Canadian Thanksgiving - check. Halloween - check. American Thanksgiving - check. That means...
It must be Christmas!
For those of you who have a book worm on your list, or, more likely based on statistics, you are buying someone their one or two books for the next year, I have some suggestions to help get you started. (I've linked to reviews where I have them, to give you more info)
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: Yep, this was on here last year. Yep, it will be here again in 2014. God bless you, Peter Jackson, and your trilogy-ing ways.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: People flipped their shit for Gatsby this year, what with the Baz Luhrmannification and all. Just make sure that you don't miss the original!
The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: I read all three of these books in roughly 48 hours. It messed up my life. It was also an amazing reading experience. Before you see the (surprisingly) great adaptations, read the books.
World War Z by Max Brooks: The author is Mel Brooks' son and there are zombies. Do you really need any more info?
A few books that are in the same spirit as some of the tube's biggest hits:
Life is Meals by James & Kay Salter: For the Food Network lovers on your list
The Passage by Justin Cronin: It's not zombies, but this post-apocalyptic opus (part one of three) is a sure winner for fans of The Walking Dead
Gulp by Mary Roach: This intimate exploration of the digestive tract, described with Mary Roach's trademark humor, is a great gross-out read for people who watch any number of the forensic crime shows on TV
Tampa by Alyssa Nutting: Whew - this book is not for everyone. Depicting pedophilia from the prospective of a woman on the hunt for her next victim, Tampa will shed new light on icky-ness for those who love Law & Order SVU or Criminal Minds
How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran: A smart and funny memoir for ladies who dig The Mindy Project
It seems like dear ol' Dad is always one of the hardest people to buy for. You ask him what he wants and he says... nothing. Thank you very much. So here's a few reads that will get the job done:
Provence, 1970 by Luke Barr: For the foodie Dad
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach: For the science nerd Dad
Walking With Jack by Don J. Snyder: For the golfing Dad
Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes: For the 'Nam Dad
For History Nerds:
There are just so many of us history geeks out there (me, your uncle Sal, your great aunt Sissy...) that I thought I'd call out some options for that contingent...
Without God, Without Creed by James Turner: An intellectual history that explores how non-belief became a viable option for Americans... from the Reformation and to the peak of naturalism in the 19th century, Turner demonstrates how our objective epistemology was surgically removed from our subjective epistemology. Fascinating!
Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy by John Julius Norwich: Norwich dives into the nitty-gritty of papal politics. As you might expect, things get complicated real quick...
Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe by Anne Applebaum: An exploration of the Cold War years from the other side of the curtain
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro: My favorite novel of all time is also an incredible example of the historical novel. Set in a rural English estate in the 1930s through the 1950s, Ishiguro explores class dynamics, German sympathizers, and the ethics of our working life in a one beautiful, perfect narrative.
For Jesus People:
Since I'm studying theology, it would be wrong if I didn't include a few of these...
Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer: READ THIS BOOK. Seriously. Go. I'll wait.
Jesus Through the Centuries by Jaroslav Pelikan: A fantastic (and very devotional) look at church history. Pelikan organizes the chapters by various aspects of Jesus that Christians have emphasized at different historical moments (i.e. Jesus the Liberator, Jesus the Monk Who Ruled the World, etc.)
Letters to Malcolm by C.S. Lewis: My favorite book and a wonderful guide to prayer
The New Testament and the People of God by N.T. Wright: One of the most important works on the nascent church and the Palestinian Jewish culture that birthed it
Wellsprings by Anthony de Mello: A great collection of spiritual exercises from a Jesuit- I've found myself whipping this out a lot for devotionals that I've led this term
A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor: This is a new book that's on my Christmas list - it is O'Connor's personal prayer journal from when she was in university.
For Book People:
I'm a book person. You may have other book people in your life. And there's nothing that book people love more than books about books.
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe: For the book person who wants a good cry over the power of the written word to bring people together
An Experiment in Criticism by C.S. Lewis: For the book person who's wrestling with the question of what Good Literature even is
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion: For the book person who loves beautiful prose
The Habit of Being by Flannery O'Connor: For the book person who wants to spend some time with a funny, smart author through their correspondence
Books by Charlie Hill: For the book person who wants to snigger at the state of publishing (another on my Christmas list)
For Classics People:
Because I've had classics on the brain lately, I thought I would pass some classics love around and remind you that a book doesn't have to be from the last few years to be a great gift
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins: For the classics lover who likes their villains mustache-twirling and their heroines spunky
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins: For the classics lover who likes a good caper (I'm in the middle of this now and it is great!)
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky: For the classics lover who loves big, fancy Russian novels
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh: For the classics lover who loves big, fancy English estates
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym: For the classics lover who has gone through all their Jane Austen and wants more
If you're just looking for a fun, well written fiction book, here are a few titles that I think have pretty broad appeal across taste, age, and gender...
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling: rural England + local politics + sudden death
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: messy marriage + sudden disappearance + twisty twists
The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones: upper crusty Brits + early 20th century + sudden nearby train crash
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy: existential angst + New Orleans + beautiful prose
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson: Nazis + reincarnation + early 20th century Brits
Tenth of December by George Saunders: short stories + offbeat settings + beautiful prose
For White Elephant:
Or Yankee Swap, or Dirty Santa, or whatever you call it...
Since last year we went with Fifty Shades of Grey, how about:
Ravished by the Triceratops by Christie Sims (there is a whole new romance genre about women and dinosaurs... what in the #$%*!? But I think you can safely bet you will win for craziest gift with any of these titles)
Those are my Christmas picks- happy present buying!