Not the classy book list you maybe got from somebody else
Herewith, my vaguely annual-ish sort of list of books to give and get—real books, not “gift books” or “big literary books people want to have read” or cookbooks. NOT that I don’t love cookbooks. This is just not that.
The rules: These are books I’ve read and enjoyed and that I think have broad appeal. If your giftee likes this TYPE of book, this is a solid bet, and even if it’s not their genre it’s still a solid bet, making these perfect for what I think of as “book club gifts”—as in, I give multiple copies to family members and we all read. The goal is a book to read in the afternoon, not a book your giftee now knows you think they should have read. (I wrote a book called How to Be a Happier Parent. It’s very good! DO NOT GIVE IT AS A GIFT as a pointed message to the helicopter/snowplow/insert-transportation-metaphor-here parents in your life.)
I’ve tried to skew paperback (there are exceptions) and some might even be sitting in your local used bookstore looking for new homes. If you’d like to print this out and take it with you, here you go! One page, short and sweet.
The Murder of Mr. Wickham, Claudia Gray: Austen fans, cozy mystery readers
Back in a Spell, Lana Harper: Teens and emerging adults with a goth outlook
Small World, Laura Zigman: Sisters, mothers and mothers-in-law, Boston types
Black Cake, Charmaine Wilkerson: Sisters, mothers and mothers-in-law, California types
Starter Villain, John Scalzi: Everyone but especially snarky Marvel fans
Murderbot, Martha Wells: Everyone but especially introverts and Trekkies
Same Time Next Summer, Annabel Monaghan: Hallmark movie loving friends and fam.
The Black Witch, Laurie Forest: Anyone who re-reads Harry Potter every year
The Road to Roswell, Connie Willis: Friends who love Dr. Who and miss The X Files.
Ink Blood Sister Scribe, Emma Törzs: the book your friend who loves to read missed
Kiss the Girl, Zoraida Córdova: For the Swiftie/TikTok fiend in your life
Assistant to the Villain, Hannah Nicole Maehrer: For fans of The Princess Bride, movie or book.
Going Infinite, Michael Lewis: True Crime but make it The Social Network meets Wall Street
The Other Bennet Sister, Janice Hadlow: For the Austen fan who doesn’t want a twist
The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch, Melinda Taub: for the snarky goth Austen fan
The Guncle, Steven Rowley: Everyone except maybe your homophobic uncle. Auntie Mame, but make it a gay, not tragically dead Matthew Perry.
A Star is Bored, Byron Lane: For the celebrity obsessed, a fictionalized version of life as Carrie Fisher’s assistant.