Authors Pick Books That Make Good Gifts

From a Washington Post story by Angela Haupt headlined “Which books make the best gifts? Authors weigh in.”:

Happy holidays to all, and to all a good read. Or at least, that’s the idea — but first you need to settle on some good titles to gift. For inspiration, we asked authors from a variety of genres to share what books they plan to give their family and friends this year.

Rumaan Alam, author, most recently, of “Leave the World Behind

A book isn’t one-size-fits-all; it’s nearer Cinderella’s slipper, just right for a certain, particular reader. The book I’ve given to others probably more than all others is Lorrie Moore’s “Birds of America”. . .When I give a book as a gift, I’m most often doing so because it’s a book I love. Thus, a selfless act is revealed to be almost selfish, though I have trouble imagining a reader who didn’t fall in love with Moore’s stories.

Bryan Washington, author of “Lot” and “Memorial

Two books that I’m always gifting are Nicola Yoon’s “The Sun Is Also a Star” and Gengoroh Tagame’s “My Brother’s Husband” — they’re both such generous, big-hearted works, with a warmth that feels rare and singular.

Ann Patchett, author, most recently, of “The Dutch House

In a world that has felt more than a little shabby, I find I’m drawn to books that are both brilliant and well-made this year. Louise Erdrich is my favorite author and her most recent novel, “The Night Watchman,” is my favorite Erdrich book. It’s rich, deep, complex, loving, human and humane. It will remind us of who we are capable of being.

Matt Haig, author, most recently, of “The Midnight Library

One of the joys of reading a good book is closing it and thinking who you could give it to. I just read Luc Ferry’s “A Brief History of Thought,” which was a blockbuster in France and is the most succinct and accessible overview of philosophy I have come across, and perfect for anyone who wants to dip their toe into the waters of philosophy without drowning in intimidating prose. “Bird by Bird,” by Anne Lamott, is my go-to gift or recommendation for anyone interested in writing, though it is as much a treatise on life as it is a creative-writing primer. Also a gift for anyone going through a rocky time: “When Things Fall Apart,” by Buddhist teacher Pema Chödron, is brilliant and really helped me accept uncertainty in life. Oh, and “Winnie-the-Pooh” for anyone’s actual or inner child..

Danielle Evans, author of “The Office of Historical Corrections” and “Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self

I tend to think a lot about the right specific book for each reader — in normal times, spending nearly a full day in a bookstore searching for the best gift for everyone on my list is an annual pleasure. The books I end up gifting to more than one person tend to be anthologies and collected works. My favorite repeat gifts are “Best American Short Stories” and “The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton.” This year in particular, I will probably be gifting some of the books that have helped me find a map through grief: Rachel Eliza Griffiths’s “Seeing the Body,” Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Sonnets to Orpheus” and Edward P. Jones’s “The Known World.”

Jodi Picoult, whose books include “A Spark of Light” and “The Book of Two Ways

For the holidays, I’m going to give multiple copies of “The Midnight Library,” by Matt Haig, and “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue,” by V.E. Schwab — the two best novels I read since the pandemic hit. The first one reignited the pilot light of hope inside me; the second completely absorbed me enough to make me forget the real world — both of which are excellent gifts for anyone you love this year.
Angela Haupt is a freelance writer and full-time health editor in D.C.

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