Posted November 24, 2014 by in Awesome Books

Holiday Books Gift Guide, Part 1

‘Tis the season. That’s right; the holidays are upon us. Malls are packed. Highways are congested. Crowds are gathering at every corner. Many people are after the same thing: the perfect gift. Trying to figure out what to get Uncle Cecil might be a tough call, but I’m here to help. Books are perfect gifts, and I think that I can help you with your toughest relatives, even if you have one who doesn’t like to read.  Over the next two weeks, I’ll be giving you a few suggestions about which book to get for the different people on your shopping list. Let’s get to it:

Dad (or a close uncle):


Dads tend to like things that have action and violence, but I think they also reserve a spot in their hearts for old-fashioned emotions. I know just the book. Give your father Phil Klay’s Redeployment. It just won the National Book Award, and it’s sure to become a modern classic. The book is a collection of 12 short stories about the Iraq (and Afghanistan) War. It’s gritty, but it’s also quiet when it needs to be. Redeployment is a book about survival and courage. Go ahead and buy it. You won’t regret it and neither will your dad.

Mom (or a good female friend):


Did your mom talk for days about The Secret Life of Bees? What about The Help? There’s a good chance that she did. Even if she didn’t, stay with me. I’m on to something. Sue Monk Kidd, the author of Bees, is back with a new novel, and it’s a doozy. The Invention of Wings is set in 19th-century South Carolina. The story involves a girl named Sarah, who is very much a progressive, and Handful, a young black girl. Although Sarah hates slavery, she receives Handful as a birthday present. Sarah goes to great lengths to prove that no one should hold possession of another human being’s life. Handful and her family will make you laugh—and cry. Sarah’s will do the same. The ending is perfectly sentimental, but it’s never overdone.

Sibling (or close friend):


Don’t we all fight with our brothers, sisters, and friends? People are not perfect, and Nickolas Butler’s debut novel examines the struggles of all kinds of individuals. There are no grand stylistic achievements, and nothing here is really new. Shotgun Lovesongs is an old-school narrative, which is all it needs to be. It’s about friends. It’s about love. It’s about dreams. Butler’s novel captures the spirit of American dreamers, and it’s something to which anyone can relate. Younger adults will love it, and older ones will embrace it, too.

The youngster (or oldster) who hates books:


Okay, I’ve saved this one for the end. It’s likely that you all have that one family member who boasts about having never read a book in his or her entire lifetime. Maybe this person claims to not enjoy all the fancy language that traditional novels employ. Perhaps he or she prefers to watch stories on television. Whatever the case might be, The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew might be the novel that can turn your non-reading family member into a literary enthusiast. Graphic novels are a good way to rope in new readers because they are fun and different. They tell stories with drawings and words. The Shadow Hero is the origin story of the Green Turtle, a superhero from the heyday of comics. The illustrations are inviting and colorful, and the dialogue pops. It’s a quick read, but it’s one that explores some major themes:  the dreams of individuals, the role of sons, fathers, and mothers, the magic of mythology, and the harm of stereotypes. Go ahead and give that literary doubter a work that they won’t see coming. I bet they won’t be able to put it down.

Will any of our suggestions work? What books are you planning on gifting this holiday season? Sound off in the comments section below. Don’t forget to check back next week, when I’ll give a rundown of what to get the reader who reads all the time.

Bradley Sides

Bradley Sides holds an M.A. in English. His fiction appears in numerous print and online journals. He is a staff writer for Bookkaholic and a frequent contributor to Drunk Monkeys. He resides in Florence, Alabama, with his wife, and he is working on securing a release date for his debut novel, Leaving Today.