Best holiday gifts for book lovers


Welcome to my 2018 Holiday Gift Ideas for Book Lovers guide!

Every year, I compile a list of the books I came across that year that I think make perfect holiday gifts plus some fabulous book subscription services and some bookish goodies that aren’t actual books!

If you can’t find anything on this year’s list that’s the right match for your friend or loved one, check out my previous lists (201720162015201420132012).

The Holiday Gift Guide has a couple new elements this year:

  • Printable Cheatsheet – the Holiday Gift Guide in quick recommendations in PDF format for easy printing (great for taking to the bookstore or library!). Download for free below!
  • #1 Picks for Each Category – I highlighted my very favorite book in each category in the Guide (Go-To Recommendations, Edgy Literary Fiction, Introspective Books, Page Turners, Something Fun, For the Hobbyist, and Investigative Journalism).

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

Go-To Recommendations

These books have broad appeal and are all-around great selections for most readers.

My #1 Pick

Where the Crawdads SingWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Fiction – Literary (Released August 14, 2018
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: When local star quarterback Chase Matthews is found dead, suspicion falls on Kya Clark (the “Marsh Girl”), who is not at all who the town residents think she is.

My Thoughts: I was worried Where the Crawdads Sing would be a beautiful, but boring book, but I couldn’t be more wrong. The writing is gorgeous, the story is propulsive, and it’s 5-star immersive. There’s a coming of age element, a mystery, and a bit of romance that I did not expect from this book, but that totally worked for me. This is probably my most recommended book of the year and will be on my Best Books of 2018 list (coming in mid- December)! Full Review

A Well-Behaved WomanA Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler
Historical Fiction (Release Date: October 16, 2018)
400 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: To save her family from financial ruin, Alva Smith finagles a marriage to the extremely wealthy, but socially shunned William K. Vanderbilt, but it doesn’t turn out to be everything she’d hoped.

My Thoughts: I absolutely adored Fowler’s 2013 novel, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (my review)…so, A Well-Behaved Woman had big shoes to fill. While Alva is no Zelda, she is interesting. She was a modern woman in some ways and had a sassy side. And, I liked the fact that it made me think about class, the working rich vs. the inherited money rich, and women’s roles in society and the household. Perfect for fans of historical fiction and great mother-in-law gift! Full Review

An American Marriage An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Fiction – Literary (Released February 6, 2018)
320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: When Roy goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit only a year and a half into their new marriage, Celestial must figure out how to cope with his absence and shape her life in the face of this massive upheaval.

My Thoughts: An American Marriage is an intimately written novel that tackles a number of weighty current issues in an organic way…and is one of my favorite novels of 2018! It’s about so many things (marriage, race, class, incarceration, love, friendship, family, grief, fidelity, recovery), but not overwhelmingly about any one of them (kind of like The Mothers). Jones handles them in a way that doesn’t make the book feel overwhelmingly like “an issue book.” And, the last quarter of the book is absolutely riveting. Full Review

Educated Tara WestoverEducated by Tara Westover
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released February 20, 2018)
352 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Westover tells her story of growing up in a survivalist Mormon family who didn’t believe in public education and her journey to break the mold by getting her PhD at Cambridge University.

My Thoughts: Imagine if you had to choose between getting an education (both the traditional kind and an education about life in general) and having a relationship with your family. That’s what happened to Tara Westover. I could feel Tara’s emotional tug-of-war over her own beliefs and the blood ties of her family…it was heart-wrenching. There are many parts that are hard to read…and that I’d have found totally unbelievable had this been fiction. Perfect for fans of The Glass CastleHillbilly Elegy (my review), and/or Under the Banner of Heaven (my review)! Full Review

Loving FrankLoving Frank by Nancy Horan
Historical Fiction (Released August 7, 2007)
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: A novel based on the true story of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s epic affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney, one of his married clients.

My Thoughts: While this story is about an epic love affair, it goes much deeper than that. It’s also about a woman’s journey to find herself in a time (the early 1900’s) when women weren’t supposed to have their own identities or interests. It’s about women’s roles in society and marriage and losing your identity through marriage and motherhood. Neither Mamah nor Wright is an entirely sympathetic character. PS – tell your gift recipient NOT to Google the real story of Frank and Mamah before you read the book…you don’t want to spoil the ending!

