Happy Holidays one and all! As it’s the Holiday season, I think I could offer some advice to all you gift givers out there. As it stands, I think a book is always a good gift. This might have something to do with the fact that I’m a book person myself. Maybe. But, in my opinion, giving a book helps everyone out. For example, I had a friend who was recently diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease. I guarantee you she would love a recipe book. I doubt she’d get mad if she got several books to help her figure out how to eat well again. That’s the point; books of all types help us grow in many ways. They help our vocabulary, they transport us, they make us look smart sitting on our shelves, they look great on our coffee tables, and they even help us in the bedroom.
So below, I’ve listed some books that I think would make good gifts. I’ve also listed alternatives that could be considered gag gifts or even for a-person-you-don’t-quite-like-so-much-but-have-to-get-a-present-for-anyways. I’m calling these Grinch Gifts.
The Young Adult Reader
Here’s a fickle beast for you, teens. On November 13th Allie Condie released the final book of the Matched Trilogy, Reached. I’ve read the whole first book and started on the second, and I really like them. I’m sure they’ve already read The Hunger Games, and bookstores are full of cool merchandise for this series. They’re also more likely to have a wider selection than your average generic bargain store. But perhaps you have a know-it-all kid or a relative who is already too spoiled. In that case, Grinch Gift: The Grapes of Wrath or maybe even The Catcher in the Rye. Hey, that’s about a teen, so it counts.
The Loved Up Couple
This book has really been around for a while. And it’s still dominating coveted front-of-the-store book shelf space: The 5 Love Languages. My mom actually bought this book and made me take the test when I was a kid. While I find myself rolling my eyes at it, I can’t deny the truth of it. Apparently everyone has a way of communicating their love and understanding others. This is pretty key in any relationship. Or, perhaps this loved up couple are key members of the PDA (not the digital kind, but public displays of affection) club. Grinch Gift: In that case, go with Fifty Shades of Grey. With it, attach a personal note mentioning they might learn from Ana and Christian and keep that stuff for behind closed doors. Or even better, What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
Well, you should really get a gamer a game, but there are books they’d probably enjoy, too. I’m a big fan of Bethesda’s huge hit Skyrim. There’s actually a massive guide book for it. I’d probably never pony up the money for it myself, but I surely wouldn’t turn up my nose at it as a gift. It is, in essence, a gamer coffee table book. Grinch Gift: Skyrim’s Official Guide book. There are actually some gamers who’d be insulted if you got them this book. These are the elitists or the obsessed beyond the norm. Go ahead, get them this Guide, they’ll get the point.
The Literature Reader
These are the people who love good literary fiction. If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically fiction that is on a more serious note and address moral issues or some critique on the nature of mankind. For the real literary fan, a good compilation never goes wrong. Most bookstores offer huge volumes of classic authors like Jane Austen, HG Wells, and William Shakespeare all at a reasonable $20 and under price tag. For something new, try The Orchardist. It’s getting great reviews and was even on NPR. If that’s not literary enough for you, I don’t know what is. For the Grinch Gift: The Casual Vacancy. I can’t help it. I haven’t officially reviewed it, but I will. This is a sneaky Grinch Gift. JK Rowling is so obsessed with her ability to describe every facet of this town that she’s forgotten to draw the reader into the story. It’s arrogant. She’s good, and she knows it. Watch your target squirm nervously as they reach for the dictionary. Or, if you’re feeling really spiteful, get them a Twilight book.
I’d go with either The Perks of Being a Wallflower or Life of Pi. Both of these are ripe for controversy. Even any Chuck Palahniuk book would work. He’s the one responsible for Fight Club. That makes sense now right? Grinch Gift: The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe or any other poet who they refer to incessantly. This works especially well for authors you know they misquote. Maybe, after reading it, they’ll get your understated hint.
For The Slaves to Fandom Trends
There are tons of people who see a movie and then fall in love with the characters. How about getting them started on it a bit early this time around? Well City of Bones which is part of the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare is getting brought to the silver screen in 2013. So, if you know someone who saw the Harry Potter, Twilight, or Hunger Games movies and went crazy, go ahead and give them a jumpstart to their new fandom with book. As far as a Grinch Gift goes, pick any random book off the fantasy shelves and tell them that it’s the next big thing and that they’ll absolutely love the characters. When they say that they’ve heard of it, you can enjoy a private snicker at their bandwagon ways.
Francine Rivers tops most of the Christian lists in Goodreads book lists. She also happens to be one of the highest rated in those lists, in particularly, her book Redeeming Love. Todd Burpo’s book Heaven is for Real also made the rounds on bookstore fronts this year as well, despite having been published in 2010. Grinch Gift: Dare I go here? I dare. I suggest any book on World Religions. The worst thing that would come from them reading the book is greater understanding of other’s faiths. They aren’t quite so different in doctrine. But, be careful with this one folks. I never tread on anyone’s faith, but sometimes it’s worth the inner laugh. Sometimes… okay, rarely. This would be a true Grinch Gift, indeed.
The Recreational Scientist (aka The Amateur Know-It-All)
Since physics is generally considered the know-all of the universe, I’d have to go with Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Basically, it’s got tidbits of most of the major physics topics floating around out there. This book has been around for, no pun intended, some time (as it was first published in 1988). But a newer version A Briefer History of Time, which was co-authored by Leonard Mlodinow, came out in 2005, and there’s a chance they don’t already own a copy. Grinch Gift: These people tend to be insufferably referring to interesting theories and the inner workings that no one wants to know about. Probably talking non-stop without taking any cues that others have stopped listening or most likely stopped understanding what they were talking about. So the Event Horizon isn’t a movie with Laurence Fishburne? Whoops. So, I recommend the book of Kama Sutra, just to test their knowledge on “everything”. This type of reader would probably benefit from knowing the inner workings of this book.
The Book Hoarder
It’s okay, you can still buy books for these people. Luckily, they come out with collector’s editions practically every year. For example, I probably don’t need any new books, but I really would love a copy of the beautifully leather bound gold tipped pages of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Did I sound like I was fangirling there a bit? Well, I was. There’s even a sweet version of The Hobbit that I’ve been eying for quite a while now. As for the Grinch Gift, you might consider getting them or their significant other a copy of Digging Out: Helping Your Loved One Manage Clutter, Hoarding & Compulsive Acquiring.
I’d also be careful with this selection as they do somewhat share you living space. You may know your neighbors really well. My neighbor happens to be a hardcore lawn guy, so I’d probably get him a book on plants for this area. However, any good coffee table book will do. I’d go with National Geographic’s, Life in Color. It has the perfect touch of generic beauty that you’re probably going for. Honestly, it’s actually a really pretty book full of pretty pictures. The Grinch Gift: If you can find a copy, I’d get them Cornell Woolrich’s It Had to Be Murder. (I believe there’s a PDF floating around online that you can print out as well.) Let’s put it this way, Alfred Hitchcock based his movie Rear Window off of it. It should be message enough to a nosey neighbor.
If all else fails folks, book folk love gift cards to their favorite book stores. It’s really okay to give them an excuse to browse until their heart is content, looking for just the right book to add to their shelves. Even if they’re not book fanatics, books stores are getting desparate and have added tons of toys, candles, and journals just in case books aren’t enough.