ENTERTAINMENT

Bookworm Gift Guide 2022: Season’s readings!

Terri Schlichenmeyer
Columnist
Christmas presents with e-book reader and books in bag against white background.

The tree looks magnificent.

Your kids did a great job decorating the parts you assigned to them; you took pictures this year, because they really outdid themselves. So you’re ready – almost – for the holidays, except for those few tricky gifts that you just can’t seem to figure out.

How about books? Easy to wrap, happy to get, why not look for these great books ...

FICTION

Lovers of fantasy stories will love unwrapping “Illuminations” by Alan Moore, a collection of short-stories with an underlying theme of comics and the industry. Perfect for the young gamer or comic reader.

For the giftee who likes novels with a twist, wrap up “The Storyteller’s Death” by Ann Davila Cardinal. It’s the tale of a girl who learns, at age 18, that she’s a “storyteller,” which is something that’s passed down through the women of her family. But this blessing turns out to be a curse when she “sees” a murder that happened long ago. Pair it up with “The Strange Inheritance of Leah Fern” by Rita Zoey Chin, also a story of a young “fortune teller” and a vision she may or may not have wanted.

Books form a Christmas tree.

The person on your list who loves to people-watch and connect with, well, everybody will want “Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting” by Clare Pooley. It’s the story of an advice columnist who amuses herself during her commute by watching the other people on the train – until the day something happens and commuters suddenly become something more. 

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MYSTERY

The person on your list who is of a certain age will absolutely love getting “Killers of a Certain Age” by Deanna Raybourn. It’s a thriller-mystery about four women who’ve worked as assassins for decades but suddenly, everyone thinks their methods are outdated. They’re sent “on vacation” but it’s really no vacation. How do they get out alive?

Lovers of short mysteries will love to find “Reader, I Buried Them and Other Stories” by Peter Lovesey. This book, in celebration of Lovesey’s more-than-fifty years of mystery-writing, is full of mayhem, murder, and you know your giftee will want it.

GENERAL NONFICTION

The reader who wants a little diversity in their selection will love “Latino Almanac: From Early Explorers to Corporate Leaders” by Nicolas Kanellos, PhD. It’s a book that’s absolutely filled with mini-biographies of Latino luminaries, heroes, and inspirations, and it’s perfect for any reader age 14 and up. Pair it with “Indigenous Firsts: A History of Native American Achievements and Events” by Yvonne Wakim Dennis, Arlene Hirschfelder, and Paulette F. Molin. It’s a book that’s filled with fast facts about the achievements of indigenous Americans.

If you’re looking for something unusual for your science-minded giftee, then find “The Handy Engineering Answer Book by DeLean Tolbert Smith, PhD; Aishwary Pawar; Nicole Pitterson, PhD; and Debra-Ann C. Butler, PhD. It’s perfect for anyone who works in or dabbles with any kind of engineering today; it’s also the kind of book your dedicated science fan needs.

For the person who always embraces the good in life, “Inciting Joy” by Ross Gay” will be a welcome gift. It’s a collection of essays on the things that make us happy, that cause us to count our blessings, smile, and that gather us together.  Wrap it up with “Happier Hour” by Cssie Holmes, PhD, and help someone decide what’s worth their joy.

There’s just no way your animal-loving giftee won’t want a copy of “Possums Are Not Cute!” by Ally Burguieres. It’s filled with adorable photos of possums of all ages, in cute poses and just living their best lives. Bonus: possum facts and trivia! Wrap it up with “Sentient: How Animals

MEMOIR

The music lover on your gift list will absolutely want “Loud” by Tana Douglas. It’s a memoir of rock & roll, working with the band (Douglas was the rock world’s first female roadie) and yep, there’s plenty of behind-the-scenes. Your giftee won’t be able to resist. Another adventure to find: “Life on the Mississippi: An Epic American Adventure” by Rinker Buck. The author built an old-time wooden flatboat and sailed it down the Miss. You can’t miss what happened then...