Rules of MagicThe Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
Historical Fiction (Released October 10, 2017)
369 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: In the prequel to Hoffman’s novel Practical Magic (also a movie starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman), siblings Franny, Jet, and Vincent come of age in 1960’s New York City while trying to obey the rules of magic their parents have instilled in them…until they visit Aunt Isabelle in Boston and begin to embrace who they truly are (i.e. witches).

My Thoughts: I am not a reader who normally likes anything related to magic, paranormal, or fantasy, but The Rules of Magic was an exception. The magic is not hokey at all and makes what is ultimately a story about love and family more fun and unique. It’s also got some mystery, tragedy, a family feud, and a bit of history about the Salem witch trials and New York City. It’s an unconventional kind of historical fiction, which is my favorite kind. Perfect for your quirky aunt!

Edgy Literary Fiction

These books are a bit darker, tackle more fraught issues, or have more aggressive language, etc. than my go-to literary fiction recommendations. Read the publishers’ summaries carefully before choosing one of them for your prim and proper grandmother!

My #1 Pick

Female PersuasionThe Female Persuasionby Meg Wolitzer
Fiction – Literary (Released April 3, 2018)
464 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Greer is a shy college student still in love with her high school boyfriend when she meets Faith Frank, an icon of the women’s movement, who changes the trajectory of Greer’s life.

My Thoughts: Meg Wolitzer is one of my very favorite authors, so I’m not entirely surprised that The Female Persuasion is one of my few 5 star books of this year! The Female Persuasion is ultimately a story in which the characters are the stars: Greer, her boyfriend (Cory), her best friend (Zee), and Faith Frank. I was completely enmeshed in these people’s lives and the issues (gender, feminism) this book addresses fit organically around the characters’ stories without overwhelming them (like An American Marriage and The Mothers). Don’t be scared of the 464 pages…I flew through this one in just a few days! Full Review

A Ladder to the Sky A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
Fiction – Literary (Released: November 13, 2018)
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Maurice Swift is single-mindedly focused on becoming a world famous author (despite having trouble coming up with story ideas) and will use anything and anyone to get there.

My Thoughts: It’s much darker (I don’t mean sadder…I mean more messed up) than The Heart’s Invisible Furies. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone who loved The Heart’s Invisible Furies, but Boyne’s writing style is absolutely there and I 5 star-loved it. Maurice isn’t likable, but he’s disturbingly fascinating for sure…and he’s much like many of Herman Koch’s characters in that he’ll say incredibly unsettling things that most regular people may not even think, much less say aloud. A great pick for readers who like their stories dark and disturbing (yes, we are out there!)! Full Review

Great BelieversThe Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
Fiction – Literary (Released: June 19, 2018)
432 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: A group of gay friends and their female friend (Fiona) navigate the AIDS crisis and deal with the death of one of their own in 1980’s Chicago…and decades later, Fiona sets out to Paris to find her estranged daughter and encounters the past in the process.

My Thoughts: The Great Believers is one of those “issue” book that makes the issue an organic part of the characters’ lives. It’s ultimately a gorgeous story about friendship in the face of disaster and is the kind of book you can just sink into. It’s got a little bit of The Heart’s Invisible Furies (sexuality, the AIDS crisis, characters you can root for wholeheartedly) and a little bit of A Little Life (a group of male friends facing terrible circumstances, but without the overwhelming violence), but retains its own uniqueness. This book has heart…and it’s seriously literary, but will still keep you turning the pages because you just have to find out what’s going to happen to these characters. Full Review

The WildlandsThe Wildlands by Abby Geni
Fiction – Literary (Released: September 4, 2018)
368 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: After the McCloud children lose everything in a Category 5 tornado in their hometown of Mercy, Oklahoma (thus attracting considerable media attention), their brother (Tucker) runs away leaving the three McCloud sisters to fend for themselves. He returns three years later amid further tragedy and thrusts the family into the spotlight yet again.

