I don’t know about you, but December really crept up on me this year, and I once again have failed to start my Christmas shopping early.
However I never panic, because my go to Christmas gift always includes at least one book for each person on my list and I like to think I’m a bit of a book expert. Knowing the personality of the people you are buying for is a great place to start, and gets much easier if they are readers too. But don’t worry, I even have some suggestions for any non-readers on your list, maybe this holiday season you can convince them to join the literary trend. I’m not talking about e-books in this instance, I’m specifically referring to hard copies, real printed and bound books, with that oh so good, new book smell.
Here’s to keeping the publishing industry alive single-handed!
So check out the fail proof list of titles I’ve prepared below, for all of those hard to buy for members of your inner circle. There is literally (no pun intended) a book for everyone.
Non-fiction is always a great genre for anyone on your list whom you aren’t sure loves to read as much as you do. Sure they may not always love hunkering down with a novel, but they still have a distinct appreciation for the written word. This season, Bruce Springsteen has published a memoir, Born to Run which takes the reader on a journey from his early days in Freehold, New Jersey, onwards to the first moment he realized he wanted to be a singer/songwriter. A story of hard work, dedication and the willingness to believe in your dreams, this page turner is a must-read for every fan of Springsteen, or those on your list who remain big dreamers at heart.
Worried they are not into the rock or pop genres? Don’t worry, there is also a fabulous new book that has just been released by renowned author Huruki Murakami, entitled Absolutely on Music: Conversations. Murukami is perhaps one of my favourite writers and is best known for his titles like IQ84 and Norwegian Wood all of which are fiction. A rare treat then, is this book as it is one of his few non-fiction works. In this piece, Murukami writes about his conversation with his friend and conductor Seiji Ozawa, giving the reader an intimate view into the minds of both artists and their views on the nature of music creation and writing.
I’m sure there are a few individuals on your list who are avid readers of Danielle Steele or Nora Roberts, but maybe it’s time to use this holiday season to help them branch out and expand their tastes. They might even enjoy the surprise! One of my top picks in this genre is What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. It melds both suspense and romance while showcasing a dynamic cast of characters. Poor Alice has suffered a serious case of amnesia and wakes up thinking she is 20 instead of her actual age, which is 40. Not to mention that she is unaware that she is the mother of three children, and that she has become some sort of supermom, intent on working out with her trainer, and possibly getting divorced? The complexities surrounding the life of a middle age woman who suddenly thinks she is 20 again and can’t believe she would ever fall out of love with her husband, are conveyed superbly in this fast moving plot. The reader finds themselves cheering for the two versions of Alice, the one before her amnesia and the one after.
I have many friends who gladly fall into this category myself included. One of my picks for this season is also a current pick on Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf. If you don’t know Emma Watson, just think Hermione from the Harry Potter films. She is also a successful actress and current UN Ambassador for the HeforShe Campaign promoting gender equality worldwide. Watson started her own book club this year, called Our Shared Shelf on Goodreads. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you must! This month’s pick is a perfect gift for that politically savvy and feminist activist on your list, Mom&Me&Mom by Maya Angelou. Angelou published this book just one year before her death in 2013, and it tells the story of her relationship with her mother who abandoned her as a young child, but who has also contributed to and influenced her feminist perspective.
Whether you have an actual teen to buy for or just a friend who has an affinity for YA fiction, this book is not only a great read but it’s also Canadian. When Everything Feels Like the Movies, by Raziel Reid is a Governor General Literary Award winner, and tells the tale of Jude, a queer teenager struggling to find a place in the fluctuating realm of adolescence alongside his best friend Angela. Also nominated for Canada Reads, 2016 this short length book is the perfect reading material for curling up with a cup of tea and seeing the world from another’s vast and imaginative perspective.
The Theatre Buff
I am of the opinion that plays are not read enough! Indeed they are scripted to appear on stage, but there are times when plays should also be read and absorbed first as literature and second as a live performance. One of my favourite plays and also another nod to Canadian talent, is Scorched by Wadji Mouawad. In this theatrical piece of literature two siblings, twins in fact, go in search of their mother’s past and their origins by visiting the Middle East. The play is tumultuous with countless plot twists, heart breaking scenes of the atrocities of war and a final surprising and somewhat tragic ending. But it is all done in an effort to convey the horror of war and it’s far reaching and cascading effects on humanity.
I’m sure there are definitely those individuals on your list who don’t really like to read, at all. I know a few of these too, but sometimes, getting them a piece of literature they can ease into, makes them feel far less daunted then when they are faced with a 300 page novel. Who knows, maybe you will convince them to be an avid reader like you! My top picks for any non-reader span two genres, poetry and the graphic novel.
Tell: Poems from Girlhood, is a recent Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted nominee by Soraya Peerbaye. The poems by Peerbaye centre around the 1997 murder of 14 year old Reena Virk, who was murdered by fellow teenagers in British Columbia. The poems are chilling in their detail, and yet attempt to offer the reader a few moments to reflect on such senseless violence and the horror, the culprits who are exceptionally young and somewhat lacking in remorse, and the fact that this was largely also a hate crime, spurred on by racism. The poems are vivid in their imagery, and depict a master poet who has a way with words.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a fabulous graphic novel, and was released a few years ago as a film as well, perfect for those who want to see the visual side of the work on the big screen. Any non-readers will find this book compelling, easy to follow, and wonderfully illustrated. The protagonist takes the reader on a journey to the world of Iran, her world, prior to the revolution in 1979 and shortly after it has taken place, all from the perspective of a child. The changes in society are drastic, and consistent with most revolutionary regimes. Yet they still jar the reader with the evident lack of freedoms that begin to trickle into daily life, a life that was once recognizable and is no longer. A great gift for anyone too, who is interested in the history of the Middle East or intrigued by political upheavals.
I hope these suggestions will prove helpful in your holiday frenzy, and I would LOVE to know what book you are hoping to see under the tree with your name on it, let me know in the comments!