Your Ultimate Bookish Holiday Gift Guide

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Need gifts for the readers in your life?  Here are 20 books that are guaranteed to please:

For Lovers of Great Fiction:
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The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman

This book should be at the top of every holiday list as it is a gift! A wonderful foray into Italy.

Since the day Filomena Fontana cast a curse upon her sister more than two hundred years ago, not one second-born Fontana daughter has found lasting love. Some, like second-born Emilia, the happily single baker at her grandfather’s Brooklyn deli, claim it’s an odd coincidence. Others, like her sexy, desperate-for-love cousin Lucy, insist it’s a true hex. But both are bewildered when their great-aunt calls with an astounding proposition: If they accompany her to her homeland of Italy, Aunt Poppy vows she’ll meet the love of her life on the steps of the Ravello Cathedral on her eightieth birthday, and break the Fontana Second-Daughter Curse once and for all. 

Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel

This book is funny, witty and hits the heartstrings. A love letter to modern family life with all of its discord and harmony.

Bridget and Will are loving, compatible, and completely devoted to each other but strictly friends. They have nurtured their baby, the Forsyth Trio—a chamber group they created as students with their Juilliard classmate Gavin Glantz. Bridget has been dreaming of spending the summer at her well-worn Connecticut country home with her boyfriend Sterling. But her plans are upended when Sterling, dutifully following his ex-wife’s advice, breaks up with her over email and her twin twenty-somethings arrive unannounced, filling her empty nest with their big dogs, dirty laundry, and respective crises.

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman’s struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern.

Escaping from an abusive marriage, 17-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There, she becomes the most highly requested henna artist – and confidante – to the wealthy women of the upper class. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own….

The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz

Two years after Grace Kelly’s royal wedding, her iconic dress is still all the rage in Paris—and one replica, and the secrets it carries, will inspire three generations of women to forge their own paths in life and in love.

Paris, 1958: Rose, a seamstress at a fashionable atelier, has been entrusted with sewing a Grace Kelly—look-alike gown for a wealthy bride-to-be. Sixty years later, tech CEO Rachel, who goes by the childhood nickname “Rocky,” has inherited the dress for her upcoming wedding in New York City. But there’s just one problem: Rocky doesn’t want to wear it. A family heirloom dating back to the 1950s, the dress just isn’t her. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother Joan’s heart. As the lives of these three women come together in surprising ways, the revelation of the dress’s history collides with long-buried family heartaches. 

The Golfer’s Carol by Robert Bailey

Four rounds. Four heroes. Four life-changing lessons. For anyone who has ever dealt with tragedy, adversity, or failure, The Golfer’s Carol will bring grace that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Standing on the Tennessee River Bridge in Decatur, Alabama, with his dreams of a pro golf career long gone, his marriage struggling, and facing financial ruin, Randy sees no other alternative to help his wife and daughter but to jump, which he plans to do in the next twenty-four hours. But his plans are put on hold when the ghost of his best friend–who did live out the fantasy of playing the PGA tour–reveals to Randy that he will be given a wonderful gift: four rounds of golf with his four heroes, the champions he’s looked up to his whole life, each with a life-changing lesson to impart.

For Lovers of Romance (and who isn’t?) with Fabulous Humor:
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The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

No one writes better dialogue than Abby Jimenez! Laugh out loud, poignant and fabulous all at the same time!

Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back. As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection.  And… read this book!

Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho

Crazy Rich Asians meets Bridget Jones’s Diary in this funny and irresistible debut novel about the pursuit of happiness, surviving one’s thirties intact, and opening oneself up to love.

At thirty-three, Andrea Tang is living the dream with successful career as a lawyer, a posh condo, and a clutch of fun-loving friends who are always in the know about Singapore’s hottest clubs. All she has to do is make law partner, and her life will be perfect. A chance encounter with charming, wealthy entrepreneur Eric Deng offers her a glimpse of an exciting, limitless future. Suresh Aditparan, her office rival and the last man her family would approve of, keeps throwing a wrench in her plans. Now Andrea can’t help but wonder: In the endless tug-of-war between pleasing others and pleasing herself, is there room for everyone to win?

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

If you love biting British humor (as we all do), this is the book!

WANTED: One (fake) boyfriend. Practically perfect in every way. 

Luc O’Donnell is tangentially—and reluctantly—famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye. Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone…

For Those Who Love a Good Thriller:
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The Last Flight by Julie Clark

Whomever you give this book to will read it in one sitting! Two women. Two flights. One last chance to disappear.

Claire Cook has a perfect life. But, her perfect husband has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career, and he’s not above using his staff to track Claire’s every move. But what he doesn’t know is that Claire has worked for months on a plan to vanish. A chance meeting in an airport bar brings her together with a woman whose circumstances seem equally dire. Together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets—Claire taking Eva’s flight to Oakland, and Eva traveling to Puerto Rico as Claire. But when the flight to Puerto Rico goes down, Claire realizes it’s no longer a head start but a new life….

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

A wedding celebration turns dark and deadly in this deliciously wicked and atmospheric thriller reminiscent of Agatha Christie. 

