15 votes

What books are you giving as gifts this year, and why?

'tis the season for "best of the year" / holiday shopping guides for things like books.

I thought it would be interesting to sort of crowdsource Tildes' own list.

  • What books did you buy to give as gifts? (I'm specifically thinking of this holiday season, but anytime recently is fair game)

  • Who did you get the book for?

  • Why did you think they would enjoy the book?

13 comments

  1. culturedleftfoot
    Link
    I'm gifting The Complete Calvin & Hobbes box set to my good friend and his four-year-old son. My friend has read the strip before and likes it but didn't really follow it much, while his son's...

    I'm gifting The Complete Calvin & Hobbes box set to my good friend and his four-year-old son. My friend has read the strip before and likes it but didn't really follow it much, while his son's bright as a button and is already reading at something like two grades ahead. I'm hoping it will be something they can discover together and share as the young one grows older.

    8 votes
  2. [3]
    eladnarra
    Link
    I got my dad the new Slaughterhouse Five graphic novel - he's a Vonnegut fan, and likes this book in particular. He also got me into comics as a kid, so hopefully he'll find the combo fun. :)

    I got my dad the new Slaughterhouse Five graphic novel - he's a Vonnegut fan, and likes this book in particular. He also got me into comics as a kid, so hopefully he'll find the combo fun. :)

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      cfabbro
      Link Parent
      I'm a huge Vonnegut fan as well, bought a copy of the graphic novel for myself a month ago, and tore through it as soon as it arrived. It was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so your dad...

      I'm a huge Vonnegut fan as well, bought a copy of the graphic novel for myself a month ago, and tore through it as soon as it arrived. It was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so your dad probably will too... especially if he appreciates comicbook artwork, since it's top-notch in this one.

      1 vote
      1. eladnarra
        Link Parent
        That's awesome to hear! :)

        That's awesome to hear! :)

        2 votes
  3. [3]
    grahamiam
    Link
    I'm giving three books primarily - The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-Yi and Last Words from Montmartre by Qiu Miaojin. These two books are my favorite novels by Taiwanese writers, but they're...

    I'm giving three books primarily - The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-Yi and Last Words from Montmartre by Qiu Miaojin. These two books are my favorite novels by Taiwanese writers, but they're extremely different, so it depends on the personality of who I'm giving it to. The first is about a narrator whose father disappeared on a bicycle when the narrator was young. As an adult, the narrator becomes obsessed with finding the bicycle in Taipei. It's a slow, thoughtful, meandering plot, with connections to history and a lot about the compulsion and love involved in collecting things. The second novel is about a very raw, intense breakup between two women in their early 20s. It painfully reminds you of what life was like when you thought your future happiness hinged on whether or not a relationship succeeds. I think parts of it could be considered melodramatic, but I also think most young 20s people are melodramatic, so I think it works.

    The third is Tokyo Ueno Station, a short Japanese novel about a homeless narrator who is displaced by the construction around the 2020 Olympics. It won the National Book Award for best translated work, and Yu Miri (the author) is outspoken about racism towards Koreans in Japan. It's a haunting, beautiful book, and is about a side of Japan that should be discussed more (and, thankfully, is due to Olympics / coronavirus / a few other cultural pieces).

    I'm giving the first two because I am living in Taiwan and want other people to have some connection to the country (or I want friends in Taiwan to read a Taiwanese writer because it's not very common). I'm giving the third because I think it's the best translated book of the past couple of years and I think everyone should read more work in translation.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      culturedleftfoot
      Link Parent
      I'm guessing you mean non-Taiwanese friends in Taiwan don't read much of the local literature? Or does that include locals too?

      or I want friends in Taiwan to read a Taiwanese writer because it's not very common

      I'm guessing you mean non-Taiwanese friends in Taiwan don't read much of the local literature? Or does that include locals too?

      2 votes
      1. grahamiam
        Link Parent
        No, it includes locals. You see American/Chinese/Japanese writers way more commonly than Taiwanese writers.

        No, it includes locals. You see American/Chinese/Japanese writers way more commonly than Taiwanese writers.

        1 vote
  4. Erik
    (edited )
    Link
    For my four year old I got A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursala Le Guin. He can't read it yet obviously, but we need something to read for bedtime story time now that we're finishing off The Hobbit. For...

    For my four year old I got A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursala Le Guin. He can't read it yet obviously, but we need something to read for bedtime story time now that we're finishing off The Hobbit.

