Season's readings: The perfect book for everyone
Finally – your holiday shopping is DONE.
Well, except for… um, and for…. and okay, you’re not really done. Everybody, yourself included, has that one certain person on the gift list who’s hard to buy for and another certain person who’s really fussy, and a Grandma who has everything. You know who they are, so see if some of these great books might be matches for your list, or books to reward you, Holiday Shopper, at the end of a long, stressful day.
- Mystery fans who know their A-B-Cs obviously know Sue Grafton. This year’s Kinsey Millhone mystery, “Y is for Yesterday,” begins with a nearly-40-year-old crime and a former criminal who may not be so “former” after all. Wrap this book up for the biggest smile next to the tree. Also look for “Odd Child Out” by Gilly Macmillan. It’s the story of two best friends and one possible murder.
- The person on your list who often says she’d like to “chuck it all and run away” will love reading “The Runaway Midwife” by Patricia Harman. It’s the story of a midwife who does just that – she leaves behind a life, friends and trouble and heads to Canada to start over. But it’s difficult to always be on-guard, especially when you know you can’t hide forever. Wrap it up with “The Art of Keeping Secrets” by Rachael Johns, a novel of friendship, being yourself, trust and knowing when to keep quiet sometimes.
- Who loves a good gaslighter? Your giftee, that’s who, and “How I Lost You” by Jenny Blackhurst is a great book to wrap. It’s the tale of a woman who killed her infant son – or did she? Once she’s released from psychiatric treatment, she has reason to wonder… Wrap it up with “Without Merit” by Colleen Hoover: a novel of secrets, truth and its consequences.
- For the person who loves novels of international intrigue, “Act of Betrayal” by Matthew Dunn may make a great gift. This thriller involves assassination, conspiracy and CIA operatives...need I say more?
- For the romantic on your list, “Lilac Lane” by Sherryl Woods will be the best gift this year. It’s the story of a grieving woman and the townspeople that wrap their arms around her. Is it possible to find love again? Wrap it up with “I, Eliza Hamilton” by Susan Holloway Scott, a romance-y novel set in historical times.
- If you’ve got a novel lover on your list, “The Stolen Marriage” by Diane Chamberlain will make her smile. It’s the story of a woman stuck in a loveless marriage to a man whom everyone loves but few know him, obviously, as well as she does. But how well does she know her husband, really? Wrap it up with “Savage Country” by Robert Olmstead, a brutal novel of legacy and hardship, set in 1873.
- The stars-in-her-eyes romantic on your list will love getting “How to Fall in Love with Anyone” by Mandy Len Catron. Based on a study and an essay, it’s the story of an audacious experiment and an examination on why we love the ones we do. Wrap it up with “Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire” by Carol Dyhouse. It’s a good look back at love and lust.
- For the reader who loves reading about books, “Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult” by Bruce Handy will be a great gift to open, especially if you can find a copy of a long-cherished (but long-missing) book from your giftee’s childhood. Then wrap it up with “Was the Cat in the Hat Black?” By Philip Nel, a look at possible racism in children’s books.
- For the traveler on your gift list, “The Wayfarer’s Handbook” by Even S. Rice will be a really nice stocking stuffer. This little book is filled with nuggets of suggestion, idea, tips and facts. Best of all: it’s pocket-sized and lightweight, perfect for when there’s just not a lotta room left in the backpack. Pair it up with “Vacation on Location: Midwest” by Joey Green so your giftee can see where his favorite movies (and scenes) were filmed in the Midwest, and what else is interesting nearby.
- Theorists and those who like to dig into the other side of society will like unwrapping “The New World Order Book” by Nick Redfern. Who really runs things? What do various symbols mean on flags or logos? Who wins in a war on world domination? It’s in this book… Wrap it up with “The Illuminati: The Secret Society that Hijacked the World” by Jim Marrs for more big secrets.
- The foodie who has every cookbook under the sun (or so it seems) will enjoy unwrapping “The Taste of Empire” by Lizzie Collingham. It’s a book about how the history of food in Great Britain has shaped the way the world eats. Pair it up with another book about a great obsession; “The One-Cent Magenta” by James Barron is a book about stamp collecting and the one stamp collectors want most of all…
- What happens when a man gets out of prison? “Invisible Men” by Flores A. Forbes takes a look at formerly incarcerated black men, and what happens to the 35 percent who don’t return to prison because of recidivism. Along the way, this book also looks at the prison system and African-American lives. Students of black history will especially want to see this book beneath the tree.
