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Have a Very Literary Christmas?

Image courtesy of The Independent

By Noelia Veras

Neil Gaiman once said that “books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!” This year for Christmas, you should consider getting your friends and families books for them to enjoy. Here is a comprehensive list of what books to get the people in your life. 

For Mom

  1. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Pachinko is a generational tale about a Korean family that begins with Sunja in the early 1900s. The book portrays many different mothers and their struggles along with their triumphs for themselves and their families. 

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama

This book is a memoir following Michelle Obama’s life and it touches on her role as a mother and successful woman. 

  1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing follows a young girl named Kya who is abandoned by and neglected by many of her family members from a very early age. Kya is resilient and grows from being a lost child to a successful woman. 

For Dad

  1. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

This is a collection of short stories about American soldiers fighting during the Vietnam War. The book is semi-autobiographical and grounded in O’Brien’s shock upon seeing how little people cared about those who have served. The book is full of moving stories about friendship, love, and family from the perspective of a man who is overlooked by society.

  1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

This is a non-chronological book following different characters during the Second World war. The book is fun and heartbreaking, and reading it feels like trying to solve a puzzle while rooting for the friendships among the men who risk their lives to fight in war.

  1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is ultimately about friendship and being misunderstood. This book highlights the bonds between men in a mental institution and how they survive because of each other in the face of extreme adversity.

For an older sibling

  1. Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe is a retelling of the life of the Ancient Greek witch of the same name. The book is invigorating and entertaining, managing to take The Odyssey, which many people had to read in high school and breathe new life into it with contemporary themes. Older siblings will probably recognize the source material and would enjoy this retelling because of its unique perspective that blends the ancient story with a modern spin and sheds new light on Circe as a multifaceted, misunderstood figure.

  1. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This book is a fun look into the life of a fictional Hollywood starlet. The story is full of yearning and the characters are distinctly flawed but it is easy to care for them. This book is packed with characters and twists and turns, but it’s still a quick read and an excellent choice for older siblings who may not have a lot of time because they are full-time students or are busy with full-time jobs and their own families.

  1. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet

Another fairly quick read that is packed with meaning and many different stories. The book follows a pair of biracial twins who go their separate ways in life. One twin continues to live her life as a partially Black and partially white biracial woman, while the other chooses to pass for white. The story is generational and a unique tale that is perfect for older siblings looking for a more serious and critically acclaimed novel that was recently released.

For your friends 

  1. Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

Conversations with Friends is focused on two friends as they enter romantic relationships and navigate their own relationship and early twenties. The book is about friendship and it speaks honestly about the miscommunication and struggles that friends face.

  1. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottesa Moshfegh

This is the weirdest book ever and I am going to refrain from even talking about the actual plot because it is wild. For this reason alone, give it to your friend and confuse them.

  1. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This book is written as if it were a compilation of interview transcripts of a fictional band that recounts the reasons they broke up and stories about the height of their friendships. There are dramatic relationships and talks of substance abuse, but it still maintains a fairly light tone. The story is loosely based on Fleetwood Mac and it is such a great and fun read to talk about and share with a friend.

For a teenager 

  1. Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston 

Red White and Royal Blue is an ensemble story about the fictional crossover of teens who live in the White House and teens who live in Buckingham Palace. From romantic relationships to good and true friendships, the book has fairy tale elements to it and is a fun swoon-worthy story perfect for the angsty teen that needs a good heartwarming story in their life.

  1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I think every young person should read this book. It is uplifting and wholesome and puts optimism at the forefront of the tale. This book is capable of completely changing people’s lives and it is the one book that is applicable to every single category in this list, but it would be best to give it to teens because they are in such a formative part of their lives.

  1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One is an imaginative and adventure-filled story and it would be great for teens because of its dystopian genre and its incorporation of technology and video games.

For a significant other 

  1. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

This is another book that could fit most of these categories, but it is a quick and fun memoir that will spark up an excellent conversation between you and your significant other and make you both laugh.

  1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

This book is marked by longing and recounts the very sweet love story between Achilles and Patroclus. This is by the same author of Circe and she is again retelling an Ancient Greek story here in a fun new way.

  1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude has on multiple occasions been called one of the greatest books of all time. I think it would be an excellent gift to give a significant other because it is a very special book with such an unbelievable story that will deeply move your partner and possibly change their life. 

With books being so accessible, they are such a great idea for a gift. Giving someone a story is an invaluable and often overlooked present that your loved ones could cherish forever. A great website for cheap, lightly used books is ThriftBooks.com or the trusty old Amazon.com. With all this being said, happy reading this Christmas season to you and your loved ones!

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