Many more ideas for giving books

  • Posted: Monday, December 17, 2012 9:17 a.m.

Last January, you loaded up.
You loaded up on all the left-over, on-sale, clearance-priced Christmas wrapping paper you could lay your hands on. You bought Hanukkah bags, Santa wrap, gifty things with poinsettias and reindeer and holly and you put it all away because you knew darn well that you’d use it in due time.

Well, now’s the time.
You got the paper out. You just need to find things to use it with.

But sometimes, it’s hard to find just the right thing for everybody on your list, isn’t it? There’s always somebody who’s impossible to buy for — and that’s when you should head to the bookstore to look for these great reads.

Set in Minnesota as the last century began, “The Lighthouse Road” by Peter Geye is a book about homesickness, love, survival, and life the way our ancestors lived. This novel is set in the winter, and is so evocative that you’ll want an extra blanket when you take it by the fireplace. And speaking of snow, here’s another cold-weather novel to give: “The Vanishing Act” by Mette Jakobsen. It’s the story of a father and daughter who live on a snow-covered island. When a dead boy washes up on the shore one day, the young girl tries to learn the truth about him and about her mother’s death.

So your giftee loves his (or her) cell phone above all else? Then wrap up “Hidden Things” by Doyce Testerman. When a mysterious text message arrives from her best friend, a woman wonders what he’s talking about… and then the police arrive. Her BFF is dead. So how did he leave her a message an hour before he died? Another book about friendship and dastardly secrets is “The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.” by Nichole Bernier. It’s the story of a journal found when a woman dies, and the realization of the woman’s best friend that she never knew the woman at all…

Novel lovers will be so happy when they unwrap “Motherland” by Amy Sohn. This is a book about five mothers and fathers in various places around New York City, and how they deal with modern marriage and relationships. This book is perfect when teamed with a new mug and a box of hot cocoa… Another book novel lovers will eat up is “One Last Thing Before I Go” by Jonathan Tropper, which is the story of one man’s last days and his attempt to fix what’s broken before he’s gone.

Is someone on your list bereft because there’s no new Twilight book this season? Fear not, and wrap up “Dark Frost” by Jennifer Estep. This book — the next in the Mythos Academy series — is dark, mysterious and romantic, and it’s just the thing for your favorite undead novel-lover. Another book to try is “The Taken” by Vicki Pettersson. That’s a mystery set between mortal and immortal worlds, where whodunit might be more like WHATdunit.

What would your giftee do if she knew the future? Would she know that you wrapped up “The Lost Prince” by Selden Edwards for her? This is the story of a woman who believes that she knows every historical event that will happen for the rest of her life. So will she let things happen, or will she try to change the way events unfold?

You know how much your friends love to read. So why not wrap up “Heft” by Liz Moore? This is a novel about an unlikely friendship between a 550-pound man and a 17-year-old kid who is living a life he never expected. Give it to your friend — then borrow it back. Another book about a friendship is “Man in the Blue Moon” by Michael Morris. It’s the story of a single mother who befriends a banker who offers to help, but he’s no help at all…

Somewhere on your list is a person who loves street lit. That’s the person who wants to see“Murderville: The Epidemic” by Ashley & JaQuavis beneath the tree. This is a shoot-em-up thriller about gangstas, girls, and grit but beware: this ain’t Grandma’s murder mystery! Another book to try is “You Get What You Play For” by Jeff Farley. That’s the story of a Brooklyn girl with dreams, and what happens when she gives them up for the love of a boy who’s wrong for her.

If your giftee can’t get enough of the Undead, then you can’t go wrong with “Zombie: A Novel” by J.R. Angelella. It’s the story of a boy who’s obsessed with zombies, watching as many of those kinds of movies as he can. It serves him well when something mysteriously happens to his father. Wrap it up with a nightlight.

Your giftee has seen “The Godfather” so many times, you lost count. So this year, wrap up “The Family Corleone” by Ed Falco, based on a screenplay by Mario Puzo. This prequel to “The Godfather” doesn’t sleep with the fishes. It’s really something they can’t refuse (sorry. I couldn’t resist). Another family-type novel, this one of a different kind of edgy, is “The Lola Quartet” by Emily St. John Mandel. This is the story of a man who tries to find the child he recently learned he had, for himself and to save her life.

Definitely for a grown-up to unwrap, “The Water Children” by Anne Berry is the story of four children, each touched by tragedy and water, and how they come together to survive and heal. I also liked “Austin and Emily” by Frank Turner Hollon, the story of a 347-pound man, his stripper girlfriend, a car filled with cats, and their cross-country trip together in search of happiness.