My Thoughts: The Wildlands is a fast-paced story about children that have lost literally everything trying to find their way again. This story touches themes far and wide…humans’ place in the ecosystem, environmental terrorism, children surviving on their own, the media spotlight, Patti Hearst-esque Stockholm syndrome, and complicated sibling relationships. It has the love of animals and nature of Where the Crawdads Sing (my review), the focus on media attention following a tragedy of Before the Fall (my review), and the family manipulation of Wiley Cash’s This Dark Road to Mercy (my review). Full Review

Us Against YouUs Against You by Fredrick Backman
Fiction – Literary (Released June 5, 2018)
448 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Amid the wreckage of the previous winter, Beartown residents face their beloved ice hockey team being disbanded and a volatile rivalry with nearby Hed Hockey.

My Thoughts: Us Against You is the sequel to last year’s Beartown (one of my favorites of 2017) and I highly recommend you read Beartown before reading Us Against You. This time around, Beartown has lost its innocence. The story is even darker, more sinister, and more focused on the adults and the politics of sports (a very real thing). Like in Beartown, the story is about far more than hockey…friendship, rivalry, marriage, parenting, power, sexuality, and violence. I was completely engrossed in the emotion of sports, which Backman captures better than anything save Friday Night Lights (and if you’re missing FNL, these are the books for you!). Full Review

You Think It, I'll Say ItYou Think It, I’ll Say It: Stories by Curtis Sittenfeld
Fiction – Short Stories (Released April 24, 2018)
256 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Novelist Curtis Sittenfeld’s (author of PrepAmerican Wife, and Eligible) first short story collection.

My Thoughts: Short stories are not my thing, but this collection is unquestionably 5 stars for me! The stories in You Think It, I’ll Say It are mostly about otherwise normal relationships that have a hidden element of unconventionality or an awkward incident. They’re normal situations that end up taking unexpected turns…they’re relatable, yet surprising. I was completely invested in the characters in every story, which is a rarity for me with short stories. If you’ve been hesitant to try short stories, You Think It, I’ll Say It is a perfect first collection! Full Review

Introspective Books

These books are quiet, calm, and comforting…and might lead you to ponder your life.

My #1 Pick

Tell Me More by Kelly CorriganTell Me More by Kelly Corrigan
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released January 9, 2018)
256 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Corrigan’s memoir is organized around the “12 hardest things she’s learning to say,” including “No,” “I don’t know,” and “I Was Wrong.”

My Thoughts: I absolutely adored (it’s my favorite 2018 nonfiction so far!) this memoir that spoke to me in a “yes, that’s exactly how it is” way. She covers many big life issues (marriage, motherhood, illness, religion, friendship, grief, and loss) in a relatable and irreverently funny way. Corrigan is a welcome addition to my “women who get women” club (current members include Anna Quindlen, Ann Patchett, and Cheryl Strayed) and is perfect for any woman in their 30’s-50’s on your gift list! Full Review

Glitter and GlueGlitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released February 4, 2014)
224 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Corrigan hadn’t given much thought to what it’s like to mother someone or quite appreciated her own mother until she stepped into the role of surrogate caring for two children who had lost their own.

My Thoughts: Corrigan’s signature brand of heartfelt, relatable, and sometimes irreverent observations about life and motherhood are on display here. If your gift recipient has already read Tell Me More, this is your pick (especially if it’s your Mom!)! BUT, if you think she’d like a book like this and hasn’t read Tell Me More, go there first. Full Review

I Am, I Am, I AmI Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell
Nonfiction – Memoir / Essays (Released February 6, 2018)
304 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: O’Farrell shares seventeen seminal moments in her life…all “near death experiences.”

My Thoughts: It took me awhile to pick up this memoir / essay collection because the whole “near-death experiences” premise struck me as a little melodramatic, but I shouldn’t have worried because they were powerful and unsettling in a way that had me riveted. Some experiences are more serious than others, but a couple of them will knock your socks off and all impart some wisdom about life. Unquestionably 5 stars!

Page Turners

These books are pretty much the opposite of the last bunch.

