Columns > Published on December 10th, 2015

Gift Ideas: A Book For Every Family Member

The holidays are swiftly approaching, and gift buying time is running dangerously low. If you haven’t marked everyone off of your to-buy list, I have a one stop solution for you: your local, independent bookstore. Most have cards and unique gifts, but let’s not forget the books themselves! Books are my favorite gift to give (as well as receive) because we could all use more of them. We never tire of stories and knowledge. The trick is to pick out the perfect book for each person on your list, which can be tough if there are family members you don’t know as well as you’d like to.

I’m here to help you out with some of the more specific types of people who might show up for the holidays this month.

1. The Mother Who Wants To Write A Memoir: 'The Liar’s Club' by Mary Karr

We think we know everything about our parents, but we don’t. I, for one, would love to get the whole story. If you give Mom The Liar’s Club for the holidays, she’s going to want to read Cherry. Once she reads Cherry, she’s going to want to read Lit. Once she reads Lit, she’s going to want to read The Art of Memoir. Hopefully by then she will be inspired, thankful to you, and on the way to writing her own memoir.

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2. The Uncle Who Can’t Remember Your Name: 'The Complete Peanuts Collection' by Charles M. Schulz

Nothing feels more personally impersonal than a copy of The Complete Peanuts. It is somehow the gift that takes no thought but at the same times seems to have a lot of thought behind it. I mean, it's Charlie Brown, come on! I also feel like every single uncle loves Sunday cartoons. Right? While he struggles to remember if your name is Katie or Kristy, just quickly hand him this collection. He will be glad to be out of an awkward situation, and he’ll have something to do before and after dinner so he can continue to avoid the “which one are you?” conversation.

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3. The Grandpa Who Only Reads Nonfiction: 'Lost At Sea' by Jon Ronson

Okay, so your Grandpa is not one to budge on anything, especially his reading choices. He knows what he likes at this point in his life and so he refuses to read all the wonderful fiction books you recommend to him. Luckily, Jon Ronson’s Lost At Sea is so compelling that it reads like page-turning fiction. Anyway, it’s a step closer than last year, when you bought him that book about salt. Every little bit counts — maybe by next year you can finally get him to read your favorite fiction series!

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4. Your Younger, Instagram-ing Sister: 'Why Not Me?' by Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling is smart, successful, adorable, and relatable. So is your younger sister...or, she would be if she ever looked up from her phone. Mindy’s new book of essays is just the thing to balance your younger sister’s life out a bit. You loved it, and you know she will, too. It will remind her that there is an actual world out there, but the book also contains some cute photos to keep her turning the pages. Maybe she’ll even live-Instagram her reading progress!

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5. The Brother-in-Law Who Runs on Caffeine: 'Caffeinated' by Murray Carpenter

He doesn’t drink at holiday get togethers…except for coffee. You brew a pot before, during, and after dinner, and they’re all for him. If he’s going to drink six cups of coffee a day, he should know as much about caffeine as he can! This book will open his eyes to the benefits and the problems he is most likely facing with every cup he pours. He will learn something new, and it applies directly to him. More importantly, your brother-in-law will have something new to talk to his neighborhood barista about. That weather talk is getting old. Everybody wins!

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6. The Hip, Quirky Aunt: 'My Dirty Dumb Eyes' by Lisa Hanawalt

Your aunt is so, so cool. She has started getting into graphic novels in her free time, so why not indulge that? She’s read Daniel Clowes, Fiona Staples, and Charles Burns, but she needs more quirk! Lisa Hanawalt’s hilarious collection of comics, drawings, and little stories/lists is full of cultural references that your aunt is sure to know. You can laugh in recognition together, and then maybe she’ll show you how to update your phone so you can access the latest emojis.

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Regardless of who you’re gifting this holiday, you can be sure to strike gold with a book. We’re all trying to read more, and if you’re like me your family already expects that they’ll be getting books from you. Keep the tradition alive!

What is your favorite book to gift?

About the author

Christine J. Schmidt is a writer originally from New Jersey. After receiving her BFA in Dramatic Writing from SUNY Purchase, she worked at Seattle Repertory Theatre as their artistic literary intern. She recently left Brooklyn, where she was a bookseller and events host at WORD, to reside in Los Angeles. She has previously written for New York Theatre Review, and her plays have been read and produced at theaters in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Washington. Coffee is her favorite thing.

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