Once a bookish gifter, always a bookish gifter. Here are the books I gave as gifts this year (and why)!
For my mom
My mom is at once the easiest and the hardest member of my family to shop for. She is the hardest because she immediately reads anything I recommend to her and follows the blog like a hawk, so it’s impossible to gift her something I’ve already read. She is the easiest because I know her so well that I know what she likes.
Firstly, she loves historical fiction, particularly books set during WWII. So I chose The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (Shop Indie | Shop Amazon), which I had heard recommended in the same breath as other favorites of hers like The Nightingale. I also chose Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton (Shop Indie | Shop Amazon) – mom loves books that alternate between two narrators across different time periods. And she loves love stories.
This fall, I attended a conference where I got to see Priya Parker speak on the concepts in her book The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters (Shop Indie | Shop Amazon). In addition to being a terrific mom, my mom is also a successful and thoughtful business woman, and I know she will find a meaningful way to work the message in this book into her life. (Also, I want to borrow it because it seems deeply fascinating).
Finally, I have heard from many of my fellow bookworms that 84, Charing Cross Road (Shop Indie | Shop Amazon) is their favorite story of all time. And I can’t believe neither one of us has read it! So I got that for her as well.
For my dad
My Dad isn’t a huge reader, so for him, I turn to the other things I know he loves. Two of his greatest loves: NYC and photography (it runs in the family). Last year, I found the coolest book of drone photography, LA NY, so this year, I knew the bar was set quite high. I spent a while finding a book I thought would pair nicely on his coffee table and was really pleased with this ode to NYC architecture (Shop Indie | Shop Amazon). The photographs are beautifully executed and printed and the text is concise but fascinating. Definitely would recommend for any photography or architecture nut.
Additionally, he loves Pete the Cat and Pete’s endless optimism. Our favorite Pete the Cat tale is Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses (Shop Indie | Shop Amazon), but Pete the Cat Saves Christmas (Shop Indie | Shop Amazon) seemed perfectly suited for this occasion. And he even read it aloud to the family on Christmas morning.
For my brother
Jack is always fun to shop for because his tastes are so varied. He reads what I would estimate to be an almost equal split of fiction and nonfiction. He’s in college, so he will have stretches where he is too busy to pick up a book, and then he goes and does something like reading Moby Dick just for fun.
But his all time favorite is Harry Potter. He is never not listening to one of the Harry Potter audio books. As soon as he finishes the series, he starts again. By some blessing of the Christmas universe, he had yet to hear of the illustrated Harry Potter books. While the Sorcerer’s Stone and Prisoner of Azakaban are also available, I went with the Chamber of Secrets (Shop Indie | Shop Amazon) because his favorite books of the series are II, IV, and VII. It did not disappoint – these books are just so stunningly creative. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful. He was so surprised!
I also went with In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Shop Indie | Shop Amazon), per Kyle’s recommendation, as Kyle is the biggest Truman Capote fan I know. I thought this book blended nicely Jack’s enjoyment of both classics and of nonfiction.
For my boss
Each year, I buy my boss a few books to share with her son. He just turned four, so I chose How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? (Shop Indie | Shop Amazon) because the illustrations were just too adorable and who doesn’t love dinosaurs? But I was particularly proud with my discovery of Stories for Boys who Dare to be Different (Shop Indie | Shop Amazon). This book is told in the style of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (Shop Indie | Shop Amazon). My boss and I are both obsessed with this book, but neither one of us had seen this recently released companion.
For my friend
My closest friend at work is an incredible writer – I hope someday her ability to write with both heart and humor will be published so you can experience it too. I knew I had to give her Places I Stopped on the Way Home by Meg Fee (Shop Indie | Shop Amazon) – while their styles are different, their writing makes me feel the same way. I hope she loves it as much as I do.