My #1 Pick

Witch ElmThe Witch Elm by Tana French
Fiction – Mystery (Release Date: October 9, 2018)
464 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: After lucky golden boy Toby gets beaten in his apartment during a burglary, he goes to Ivy House (his ancestral home) to recover and care for his dying uncle Hugo…but, a skull is found in the trunk of a massive elm tree in the garden.

My Thoughts: I consider Tana French a “mystery” author, but The Witch Elm doesn’t start out with a “mystery” feel. It’s more of a family drama / mystery hybrid, which I knew was absolutely up my alley once I aligned my expectations. It’s a mystery with a level of complexity and character development generally uncharacteristic of the genre. It’s a slow build, but I wanted to find out what happened and to enmesh myself with this flawed family. Full Review

Red NoticeRed Notice by Bill Browder
Nonfiction – Business (Released February 3, 2015)
380 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: The true story Browder’s experience as one of the first foreign investors in Russia after the fall of Communism and widespread privatization.

My Thoughts: You might think the premise of Red Notice sounds boring. Let me assure you…it’s not. It’s a financial thriller (if there is such a thing) that reads like fiction and kept me quickly turning the pages…while giving a fascinating picture of Russian culture in the Post-Communism era. During the course of his investing, Browder made a ton of money, partnered with billionaire Edmond Safra, angered some oligarchs via his anti-corruption battles, showed some serious guts, and ended up in a knockdown, drag-out battle with Putin and the Russian regime. Think a cross between Michael Lewis, Dominick Dunne, and the TV show Billions. Great Dad gift!

Banker's WifeThe Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger
Fiction – Thriller (Released July 3, 2018)
352 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: When a private plane carrying a Swiss banker and his wealthy client goes off the radar, his wife is left to piece together the shady dealings Swiss United Bank was involved in.

My Thoughts: Despite it’s unfortunately domestic sounding title (really…can publishers try for at least one thriller without “Wife” or “Girl” in the title?!!), The Banker’s Wife is more of a conspiracy / financial thriller. It’s purely plot driven (so much so that I forgot to highlight passages to share in this post!) and will keep you turning the pages. Plus, there are characters who resemble real life people enough to make you wonder! Full Review

The Wife by Alafair BurkeThe Wife by Alafair Burke
Fiction – Mystery / Thriller (Released January 23, 2018)
352 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: After Angela is plucked out of the Hamptons by her marriage to NYU professor and media personality Jason Powell, two women accuse Jason of misconduct and Angela has to figure out how to protect the most important thing in her life.

My Thoughts: The Wife is part domestic thriller / part legal thriller and is the first domestic thriller I haven’t DNF’d in ages! I read it in a day and a half at the beach and it’s absolutely perfect for that setting. The ending was mostly surprising, yet not outlandish, which is a must for me to like a thriller. I recommend skipping the Prologue, as I thought it gave away too much. Bonus: it deals with a timely topic.

Something Fun

These books are your brain candy. They read easy, but their stories still have great depth.

My #1 Pick

From the Corner of the OvalFrom the Corner of the Ovalby Beck Dorey-Stein
Memoir (Released July 10, 2018)
330 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Dorey-Stein gets a job as a White House stenographer in the Obama administration from an ad on Craig’s List…and embarks on some transformative years of her life.

My Thoughts: This quarter life crisis memoir set in the world of politics might be my favorite audiobook of the year! It’s like listening to your fun friend who happens to have a job in the White House with access to the President give you all the very best anecdotes (plus, a good dose of her love life) over a glass of wine! It’s fun, snarky, and heart-felt and Beck is the rare “DC creature” who doesn’t take herself too seriously. Great pick for college age or early 20’s women! 

Bachelor NationBachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman
Nonfiction (Released March 6, 2018)
320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Kaufman, a L.A. Times reporter who covered The Bachelor franchise until ABC shut down her access because they weren’t pleased with what she was writing about the show, exposes the inner workings of The Bachelor franchise.

My Thoughts: In Bachelor NationKaufman investigates The Bachelor‘s cultural place in America, how producers get contestants to give them good TV, how and why contestants think they fall in love over such a short period of time, and what happens to the couples after the show ends. Beware if you want to preserve the fairytale because you’ll for sure be watching the show differently after reading it. PS – Bachelor Nation would make a great pairing with The Book of Essie! Full Review

Calypso David SedarisCalypso by David Sedaris
Nonfiction – Memoir/Essays (Released May 29, 2018)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Sedaris’ latest essay collection focusing on middle age.

