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Sweatpants & Books | The Book Lover’s Guide to Holiday Gift Giving

By Julie Bond

Well, it’s December and you know what that means…time to buy books for everyone on your gift list! Whether you are looking for the perfect picture book for the hard-to-please toddler on your list, or the best in historical fiction for your equally hard-to-please aunt, we’ve got you covered. And to make it even easier, we’ve organized these amazing reads by category with a helpful hint as to who will most appreciate our curated selection.  So, grab your list of gift recipients, and let’s get started!

For the babe who loves classic board books like “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” or “Madeline” how about one of the Baby Lit, re-imagined classics? There are several to choose from, running the gamut from “Romeo & Juliet” to “Pride & Prejudice” and “A Christmas Carol.” These are sturdy board books that introduce pre-readers to the joys of the classics.

For the toddler who loves “Splat the Cat” and “Curious George,” pick up a copy of “Mother Bruce,” by Ryan T. Higgins. This book is laugh-out-loud funny and a hit with kids of all ages. And did you know that “Dragons Love Tacos” has a sequel? Indeed, “Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel” is a must have…particularly if you are tired of reading the first book over and over to the dragon-loving picture book fanatics at your house!

Early readers who have exhausted the “Magic Treehouse” series will enjoy Jon Scieszka’s “Time Warp Trio” series about three boys who can travel through space and time, landing them in ancient Greece, Egypt, etc. Also fun are the “Chicken Squad,” books from Doreen Cronin featuring a group of goofy young chickens who solve barnyard crimes.

If you know someone stuck in a rut, reading the “Wimpy Kid” series over and over again, pick up the “Nerds” series by Michael Buckley. While there are some fun graphics in the books, the stories are so engaging, kids won’t miss the barrage of graphic novel-style imagery. These kids are saving the world from their basement headquarters underneath their school!

Older kids who have completed the meatier series reads like “Harry Potter” and “Wings of Fire” will enjoy the “Pendragon” series from D.J. MacHale. A kid who can travel through space and time on the back of his uncle’s motorcycle? Epic storytelling.

For teen readers who are addicted to the intelligent writing of John Green (and he does have a new book out, “Turtles All the Way Down”), pick up Jenny Han’s series, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” It’s wonderful to see a lead character who is a Korean-American. She is smart, funny, a bit neurotic, and definitely someone you would want to be friends with. And for those who prefer dystopic fiction like “Maze Runner” and “Divergent,” pick up a copy of “Diabolic,” by S.J. Kincaid now out in paperback, as well as the sequel, “The Empress” just out in hardcover. They simply have to turn this series into a movie as the imagery is darkly fascinating in a post-apocolyptic world where people of influence have diabolics…cyborg compatriots…designed and created to keep them safe and reach their goals.

For fans of “Mad Men” and martinis, pick up a copy of “The Swans of Fifth Avenue,” by Melanie Benjamin. A voyeuristic look at New York high society and the inevitable betrayal that comes with prestige and power. And for fiction lovers addicted to stories like “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” pick up a copy of “Valley of the Moon,” by Melanie Gideon. Set in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1975, the story unfolds as a single mom takes a magical trip to the wine country and discovers another, more bucolic world from which she never wants to leave.

If historical fiction is what you are looking for, then look no further than Jill Lepore’s, “Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin.” This book will have you wondering just how much of Ben Franklin’s wit and wisdom was really that of his brilliant, head-strong, youngest sister.

If you are looking for fascinating non-fiction to gift, pick up David McCullough’s “The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For.”  McCullough is a historian and much sought after speaker, so this collection of his speeches is timely and inspiring. And for some spicier non-fiction, gift a copy of Stacy Schiff’s “Cleopatra.” She may not have lived for even 40 years, but Cleopatra packed a lot of living into the time she was here.

For mystery lovers, how about a couple of amazing novels from new voices in the genre!  “It’s Always the Husband,” by Michele Campbell is a rollercoaster ride of jealousy, betrayal, and vengeance among a group of women whose story begins when they meet at college. And “Lies She Told,” by Cate Holahan is a psychological thriller, a story within a story, about a woman author writing a novel, while her own life could be a novel itself. What is real and what is fantasy become blurred and therein lies the suspense.

And if you are looking to gift someone a book that is smart and funny, pick up a copy of A.J. Jacobs’ “It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree.”  We really are all related and it would be helpful if some of the folks in our Nation’s capitol would remember this.

For the business and finance book lovers, you can’t beat the new book from the “Wolf of Wall Street” himself, author, Jordan Belfort. “Way of the Wolf” will motivate new and seasoned business professionals alike and this new book showcases Belfort’s dry wit and skills at persuasion, while sharing his unique system for being successful.

Finally, music lovers should read Carly Simon’s autobiography, “Boys In The Trees: A Memoir.” This is also available as an audiobook and is read by Simon herself! Even if your music lover isn’t a fan of Simon’s they will enjoy her book. She is an excellent storyteller and her life has been full of passion, heartache, success, and failure. Plus, she finally reveals who her song “You’re So Vain” is really about!

 

Hopefully this list will help guide you through your local, indie bookstore. If you still need help, just ask. Independent booksellers love helping their customers find the perfect book. Or ask me in the comments below. Happy Holidays everyone, and more importantly, Happy Reading!

Julie Bond

Julie Bond is a voracious reader with eclectic tastes running the gamut from YA lit, to psychological suspense, and anything dog-related, of course. You can find her haunting her favorite San Francisco Bay Area indie bookstores. Email her at ObsessiveBookFanatic@gmail.com

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