- The historian on your list will be shocked when you hand him this gift: “Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919” by Mike Wallace. Shocked because this definitive book is huge and heavy and will last a long time. Wrap it up with “Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York” by Roz Chast for a gift that will last even longer.
- For the poll-follower on your list this year, “Everybody Lies” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz might make a great gift. This is a book about how “facts” lie, the internet can be wrong and polls often don’t mean a thing. Might be a good book for your political animal, too, hmmm? Wrap it up with “Montaigne in Barn Boots” by Michael Perry for a bit of philosophy with your psychology.
- If your giftee loves to people-watch or know what makes us tick, look at “Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome” by Ty Tashiro, PhD. It’s a book that examines why we put our feet in our mouths so often. Also peek at “The Stress Test” by Ian Robertson, PhD., which is about how pressure actually makes us better, more productive people.
- Before you wrap this up, beware: “He Never Came Home,” edited by Regina R. Robertson may cause tears more than delight. It’s a collection of interviews and essays from daughters who’ve lost their dads, so watch out. Even so, it’s a bittersweet book and may be the exact right gift.
- If there’s someone on your gift list who wants a comprehensive look at things that go bump in the night, then wrap up “Demons, the Devil, and Fallen Angels” by Marie D. Jones and Larry Flaxman. It’s a book about religion, beliefs, traditions and the dark side of all of the above. Wrap it up with “Supernatural Gods” by Jim Willis, a book about psychics, mysteries, and the paranormal. You might also want to look for “The Dream Interpretation Dictionary: Symbols, Signs, and Meanings” by J.M. DeBord.
- For the person who loves a good scandal, “The Bettencourt Affair” by Tom Sancton would be an excellent gift. This is the story of an empire that still exists, a World War II scandal, glitz and glamour, love and money. Can your giftee resist? Another great scandal-laden book is “The Naughty Nineties” by David Friend, a book that takes a look at libido, tabloids and sin in the 1990s.
- Fans of last years’ “Hillbilly Elegy” will want to read this years’ “Glass House” by Brian Alexander. It, too, takes a look at the Haves and the Have-Nots, but it also looks at the Have-Even-Lesses and the struggling town they live in. Pair it up with “Nomadland” by Jessica Bruder, a look at the New Economy and part-time workers.
- Everybody has a funnyman on their gift list, and “Now That’s Funny! By Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis is perfect for yours. It’s a great anthology of interviews with 24 of Hollywood’s best and funniest comedy writers for TV shows your comedian loves. He’ll read about how comedy is presented, what it takes to do it and some of the most memorable moments on television. For the funnyman who also loves a good scare, scare up “The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated History,” edited by Stephen Jones. With lots of illustrations and reproductions of movie posters, this gift will be Oscar-worthy.
- For the about-to-be-single, “The Ex-Wives’ Guide to Divorce” by Holiday Miller and Valerie Shepherd may be a welcome gift. It’s a book on surviving, moving forward and thriving at the end of a marriage, good or not. Then show her that life will get better with “The Forgotten Art of Love” by Armin A. Zadeh, MD, PhD, a book about why we need love and what it has to do with the rest of her life.
- Just because Halloween’s over doesn’t mean that your giftee doesn’t still love a good chill, and “Haunted Heartland” by Michael Norman would be perfect. This second edition of a classic includes ghosts, spirits, poltergeists and screams a-plenty.
- The person who loves mathematics, statistics and numbers in general will love this little number: “The Joy of Mathematics” by Alfred S. Posamentier (with Charles Li, Christian Spreitzer, and Robert Geretschlager). Not for the numbers novice, this book offers all kinds of ways to play with math. Wrap it up with “The Electric Pickle” by Joey Green. Full of science experiments, trivia and fun things to do, it’s perfect for a grown-up on a rainy (or snowy) day.
- Readers who love creepy-crawlies will love unwrapping “The Secret Life of Flies” by Erica McAlister, a book of etymology at home and in crime. Wrap it up with “Eat the Beetles!” by David Waltner-Toews, a book about our relation with insects and what really bugs us.
