book based on three of Aesop’s Fables to tell a tale of a hate crime and its aftermath.

you cant tell by looking

So there you are. A bunch of different ways to use that gift certificate for fun, learning, and winter reading anticipation. Remember: if none of these suggestions seem to fit that Special Someone on your list, ask your weary-but-smiling bookseller. She’s the one who has all the right answers.

Happy Reading!


Check out all SFGN's Gift Ideas @ www.sfgn.com/2018giftGuide.com 

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