My Thoughts: David Sedaris is generally known for his dark humor and his ability to make readers sob and laugh hysterically on the same page. Personally, I didn’t cry or laugh hysterically while reading Calypso, but I did chuckle and get sad and appreciate the crap out of his dark humor. I love how Sedaris says things that most people probably think, but are too scared to say out loud. And, though I read this one in print, Sedaris is fabulous on audio! Great pick for anyone entering middle age. Full Review

Charlotte Walsh Likes to WinCharlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza
Fiction – Brain Candy (Release Date: July 24, 2018)
320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: When Charlotte Walsh leaves her high powered job as COO of a Silicon Valley tech darling to run for Senate in her home state of Pennsylvania, she’s forced to confront the impact on her marriage, her sanity, and her past.

My Thoughts: I’ve been loving books about substantial topics that read easy this summer and I can now add Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win to that list! Though it reads easy enough for the beach, it’s full of astute commentary on women in politics, women in business, managing your image in public life, marriage, motherhood, and gender roles. But, it also has snappy dialogue, a badass sister-in-law (Kara), and a Friday Night Lights name-check (the easiest way to my heart). An excellent choice for fans of The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close! Full Review

I'll Be There For YouI’ll Be There for You: The One About Friends by Kelsey Miller
Nonfiction – Television (Released October 23, 2018)
304 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Yep, you guessed it…a behind-the-scenes history of Friends.

My Thoughts: This book is one big ball of 90’s nostalgia and, upon finishing it, I immediately started binge-watching Friends on Netflix. Not only do you get all the cute anecdotes you’d expect from this book, but there’s some interesting discussion about some ways the show is problematic when viewed through today’s cultural lens. An easy read and a no-brainer stocking stuffer for fans of Friends!

Book of EssieThe Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir
Fiction – Brain Candy (Released June 12, 2018)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: When the youngest daughter (Essie) of a evangelical reality TV family becomes pregnant and realizes her mother is working with their show’s producers to come up with the best way to spin it for the show, she decides to take matters into her own hands.

My Thoughts: The Book of Essie is the type of brain candy I love…a story about weighty topics that reads quickly and easily. The first line will grab you immediately and I was dying to find out how all this was going to turn out. Bonus: you get an interesting behind-the-scenes look at reality TV and image management in the media spotlight. Great pick for fans of reality TV! Full Review

For the Hobbyist

Books for people that are into specific things…in this case, football, space, White House history, espionage, golf and life improvement.

My #1 Pick

Big Game Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times by Mark Leibovich
Nonfiction – Sports (Released September 4, 2018)
400 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Political writer Leibovich switches gears to go deep inside the NFL…with extensive access to Tom Brady and the Patriots.

My Thoughts: Mark Leibovich is the Chief National Correspondent for The New York Times Magazine focusing on politics and is known for his dry, sarcastic writing style and his propensity to make fun of self-important big-shots. The targets are self-important NFL owners (and there are some eccentric personalities in this bunch) and Commissioner Roger Goodell. It’s full of funny anecdotes about all the looney-tune personalities and hoopla surrounding the game…and doesn’t dig into the actual X’s and O’s of football too much, which I found infinitely more interesting. 

Endurance by Scott KellyEndurance by Scott Kelly
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released October 17, 2017)
400 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: The true story of Kelly’s year he spent on the International Space Station and his bumpy journey to becoming an astronaut.

My Thoughts: During his somewhat trouble-making youth, Scott Kelly read Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff and immediately decided he wanted to be a test pilot…eventually leading to his career as an astronaut. Life on the International Space Station is fascinating to hear about, particularly how long periods in space affect the human body, and Kelly’s path to becoming an astronaut is motivational, particularly for people that are floundering in their youth. A great pick for fans of The Martian. Full Review

The ResidenceThe Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower
Nonfiction – Presidential History (Released August 7, 2015)
281 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: A portrait of life in the White House for the first families told from the perspective of the residence service staff.

My Thoughts: I love a good behind-the-scenes of anything Presidential book, especially the ones that don’t really get into politics…and I’ve read a lot of them. The household service staff brings a unique viewpoint, since they see the first families at their most unguarded. Perfect if you’re interested in the inner workings of the White House (especially if you liked Ronald Kessler’s books, In the President’s Secret Service and The First Family Detail)!

American RadicalAmerican Radical: Inside the World of an Undercover Muslim FBI Agent by Tamer Elnoury
Nonfiction – War (Released October 23, 2017)
364 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Written under a pseudonym for the author’s safety, this is his story of working undercover for an elite counterterrorism unit following 9/11.

My Thoughts: Elnoury made a career change from going undercover in the drug world to undercover in the terrorism world. And, his story is absolutely chilling. It illuminates terrorism plots that were thankfully thwarted and characters who are the worst of the worst. But, the most interesting part about it for me was the exploration of Elnoury’s version of Islam and how he feels about those that practice the radicalized version of his religion. And, I wondered if the terrorists in this book read it and recognized themselves in it…and what that means for Elnoury’s safety. Great pick fans of cloak and dagger.

Tiger WoodsTiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian
Nonfiction – Sports (Released March 27, 2018)
512 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: The new biography of the ex-World #1 golfer, including his fall from grace.

My Thoughts: You’ve probably heard much of the scoop in this book before (especially if you’re a golf fan), but mostly in little snippets over the course of his whole career. Benedict and Keteyian put all this together to paint a complete picture of Tiger as a person and an athlete. I found myself psycho-analyzing him right along with the authors. It’s a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of an elite athlete in the limelight who has been trained as a machine…and sorely under-trained as a whole person. PS – Bill Simmons, one of my favorite sports writers/podcasters, loved this book and read it in a few sittings. Another great Dad gift!

Tools of TitansTools of Titans by Tim Ferris
Nonfiction – Business/Productivity (Released December 6, 2016)
707 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Ferris took the highlights from his interviews with the top people in various fields (he’s all over the map with this…business, sports, entertainment, thinkers, etc) and organized them into Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise sections.

My Thoughts: This one is a chunkster, but it’s fascinating, extremely helpful, and easy to read in little snippets. There are absolutely some parts that may not interest you, but it’s very easy to skim or skip certain parts entirely. I highlighted tons and adopted a number of new routines from the book in my life. Would make a great gift for anyone looking for a little life improvement!

Investigative Journalism

Uncovering the secrets behind major news stories…I find these books make great Dad gifts!

My #1 Pick

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamaraI’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
Nonfiction – True Crime (Release Date: February 27, 2018)
352 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: McNamara, previously a true crime writer and blogger at, investigated the unsolved crimes of a 1970’s-80’s serial rapist (approximately 45 rapes per the FBI’s Wanted poster) and murderer (approximately 12 murders per the FBI’s Wanted poster) that she dubbed the Golden State Killer (also known as the EAR for East Area Rapist).

My Thoughts: The best true crime books put themselves on another tier by telling the story in a compelling, engrossing way and avoiding getting bogged down in overly dry details. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark does just that. The story is just as much about McNamara and her investigation as it is about the Golden State Killer, who came to dominate her life before she died unexpectedly while writing this book. And, ex-cop Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested soon after the book was published. Warning: do not read at night if you want a good night’s sleep!

Bad BloodBad Blood by John Carreyrou
Nonfiction – Business / Investigative Journalism (Released May 21, 2018)
352 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: The true story of the meteoric rise and spectacular fall of the Silicon Valley biotech startup, Theranos.

My Thoughts: My favorite types of business books are the explosive, behind-the-scenes tell-all kinds and Bad Blood fits the bill. Though I did get lost in some of the science and engineering details, I was fascinated / horrified at the arrogance of Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos’s young CEO who viewed herself as the next Steve Jobs, and the lengths Theranos went to to create a “unicorn” whether or not they actually had a viable product. This one will make a great Dad gift!

Fifth Risk The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis
Nonfiction – Government (Released October 2, 2018)
219 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Lewis dives deep into the inner workings of murky government agencies (Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, etc) to explore the obscure risks the government grapple with every day.

My Thoughts: Michael Lewis is a master at making boring, tedious information sound absolutely fascinating and he did it again with The Fifth Risk. He shines a light on these obscure people with extremely important and interesting, but relatively unknown jobs within the federal government. He exposes risks that regular citizens probably never consider, but that the federal government works to mitigate every day (i.e. risks to the electrical grid). And, he investigates the Trump transition (or lack thereof). I should also mention that it’s clear what side of the political aisle Michael Lewis identifies with…and he writes from that perspective.

Mockingbird Next DoorThe Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills
General Nonfiction (Released July 15, 2014)
278 Pages

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Summary: Chicago Tribune journalist Marja Mills was improbably accepted by famously private Harper and Alice Lee when she visited Monroeville, AL for a story and ended up living next door to them.

My Thoughts: This story is as much about Mills’ journey to friendship with the Lees as it as about Lee herself. As I was listening, I almost felt like I was in To Kill A Mockingbird. For a real treat, pair with Episode 172 of From the Front Porch podcast about Annie Jones’ visit to Monroeville and a breakdown of what’s happened with Harper Lee’s estate since she passed away. Perfect for literature buffs!

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Book of the Month
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The gift that keeps on giving for book lovers! On the first of every month, members get to choose one of five books selected by Book of the Month’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). You also have the option to purchase additional books for $9.99 each and to skip a month if you want. Book of the Month will mail your chosen hardcover book (along with any extras you ordered) to your house for free. 

Shelf Subscription (from The Bookshelf, an independent bookstore in Thomasville, GA)
Annie Jones, the owner of The Bookshelf, is also the co-host of From the Front Porch podcast and one of my very best book recommendation sources. For the Shelf Subscription, you choose The Bookshelf staffer whose taste best matches yours (there’s descriptions and a fun quiz on the website to help you!) and you get a surprise hardcover in the mail every month. You don’t have the choice of Book of the Month, but I’ve preferred The Shelf Subscription’s picks lately! Perfect for readers interested in supporting independent bookstores!

Audiobook Subscriptions

Audible (Amazon’s audiobook service)
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For $14.95 per month, members get one audiobook and two Audible Originals each month. Members get discounts on audiobooks you purchase above the credits that come with your plan. You can also upgrade your subscription to get more than one audiobook a month. Make sure to tell your gift recipient to download the Audible app on their smartphone. (independent bookstore audiobook service)
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For about $15 per month, you can get a 1, 3, 6, or 12 month subscription that includes one audiobook per month. The big difference between from Audible is, with, you select which independent bookstore you’d like to purchase from. So, you can support your favorite independent bookstore even when you’re buying audiobooks! Just like with Audible, make sure to tell your gift recipient to download the app on their smartphone.

Bookish Gifts

The NEW Kindle Paperwhite (the latest Kindle upgrade)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Paperwhite is my very favorite way to read books and I’ve been using it for years! But, the new version is waterproof (hooray because I love to read on a pool float!) AND has 2x the storage of the previous version. A new Kindle pre-loaded with a couple carefully chosen books makes a fantastic gift!

Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Headphones 
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

My husband got me these for Christmas last year (after a few years of begging!) and they’re a must-have for anyone who likes to read in peace and quiet…even in public places. I use mine on airplanes, in the nail salon, in coffee shops, and also around my own house to drown out the kid chaos. You can also actually play music and podcasts on them, but let’s face it…we like the noise canceling feature best!

Comfy Throw Blanket

Every reader loves to curl up on the couch with a good book and a comfy throw blanket is a must for the winter months! I just ordered these two from Amazon (one for myself and one as a gift): Catalonia Cable Knit Sherpa Throw and Cable Knit Throw with Faux Fur Reverse Knitted Cozy Blanket.

The “Rock Your Reading” Tracker

I built this Excel spreadsheet that helps you track your reading and automatically compiles all your reading stats into summary charts for super high volume readers. Get more details here.

Books > People T Shirt

Snarky reading T shirts for the introverted bookworm: Books > People and Book Hangover.

Happy Holidays!

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