Time for some generic christmas content aka me telling you what to get for the various people in your life for the festive happenings in order to once again not mess up your social life.
This post is structured by relation to people you might have in your life and obviously crudely generalising.
I have structured it thus just to make it easier for people who don’t want to spend heinous amounts of time psychoanalysing the gift receivers, so please feel free to gift these completely cross-category. All of these would make great reads for anyone.
Your mother. Let’s start with the mother and me recommending you the beautiful Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín. I’ve dissected it in meticulous detail here, but to give you the short version: Irish girl emigrates to New York in the 1950s and tries to cope with home sickness, bitchy people and love interests in a charmingly raw voice. I loved this book a lot and I know that my mum would love it too. Also, you can combine it with the film version featuring the perfect Saoirse Ronan and further step up your gift game.
Your father. Alright people, serious time. It’s dad gift time, which we all know has a tendency to be quite nightmarish. Not anymore, mind, ’cause I’m handing you His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet on a silver platter.
This is a great dad gift! It’s a crime novel (despite Graeme Macrae Burnet continuously denying that label. yes, it’s a whydunnit. still.) set in the Scottish highlands in 1869 and consisting of different “documents” that piece together a picture of the triple murder that is at the novels heart.
As you might recall, it was also shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize, so it comes with that pretentious air of intellectuality that some dads might very much value. Still, a fun and engaging read and one I would very much love to be gifted, just because.
Your brother: Moving on to the brother and the glorious feast that is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. Ever since I read this brick of a book in June, I really wanted to write a review and just never did sort my mind enough to write something coherent.
There’s so much here. It’s a novel set before, during and after World War II in New York (with a short excursion to the Czech republic) and follows the cousins Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay who start a series of graphic novels. Their fictional hero, the Escapist, fights the seemingly invincible Nazis and becomes an outlet for the cousin’s desperation and anger without them ever leaving reality behind.
There’s so much stuff in this book, that recurring theme of creating to protect and defend yourself, linking the jewish Golem myth to the graphic novel heroes like the Escapist, and I’d love to have a longer chat (monologue) about that some time in the future, but for now let me just say: it’s a brilliant story, very deserved winner of the Pulitzer for fiction and a great gift. Not just for your brother really.
Your sister: The sister then. I was thinking Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir, the book in which the wonderfully existentialist feminist thinking person Simone de Beauvoir (heard of her? thought so.) recalls the first 25 (or so) years of her life. This account of female existence in 20th century France, mainly consisting of reading and disagreeing with her family, were a fascinating and inspiring read by one of the earliest European feminist thinkers and would in my opinion make a great gift to anyone, especially female human beings.
Your grandmother: How about amusing your granny with a lovely epistolary novel? Might I propose The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This book is about a bookclub on Guernsey island during the German occupation of the Channel Islands during WWII and that’s more or less all you need to know.
It’s not the deepest of existential thought collections, but honestly so lovely and fun and light-hearted without getting naive or annoying and the stories about Guernsey during the war are something I assume you know as little about as I did.
It really is a book that felt like a loveable granny full of stories to me, so why not give it to one?
Your secret santa person you don’t even know: Totally complementing all the other categories in this post (#not) is that person you need to get something for but really don’t know anything about. Instead of going for the obvious choice of whatever’s on the bestseller list this week, how about Search Party by George The Poet?
Poetry might seem an unfortunate choice for someone you hardly know, but trust me, this one should do the trick. It’s a very accessible spoken word-poetry collection mainly tackling themes of social justice and growing up. I wholeheartedly believe that even if your gift receiver doesn’t love this book, they’ll take something from it. And it really is just that good.
So there you go. Knock yourselves out, but don’t forget to check back in when I’m posting part 2 of my gift guide extravaganza on sunday.