5 books that would make great gifts

December 2, 2021, 7:00 PM UTC

Not everyone has time to shop around and look for the newest items on the market that could appeal to the loved ones and colleagues on their gift-giving lists. (Or for themselves, because let’s be honest, we look at holiday gift guides and deals for ourselves just as much as for others.)

Here is a list of new book recommendations for the bibliophiles in your life.

Courtesy of HarperCollins

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

Author Matt Haig made waves this year with his best-selling novel, The Midnight Library. But don’t sleep on his other big release later in 2021. Perhaps best to read after The Midnight Library, given the fictional book’s sensitive topics, The Comfort Book lives up to its title, a post-modern self-help book for the digital age that fits so well to read at the end of the year or the beginning of the next one, depending on if you’re a glass half-empty or half-full person. But unlike most self-help books, especially those that populate new release lists in January each year, The Comfort Book is simple and easy-to-digest as a collection of notes and lists that served as reminders to the author but can also do the same for the reader that not everything is bleak as it might seem these days.

‘The Heart Principle’ by Helen Hoang
Courtesy of Center Point Large Print

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

Romance novels often get a bad reputation for not being as credible or deserving of praise as literary fiction, but romance is arguably the genre doing the most to promote better awareness and understanding of mental health issues. None better might be Helen Hoang’s series that began with The Kiss Quotient and rounded up with a third book this year, The Heart Principle. Hoang tackles what it’s like to live with obsessive compulsive disorder (it’s not just a joke or off-handed comment to describe something as “OCD”) as well as living on the autism spectrum—notably from a female perspective as it can present in men and women differently, which Hoang handles with respect and care in all of her books. (And even amid all of the politics of dating apps and familial pressures, she always turns out a believable happily ever after.)

‘Hooked’ by Sutton Foster
Courtesy of Grand Central Publishing

Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life by Sutton Foster

Much like the author, this memoir is absolutely delightful. Fans of Sutton Foster from the television show Younger might notice some immediate similarities between the actress and her onscreen persona, Liza—namely that the Broadway star and Tony winner comes off as imminently likable and caring of those around her. But unlike Liza (given the show’s premise is around the character lying about her age and experience), Foster’s memoir feels deeply genuine and candid. Hooked takes its name from knitting, which Foster picked up to alleviate extreme anxiety in the wake of bullying and parental neglect (if not, abuse, albeit mental, not physical). And yet for all of the grief and trauma Foster is recounting, it feels like she’s taking care of the reader while doing so, carefully reflecting on past experiences without tossing around blame, almost soothing in her delivery (especially through her narration on the audiobook).

Courtesy of Simon and Schuster

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci

A common question at cocktail parties or on Twitter is name five celebrities you’d like to have dinner with. I’d like to up the ante and nominate Stanley Tucci as the celeb I’d not only like to have dinner with but also with whom I’d like travel the world. Viewers of Tucci’s program on CNN, Searching for Italy, as well as his delightful cocktail videos on Instagram during the earliest days of the pandemic are likely already familiar with the actor’s natural and genuine presence in the kitchen. Tucci is similarly charming and candid in his new memoir (and he narrates the audiobook version, which is a real treat), recounting his life through memories of food starting with meals with his family growing up to what it was like to lose his sense of taste and not being able to enjoy eating at all during his bout with cancer.

Book Roundup-You Got Anything Stronger
‘You Got Anything Stronger?: Stories’
Courtesy of Dey Street Books

You Got Anything Stronger?: Stories by Gabrielle Union

In the follow-up to her first memoir, We’re Going to Need More Wine, actress and activist Gabrielle Union does not hold back in You Got Anything Stronger. Readers are warned of potential trigger topics, from rape and sexual assault to infidelity to miscarriage. Union also approaches topics such as surrogacy, new motherhood, and raising a trans child with honesty and compassion. The audiobook version is especially moving as Union truly communicates with the reader one-on-one, much like a friend sharing their deepest secrets but trusting the reader to understand and empathize all the same.

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