- Doesn’t everybody have a sports nut on their holiday list? Yep, so why not give yours “The Stupidest Sports Book of All Time” by Kathryn & Ross Petras. This book is filled with funny, goofy, outlandish stats, stories and stuff about football, baseball, basketball and more. Score!
- Here’s a book that’ll be passed around this holiday season: “Hazard” by Margaret Combs. It’s the story of family, growing up in the 1950s through the 1970s and being a sibling of a brother with autism. Perfect for Baby Boomers, and even more perfect if your giftee is a sib. Wrap it up with “The Glass Eye” by Jeannie Vanasco, a memoir of grief, unsettled questions, mental health and memories that can haunt…
- If there’s someone on your list who loves true-life tales, look for “Granite Mountain” by Brendan McDonough (with Stephan Talty.) It’s the story of one man’s inner battle to leave his addiction behind, his new life, and his “brothers,” the brave men who died in an Arizona firestorm.
- For the wandering soul on your list this year, “The Drive” by Teresa Bruce will make a great gift. It’s the story of the recreation of a meaningful trip; the original one started and ended in tragedy. Would this one, through Central and South America, turn out better? Wrap it up with “Traveling with Ghosts” by Shannon Leone Fowler, a book about loss and losing one’s self on the road in order to deal with it.
- If there’s an art lover/historian on your list, you can’t go wrong with “Leonardo Da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson, a sweeping new bio on the genius artist-creator. It’s an eye-opener (and a door-opener, it’s that big!) Also look for “Elizabeth Taylor: Tribute to a Legend” by Boze Hadleigh, a series of quotations and observations from the people who knew Liz best.
- The Child of the Sixties on your list will love opening “Joni: The Anthology,” edited by Barney Hoskyns. Filled with interviews, reviews, memories and columns about Joni Mitchell, it will also put a smile on the face of anyone who loves music. Wrap it up with “Sensing the Rhythm” by America’s Got Talent finalist Mandy Harvey (and Mark Atteberry) or “Goodnight, L.A.” by Kent Hartman, a book that chronicles the popularity of classic rock, for a tuneful gift.
- There are a lot of books out this year that are set in war-torn areas, but your giftee may especially like “A Disappearance in Damascus” by Deborah Campbell. It’s the story of a Syrian refugee who works with the news media as contact-maker, translator and consultant. She grows close to Campbell, who works for the media, until the refugee is arrested in Campbell’s presence. Courage, friendship and a darn good book. Wrap it up with “Daring to Drive” by Manal Al-Sharif, a memoir of a Saudi woman, activism and the power that comes from it.
- If there’s an unabashed advice giver on your list this year, then wrap up “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things” by columnist Amy Dickinson. Part humor, part memoir and yes, part advice, this book will have your giftee smiling. Pair it with “The Best of Us” by Joyce Maynard, which is another excellent memoir story of love, loss and life afterward.
- If there's a person on your gift list who has always been obsessed with Little House on the Prairie, wrap up “The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder” by Marta McDowell. Absolutely loaded with illustrations, this book takes a look at the land and the landscapes that Wilder would have noted. Bonus: lots of personal photographs.
- Here’s a can’t-miss gift for your movie buff: “Makeup Man” by Michael Westmore with Jake Page, foreword by Patrick Stewart. Who’s behind the mask, the monster and the many ways that movie and TV actors become who they portray? Find out in this lively, photo-filled book. Wrap it up with “Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat” by comedian, actress and writer Patricia Williams for a look at another side of fame.
- For the woman who farms and loves it, you can’t go wrong with “Women and the Land” by Barbara Hall, photography by Kathryn Gamble. This is a book about Iowa women: their farms, their families and their dreams for the future.
- For the giftee who is also a humanitarian, “Finding the Lost Art of Empathy” by Tracy Wilde may make a great holiday even better. This book looks at grief, relationships, emotional pain and how the Bible offers succor when those issues collide.
- If there’s someone on your gift list who’s confronted their mortality and is trying to figure out how his or her life will make an impact, wrap up “What Will They Say about You When You Are Gone? Creating a Life of Legacy” by Rabbi Daniel Cohen. This book will help your giftee find the best parts of themselves and their faith to make it a better 2018.
