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The Bookworm’s Gift Guide!

Finally – your holiday shopping is DONE.

Well, except for… um, and for…. and okay, you’re not really done. Everybody, you included, has that one certain person on the gift list who’s hard to buy for and another certain person who’s really fussy, and a Grandma who has everything. You know who they are, so see if some of these great books might be matches for your list, or books to reward you, Holiday Shopper, at the end of a long, stressful day.


Here’s a book that’ll be passed around this holiday season: “Hazard” by Margaret Combs. It’s the story of family, growing up in the 1950s through the 1970s, and being a sibling of a brother with autism. Perfect for Baby Boomers. Even more perfect if your giftee is a sib. Or wrap it up with “The Glass Eye” by Jeannie Vanasco, a memoir of grief, unsettled questions, mental health, and memories that can haunt…

If there’s someone on your list who loves true-life tales, look for “Granite Mountain” by Brendan McDonough (with Stephan Talty). It’s the story of one man’s inner battle to leave his addiction behind, his new life, and his “brothers,” the brave men who died in an Arizona firestorm.

For the wandering soul on your list this year, “The Drive” by Teresa Bruce will make a great gift. It’s the story of the recreation of a meaningful trip. The original one started and ended in tragedy. Would this one, through Central and South America, turn out better? Wrap it up with “Traveling with Ghosts” by Shannon Leone Fowler, a book about loss and losing one’s self on the road in order to deal with it.

If there’s an art lover-slash-historian on your list, you can’t go wrong with “Leonardo Da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson, a sweeping new bio on the genius artist-creator. It’s an eye-opener (and a door-opener, it’s that big!) Also look for “Elizabeth Taylor: Tribute to a Legend” by Boze Hadleigh, a series of quotations and observations from the people who knew Liz best.

The Child of the Sixties on your list will love opening “Joni: The Anthology,” edited by Barney Hoskyns. Filled with interviews, reviews, memories, and columns about Joni Mitchell, it will also put a smile on the face of anyone who loves music. Wrap it up with “Sensing the Rhythm” by America’s Got Talent finalist Mandy Harvey (and Mark Atteberry) or “Goodnight, L.A.” by Kent Hartman, a book that chronicles the popularity of classic rock, for a tuneful gift.

There are a lot of books out this year that are set in war-torn areas, but your giftee may especially like “A Disappearance in Damascus” by Deborah Campbell. It’s the story of a Syrian refugee who works with the news media as contact-maker, translator, and consultant. She grows close to Campbell, who works for the media, until the refugee is arrested in Campbell’s presence. Courage, friendship, darn good book. Wrap it up with “Daring to Drive” by Manal Al-Sharif, a memoir of a Saudi woman, activism, and the power that comes from it.

If there’s an unabashed advice giver on your list this year, then wrap up “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things” by columnist Amy Dickinson. Part humor, part memoir and yes, part advice, this book will have your giftee smiling. Warp it up with “The Best of Us” by Joyce Maynard, which is another excellent memoir-story of love, loss, and life afterward.

The person on your gift list has always been obsessed with Little House on the Prairie. So why not wrap up “The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder” by Marta McDowell? Absolutely loaded with illustrations, this book takes a look at the land and the landscapes that Wilder would have noted. Bonus: lots of personal photographs.

Here’s a can’t-miss gift for your movie buff: “Makeup Man” by Michael Westmore with Jake Page, foreword by Patrick Stewart. Who’s behind the mask, the monster, and the many ways that movie and TV actors become who they portray? Find out in this lively, photo-filled book… Wrap it up with “Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat” by comedian, actress, and writer Patricia Williams, for a look at another side of fame.


For the giftee who is also a humanitarian, “Finding the Lost Art of Empathy” by Tracy Wilde may make a great holiday better. This book looks at grief, relationships, emotional pain, and how the Bible offers succor when those issues collide.

If there’s someone on your gift list who’s confronted their mortality and is trying to figure out how his or her life will make an impact, wrap up “What Will They Say about You When You Are Gone? Creating a Life of Legacy” by Rabbi Daniel Cohen. This book will help your giftee find the best parts of themselves and their faith, to make it a better 2018.

For the giftee who loves a good scandal, “PTL” by John Wigger will make a great gift. It’s the story of the PTL Club and its founders, Jim and Tammy Bakker, their Heritage USA theme park, their television ministry, and its rise and fall.


If your giftee is fascinated with genealogy and family history, then “The Song and the Silence” by Yvette Johnson will make a great gift. It’s the story of a man who dared to tell the truth about racism, and his granddaughter, who dared to find out how that led to tragedy. Wrap it up with “Shooting Lincoln” by Nicholas J.C. Pistor, the story of the days after Lincoln was assassinated, and the photographers who raced to shoot him again, as well as everyone surrounding him.

For the Anglophile who just happens to be a new parent, “Raising Royalty” by Carolyn Harris might make a great gift. This book takes a look at the parenting ideals, mores, and methods from the past 1,000 years. How fun is that? Wrap it up with “The Wisdom of the Middle Ages” by Michael K. Kellogg, for a great gift for anyone who wants to see how the Other Half lived back when.

If there’s a World War I enthusiast on your gift list this year, you can’t go wrong in wrapping up “Trench Talk / Trench Life: A Beginner’s Guide to World War One” by Fredric Winkowski. Written in small bites of information and filled with line drawings, this book is unique and surprisingly comprehensive. Wrap it up with “The Woman Who Smashed Codes” by Jason Fagone, a book about Elizabeth Smith, who learned the art of code-breaking during World War I and became so good at it that she became crime-solver, WWII spy, and intelligence expert.

Speaking of World War II, your giftee will also want to unwrap “Suzanne’s Children: A Daring Rescue in Nazi Paris” by Anne Nelson. It’s the story of courage, risk, and the saving of Jewish children, right beneath Nazi noses.

For the giftee who loves pop culture as well as history, “Lady Liberty” by Luce Lebart and Sam Stourdze will be a welcome thing to give. Packed with period pictures, this book explains the history of the Statue of Liberty, from idea to icon.

Season’s Readings!

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