    For my brother-in-law I got Enter the Kettlebell (2nd Edition) by Pavel Tsatsouline along with a 44 lb kettlebell. The second edition of the book removes a lot of the "meme" exercises from Pavel's routine (like windmills) and really streamlines his Rite of Passage routine while maintaining a lot of the great fundamentals his book was known for.

    For my sister-in-law I got Theory as History by Jairus Banaji, which is becoming a classic in terms of materialist analysis of history. My wife's family grew up typical suburban conservatives, but while the parents remain Fox News watchers, their kids have moved left a bit. My sister-in-law is still a well meaning liberal, which is honestly an improvement, but I am thinking she has it in her to be a real leftist and she has engaged with me a bit on the topic so I think she'll enjoy this as someone with a Masters degree.

    5 votes
  5. spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    For my sister, I got The Flavor Equation: The Science of Great Cooking Explained in More Than 100 Essential Recipes. She's an excellent cook and pre-pandemic was the head bartender at a fancy...

    For my sister, I got The Flavor Equation: The Science of Great Cooking Explained in More Than 100 Essential Recipes. She's an excellent cook and pre-pandemic was the head bartender at a fancy cocktail bar. It was the top of Serious Eats' list of food book recommendations which was more than enough of a recommendation for me.

    For my 8 year old niece, I got two hardcover science books, Lost Animals: Extinct, Endangered, and Rediscovered Species and Envisioning Exoplanets: Searching for Life in the Galaxy. Both are recent releases from Smithsonian Books, so I trusted them to be high enough quality to buy them sight unseen. They were delivered to me today and did not disappoint.

    My mom has a big coffee table book, also from Smithsonian, with pictures and short descriptions of thousands of different animals. It's my niece's favorite thing at her grandma's house. She often wants me to read it with her (I think in large part because I read the funny-sounding Latin names to her). I thought about getting her her own copy of that book, but wanted it to remain a special item she can associate with her grandma's house, so instead I got her two similar books - one about the history of extinct species on Earth, the other about exoplanets. Her mom, my ex-sister-in-law, is also very interested about astronomy in general and exoplanets in particular, so they'll be able to enjoy it together.

    4 votes
  6. autumn
    Link
    Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy by David Zucchino for my partner’s father. He likes history, and he lives in Wilmington. My Own Words by Ruth Bader...
    • Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy by David Zucchino for my partner’s father. He likes history, and he lives in Wilmington.
    • My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsberg for my partner’s brother. He’s a lawyer, and he loves talking politics.

    I haven’t read either of these, but they’re definitely on my list now!

    4 votes
  7. kyotja
    Link
    I gifted someone Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski. He's more well known for his other book, House of Leaves, but I chose revolutions because while I found it even more obtuse than leaves,...

    I gifted someone Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski. He's more well known for his other book, House of Leaves, but I chose revolutions because while I found it even more obtuse than leaves, it's a lot more emotional.

    HoL is very well known for it's puzzle-like format, leaving mazes of foot-and-side-notes mixed into the prose that's sometimes twisted into odd shapes and orientations, but Revolutions pushes even harder at the borders of what a book is. It can be read from either side, turning it upside down when you switch; each orientation tells the story of the two protagonists, told in poetry rather than prose, each page containing the two narratives going in opposite directions.

    It's a wild ride and I'd be lying if I said I understood all of it, but damn if the format doesn't lend a whole extra dimension to the story. Following two people's inner dialogues while seeing them pass each other by on the page makes for a uniquely interesting reading experience. Plus, it's less horror-like and more... I don't know. Poetry. It's good, it's interesting, and that's enough for me to give it to someone else.

    4 votes
  8. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    I sent a hardcover comic book to my 12 year old sister who lives in another city, a 400 pages Wonder Woman anthology with stories from different eras. It’s got good reviews. I figured it was nice...

    I sent a hardcover comic book to my 12 year old sister who lives in another city, a 400 pages Wonder Woman anthology with stories from different eras. It’s got good reviews. I figured it was nice to present her an image of a strong female role model, and maybe give her a chance to get into comic books as a whole. Plus, super heroes are fun!

    As a sidenote, I usually don’t give books at all (especially to adults), because in my experience no one reads them. Most people I know already have lots of things to read, either personal, academic or professional, and gifting a book is the equivalent to giving them another chore (a lot of them simply do not have a reading habit). Comic books are interesting because they’re quicker to read, and are different enough from regular reading to feel like a break.

    2 votes