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Books for Everyone on Your Holiday List

By Pam Lamp November 23, 2021 Lifestyle

Don’t most of us love to receive books? How much fun is it to unwrap a cookbook we wouldn’t think of buying for ourselves? Or flip through the novel we’ve heard so much about? Or snuggle with a grandchild as we share a picture book? It’s true; we can never have too many books!

For Eaters, Drinkers, Bakers, and Cooks

Even Better Brownies by Mike Johnson

On his popular blog, Mike serves up decadent baked goods with explicit instructions. I turn to his recipes repeatedly to gift to friends or store in the freezer for late-night treats. This cookbook, with delicious (I’ve made them!) recipes like Ultimate Fudge Brownies and Peppermint Mocha Brownies, is perfect for the holiday hostess. 

The Defined Dish by Alex Snodgrass

If I gave one cookbook to a new mom or new cook, this would be the one. Focused on healthy, quick dinners, Alex offers meals bursting with flavor and wholesomeness. No worries if the recipient is not a Whole 30 follower – the ingredients are easy to sub.

Since I had lunch in her backyard a few years ago, Alex has exploded on the food scene. And I’m not surprised. PS – her second cookbook comes out on December 28. 

The United States of Cocktails by Brian Bartels

A fun surprise for the son-in-law who hosts dinner parties, the daughter who enjoys a nice cocktail, or any home bartender on your list. The author traveled around the U.S., researching each state’s history, bars, and signature cocktails. Part travelogue, this book features doable concoctions a novice mixologist can whip up to impress guests. Cheers!

Wine Folly by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack

An excellent gift for the weekend wine buff or the snooty oenophile on your shopping list. With relatable language and charts, this guide details suggested pairings, types of wine, geographic regions, and every other piece of information the aspiring (or expert) wine lover needs.

A New Take on Cake by Anne Byrn

For those home bakers who still create goodies from their dog-eared, decades-old copy of The Cake Mix Doctor, Anne is back. She continues to work her magic with breads, cakes, tortes, and treats. All prepared with a box of cake mix from the grocery store. 

For Animal and Nature Lovers

Woodrow on the Bench by Jenna Blum

For anyone who’s ever loved a dog. This heartbreaking and beautiful memoir of the author’s last few months with her beloved black lab reminds us of the powerful lessons our pets teach us every single day. 

Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach

For two years, Mary traveled the globe with wildlife and nature experts to study “criminal” behavior. In amusing detail, she highlights burglarizing bears, man-eating cougars, and vandalizing birds. With her quick wit, relatable style, and curious spirit, Mary guides readers through interesting – and often complicated – subjects in an easy-to-digest style.

Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl

In a series of heart-to-heart essays, Margaret examines her Alabama childhood, complicated and loving family, and eventual role as caregiver. Margaret contemplates the beautiful world outside her window and weaves her observations throughout the book.

For the Curious Sort

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christoper Murray

One of my favorite historical fiction novels of 2021. If you’re not familiar with the Morgan Library, it’s a tiny treasure of a museum tucked along Manhattan’s Madison Avenue. This book tells the story – based on her diary – of Belle da Costa Greene, J.P. Morgan’s librarian. Well-respected and well-read, Belle was a black woman who passed as white to protect her legacy and career. 

Stories That Stick by Kindra Hall

Get to the point, please. We’ve all listened to those speakers who drone on and on. In this book, the author guides readers through simple storytelling steps and strategies to ensure an audience remains engaged. Great for grown children with careers, moms who lead committee meetings, teachers, or writers.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

In April 1986, the Los Angeles Central Library was set on fire. Who did this? And why? The crime, determined to be arson, remains unsolved. Fought by hundreds of LA firefighters, the blaze destroyed 400,000 books and damaged 700,000 more. In this non-fiction book, Orlean explores the main suspect in the crime and the importance of libraries to individuals and communities.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

The author proclaims tiny steps lead to significant changes. Do two pushups a day, write for 10 minutes, eat one vegetable. A quick and interesting read for anyone looking to improve a career, relationship, or life. And aren’t we all!? 

For Those Who Crave an Escape

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A fiery beach read that takes place… at the beach. In Malibu, California, four famous siblings throw their annual party. A novel about family and inevitable issues, tough decisions, forgiveness, and letting go. Outrageous at times, but that’s part of the fun. 

