By Heidi Simmons

How nice would it be if you could do all your holiday shopping at one fun store, where — when you’re done — all your gifts can be wrapped by volunteers!?  There is such a store and it’s called Barnes & Noble.  It is chuck-filled, wall-to-wall with treasured tomes containing knowledge, magic, people, places, ideas, wisdom, fools, beauty, heroes and villains, etcetera.  If your list has people from nine months to 99, there is something for everyone. 

I encourage you to consider a book for those on your gift-giving list.  Below are some titles to help you get started, and give you a way to think about just how appropriate a book is as a personal and thoughtful present.

BIOGRAPHIES deliver incredible worlds that provide insight into a person’s reality and show us how a life is shaped.  What makes someone into hero?  Why do they inspire us?  How did they come to make an impact? 


“The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers” by Maxwell King

“Frederick Douglas: Profit of Freedom” by David W. Blight

FICTION is so much fun!  Men and women often have very different tastes in fiction reading so consider the recipient’s level of machismo or sensitivity. 

“The Reckoning” by John Grisham

“Asymmetry” by Lisa Halliday

“Wolves of Eden” by Kevin McCarthy

NONFICTION has never been written better.  There are so many amazing topics — history, memoir, and science, to name a few.  Consider what most intrigues the person on your list and take a look at the wide-range of books in this category.

“Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carryrou

“The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth” by Michio Kaku

“Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion” by Michelle Dean

POLITICS can be a very sensitive topic, so whether you have a republican or a democrat on your list, a thoughtful book will make your recipient feel that he or she is appreciated regardless of differences. 

“A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership” by James Comy

“The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels” by John Meacham

SCIENCE FICTION offers some of the most poignant and timely reading today.  Sci-fi literature(?) is a great way to better understand our future.

“Thin Air” by Richard Morgan

“The Calculating Stars” by Mary Robinette Koweal

GRAPHIC NOVELS are not just for kids these days; so don’t hesitate to think about the twenty-somethings who have a love for art and story.  Some can be very serious, so consider if the recipient has the maturity.

The Electric State” by Simon Stalenhag

On a Sunbeam” by Tillie Walden

HOLLYWOOD is always a fascinating subject.  Film buffs especially appreciate the movie-greats that have come before and forged a path for the popular and stunning art form.

“In Pieces” by Sally Field

“Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood” by Karina Longworth

NATURE and NATURAL SCIENCE provides a sense of wonder and appreciation for our place on this planet.  Glossy photos and intelligent copy make for a lovely way to better understand our fellow creatures.

“National Geographic The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals” by Joel Sartore

“How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence” by Michael Pollan

SHORT STORIES are a terrific way to enjoy reading and getting to know an author.  

Property: A Collection” by Lionel Shriver

Some Trick: Thirteen Stories” by Helen Dewitt

Consider comics and coloring books, which are now fun for adults as well.

There is also fantastic Young Adult fiction.  For the little ones on your list, try to remember the joy of having a book that was all your own.

Don’t forget to write and sign a short inscription in the front of the book with the date.  This adds a very special personal touch.

Normally, I don’t envy the holiday shopper, but the idea of perusing a bookstore in search of thoughtful gifts for friends and family makes me excited for you.  I’m even jealous of the wonderful time you’ll have looking over the bookshelves, searching and discovering the perfect gift books.  No frenzy, and you can enjoy a warm drink while you brose –makes shopping merry and bright. 

May your holiday be filled with beautiful words, wonderful stories and amazing ideas.