- For the giftee who loves a good scandal, “PTL” by John Wigger will make a great gift. It’s the story of the PTL Club and its founders, Jim and Tammy Bakker, their Heritage USA theme park, their television ministry and its rise and fall.
- If your giftee is fascinated with genealogy and family history, then “The Song and the Silence” by Yvette Johnson will make a great gift. It’s the story of a man who dared to tell the truth about racism, and his granddaughter, who dared to find out how that led to tragedy. Wrap it up with “Shooting Lincoln” by Nicholas J.C. Pistor, the story of the days after Lincoln was assassinated and the photographers who raced to shoot him again, as well as everyone surrounding him.
- For the Anglophile who just happens to be a new parent, “Raising Royalty” by Carolyn Harris might make a great gift. This book takes a look at the parenting ideals, mores and methods from the past 1,000 years. How fun is that? Wrap it up with “The Wisdom of the Middle Ages” by Michael K. Kellogg for a great gift for anyone who wants to see how The Other Half lived back when.
- If there’s a World War I enthusiast on your gift list this year, you can’t go wrong in wrapping up “Trench Talk / Trench Life: A Beginner’s Guide to World War One” by Fredric Winkowski. Written in small bites of information and filled with line drawings, this book is unique and surprisingly comprehensive. Wrap it up with “The Woman Who Smashed Codes” by Jason Fagone, a book about Elizabeth Smith who learned the art of code-breaking during World War I and became so good at it that she became crime-solver, WWII spy and intelligence expert.
- Speaking of World War II, your giftee will also want to unwrap “Suzanne’s Children: A Daring Rescue in Nazi Paris” by Anne Nelson. It’s the story of courage, risk and the saving of Jewish children, right beneath Nazi noses.
- For the giftee who loves pop culture as well as history, “Lady Liberty” by Luce Lebart and Sam Stourdze will be a welcome thing to give. Packed with period pictures, this book explains the history of the Statue of Liberty, from idea to icon. Also look for “Katharine Lee Bates: From Sea to Shining Sea” by Melinda M. Ponder, a book about the woman who wrote “America the Beautiful,” her life and times.
- If there’s a young black man who’s struggling to stay out of trouble, then “Dead Before 18” by Lamont Carey may be a good choice. This book is by a man who lived on the streets and escaped them, and how it can be done today.
- Your business-minded friends will love unwrapping “Defined by Design” by Kathryn H. Anthony. Why are we attracted to the things we buy? Does that extend to the buildings we inhabit, the clothes we wear or the places we eat? Design is everything, and this year your giftee will learn that. Wrap it up with “Leading Organizations: Ten Timeless Truths” by Scott Keller and Mary Meaney, a book with classic answers for leaders in any industry.
- If you’ve got a creative type on your gift list, then wrap up “Things Are What You Make of Them” by Adam J. Kurtz. It’s a book of thought-starters and work-pokers that could help open someone’s creative doors. Wrap it up with “The Line” by Keri Smith, author of “Wreck this Journal” and a pack of flashy new pens for the best gift ever.
- For the person whose dream is big – like, REALLY big – then wrap up “Becoming Facebook” by Michael Hoefflinger. It’s a book about the “10 Challenges” that the internet behemoth has overcome, and how those challenges have changed the world and the world of business.
- If your gift list includes a woman with her eye on high places, then “The Unspoken Code” by Marja Norris is a great gift. It’s a kind of a guideline for female CEOs, complete with worksheets and extra advice. Wrap it up with “This is How We Rise” by Claudia Chan, a book about potential and leadership. I also like “Unscrewed” by Jaclyn Friedman, about getting what you deserve in life and business.
Health and medicine; death and dying
- If there’s someone on your list this year who’s facing a caregiving situation with an elder, “A Loving Approach to Dementia Care” by Laura Wayman may help. It’s not a book on medicine, though; it’s more of a book on having a relationship that’s meaningful with someone who can’t quite connect. Pair it with “The Inheritance” by Niki Kapsambelis, a story about one family’s experiences with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
- For the person on your list who has questions about a health issue, “The Handy Diabetes Answer Book” by Patricia Barnes-Svarney and Thomas E. Svarney is a good book to give. Here are the answers to common questions, affects and ways to cope with diabetes. Wrap it up, or give it to yourself as a gift.