If there’s a board-game lover on your holiday list, then wrap up “A Game Maker’s Life” by Jeffrey Breslow (with Cynthia Beebe). It’s the story of a game-maker, for sure, but there’s plenty of insider info to make any player smile. Pair it with “This is NOT a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch” by Tabitha Carvan, a book about passion, obsession, and being a big, really big fan.

For the reader who loves a sweeping, but differently-told life story, “I Always Knew: A Memoir” by Barbara Chase-Riboud might be just right. This is the story of author and artist Chase-Riboud, as told through a series of letters written to her mother. It showcases not only Chase-Riboud’s life, but also her works, and the many people she met along the way. Wrap it up with “Seven Aunts” by Staci Lola Drouillard, a book about the author’s far-flung, but very beloved, aunties and the ways they held the family together.

The Hollywood watcher on your list will be so happy to receive “Garcelle: Love Me as I Am” by Garcelle Beauvais with Nicole E. Smith, a biography of the life, work, and Beauvais struggles and triumphs. Wrap it up with another great Hollywood memoir: “Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me” by Ralph Macchio.

More from Hollywood: won’t your giftee love opening “No Filter” by supermodel Paulina Porizkova, or “Don Rickles: The Merchant of Venice” by Michael Seth Starr? So many gifts, so little time...

And for the art lover, put “Con/Artist: The Life and Crimes of the World’s Greatest Art Forger” by Tony Tetro and Giampiero Ambrosi beneath the tree and paint your giftee very happy.

TRUE CRIME

So your giftee is obsessed with The Godfather movies, eh? Well, then, you can’t go wrong if you wrap up “The Godmother: Murder, Vengeance, and the Bloody Struggle of Mafia Women” by Barbie Latza Nadeau. It’s the story of the women behind the men in the mob. Giving it to someone is an offer you can’t refuse.

For the person who can appreciate a good true crime tale set outside the U.S., look for “In the Mouth of the Wolf” by Katherine Corcoran. It’s the story of a woman journalist who’s about to expose corruption in the Mexican government but she’s thwarted in many ways. When she’s found dead in her motel bathroom, Corcoran, then the AP Mexican bureau chief, goes in search of answers. Speaking of answers, pair it with “The Forever Witness” by Edward Humes. It’s the story of a double murder that happened in Seattle more than thirty years ago and the trail went cold ... until the use of DNA became more common and other technology put the case front-and-center.

Sometimes, the setting of the story is everything. Case in point: “All That is Wicked” by Kate Winkler Dawson. In 1871, Edward Rulloff was awaiting execution for crimes committed – but several people wanted him released because of his intelligence. Was his brain too refined to belong to a killer? Your giftee will be glad to find out... Wrap it up with “Killer Collections: Dark Artifacts from True Crime” by Paul Gambino, a loaded-with-photos anthology of items associated with murder.

HEALTH, DEATH, AND GRIEVING

For the person who hates to exercise, hates eating healthy (let’s face it) and stresses about it all, you can’t go wrong with “The Gospel of Wellness: Gyms, Gurus, Goop, and the False Promise of Self-Care” by Rina Raphael. Doesn’t that title say it all?  Wrap it up with “A Life in Light: Meditations on Impermanence” by Mary Pipher, a book about aging, losing, and knowing that life goes on.

Your giftee who’s struggling with a diagnosis that’s not yet determined may want to read “Inside the Orphan Drug Revolution” by James A. Geraghty. It’s a book about rare diseases and how modern medicine is in the midst of a revolution in care. Beware before you give this book, but it may be the perfect thing for the right person. Wrap it up with “This Boy We Made” by Taylor Harris, the story of Harris’s son, and a little boy’s health mystery.

If you’ve got a medical-minded person on your gift list this year, “This is Assisted Dying” by Stefanie Green, MD, might be a good gift. It’s one doctor’s story about patient care and end-of-life, and it could be controversial. Think before giving.

