Buying gifts for book lovers can be a real challenge. What have they read? What haven’t they read? What if they hate the book you gift them and you’re forever known as the guy that has bad taste in books? And the book shelves — digital and brick and mortar — are seemingly endless these days — to the point where trying to pick just one off the stack is daunting, to say the least.
But if you’re up for the challenge, then giving a book as a gift can also be incredibly rewarding. Especially if you get a little help along the way. Luckily for book lovers and book gifters alike, 2015 was a great year for the written word. No matter what genre the book connoisseur in your life likes, chances are there’s a new release out there that they’d love. Here are five excellent new books that will make a great gift this holiday season.
1. Modern Romance: An Investigation by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
He’s currently starring in Netflix’s acclaimed series Master of Nothing. But Aziz Ansari also distinguished himself as a polished and entertaining author with Modern Romance: An Investigation. The book, cowritten with esteemed sociologist Eric Klinenberg, is an engaging look at what dating is like in the digital age. It blends cultural criticism, legitimately relevant love and relationship advice, and Ansari’s forthright humor. And it’s a fun, lighthearted look at how young adults look at themselves and each other. It’s a must-have for anyone who needs a pick-me-up after a failed relationship or a dry spell. You can buy Modern Romance: An Investigation here.
2. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
Real-life horror meets reality TV, and author Paul Tremblay masters the art of setting a foreboding mood with this thriller. A Head Full of Ghosts follows a young family struggling to make sense of their teen daughter’s increasingly erratic, violent and destructive behavior. Is she the victim of demonic possession? The religious patriarch is sure she is — so much so that he invites a reality TV crew into their home to film her exorcism. And Merrie, the terrified youngest daughter and the book’s protagonist, becomes a spectator to her family’s demise. A Head Full of Ghosts combines genuinely horrific moments with a shiver-inducing dash of realistic domestic turmoil. It’s the perfect book for both burgeoning and seasoned horror fans. You can buy A Head Full of Ghosts here.
3. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
There are some books that almost defy description, because nothing you can say will do them justice. That’s definitely the case with Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s stunning nonfiction memoir and exploration of race and culture in the United States. The book, which won the National Book Award, is framed as a series of letters to his young son — vignettes that describe his upbringing in Baltimore and explain how his beliefs about the world have evolved. But it’s more than just a form of correspondence — Between the World and Me is an unflinching reflection on class, race, poverty, education and many of the other issues that have exploded into public consciousness and discussion over the past few years. It’s not an easy book to read — but it’s sure to strike a chord and provoke thought for anyone who’s interested in history, culture and real-world issues. You can buy Between the World and Me here.
4. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
David McCullough is a master of giving us a more intimate look at the historical figures we grew up learning about in school. And he continues that trend with The Wright Brothers, a gripping and touching look at the Ohio siblings that changed the course of aviation forever. McCullough’s biography gives us a lot of insight into the entire Wright family, and how Orville and Wilbur came to fly their plane. The Wright Brothers humanizes its subjects, and tells their story with a narrative elegance that sometimes makes you forget you’re reading history. You can buy The Wright Brothers here.
5. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
If the bibliophile in your life enjoys slightly more fantastical flights of fancy, no worries. Neal Stephenson’s exciting Seveneves is a true celebration of classic sci-fi. It starts with a bang — literally — when the moon blows up. Then it chronicles how civilization has to race to adapt and survive without one of the Earth’s core poles. Though it’s full of technical details and scientific musings, Seveneves is driven by a rich cast of characters. And it’s a perfect addition to any sci-fi fan’s bookshelf. You can buy Seveneves here.