Giving a book is an incredible thing. It doesn’t have to be condescending (I read this book because I’m so well-read, so you should be more well-read too). In fact, it’s a great way to show you’re thinking deeply about someone else and care sincerely about his/her/their interests; it isn’t necessary that you’ve read the book yourself first. However, suggesting you both read it and then get together to talk about it is like a DOUBLE gift!
Also, before you read my list, read 10 Tips for Giving Book Gifts (so that you don’t make any egregious mistakes!).
For people who love social justice
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – Coates’s rumination on being (and surviving as) a black man in America is required reading. For anyone interested in identity politics, this will both inspire and devastate you.
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay – One of the best books of 2014, this book of essays provides page-turning critiques of pop culture and media from one of the most forward-thinking women alive today.
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Adichie – A small text, this is something a person could read in one sitting. It’s the transcript from Adichie’s Ted Talk , and it’s an absolutely stunning little book. Plus, I wish we could all be as cool as Sweden.
For people who love dystopia
- Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – This book would be an excellent gift for the Hunger Games fan in your life. Beautiful world-building, it’s an interesting twist on Suzanne Collins’s trilogy from a few years back.
- Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – More fantasy than dystopia, this book explores nuanced and sophisticated story-telling regarding complex power dynamics all surrounding a really well-written love story. Like, really well-written.
- An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – This book follows the story of a girl spy-turned-slave as she fights to free her brother from the oppressive regime; she meets and falls for a high-ranking soldier for the empire who has rebellious ambitions. It’s so suspenseful that it’s borderline stressful. This is for action fans.
For people who love history
- The Wright Brothers by David McCullough – If you know someone who has read McCullough’s previous projects (namely John Adams or or 1776), I’ve heard this is an awesome one to listen to on audiobook.
- Dead Wake by Erik Larson – I actually think all of Larson’s book in hardcover would be an awesome gift for someone you really like because he is universally acknowledged as one of the best non-fiction writers alive today. This is about the sinking of the Lusitania, which is what provoked the US to get involved in WWI.
- Never Surrender: Winston Churchill and Britain’s Decision to Fight Nazi Germany in the Fateful Summer of 1940 by John Kelly – I’ve heard about this book from a few different places, and it boasts a 4.41 rating on Goodreads. A very narrow time in the WWII history, I’ve heard this is a gripping account that any history buff would enjoy.
For people who love to laugh
- Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling – I think Kaling’s books are great gifts because they are endless discussion fodder for people who are close friends. I also think they are re-readable, which isn’t something I’d say about Bossypants or Yes Please.
- You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day – A charming, earnest writer, she showcases her rags-to-riches story in a very engaging way. An honest and enjoyable read.
- Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers by Nick Offerman – Having only skimmed this, I was impressed with the Americans he chose to include in this piece. What I did read made me laugh out loud.
I have plenty more thoughts on books I’ve read this year (especially romance, young adult, middle grade, and picture books). Here are two more links if you’re interested in other ideas: