Book Review
by Heidi Simmons

Wouldn’t it be nice to do all your holiday shopping at one fun store?  Well it is possible, and the store is called Barnes & Noble.  And, it is chuck-filled, wall-to-wall with treasures, knowledge, magic, people, places, ideas, wisdom, fools, beauty, heroes and villains, etcetera.  I could go on and on about the wonders that exist in books.

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 was shaped.  What makes someone into hero?  Why do they inspire us?  How did they come to make an impact? 


“Leonardo Da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson

“Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit” by Chris Matthews

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. 

“A Legacy of Spies” by John le Carré

“Sing, Unburied, Sing” by Jesmyn Ward

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 books in that category.

“Do You Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir” by Sherman Alexie

“The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia” by Masha Gessen

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

Uncommon Type: Some Stories” by Tom Hanks

Her Body and Other Parties” by Carmen Maria Machado

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 are appreciated regardless of differences. 

“We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy” by Ta-Nehisi Coates

“What Happened” by Hillary Clinton

SCIENCE FICTION offers some of the most poignant and timely reading today.  The name on your list that loves a philosophical debate and appreciates a colorful, provocative world will love these books.

“Void Star” by Zachary Mason

“Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch

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 are very dark, so consider if the recipient has the maturity.

The Goddamned: Book One Before the Flood” by Jason Aaron, R.M. Guéra, Giulia Brusco

Black Hammer: Secret Origins” by Jeff Lemire

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

“The Art of Horror Movie: An Illustrated History” edited by Stephen Jones

“Easy Riders, Ranging Bulls: How the Sex-Drug-and-Rock ‘n’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood” by Pete Biskind

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.

“The Enigma of the Owl: An Illustrated Natural History” by Mike Unwin and David Tipling

“Earth Is My Witness” by Art Wolf

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.

A new book always makes me happy.   May your holiday be filled with beautiful words and amazing ideas.

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