- Nobody wants to think bad thoughts around this time of year, but death happens. If it does, look into “Dying: A Memoir” by Cory Taylor and “Words at the Threshold” What We Say as We’re Nearing Death” by Lisa Smartt. Both these books are sensitive and appropriate if it’s a not-so-happy holiday.
- Anyone who’s interested in how our brains work will want to read “Is It All In Your Head? True Stories of Imaginary Illness” by Suzanne O’Sullivan, M.D. How do psychosomatic disorders happen? Is there a way to stop them? What can be done about them, and how can a sufferer’s loved ones help? (Hint: read this book). Then wrap it up with “Why? What Makes Us Curious” by Mario Livio for a well-rounded look at your round noggin.
- For the giftee who’s looking for a healthier, more serene new year, the best gift to give is “And Breathe” by Rebecca Dennis. It’s a book about conscious breathing, and how it affects our physical and emotional health.
- Show the grieving giftee that you’re there if she needs you by wrapping up “When You Lose Someone You Love” by Joanne Fink. This tiny little book fits in pocket or purse, and it’s filled with comfort. Also look for “The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying” by Nina Riggs. It also tackles a subject nobody wants to think about…
- Is there a nature-lover on your list? If the answer is yes, then wrap up “The Nature Fix” by Florence Williams. This book explains why we need to go outside to be with trees and grass, the many ways it’s good for us and how it has hidden benefits.
- For the giftee struggling to care for someone who’s mentally ill, “Insane Consequences” by DJ Jaffee may be a good gift. It’s about the mental health industry as a whole: how it’s bad for the mentally ill and how it can be better. Also look for “My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward” by Mark Lukach, a memoir of caring.
- For the doctor-in-training, or the touch healer on your list, “Mirror Touch” by Joel Salinas, M.D. is a great choice. Dr. Salinas is a neurologist who is also has mirror-touch synesthesia, which means he can almost feel the same illnesses his patients experience. This book is about his life and what it’s like to have heightened empathy. Fascinating, huh? Make it a better holiday by wrapping it up with “Can’t. Just. Stop.” by Sharon Begley, a close look at compulsions and why the solution to them isn’t easy.
- For the giftee who hopes to help with end-of-life care this year, wrap up “The Way We Die Now” by Seamus O’Mahony. It’s a look at life and death in modern times, and how we deal with it (or don’t). Also, “Last Things” by Marissa Moss takes a look at love, loss and healing. Wrap it with tissues.
- If there’s a reader on your list who loves books about mobsters and gangsters, then “Confessions of a Cartel Hit Man” by Martin Corona with Tony Rafael should be under the tree this year. Yes, Corona was a criminal, but he is no killer today. Even so, this book will chill any reader who loves true crime.
- For the armchair detective and amateur crime solver, you can’t find a better gift than “True Crime Addict” by James Murray. For most of his life, Murray’s had a keen love of the unsolved crimes, and he eventually finds one that consumes him. Who can resist? Wrap it up with “A Good Month for Murder” by Del Quentin Wilber, the story of a homicide squad, and you’ll have slaying fun this holiday.
- The love – and troubles – between mother and son is at the heart of “Outside is the Ocean” by Matthew Lansburgh, a new short story collection that has a common arc. It’s about a mother with a troubled life who believes her gay son has forgotten her. It’s about family and love. Pair it with “Trans Gendent: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction,” edited by Bogi Takacs. It’s full of collected tales of fantasy, horror and just plain weirdness.
- Why do we even need genders? If that’s a question your giftee asks often, then look for “Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter?” by Heath Fogg Davis. This book takes a good look at why we have genders and the four particular places in everyday life where we should think about abolishing any mention of differences.
- If your giftee likes his books a bit on the spiritual side, then “Owls Don’t Have to Mean Death” by Chip Livingston is the book to wrap. It’s the story of a Florida Creek man who learns many lessons from his ancestors, but will that help him when illness strikes someone he loves?
- For someone who’s on the journey to understanding and acceptance, “Gay Gringo: A Memoir” by Roy Langridge may be a great choice. Just be aware before wrapping it that this book includes some steamy scenes.
- No doubt there’s a person on your list who’s fought for freedom, and “Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom” by Condoleezza Rice is the gift they’ll love to unwrap. More than just a look at domestic issues, this book examines issues of freedom and democracy around the world, where Rice points out that many countries now count as democracies – and others are trying.
