Christmas Gift Guide #2

It’s that time of bookmas again. Helping you find stuff to give to people. Don’t ask what qualifies me, just take it as it comes.
This time, we’re sorting by character traits, so this should help you find something for that very specific person…


The Feminist (or whoever you want to make one): Yes, I just talked about this yesterday. No, I don’t even care. The Group by Mary McCarthy is a great book set in 1930s New York, following a handful of (or rather, two handfuls of) young women trying to find their way, their happiness and the one and it’s absolutely completely wonderful.

This book is so frank and honest, talking about sex and contraception in a way that probably made it quite controversial when first published in 1963. It’s really great and should be up there in the holy canon of literature on gender in society.


The person without a single defining character trait: This doesn’t sound like praise for the book in question, I know, so let’s rephrase it to a book that almost everyone will get something from, even if you’re unsure about their tastes and views: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

This you’ve probably heard of, and if you share my taste in reading, you might not be particularly interested in it, as I was. But I’m so glad I still did pick it up.
It’s a post-apocalyptic book, the apocalypse being a gigantic flu outbreak that wipes out most of humanity. The novel now jumps between the time directly leading up to the apocalypse and a time twenty years later, following a group of travelling artists around what’s left of our existence.

While I didn’t think this was great, it was certainly good, discussing art, civilization and survival in a really interesting away and (again) making me see how completely useless I’d be in an apocalypse.


The Booklover: Very good category, innit? Everyone around you who really loves reading should definitely be gifted The Complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby, a compilation of his book columns for the Believer in which he literally just discusses the books he’s bought and read in each month, linking them to what’s going on in his life and how one book leads to the next. There’s also extracts from different mentioned books and just some wonderful humour. I loved it a lot and would additionally label it the best book to get out of a reading slump.


The Ignorant White Person: Don’t even pretend like you don’t have that someone in your family. I, as someone who has definitely not read enough diverse books to be an actual authority in the field, would very much recommend We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo. This is novel about a young girl called Darling in Zimbabwe, who after the first half of the book immigrates to the USA.
While I still haven’t gathered my thoughts on this sufficiently (just read it) and will soon be posting a full review, I can already tell you that there’s two main things this book does really well: handle immigration narratives and really make you feel the full blow of a young girl leaving her home for a country that doesn’t really offer her great chances either (maybe a good choice for your friendly neighbourhood Trump-supporter, although why would you give them a present? At least accompany it with a Happy Holidays card if you do so, please…). And then there’s the recurring theme of white people very much being self-righteous and silencing their own conscience by “helping the poor African children” in a completely ignorant way, which is something I’d like everyone to read (I definitely needed to hear it…).


The Left-Wing Thinker: aka hopefully everyone you hang out with. Search Party by George The Poet was mentioned in my last gift guide and I will mention it again, just because it really deserves the praise. It’s my favourite kind of poetry, the flowing rhythmic kind that you just can’t put aside, and it talks a lot about being a black man in the UK, while also touching on general themes of growing up and finding yourself. It’s contemperary poetry perfection in a  book, and the kind of book not enough people would pick up for themselves (I myself got gifted this as well). Do get it for everyone you love!

So there we are. That’s my gift guides (and hopefully, your christmas shopping) for this year wrapped up. Catch y’all tomorrow for my first book review this #bookmas.


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