Santa’s book bag

Suggested gifts for the reader on your Christmas list

Tessa Bright Wildsmith

I love giving books as gifts. I love receiving books as gifts. Some could call it an addiction, and they would probably be right. Still, it’s a healthy addiction.

When Christmas rolls around, I always have a ready answer to the inevitable “What do you want?”

“Check my wish list. There are tons of books on there that I want to read.” Invariably the response is “A book? I don’t want to buy you a book. That’s a horrible gift.”

I am telling you that if you have a book lover or avid reader on your gift list, a book is a great gift. Really. What better gift is there than to allow someone to be pulled into a different world, swept off on some far-reaching adventure or to read something so heartfelt and moving that it stays with them for the rest of the year? I can’t think of anything better.

For those procrastinators out there who are still looking for those last minute gifts, here’s a list of my top 10 book suggestions to give this holiday season. Some I read this year, some in years past. They range in genre so I’m sure you can find something for the book lover on your list. Trust me. They’ll love it.

1. “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield

I love this book. It is truly a book for book lovers. In fact, I’ve given this book as a gift on more than one occasion. The power of a good story and the love of books are the themes throughout the entire novel. Setterfield’s writing is incredible. She pulls you into a gothic fictional world you don’t ever want to leave. It’s a good, mysterious ghost story without all the paranormal activity.

2. “The Passage” by Justin Cronan

This book is big, but it’s worth every minute you’ll spend reading it. This is the first book in a trilogy about the aftermath of a military medical experiment gone very wrong. Cronan pulls you into a world that is familiar and yet foreign at the same time. He takes you on a journey with a group of people struggling to survive after the world falls apart. Whether you like science fiction or not, you’ll love “The Passage.”

3. “In The Woods” by Tana French

Part character study, party crime thriller, “In the Woods” was the debut novel for French and left readers eager for more. She has a knack for slowly building the intensity until it boils over and rushes over you. If that book lover in your life has been extra good this year, I would suggest getting all three in the series including “The Likeness” and her newest novel, “Faithful Place.”

4. “Fingersmith” by Sarah Waters

I raved about this book when I read it. I raved to everyone I knew. I don’t think I stopped talking about it for several months. I’m not typically a fan of period novels, but this one was different. Waters strings together drama and emotion effortlessly, and twists and turns the story with surprises you’ll never see coming. This is a great book for anyone who likes a good mystery or suspense.

5. “Child 44” by Tom Rob Smith

Set in Stalin-era Soviet Union, this book is a hard look at a socialist state where no one is safe even though they are supposed to be living in an utopian society. What do you do when there is a serial killer on the loose, but no one will acknowledge it? How do you stop the killing? “Child 44” is Smith’s debut novel, and he definitely made a name for himself. He mixes mystery, crime and emotion into a very unique, thrilling story.

6. “Ordinary Heroes” by Scott Turow

This book came as a surprise to me. I had heard of Scott Turow as a crime writer but had never read any of his books. This one is different from the typical court procedural novel for Turow. It focuses on a man who is reading his father’s journal, trying to find out why he was court martialed during WWII and why his son knew nothing about it. “Ordinary Heroes” is heartbreaking, moving and intense. It will stay with you long after you put it down.

7. “Bloodroot” by Amy Greene

Greene is an author from East Tennessee. She was born and raised in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, so when she writes about Appalachia, the mountains and the heritage of its people, you know she’s being authentic. Her passion and love for this area bleeds through as she follows three different story lines from the Great Depression to present day. Full of vivid imagery and soothing prose, it’s a beautiful look at the place we are all lucky enough to call home.

8. “A Gate At The Stairs” by Lorrie Moore

“A Gate At The Stairs” follows the story of a young girl who’s freshly off to college - her mind full of literature and ideas. She takes a job as a nanny to a couple who have recently adopted a daughter. This book is not thrilling or suspenseful, but I still had a hard time putting it down. Moore’s writing is some of the best I’ve ever read. She can be entertaining and make the reader feel so much emotion with every line. I laughed, I cried, I got mad, all before I ever hit the last page. Moore is definitely worth reading.

9. “Someone Knows my Name” by Lawrence Hill

A heart-wrenching story of one woman’s struggle to survive her life as a slave. Hill takes us along from the girl’s kidnapping as a child and her life-long journey as she travels on a boat to America, gets sold from owner to owner, lives free in New Brunswick, travels back to Africa and eventually settles in London. Her perseverance and will power, not only to survive but to have a real life, is moving and inspiring and heartbreaking. Everyone should read this book.

10. “The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death” by Charlie Huston

I’ve included this on my list for all those readers who enjoy a good laugh. Huston is well known for his funny, if graphic, writing. He can make you laugh and then feel sick to your stomach in the same paragraph. This one is guaranteed to make you laugh, but you probably won’t want to explain what is so funny to anyone else. If you know someone with a dark sense of humor, they will love this book.

© 2010 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 1

Francene writes:

Hello avid readers, I too enjoy giving and receiving books. This Christmas I'm recommending a book that I found very thought provoking and an interesting read. The title of this book is "I Am Not A Slave", by Eugene LaCorbiniere. The title is so appropriate for the times we live in. We are all slaves to something and finding out what that is can be very life changing.