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December 2014

Giving the Gift of Books

As we shop and shop and, sigh, shop some more this holiday season, many of us consider books a staple gift. But just because books are a great go-to gift, choosing the perfect title should be done with care.

If you’re considering emptying your holiday list in one trip to the bookstore, we’ve come up with some rules to gift by:

Books are personal. Books communicate even when they’re just sitting there. Who hasn’t checked out a neighbor’s book shelf – more scoop than a medicine cabinet. Even a coffee table book needs to be the “right” one for your loved one. Just because you dig the black-and-white photo anthology doesn’t mean your mom’s country floral family room will benefit from its addition.

Know your product. A pretty cover or a catchy title may be an “ooh-aah” unwrapping moment, but if your aunt is studying art in a cooperative class, Fifty Shades of Grey only sounds like a good match.  

Shared experience. A good bet is to share a book you’ve already read, or if you have just one or two degrees of separation from someone who has. Reading the same book is a great way to bring folks together for weeks and months after the holidays.

It’s all about them. Good book gifts are not a “should.” As in “my nephew should read more” or “my brother should appreciate this political perspective.” Giving a gift is about pleasing the recipient, not making a point.

Clutter. If you have someone who likes to read but can’t stand one more thing in her house, there are still book options. If your clutter-phobe is into e-reading, you can spoil her with e-books. If reading must involve paper, consider giving a gift of a donation to her local library.

Keepsake. The argument to override clutter? Classic. If you find the perfect signed copy, first edition or classic series for someone on your list, go ahead. Likelihood it will become a treasure.

Kids are their own category. Permission granted to bend the above rules. Give. Kids. Books. There are so many great books out there for children of all ages. Not to mention kids tend to be open to the whole reading on a screen concept. You can even buy monthly subscriptions for unlimited books. Books all year long with the famous one click.

On The Shelves: Our Five Faves

We’ve done our research and found a treasure trove of book ideas for the holidays. Check out some of our top picks here. If you want the whole-tasty-titles-enchilada, click here!


The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Local Authors:

Judy Sierra: Zoozical; Wild About Books
Katherine Paterson: Bridge to Terabithia; Stories of My Life
Judith Viorst: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Tom Clancy: Hunt for Red October; Patriot Games
Anne Tyler:  The Accidental Tourist; A Spool of Blue Thread
BONUS: Anna Whiston-Donaldson: Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love


Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien


The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
This is Where I Leave You by Johathan Tropper
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
The Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Food, Food, Food:

How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman
The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond
Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten
The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor by Gina Homolka
One Pot by Editors of Martha Stewart Living

Celebrity Faves:

Bill Gates - SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven D. Levitt
Oprah - A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson
Jay Z - Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Steven Spielberg - Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
George Clooney - War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Picture Books:

I See Me (personalized books)
Honeyky Hanukah by Woody Guthrie
Fox’s Garden by Princesse Camcam
The Book with No Pictures by B. J. Novak
Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman

Young Adult:

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Cress (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Skink – No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen


Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

In The Movies:

Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
The Hunger Games (Mockingjay in theaters!) by Suzanne Collins
Divergent (Insurgent in theaters soon) by Veronica Roth
Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs



More Local Author Options:

S.W.A.K. by Adriana Sifakis & George Sifakis
One Word Pearl
by Nicole Groeneweg
Marco's Travels by Jason Louis

Holiday Specific Book Suggestions from Kate Schwarz:

  • Silent Night Holy Night - Story of where the song comes from
  • Star Bright: A Christmas Story by Alison McGhee and Peter Reynolds - a power duo, about the Christmas story
  • Little Women Christmas - for anyone who LOVES Little Women, this is an adaptation from the classic, just the Christmas part, a total tear-jerker sweet story with gorgeous illustrations
  • Little Blue Truck's Christmas by Alice Schertle - big fans of this now three book series - this is a board book so for little ones, with great rhyme and pictures involving counting and kindness
  • Post Mark Santa's Misfit Postman - totally quirky but fun
  • BONUS: Fox's Garden by Princesse CamCam - it is truly one of the most beauitful picture books, a wordless one so it's timeless and good for any age, I've ever held in my hands

FAMILY Staff Recommendations: 

Children Books:
The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone
The Pet War by Allan Woodrow

Young Adult:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Looking for Alaska by John Green
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

In the Movies:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
If I Stay by Gayle Forman (sequel Where She Went)
The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

For more FAMILY Staff Recommendations, click here!

Book Deals, Recommendations, and other Book Resources!

Goodreads Best of 2014