It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...
Book Gifts for everyone
For your brother (14+ year old) - Maus by Art Spiegelman, The Twelve by Stuart Neville - The first is about a son composing his father's memories from the Second World War. Through the graphic form of the book, Spiegelman powerfully captures the atrocities of the war and its everlasting impact of the survivors. Not an average read, but if you want to give your brother something slightly educative, get him this one (plus, if your brother, like mine, spends a lot of time playing video games, the form of Maus should be 'easy' to follow as it looks like a comic book). The Twelve tells a story of a former hitman, who decides to revenge those he killed during the Northern Irish Troubles. It might sound bloody, but the plot is interesting and I finished the book, despite its length, within three days.
For your sister (10+ year old) - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare - Once again, if you are looking for something educative when buying a book for your sister, try The Book Thief. The plot is about a young girl living during the Second World War, playing a dangerous game while saving books and hiding a Jewish boy from the Nazis. I have never read anything from Cassandra Clare as I am not a massive fan of teen fiction (when I was a teenager I used to adore Harry Potter or Eragon), however, both of my younger sisters love everything Clare produces, so I would recommend it to you as well.
(If you have older siblings (17+), have a look on the list towards the end of the article for some reading tips based on their preferences.)
For your mom - A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena, On Beauty by Zadie Smith, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, Making it up as I Go Along by Marian Keyes - If you think it is difficult to buy a book for your mom, try one of these listed above. The first one is a thriller, so a perfect present if your mom likes crime fiction. On Beauty depicts an everyday family life with all its beauty (this is my favourite book by Smith), Still Alice tells a story of a mother, wife and successful Harvard professor finding out that she has early stage of Alzheimer's disease. And when it comes to Marian Keyes, my stepmom loves everything published by her, so have a look on her books and choose one - the one I am mentioning here is a collection of stories and funny mediations on everyday life.
For your dad - audiobook by Jo Nesbø, Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson, The Return by Hisham Matar - My dad spends a lot of time driving in his car, so last year I gave him audiobooks he can listen to while going to work. Try Nesbø's Snowman or Jonas Jonasson's Hitman Anders (my dad loves this one and apparently was laughing outload while listening to it). But if you think your dad would prefer something more serious, give him The Return, a novel about a father-son relationship destroyed by Gaddafi's regime in Libya.
For your grandmother - The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater - The Paris Wife witnesses the life of Hemingway's first spouse and what it was like living with one of the most celebrated writers of the 20th century. If your grandma likes cooking, get her Slater's cookbook and collection of winter stories and traditions. It is heart-warming with all its little details and anecdotes (but find out more about it here).
For your grandfather - Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks, Today We Die a Little by Richard Askwith - A collection of short stories by Tom Hanks is actually a perfect book gift for anyone, who does not have time to read a whole novel right now, but rather a story or two before going to bed. Nevertheless, I think that especially your grandfather could enjoy it for Hanks's writing style and variety of characters and topics he depicts in Uncommon Type. Today We Die a Little is a biography of Czech runner and Olympic medal winner, Emil Zátopek. Askwith's book is interesting and insightful as it depicts the life during communist regime in former Czechoslovakia (but never boring, which I was slightly afraid of when opening the book for the first time).
For your (boy/girl) friend or sibling who:
- Lives abroad - The Lonely City by Olivia Laing - The author explores the beauty of New York and living alone by talking about known or less known artists and the family backgrounds that let them to create their masterpieces. From my personal experience, this book was interesting as I was reading it while doing my internship in London, feeling sometimes lonely. It perfectly depicts the art of living by yourself in a new city.
- Likes reading heart-breaking stories - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - I got this book from my friend and was almost crying towards the end of reading it! About a friendship, betrayal, dictatorship and love. It might sound like a cliché, but believe me, it is not what it sounds like.
- Is a bookworm - How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster - If your friend is a bookgeek, constantly reading and talking about books, give him this little guide on how to understand literature from a whole new point of view. It does not mean that he will stop talking about his current read to you, but will definitely learn something from this one.
- Enjoys big, fat, long-to-read books - A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara - I mentioned the book already here, so to sum it up, the story of four college friends starting their new lives in New York is perfect for anyone, who does not get scared when he comes across a book with more than 500 pages.
- Likes Greek tragedy and myths - House of Names by Colm Tóibín - My favourite writer released a new book, this time retelling a story of Electra, Orestes and their twisted family. Original, gripping, ideal for anyone who enjoys Greek mythology.
- Prefers rather unusual books - Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders - This is nothing like you have ever read. A story full of ghosts, mentioning President Lincoln's son and the Civil War. This book should make happy anyone, who is looking for a rather unconventional read.
- Wants to learn something while reading - Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari - For those who follow me on Instagram, it should be no surprise that I am mentioning this title. Harari's writing style is funny, interesting, educative and not at all boring (as sometimes history text books can be). If your friend wants to learn some new facts from the humankind history and not fall asleep, reach for this 'brief' book.
- Enjoys classics but is looking for something published recently - Mrs Osmond by John Banville - If your friend is looking for something that seems like being written back in the 19th century, although it was published recently, get him Mrs Osmond, a re-imagining of Henry James's famous ambiguous ending of his novel The Portrait of a Lady. Not always easy to follow because of its long sentences, but the beauty of the book will easily get your friend into it.
- Loves beautiful book covers - anything by either Vintage Classics (like Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall) or Penguin Classics (like James Joyce's collection of stories Dubliners) - I already got two same titles twice (Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by the Brontë sisters) just because I liked their covers so much.
- Feels like diving into a powerful story - Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - I think that if I had to choose only one book that has influenced me the most in 2017 (but please, never ask me to actually do that), it would be this one. The novel reflects on politics, race, money, friendship, love. I do not feel adequately trying to describe it. So buy one copy to your friend and one to yourself and you will both enjoy it.
- Is not afraid to read about taboos, like alcoholism - The Outrun by Amy Liptrot - I just finished Liptrot's debut and I am still not over the story depicting her fight with alcoholism. I went through different stages while reading it, feeling unhappy, uncomfortable, and still wanting to find out more and more. It is not a typical book with cliché ending, but rather a human story about how sometimes you can find yourself completely lost and the only way of getting back on track is to go to live on an isolated island in Scotland. Beautiful use of language and depictions of nature (but I will say more in the December Atelier).