You already know your giftee is a mystery fan. You know you want to wrap up a mystery for her to wrap up. So why not give “Someone Bad and Something Blue” by Miranda Parker? The main character in this novel is a gritty single mom / bail recovery agent / PI sleuth, which pretty much tells you that this is a good gift, doesn’t it? Another mysterious read I think your giftee will like is “Accelerated” by Bronwen Hruska. It’s the story of a father, a son, and the boy’s not-quite-right private school that should have his best interests in mind – or not?

Romance readers will love the Civil War novel “Blue Asylum” by Kathy Hepinstall. It’s the story of a Virginia plantation wife who’s committed to an asylum and falls in love there. She has a chance to escape… but will she go without her beloved? Another romance to try is “Heaven Should Fall” by Rebecca Coleman. It’s the story of love and tragedy, an unexpected baby and a woman’s sacrifice. Another book for the Civil War fan is “Wilderness” by Lance Weller. It’s the story of an elderly man who moved to the wilderness after the Civil War, but at the end of his life, must undertake a journey that won’t be easy…

Another historical novel to give is “Illuminations” by Mary Sharratt. Based on the life of Hildegard von Bingen, this novel-based-on-fact will delight anyone who’s a fan of this Medieval healer.

If you’re looking for something small, perhaps for a stocking-stuffer, then look for “Big Ray” by Michael Kimball. It’s a skinny novel about a man’s love for his dead father, despite that the father was less-than-loving when the man was younger. Yes, this is a small novel but it’s big on emotion.

No doubt your giftee is someone who takes his (or her!) reading seriously, so how about some seriously great books? Look for “Creole Belle” by James Lee Burke, for instance. It’s the latest in the Dave Robicheaux series but this time, Dave is laying in the hospital. When he’s visited by a woman who supposedly disappeared weeks ago, it’s another mystery for him to solve… if he can. You might also want to wrap up “Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures” by Emma Straub, a debut novel about a small-town girl who makes it big in the Big City. But fame isn’t cheap, and it isn’t free – it comes with a price, which may mean losing her very identity.

Is there somebody on your list who loves to play with words? Then “The Painted Word” by Phil Cousineau (artwork by Gregg Chadwick) is a book to wrap up. This brick of a book is filled with fun words and their origins, as well as trivia about the things we say. Give it to your favorite student, wordsmith, or writer. Also look for “Around the Writer’s Block” by Rosanne Bane. It’s a book on solving that annoying brain block using scientific methods.

At this holiest time of year, has your giftee decided that it’s time to redefine the reason for the season? Then wrap up “Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind” by Margaret Placentra Johnston. Through the stories of people who’ve decided to leave organized religion in favor of a spirituality all their own, this book will show your giftee that they’re not alone in their journey. Another book that’s good for anyone on a spiritual journey is “Soul of Light: Works of Illumination” by Joma Sipe. This beautiful book is filled with gorgeous pictures of geometrical light formations, and accompanying poems perfect for meditation. Buy it to give. Borrow it back.

Your giftee trusts you to find the best possible present to wrap, so why not find “Liars and Outliers” by Bruce Schneier? This is a book about trust, society, and how they work in tandem. It’s the perfect gift for a deep thinker or for the science geek you love best. Another book to try is “The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking” by Matthew Hutson, which is a book about irrational thinking and how it’s actually good for us. Wrap it up for that grown-up who still looks for gifts from Santa….

No doubt there’s a fashionista on your gift list, and I’m betting there’s nothing she’d love more than “The Truth About Style” by Stacy London. This is a book that will help her get the most out of accessories, ideas, color, and shoes. It will make her look her best, which is what she wants, not just for the holidays, but for the other 11 months of the year, too. Another book to give to your fashion diva is “Lilly: Palm Beach, Tropical Exubberance, and the Birth of a Fashion Legend” by Kathryn Livingston. That’s a memoir of the iconic Lilly Pulitzer; her clothes, her flair, and her life.

The new mom on your gift list will love reading “Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers” by Kate Hopper. This is a book by mothers that teaches mothers to write, journal, create, and blog the stories from their lives. Also look for “Words Can Change Your Brain” by Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman. That’s a book about how to use those words to start conversation and build trust with the person you’re talking to.

The big question this year is, “What do we get Grandpa?” and the answer is “Rural Wit & Wisdom” by Jerry Apps. This is a re-release of an older book filled with old-time sayings, wise words, and humor, and it’s going to make any old farmer or farmer-at-heart smile. Another book he’ll like is “A Farm in Wisconsin” by Richard Quinney. Yes, the title is accurate, but anyone who grew up on a farm or in a small town – particularly anyone who loves looking at old pictures of that farm – will cherish this book.