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast. And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight

Domestic drama at its best! Nicole Kidman Films will be making the movie!

The last thing Lizzie needs right now is a call from an inmate at Rikers asking for help. Her old friend Zach is desperate: his wife, Amanda, has been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their brownstone. And Zach’s the primary suspect. As Lizzie is drawn into the case, she learns that Zach and Amanda weren’t what they seemed—and that their friends, a close-knit group of fellow parents at the exclusive Brooklyn Country Day school, might be protecting troubling secrets of their own. In the end, she’s left wondering not only whether her own marriage can be saved, but what it means to have a good marriage in the first place.

For Those Who Love a Blast of the Past: 
The Imperfects by Amy Meyerson

A captivating novel about a priceless inheritance that leads one family on a life-altering pursuit of the truth. Inspired by the true story of the real, still-missing Florentine Diamond.

Estranged siblings Beck, Ashley and Jake find themselves under one roof for the first time in years when their mysterious, eccentric matriarch, Helen, passes away. But their lives are about to change when they find a secret inheritance hidden among her possessions—the Florentine Diamond, a 137-carat yellow gemstone that went missing from the Austrian Empire a century ago. Desperate to learn how one of the world’s most elusive diamonds ended up in Helen’s bedroom, they begin investigating her past only to realize how little they know about their brave, resilient grandmother. 

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

Eva Traube Abrams is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.

The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

Atlantic City, 1934. A family. A tragedy. Secrets. A new life.

Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insists, they take in a mysterious young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams. When tragedy strikes, Esther makes the shocking decision to hide the truth—at least until Fannie’s baby is born—and pulls the family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies, bringing long-buried tensions to the surface that reveal how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal.

Jackie and Maria by Gill Paul

The President’s Wife; a Glamorous Superstar; the rivalry that shook the world…

Jackie Kennedy was beautiful, sophisticated, and contemplating leaving her ambitious young senator husband. So, when she’s offered a holiday on the luxurious yacht owned by billionaire Ari Onassis, she says yes…to a meeting that will ultimately change her life. Maria Callas is at the height of her operatic career and widely considered to be the finest soprano in the world. And then she’s introduced to Aristotle Onassis, the world’s richest man and her fellow Greek. Little by little, Maria’s and Jackie’s lives begin to overlap, and they come closer and closer until everything they know about the world changes on a dime.   

For YA Aficionados: 
The Code For Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor

A contemporary romcom retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma shows us that there’s nothing more complex—or unpredictable—than love.

When math genius Emma and her coding club co-president, George, are tasked with brainstorming a new project, The Code for Love is born. George disapproves of Emma’s idea of creating a matchmaking app, accusing her of meddling in people’s lives. But all the happy new couples at school are proof that the app works. At least at first. Emma’s code is flawless. So why is it that perfectly matched couples start breaking up, the wrong people keep falling for each other, and Emma’s own feelings defy any algorithm?

The Small Crimes of Tiffany Templeton by Richard Fifield

A moving and darkly funny story about a teenage girl coming of age and learning how to grieve in small-town Montana.

Tiffany Templeton is tough. She dresses exclusively in black, buys leather jackets that are several sizes too big, and never backs down from a fight. She’s known in her tiny Montana town as Tough Tiff, and after her shoplifting arrest and a stint in a reform school, the nickname is here to stay. But when she comes back home, Tiffany may not be the same old Tough Tiff that everybody remembers. As Tiffany navigates her new life and learns who she wants to be, she must also contend with an overbearing best friend, the geriatric cast of a high-maintenance drama production, her first boyfriend, and a town full of eccentric neighbors–not to mention a dark secret she’s been keeping about why the ex-football coach left town.

For The Person Who Values Learning From Our World:
Arctic by Vincent Munier

Famed naturalist photographer Vincent Munier’s bestseller is finally available in the US for the holiday season.

From Scandinavia to the northernmost islands of Nunavut (Canada), discover a breathtakingly beautiful, fascinating wild world: polar bears and foxes, caribous, muskoxen, Arctic hares, snowy owls… and even a magical encounter, when a pack of nine white wolves surrounded the photographer. For every book purchased, a tree is planted.

Imagine: Reflections on Peace by The VII Foundation

Blurbed by Angelina Jolie and Madeleine Albright. Need I say more?

IMAGINE, REFLECTIONS ON PEACE explores the conditions and consequences of peace in post conflict societies, Lebanon, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, and Colombia. Leading photographers and journalists return to those countries where they first reported during conflict. Eyewitnesses, lawyers, negotiators and survivors who lived through war and peace add their voices to the project.

The beautifully designed and bound book offers a rare and fascinating glimpse into the unvarnished story of peace and a window into what it takes for societies and individuals to move forward after unspeakable brutality. 

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2 thoughts on “Your Ultimate Bookish Holiday Gift Guide”

  1. I so appreciate the book recommendations, Andrea, and also the “production quality” of this blog. The beautiful presentation of covers with great descriptions of the book are just so enjoyable. I’ve read it twice, didn’t close the browser last night, because I wanted to read them again this morning and decide which ones I want to order first! Great selection!

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