Your giftee who’s grieving might also appreciate  “After Affects” by Andrea Giliat, on various kinds of grief; “When a Child Dies” by Claire Aagaard; “Letters of Note: Grief,” compiled by Shaun Usher, a collection of meaningful letters; or “All of This” by Rebecca Woolf, on losing a husband and regaining strength.

The person on your list who suffers with chronic pain will want to see “The Song of Our Scars” by Haider Warraich. It’s a book about pain, suffering with it, and surviving it. Pair it with “How Am I Doing” by Dr. Corey Yeager, a book for that giftee’s mental health.

CHILDREN BIRTH-6

The preschooler who loves polar bears will love getting “A Bear Far from Home” by Susan Fletcher and Rebecca Green. It’s based on the true story of a gift from Norway to England, and the meaning of home. Wrap it up with “The Worst Teddy Ever” by Marcelo Verdad. It’s the story of another kind of bear and its love of a little girl.

If you’ve got a young environmentalist on your list, “A Planet Like Ours” by Frank Murphy and Charnaie Gordon, illustrated by Kayla Harren could be a great gift. It’s a sweet, uncomplicated reminder to love the Earth we have.

CHILDREN 6-9

Seriously, who doesn’t like pizza?  You know your young giftee does, and they’ll also like “Pizza! A Slice of History” by Greg Pizzoli. It’s a cute, colorfully illustrated, fun book on everybody’s favorite food. Pair it with a gift certificate to... you know where...

For the kid who loves monsters, “Mythical Beasts” by Stephanie Warren Drimmer could be the right gift to give. It’s full of information about real animals that were somehow mythologized throughout history. Facts, monsters, and it comes from the National Geographic Kids folks... what’s not to love?

If there’s a child on your list who loves legends, then “The Return of the Christmas Witch” by Dan Murphy & Aubrey Plaza, illustrations by Julia Iredale is the book to wrap. It’s the story of Kristtorn, who was Santa’s twin sister, a battle, a mystery, and a bit of Christmas darkness. (No worries. Happy Endings abound).

For the kid who’s suddenly become a big brother or sister, “The Baby-Changing Station” by Rhett Miller, illustrated by Dan Santat is absolutely the gift to give. It’s the tale of a boy who isn’t happy that there’s a baby brother in the house, until he discovers a machine that changes the baby, but not in diaperish ways ...

CHILDREN NINE TO FOURTEEN

The young environmentalist on your list will be so happy unwrapping “Meltdown: Discover Earth’s Irreplaceable Glaciers and Learn What You Can Do To Save Them” by Anita Sanchez, illustrated by Lily Padula. It’s full ideas, information, pictures, and graphs, as well as a sense that kids really can save the world. Wrap it up with “Dinosaur Atlas” from the National Geographic Kids folks. This large-size book is all about dinos and were they lived. Your young scientist will love it.

If there’s a child who loves a good historical fiction tale, then find “The Other Side of the River” by Alda P. Dobbs. It’s the second part of a story featuring a character based on a real girl who escaped Mexico to immigrate to the U.S. after the Mexican Revolution. If your giftee hasn’t read the first book, wrap ‘em both up.

YOUNG ADULT BOOKS

The social media-obsessed teen on your gift list may need to read “The Facebook Narcissist” by Lena Derhally. It’s a book that may make them think twice before posting and sharing. They’ll “LIKE” it.

If you read “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson, you know that it’s a great book. Share it with your young adult this holiday, because it’s not in a version that’s “adapted for young adults.”

Now for the housekeeping: like everything else in the world, books can change. Titles may vary, covers may vary, you might be able to find some of these books in paperback versions, so be aware when you’re making out your book-lovers gift list. If you have any questions or need other suggestions, please do lean on your favorite librarian or bookseller.

Seriously, they are like  your favorite comic book superheroes, only better because they know books.

Season’s Readings!

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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. Read past columns at marconews.com.