Christmas by the Book

In an unsurprising turn of events, almost every gift I gave this year involved a book.  While I am posting this after the holiday itself, I’m sharing it because I’m proud of how each gift reflects the reading personality of the recipient and because maybe it’ll give you ideas for next year!

(Also, massive shoutout to the Penguin Hotline for all of the recommendations.  I am seriously obsessed with this service!)

For my mom:


For my mom, I chose The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman.  My mom likes books that are interesting and happy.  She likes historical fiction.  She likes love stories.  Some of her favorite books include The Nightingale and The Book Thief.  The Museum of Extraordinary Things is about “Coralie, a young woman who works at Coney Island in the early 1900s, meets Russian immigrant and photographer Eddie Cohen. Eddie is enveloped in scandal when he photographs the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire – and Coralie falls in love.”  I chose this because it seemed right up my mom’s alley but also far enough off the popular radar that I don’t think she would have picked it up herself.  And now I too want to read it!

For my dad:


For my dad, I chose Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Joan Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan.  My dad is a huge music fan; some of his greatest joys in life come from arranging playlists and then sharing them.  He listens to a bit of everything: classic rock, pop, rap, etc.  This book is essentially “a romp through the history of rock and roll” and I think he’ll really enjoy it.

I also chose Animals with Insecurities.  I think it’s safe to say that my father’s favorite book of all time is Pete the Cat and his Magic Sunglasses.  You’re not truly a friend of my father’s until he has introduced you to Pete the Cat.  Animals with Insecurities has the same message: all these animals cheer up when they realize just how great the lives (and bodies) they’ve got are!

My parents are moving to a new apartment shortly, so I went searching for coffee table books and found an amazing photography book called Ansel Adams in the National Parks.  Adams was one of the greats, and what is wonderful about this book is that it includes many stories of his experiences taking these photos.

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Finally, I found this awesome photography book LA NY by Jeffrey Milstein while browsing at the Strand the week before christmas.  It’s full of incredible aerial shots looking down at the cities of New York and Los Angeles – two of my father’s favorite places.  My dad is also a talented drone photographer (check him out on instagram at @hoitdrone) and I hope he loves and is inspired by these photos!

For my brother:

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For my younger brother (and best friend), I chose The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman.  We are both big fans of The Golden Compass and the subsequent books and we both reread them (or re-listened to them on audiobook) this past year.  I’m really excited to hear what he thinks of this one.

Jack is the biggest Harry Potter fan I know, and that is saying something because I really love Harry Potter.  So, for him, I bought The Magicians by Lev Grossman.  Described by my friend at the Penguin Hotline as “like The Chronicles of Narnia meets Harry Potter, but in the 21st century with twenty-somethings. The narrator is a funny guide, and there’s magic, sex, drugs, and lots of adventure. Plus a wizarding school that is kind of like Hogwarts, but also very much not. It takes a talented writer to re-tread some of J.K. Rowling’s genius without looking like a second-rate copycat. But Grossman is more than up to the task.”  Safe to say I also want to read this one.

Finally, I got him The Whites by Richard Price.  Jack loves TV, especially high quality TV.  His favorites include Breaking Bad, The Wire, and other shows of the like.  Richard Price has been a writer on a number of TV shows, from The Wire to The Night Of to The Deuce.  Jack likes a good adventure, and this seems like just that.  A bit about the book that “tells the story of a group of friends bonded by the time they spent working together as NYC detectives early in their careers. They’re getting older now; some are retired, and some have left the force. But they’re all haunted by their respective “whites” — the one case where they thought they knew for sure who the perp was, but they could never prove it. Billy is one of the last friends still working the detective beat, and when he’s assigned a new case that has links to his past, the whites come back with a vengeance.”

For my boyfriend:


Marty has been reading a lot of American classics this year, including Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon.  While both are beautiful pieces of writing, I wanted to give him something a bit more fast paced, that still fit into his affinity for classics.  So, for Marty, I chose The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  This is one of my favorite books that I ever read in school, so I feel like it’s a little bit of me as well.

For my boss:


My boss has a three year old son, so I like to give her books that she can enjoy with him!  This year I chose two that seemed absolutely delightful: Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and pictures by Oliver Jeffers.  

Do you give bookish gifts?  Share what gifts you gave this year in the comments below!

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