- For the giftee who’s fascinated with the politics of the presidency, “The Impossible Presidency” by Jeremi Suri will be a most welcome gift. This book looks at the power of the office, the accomplishments of past presidents, how it affects the Office today and what kind of impact it will have on future politicians. Wrap it up with “The Unexpected President: The Life and Times of Chester A. Arthur” by Scott S. Greenberger.
- If there was ever a book you need to wrap up for your political giftee, it’s “The Handy American Government Answer Book” by Gina Misiroglu. Imagine pages and pages that make politics easy to understand, and that explain how things work. Wrap it up with “The Year of Voting Dangerously” by Maureen Dowd, now in paperback, for the gift they’ll vote for.
Pets and animals
- Yes, there’s an animal lover on your gift list, and you can’t find a better gift than “Talking to Animals” by Jon Katz. It’s a look at how we can better communicate with our pets and with wildlife, and it’s part of an ongoing story of Katz’s farm and his beloved animals. Wrap it up with “Raised by Animals” by Jennifer L. Verdolin, PhD, a book about how animals raise their young and what humans can take away from their lessons to use with our own children.
- As pet lovers know, dogs can serve in the military. As veterans know, dogs can serve outside, too, as your giftee will see in “Tuesday’s Promise” by Luis Carlos Montalvan and Ellis Henican. It’s the continuing story of Tuesday, the golden retriever who changed one veteran’s life and the work she’s done. Wrap it up with “A Dog Called Hope” by Jason Morgan and Samien Lewis, another wonderful book about a dog and his soldier.
- No dog-lover can resist “Will’s Red Coat” by Tom Ryan. It’s the story of an unloved, angry, ailing, mistreated dog and his reformation at the hands of a loving man with infinite patience. Wrap it up with tissues, and with “Rescuing Penny Jane” by Amy Sutherland, a book about dog shelters and those who work to find strays their forever homes.
- The cat-lover in your life will want to curl up with “Iris Grace,” by Arabella Carter-Johnson. It’s the story of a little girl with autism and the cat who was more healer than kitty. Wrap it up with “The Inner Life of Cats” by Thomas McNamee for the purrrrrfect holiday!
- If there’s a horse-lover on your gift list this year, “The Age of the Horse” by Susanna Forrest should grace their gift pile for sure. This is a wide-ranging look at horses throughout history, from evolution onward. Can’t miss this one.
- For the giftee with a soft spot in their heart for wildlife, “Wolf Nation” by Brenda Peterson will thrill them. This is a book about the history of wolves in America, why they’ve so often been targeted for removal and what the future holds.
- History buffs who also love animals will love “The Zoo” by Isobel Charman, the story of the making of the London Zoo. Lions and tigers and bears! Oh, my, but also a nice cast of real people are featured in this fascinating book.
- For the parent who’s facing a long road ahead, look for “Happiness: A Memoir” by Heather Harpham. It’s a love story – first, in a marriage, then as a parent with a desperately ill child. Is there a Happily Ever After? Might want to read this book first, before giving it. Another book to consider is “I Have a Question about Death” by Arlen Grad Gaines and Meredith Englander Polsky. It’s a book for parents of kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and it explains things in a kid-friendly way.
- The parent of a young adult may love unwrapping “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood” by Jean M. Twenge, PhD. How did tomorrow’s workers, family heads and leaders get to this point? And what does it have to do with everyone who will need to rely on them someday? Wrap it up with “Born to Be Wild” by Jess P.l Shatkin, MD. MPH. It’s a book about teens and risk-taking, and what a parent can do to make sure the kids are safe.
Picture books (for kids ages about 3-6)
- For the 3-to-5-year-old who’s about to be a Big Brother or Sister, “Ready, Set… Baby!” by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Qin Leng will be as welcome as a new baby. This book answers a lot of questions the kiddo will have about the new sibling, and in the cutest way possible.
- The budding naturalist on your list will love “Creekfinding: A True Story” by Jacqueline Briggs Martgin, illustrations by Claudio McGehee. It’s the true story of a creek, how it disappeared and how it was rescued from the soil to benefit people and wildlife again.