For the artist-at-heart, or for your giftee who claims to be unable to draw, look for “The Artist’s Eye,” “Drawing Techniques,” and “Figure Drawing” by Peter Jenny. These three tiny little, palm-sized books are packed with instructions to turn anyone with a pencil into an almost-Rembrandt. The books are sold separately, but you’ll really want to give all three. Artists will also love getting “Building Taliesin: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home of Love and Loss” by Ron McCrea. It’s part biography, part history, and it’s jam-packed with vintage pictures. How cool is that?

Even though the election is over, your gift might want more, more more, so why not wrap up“Conspiracies and Secret Societies: The Complete Dossier, Second Edition” by Brad Steiger and Sherry Steiger. Yes, this book is updated, which means it’s filled with all new covert operations and spy-stuff. And for your giftee, that’s good stuff. Another book your conspiracy fan might like is “Degree Mills” by Allen Ezell and Jon Bear, PhD. It’s a book about an industry that sells fake diplomas, and how you can educate yourself against fraudulent “experts” with faux degrees.

You also might want to look for “Bullspotting: Finding Facts in the Age of Misinformation” by Loren Collins. It’s a book about learning to winnow through the fact to spot a lie and vice versa. Good stuff, in this age of internet “forwards,” don’t you think?

Wrapping up “The Art of Living Joyfully” by Allen Klein is a dual gift. On one hand, your giftee will be happy you thought of her. On the other hand, this little book will give her joy for the whole year – and knowing that you gave it to her is a gift for you, isn’t it?

For the newlyweds on your list, show them how to stay newlyweds forever with “Marriage Rules” by Harriet Lerner, PhD. This book helps couples (married or not) to learn to stay together, both physically and emotionally. Wrap it up with a spa-day-for-two for an excellent gift. Or – if the opposite is true and you want to offer helpful comfort - try this book: “Finding Love Again” by Terri L. Orbuch, PhD. There are six steps your giftee’s new relationship. This book has ‘em.

I also liked “What Makes Love Last?” by Dr. John Gottman, PhD and Nan Silver. It’s a very instructional book on building trust and keeping love.

If the question was “What do you want for Christmas?” and the answer was “Nothing,” then you could still be forgiven for wrapping up “You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) by Tammy Strobel. It’s the story of how one woman pared her life down to the basics – and remained happy doing it. You also might want to wrap up “One Big Thing” by Phil Cooke. It’s a book that will help your favorite giftee to learn what (s)he was born to do. Wrap ‘em both up with a journal for an excellent gift.

Everybody has a giftee with wanderlust in her soul, and “Breakfast at the Exit Café” by Wayne Grady and Merilyn Simonds is a great gift for her. This is the story of two Canadian citizens who decide to explore America. Wrap it up with a map and a journal for a great armchair-traveler’s gift. Another travel book to look for is “Detroit: A Biography” by Scott Martelle.It’s a book that looks long and hard at one of America’s most interesting cities and the businesses and people who call it home.

Is there a “green” giftee on your list this year? Then wrap up “Eating Dirt” by Charlotte Gill.Canadian Gill spent recent time planting trees in the mountains, and this book is about her adventures, what she saw, and what she thinks about deforestation, tree history, our relationships with trees, and nature in general. Another book that would be greatly appreciated is“Empire of the Beetle” by Andrew Nikiforuk. It’s a book about how a teensy little bug has beaten up gigantic forests and what can be done about it.

Is there a dancer on your gift list – or maybe someone who loves “DWTS”? Then you should find“Dancers Among Us” by Jordan Matter and wrap it up. This book is filled with photos of dancers in all kinds of situations and places; professionals, amateurs, weddings, and street dancers. It’s also filled with people who are dancing for sheer joy. What’s not to love about that?

Notice about comments: is pleased to offer readers the ability to comment on stories. We expect our readers to engage in lively, yet civil discourse. cannot promise that readers will not occasionally find offensive or inaccurate comments posted in the comments area. Responsibility for the statements posted lies with the person submitting the comment, not If you find a comment that is objectionable, please click "report abuse" and we will review it for possible removal. Please be reminded, however, that in accordance with our Terms of Use and federal law, we are under no obligation to remove any third party comments posted on our website. Full terms and conditions can be read here.

Do not post the following:

  • Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
  • Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
  • Personal attacks, insults or threats.
  • The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
  • Comments unrelated to the story.