Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas
Some great books to give
It is that time of year again - time for our last minute holiday gift guide. We are almost, but not quite, too late for Hanukkah. However, we post in plenty of time for Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanza, New Years, and all those just after the holidays birthdays you are too tired to shop for. Whatever holidays you celebrate, best wishes and happy reading.
For YA fans
Far From the Tree by Robin Benway (2017) - This novel won the 2017 National Book Award winner for young people's literature; and, I applaud its selection (even when it was up against The Hate U Give which I also loved). I was completely charmed and challenged by this completely moving tale of three biological siblings (Joaquin, Maya, Grace) who discover each other as teens. A complex tale of adoption, race, foster care, teen life, bullying, what makes a family, and love. Definitely one of my favorite books of the year for adults or kids. Enjoy.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2017) - Sometimes it takes a work of fiction to give life to current events. And sometimes it takes a book for children to give all of us a starting point for conversations about difficult issues. Ms. Thomas has done all of us a service by producing this fresh, enlightening, and spectacular National Book Award Finalist book about the black lives lost at the hands of the police every year in the USA. Starr Carter, the teen she created to put faces on the statistics, straddles two worlds -- that of her poor black neighborhood and that of her exclusive prep school on the other side of town. She believes she is doing a pretty good job managing the differing realities of her life until she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend by a police officer. As the jacket description of this book stated, The Hate U Give “addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty". Just as importantly, it is a great story, with fully formed characters who will haunt you, told by a gifted author. Please read this one!
Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess (2017) - Mr. Alexander does it again, with help this time from Ms. Hess; I truly love the books this man creates. Blade's father, an ageing rock star reacted to the death of Blade's mom with an everlasting and highly dysfunctional descent into addiction and absentee parenting. As the story unfolds, Blade deals with high school graduation, his father's inability to stay sober, his sister's delusions of grandeur, the fact the love of his life has broken his heart, and a recent revelation he is adopted, by escaping to Ghana to find the birth mother he didn't even know he missed. This is a terrific tale of music, maturing, love, adoption, and finding your way. It is all told in Mr. Alexander's usual sparse, but effecting poetic style (with an added bonus of a great soundtrack).
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (2013) - Ms. Kent's newest novel - The Good People - reminded us of how much we liked her first one. This first novel is based upon the true story of Agnes, the last woman executed in Iceland. In it, Ms. Kent vividly renders Agnes’s life from the point where she is sent to an isolated farm to await execution for killing her former master (or did she?). Be careful though, reading this may inspire some wanderlust because of the way Ms. Kent makes Iceland a character in a vast array of memorable people Agnes encounters. Enjoy. Note, this was also reviewed in our previous post "Books to Inspire Your Summer Travels".
Unbelievable by Katy Tur (2017) - An up front and personal account of the 2016 presidential race from the perspective of a MSNBC and MBC reporter following Trump from the time when everyone thought his candidacy was a long shot all the way through his election. As Jill Abramson said in a New York Times book review - "Compelling... this book couldn't be more timely."
Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin (2017) - For those of us who lived through the Bill Clinton sexual relations intern scandal, this book will seem familiar. What might not seem so familiar is the humor and candor about society's standards contained in this light novel about how decisions we make when we are young have implications. Also reviewed during our recent Pages in the Pub.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (2016) - Funny, sad, and amazingly moving memoir about growing up a biracial child in South Africa during and just after Apartheid. Mr. Noah is insightful and honest as he dissects his life and his choices and the choices that were made for him. Each chapter begins with an overview of life in South Africa that relates to the subsequent story from his own life. Note - this is also a great audio book.
Patina by Jason Reynolds (2017) - A teenaged girl learns a lot about life's unfair experiences, and how family can help you manage it all. We learn to love her family and how great track stars are made.
The Best Man by Richard Peck (2016) - This may be the best book I've read all year. Mr. Peck's superb sense of humor and his ability to remember what it is like to be a kid make this tale a memorable, smile-inducing novel. Somehow, without preaching, he manages to cover gay marriage, death, divorce, war, national guard service, reconciliation, bullying, bad teachers, social media, hormones, school lunches, middle school, the British Empire, and the Cubs, all in a tale about being a kid in the 21st Century. Read it today; no matter your age, you will not be sorry.
The Wolf, The Duck, and The Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (2017) - A SUPERBLY fun tale of interspecies cooperation and making the best of a situation. Bonus -- great illustrations by award winning Jon Klassen. Also reviewed during our recent Pages in the Pub.
7 Ate 9 by Tara Lazar (2017) - This book is proof that good puns are never done. It is a clever Noir picture book (who knew there was such a thing) playing on a classic preschool joke/pun. Also reviewed during our recent Pages in the Pub.
Just a reminder that most bookstores also stock Jigsaw Puzzles, board games, card games, and literary gifts like socks or necklaces.