- For the kid who needs a boost of self-confidence, you’ll want to wrap up “Leo’s Gift” by Susan Blackaby and Joellyn Cicciarelli, illustrated by Carrie Schuler. It’s a book about Leo, who wants to find a big talent that he can call his own. Pair it with “Super Manny Stands Up!” by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin, the story of a young raccoon with an invisible hero’s cape and a need to conquer all – especially when it really matters.
- Kids who love books always want books for gifts, don’t they? So why not give “Balderdash! John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books” by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. It’s a book about books and a bookish bookworm. Bonus: it’s also a great gift for a grown-up librarian, too. Wrap it up with “The Book of Gold” by Bob Staake, a book about a book that can turn itself into solid gold! Also look for “Give Me Back My Book!” by Travis Foster and Ethan Long, a book about a fight over a book, and more.
- Little language lovers will enjoy “Nothing Rhymes with Orange” by Adam Rex. Poor Orange. He’s all left out... Pair it with “Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast” by Josh Funk, illustrated by Brendan Kearney, a tale of rivalry over – gasp! – the last drop of syrup or “A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale” by Penny Parker Klostermann, illustrated by Ben Mantle, a fairy tale with food.
- Parents who are old enough to remember Pet Rocks will love to read “Charlotte and the Rock” by Stephen W. Martin, illustrated by Samantha Cotterill aloud. It’s a tale of a little girl who longs for a pet of her own, so her parents buy her: guess what?
For young readers (kids ages about 7-12)
- The kid who loves to be in the know will love the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2018. Filled with facts, maps, cartoons and pictures, this is a great book for browsing, for that mid-winter vacation and for just having fun. Also look for “Time for Kids: 50 States, Our America,” with illustrations by Aaron Meshon. It’s a book they’ll love and learn from.
- For the child who races through a series he (or she!) loves, look for the boxed set of “Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs. The first book was fun. The second book was better and it goes upward from there. Bonus: they’ll look great on the shelf, after she’s read them all three times.
- If you’ve got a budding environmentalist on your list, “Hidden Wildlife: How Animals Hide in Plain Sight” by Jim Arnosky makes a great gift. Filled with fascinating information and lots of double-fold pages, it’s a book about camouflage in the animal world. Wrap it up with “Animalsaurus” by Tracey Turner, illustrated by Harriet Russell, a book about extinct creatures from prehistoric times and interesting animals that still roam the planet. Also look for “Around the World in 80 Maps” by Clare Hibbert, a book with activities and lots of information for the kid who might love to travel.
- The kid who likes fun will like “Marge in Charge” by Isla Fisher, a chapter book about the Button Family’s new babysitter. Nope, this isn’t your normal nanny, as your young giftee will learn in three short stories inside one fun book.
- For the budding gourmand in your life, “Food Atlas” by Guilia Malerba and Febe Siliani may be the best gift ever. It’s a huge book filled with an around-the-world look at favorite foods in many countries, and beverages enjoyed by other cultures.
- If there’s a Girl Power girl on your gift list, consider wrapping up “Women Who Dared” by Linda Skeers, illustrated by Livi Gosling. It’s a book filled with 52 mini-biographies of brave, smart, powerful, influential women from all walks of life. She’ll love it.
Young adult (kids ages 12 and up)
- Teens who struggle to fit in will love “Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus” by Dusti Bowling. It’s a novel of a girl born with a birth defect, and as if life isn’t hard enough, her parents take a job in a microscopic town in another state. How she survives and what happens to her is the basis of the story. Who could resist?
- For the girl who revels in her strength, “Moxie” by Jennifer Mathieu is the book to give. It’s a novel about the daughter of a “Riot Grrrl” from the 1990s and what she does to keep the feminist revolution going. Wrap it up with “Here We Are,” edited by Kelly Jensen, an anthology of feminist writing, poetry, and thoughts.
- For the STEM-loving teen, “This Book Isn’t Safe!” by Colin Furze might be this year's Holiday Gift Winner. It’s a book filled with inventions and experiments your teen can try, but beware: this book may not be safe, but it is addicting!
Note: Some of these titles may not be available, or you might have to order them. Release dates change, titles change, and if that’s confusing or if you need more ideas, be sure to ASK the friendly, all-knowing, super-intelligent booksellers. There’s actually a good reason they’re standing in your local bookstore (hint: it’s to help you finish your shopping!)
The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.