And you’re not done shopping. This is probably a true statement if you are related to me, married to me, or friends with me because I seem to have a weakness for procrastinators. I, on the other hand, have been done, wrapped, and ready go for two weeks. Which explains why I have some time to myself today to give you a list of books you can and should buy as last-minute gifts for your loved ones. It does mean leaving the comfort of home for an actual store, but hey – that’s the price you pay for being a last-minute shopper!
I’m going to do my best to give you a list of books I haven’t reviewed here, although there are so many great ones I have read this year that a few may sneak in…
– Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke (also available in German under the title Tintenherz), is the first book in the Inkworld Trilogy. I will probably reread it in the next year because I adore all three of these books (although the first was my favorite); as a book lover, the idea of being stolen away into a fictional world is exactly my cup of tea. Funke is a wonderful writer, especially for children, but I promise adults will love this too. For an even darker take on a similar topic, I recommend The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly.
– The Magicians, by Lev Grossman, is also the first book of a trilogy, although the third book, sadly, has not been published yet. One of the first reviews I wrote here was for the second novel in the series, The Magician King, and a year later, it remains one of my all-time favorites. Simultaneously melancholy and thrilling, Grossman is one of the most gifted fantasy writers I have ever had the privilege to read, and his books absolutely won’t disappoint.
– Traveling with Pomegranates, by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor, is a memoir written from two perspectives – that of Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees, and her daughter. It’s part travel story, part spiritual quest, but what I loved best about it was seeing a painful and wonderful mother-daughter relationship related so elegantly. My mother actually recommended this one to me, and I remember talking to her afterward about it and being surprised that I sympathized more with the mother’s perspective, and she with the daughter’s. What better for the holidays than a little insight into our familial struggles and triumphs? For another excellent book about family love and strife from a more masculine perspective, might I recommend, Sons of the 613?
– The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern Look, I know I reviewed this one back in February, but I just can’t stop thinking about it. I feel like it would be bordering on criminal not to include it on this list. I have yet to meet a single person who has read it and not fallen deeply in love with it, and that includes friends who don’t like to read, strangers on planes, and the young man who works at my favorite bagel shop. It really is that good. So just go get it already.
– Enchantment, Orson Scott Card is an oldie, but of all the books on my shelves, it is the one I have reread the most. As much as I object to Card’s politics (and I really, really do) he is an incredible writer, and this twist on an Ukrainian fairy tale is just about perfect. I think I read it for the first time when I was fourteen, and I have read it at least once a year every year since. So, you see, I couldn’t not include it here…For a younger audience, Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants has a similar, fairyland vibe, as does Icefall, by Matthew J Kirby.
– The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie is a must-read for everyone. It was written for the MG/YA bracket, but it’s such an important, special novel that I feel I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s poignant, witty, and satisfying on every level. If I were to recommend another book about childhood and the blurred lines between innocence and survival, I would have to go with The Good Braider. Both of these books capture the harsh realities of their situations without sacrificing hope.
– Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow is a fantastic choice for the conspiracy theorist/historian in your life. This grim but not especially overblown portrayal of a locked down, privacy-invaded San Francisco struck close to home for me. It is both an adventure and a terrifying look at what might happen in the not too distant future as technology infringes further on our personal lives. Another slightly more upbeat take on this vision is Ernie Cline’s Ready Player One.
– Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, by Tom Robbins, is my last recommendation for today. This is a novel I stole from my brother’s bookshelf and never gave back. It’s completely quirky and hilarious, but I also love the darkness that Robbins’ manages to keep boiling just beneath the surface. He is brilliant in much the same way that Haruki Murakami is – I never fully grasp what either of them is saying, but I want to hear more none the less.
Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate, and for those who don’t, Happy “takeout Chinese food and movie-watching” Day (a delicious and peaceful celebration regardless of which you choose). If you don’t live in a country that takes Tuesday off, I wish you a speedy journey to the end of your work week – I give you permission to day-drink and overeat tomorrow in solidarity regardless.