Gift Guide: Tried-and-True

06 December 2013

I always love to get creative with books as gifts, but sometimes the tried-and-true reads are the safest bet. A few of my favorite books to gift, regardless of occasion:

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Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed: Writing as "Sugar" in the "Dear Sugar" advice column for The Rumpus, Strayed's collection of advice is less about the advice and more about finding a friend on the pages. She offers up a near-perfect balance of kick in the pants, shoulder to cry on, and downright hilarity for advice ranging from "My son is gay, now what?" to "I hate my parents, and they hate me," to "I've never been in love." Her stories are peppered with her own experiences, which only makes them all the more colorful and endearing. Buy here ($14.95).

Bonus: Wrap Tiny Beautiful Things together with Strayed's memoir, Wild, about her solo hiking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail. Buy here ($14.95).

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Traveling with Pomegranates, by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor: Kidd is perhaps best known for her wildly successful novel, The Secret Life of Bees, or maybe The Mermaid Chair. But before novels, she wrote non-fiction about religion and spirituality. In Traveling with Pomegranates, she returns to her non-fiction start, this time with the help of her daughter, as they recall the shift in their relationship as Ann grew into an adult herself. It's a touching, moving story about mothers and daughters, finding faith in the least likely of places, and the power of travel to shift out perspectives. Buy here ($15.00).

Bonus: Wrap Traveling with Pomegranates with The Secret Life of Bees (buy here, $16.00), or give a gift card to your local indie so the receiver can be first in line to purchase Kidd's newest novel, The Invention of Wings, when it hits shelves in January (pre-order, $27.95).

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Going Bovine, by Libba Bray: When 16-year-old Cameron is told he's sick and is going to die, he sets out on the road trip of a lifetime, accompanied by a punk angel named Dulcie and a video-game obsessed dwarf. It's as quirky and wacky and weird as it sounds, but it's also thoughtful and thought-provoking. Buy here ($10.99).

Bonus: I'm not sure it's possible to be a teenager and not fall for one (or all) of John Green's books.

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Blue Blazes, by Chuck Wendig: For fantasy readers who think they've read it all, or for those new to urban fantasy and wondering where to start, Wendig's Blue Blazes is funky enough to appeal to the urban fantasy fanatic and smart enough not to be distracted by its own world-building. Buy here ($7.99).

Bonus: Throw in a copy of Chuck Wendig's Blackbirds, and you'll give your reader not one but three books to love, as it has a sequel already and a third book coming out this December (though Wendig himself assured me that each book can also stand on its own). (Buy here, $7.99).

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How to Find Fulfilling Work, by Roman Krznaric, and How to Change the World, by John-Paul Flintoff: Independently, both of these books are fascinating, insightful--if slim--volumes on their respective subjects. But combined, they can force us to rethink how and why we work at the jobs we have, and how we want to be remembered. Perfect for anyone facing a quarter- or mid-life crisis, or those soon-to-be or recent college grads facing the big wide world for the first time. Buy here ($16.00) and here ($16.00).

Bonus: These two volumes are part of Alain de Botton's School of Life series. Add How to Stay Sane, and, if appropriate for the receiver, How to Think More About Sex, and you'll have your self-help junkie hooked on this little series as new volumes are released. Buy here ($16.00) and here ($16.00). Or branch out of this series with the hilarious but also informative How Not to Be a Dick: An Everyday Etiquette Guide. Gift carefully, though, lest someone take offense. Buy here ($16.99).

Next Week: Gift Books for Geeks


8 comments:

  1. Love this! I've given Tiny Beautiful Things to several people and already have two copies for Christmas gifts this year. It's a great go-to!

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    1. I'm running out of people to gift this to, but I just keep buying it. It's so wonderful in so many different ways!

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  2. Wonderful choices! I love looking at all the different books people are getting people for Christmas!

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  3. Great selections...you should be a bookseller! I just finished John Green's Looking for Alaska, and now I'm looking forward to reading more of his books. Going Bovine is my sure thing book recommendation for a certain kind of teenage boy.

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    1. I take that as the highest form of compliment - thank you! I haven't read Looking for Alaska yet, though it's on my list. And Going Bovine is just so great.

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  4. OMG, you just reminded me that I HAVE to get my stepdaughter The Fault in Our Stars. HAVE to.

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