The Dry by Jane Harper

I’m a huge fan of this Australian author and the compelling way she weaves a story. Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to his Australian hometown to attend a funeral, investigate deaths, and uncover secrets. I loved the movie, released in the U.S. this year, and I look forward to reading Book 2 of the series. 

The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison

Olive craved variety and excitement and novelty. She longed to sing and dance to adoring crowds each night. At the Ziegfeld Follies, she got her wish. Amid the glamour and mayhem of New York City’s Roaring Twenties, Olive lived the wild life of her dreams.

This historical fiction novel shows readers that, even when we know exactly what we want, we may ultimately desire something completely different.

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

If someone on your list enjoys a gruesome thriller, this may be their type of page-turner. A former Swiss Alps sanatorium is now an edgy, luxury hotel. An avalanche strikes and strands Detective Elin Warner. Creepiness, murder, and mayhem follow.

Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel

Bridget’s planned a quiet few months in her broken-down vacation home, away from the frenetic pace of her New York life and cello commitments. Her father, Edward Stratton, is a blustery, world-famous conductor.

Decades ago, Bridget met Will at Juilliard. Oliver and Isabelle and Matt, now adults, need someone to guide them through their problems. A fast-moving novel with assorted themes woven into its delightful fabric – discovering love later in life, adult children moving home, friendships without “strings” attached.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

Readers travel back to the ’50s and ’60s, to the glamour and gossip and power of New York City’s social scene. The story weaves the adventures, scandals, and so-called friendships of playwright Truman Capote and his wealthy flock of Manhattan high society swans. This privileged clique attends all the right parties and shops at all the right places. But, even when you have anything money can buy, happiness is not a given. 

The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little

When we hear Chanel, glamour comes to mind. But Coco’s and Antoinette’s poor and parentless childhoods, along with devastating losses, make their success all the more impressive. Their constant search for “something better” led them to create a fashion empire that flourished, even during the war. Lovers of historical fiction, fashionistas or not, will devour Judithe’s latest novel.

For the Young Relatives

Sir Drake the Brave by Joy Jordan-Lake and Susan Eaddy

No bullies allowed. Drake has a prosthetic leg and kids pick on him every day. With heartfelt text and beautiful illustrations, this picture book shows children that courage and kindness win.

Our Table by Peter Reynolds

Does your family sit down to dinner together? In this sweet picture book, Violet longs for when her family once shared food and conversations and memories around the dinner table. And she’s determined to make it happen again. 

Jack at the Zoo by Mac Barnett and Greg Pizzoli

For those special little friends who are beginning to sound out words and read. The eight books in this amusing early reader series revolve around the entertaining adventures and troubles of a rabbit, a woman, and a dog. 

Fast Pitch by Nic Stone

For the 9 to 12-year-old reader on your gift list. A coming-of-age sports mystery swirling around a female softball player who faces a multitude of challenges, on and off the field.

The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone

Inside the Art Institute of Chicago, the magical Thorne Rooms are delightful replicas of different historical periods. The 68 miniature rooms are exquisitely crafted, from intricate pastries and cookware to crystal chandeliers and ornate rugs. Young readers (ages 8-12) will delight in an adventurous romp through the rooms in the first mystery of this four-book series.

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

Cash and Delaney have a chance to leave their drug-riddled Appalachian town and head East to a fancy boarding school. In this moving, emotional story, memorable characters will pull at young adult (ages 12 and up) heartstrings.

American Royals by Katharine McGee

If you have a teen granddaughter, consider reading this bestselling young adult novel together. Your own grandmother/granddaughter book club! A clean, wholesome, coming-of-age story about the royal descendants of George Washington. For those who love following the adventures of the real monarchy as much as I do. 

Wishing you all a happy holiday season!

How often do you give books as gifts? Do you have a favorite book you like to give others? What book would YOU like to receive? 

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The Author

It’s never too late to learn something new. At Who I Met Today – a blog and podcast – Pam Lamp interviews people from all walks of life. Through conversations about health, hobbies, books, food, and travel, she invites you to join her, explore new territory, and expand your horizons.

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