I’m a firm believer that there is a book out there for everyone, no matter what their reading level and interests are! I think that books are a wonderful gift, and will make the recipient think of you every time they read it or look at it on their bookshelf. Today I’m sharing book recommendations that work for most people in your life- I’ve focused on books that are relatively easy to find, and relatively affordable. Hopefully this will make your holiday book shopping quick and painless (and maybe help you discover a new book yourself)!
Non-fiction covers an incredibly huge range of books- I decided to recommend books that are somewhat related to people, as most people are interested in people. There is a good amount of humour involved, and what I love about all three of these books is that it makes you stop and think about where you are as a person and people as a whole!
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, Allie Brosh
Hyperbole and a Half is a hilarious humour/memoir/comic that does about eighteen different things at once: you will find yourself crying tears at a loopy eight year old yelling “PARP” at her mom in Dairy Queen while remembering that sometimes people are struggling with mental health issues and that can look differently for everyone and also trying to recall when the last time you let your dog out was. Originally a blog, Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half is based on her blog of the same name, with bonus material, and I’ve now given it to probably 10 people- it’s never failed to become a favourite! Everyone can find something to identify with, be it being a sick little kid, having to move across the country, or even just finding the energy to clean your house. This funny but honest memoir is perfect for humans, any humans!
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), Felicia Day
Felicia Day has been in several different television shows, none of which I’ve seen (other than her web series, The Guild). Despite not being familiar with her works, this biography really hits home. I think that all of us encounter feelings of not belonging and being “weird”, especially with the advent and rise of the ever filtered and edited social meda, but the internet can be surprisingly welcoming of all of our oddities and quirks. Felicia has arguably a “weirder” back story than most of us- home schooled “for hippy reasons” in the south, attending college at 16 to double major in violin and math, and creating several web and tv shows that span a wide range of “nerd” topics. She found her people on the internet who encouraged her love of old school detective novels, calculus, and video games- maybe there is hope for the rest of us?? A great gift for anyone who gets the feeling that they may be just a little bit different.
This is the most niche choice in this list, but I think that it will appeal to a wide variety of people! Simon Garfield’s On the Map is a fascinating look at how maps are used to convey the world around us, and how maps shape the world themselves. Following along with the people who made the journeys, the people who created the maps, and even the people who are the reasons for maps, you touch on a bit of everything and learn a lot without being bogged down by minute details. A lot of people like to read so that they can feel like they are improving themselves, and this book is a highly entertaining way to learn about a few topics that actually impact your daily life today (and potentially set yourself up for victory at quiz night). This is perfect for anyone interested in history, geography, cartography, politics, art, or just likes to ask “why” a lot!
I spent quite a bit of time thinking on the fiction books- although I may love a book to bits, it may be quite polarising. Yes, someone may also love that book as much as I do, but it may head in the opposite direction and make them hate it. I really tried to stick with books that touch on a range of topics and themes that may appeal to any number of people, while still having that something that pulls you in!
Mrs. Queen Takes the Train, William Kuhn
I think that all of us can admit that we’ve had a day or two where we just need to escape our life for a little bit; nothing drastic, we simply need a change of scenery and somewhere to catch our breath. Well, when you are the Queen of England, escaping isn’t quite so simple as getting up and leaving- at least not for the people who have to find you! Mrs. Queen Takes the Train follows QEII’s wanderings to create the perfect day and do all of the things that she loves to do, while her staff left behind attempt to find their monarch and stop the press from getting a hold of the news. At the same time, this book lets you dream and reminds you that we aren’t alone in feeling like we need a break! This a great gift for anyone dreaming of a little change and escape in their life!
A Study in Charlotte, Brittany Cavallaro
I will be the first to admit, I’m not a huge YA fan. It usually isn’t because of the themes and plots themselves but rather the length- they are fairly short, and usually over before I’ve really found myself hooked! However, A Study in Charlotte is definitely entertaining for any age. An update on Sherlock Holmes, Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson are peers at a Connecticut boarding school and are forced to work together when they are framed for the death of a fellow student. Luckily (or not so luckily), Charlotte has the intelligence and temperament of her great, great, great-grandfather and Jamie has the patience of a saint. This is a clever update to a familiar story and a fantastic mystery in any case, and will keep you enthralled. Perfect for anyone who likes adventure, Sherlock Holmes, mysteries, or anyone who wants to finally know what the YA buzz is all about!
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Maria Semple
I was pretty late to the Bernadette party but I will be the first to admit that I should have read it years ago! Everyone has had the thought that we should just order something online and skip the actual going out part- Bernadette takes it further and hires a virtual assistant to help with any number of tasks, including booking a trip to Antarctica to celebrate her daughter’s accomplishments. She suffers from agoraphobia, dislikes Seattle where they’ve made their home, and gets tangled up in prep school parenting wars- it’s never a dull moment! And everything falls apart when Bernadette disappears, to leave her husband and daughter wondering, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” This novel weaves together questions of being a parent, a wife, someone coping with anxiety, a husband, an assistant, and a kid, all with a healthy dose of humour! Everyone can find something to love in this book, and something to identify with- I can’t think of someone who wouldn’t enjoy at least some part of it!
If you are seriously stuck for recommendations, you can either mine lists and recommendations on Goodreads (never a bad option if you have time), or ask an associate in a bookstore. I was never so happy as when a customer would genuinely ask for a recommendation and not just “where can I find X”- they are more than happy to recommend books for you, and if they aren’t familiar with the genre, they will find someone in the store who is! You can also feel free to ask me for recommendations if you are stuck 🙂
What is your go-to book to give as a gift that I need to read?