As we edge closer to December, most of us are beginning that yearly scramble for holiday gifts. Some have had every aunt, uncle, and second cousin accounted for months ago with gifts wrapped and bowed to boot. But for the rest of us — who are only human after all — it’s time to start up Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa lists. So as you start you shopping this year, keep in mind that while it may be an easy present to guess under the Christmas tree, a good book can be truly the best gift. A non-fiction book can be the worlds best professor, a great thriller can help that hesitant reader dive in, and a classic can draw you back in time better than Doctors Who and Emmett Brown — or at least as well, anyhow. Still, sometimes the right gift is hard to find — so here’s a few suggestions for list-makers out there.
1. Go for a Series
When you buy someone a book that they love, you’ve given them a week of literary joy and page turning delight — a month tops if we’re talking about a generational epic like “Roots,” or any of the thousand page James Michener works. That’s a great gift — no one can deny it. Some of the best books out there are single servings.
That said, when you buy someone a book they’ll love out of a series, suddenly you’ve given them a gift that will not only last — but will also give them something to look forward even before finishing the first installment. And bonus — it may also solve future birthday present quandaries if they read slowly enough. This can be an especially good tip for kids who don’t always have the motivation to pick up a new book once they’ve finished the last one. There’s the obvious series — Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and yes, even Twilight. Those are effective and obvious starts for readers. But for readers who’ve moved past such series, there are still excellent books to be found in sets.
Mary Karr has penned a series of autobiographical novels, with the The Liar’s Club telling of her troubled and unique childhood — a bestseller. The second memoir — Cherry — includes stories from her rather wild teen years, and is also a best seller. The third, Lit: A Memoir offers a conclusion to Karr’s series of memoirs. There’s also the Dune and Hitchhiker’s Guide series for lovers of quality with a weakness for science fiction — and never forget that Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is actually a set of two, with Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator following behind.