Trying to find the perfect gift for everyone? The great thing about buying books for gifts is that there really is something for everyone – even for those who don’t read! (See recent article on audio books). Books make wonderful gifts because they’re thoughtful, useful and you can keep them forever. You can also buy them in one place saving you hours of shopping time. But if you’re stumped for what book to buy for friends or family members, here are a few suggestions:
2015 has been a wonderful year for unforgettable biographies so there’s plenty to choose from if someone you know loves to read biographies and memoirs. Magda Szubanski’s fascinating memoir Reckoning will make a thoughtful Christmas gift. For anyone who is a fan of the legendary spy writer, John le Carre, the new, authorised biography by Adam Sisman, John Le Carre: The Biography is a great read (see our review here.)
Another compelling memoir and one that was made into a fabulous movie earlier this year is Jane Hawking’s honest and heart-wrenching depiction of her extraordinary marriage to physicist Stephen Hawking in Travelling to Infinity. Or for something hilarious, and yet sad at the same time, Richard Glover’s wonderful Flesh Wounds, is a funny and fascinating look at his upbringing in a truly dysfunctional family.
For those into music, the memoir of 70s rock icon and writer Patti Smith, M Train, is a beautiful follow-up to her renowned earlier memoir, Just Kids.
Acclaimed Australian writer Kate Grenville’s beautiful story about her mother in One Life will appeal to Grenville fans as well as anyone who simply loves a fascinating story about a woman’s life from another era. (See our interview with Kate Grenville here.)
Know someone who loves to read AND loves sport? Then a sports biography is a perfect gift idea. For the soccer fan, you can’t go past Tim Cahill’s journey from Sydney’s western suburbs to the English Premier League and some of the best goals for Australia ever – in his new memoir Legacy.
For cricket fans you can choose from two great books about two very different cricket legends, both now sadly deceased. There’s a celebration of Richie Benaud’s life in Remembering Richie. And who could forget the tragic death last year of young cricket legend Phillip Hughes? Phillip Hughes: The Official Biography is a fitting tribute to a life cut short.
For anyone looking to buy fiction for avid novel readers, 2015 has been filled with all kinds of wonderful fiction too.
For the horse-lover, consider Eliza Henry Jones’ lovely novel In the Quiet, a sad and poignant story set in rural Victoria. For the old-time Hollywood cinema lover, Todd Alexander’s Tom Houghton is about a young boy coming to terms with his Katherine Hepburn obsession and his dawning sexuality. Another homegrown title that’s now enjoying a new lease of life is Rosalie’s Ham stunning novel, The Dressmaker, thanks to the recent release of the movie starring Kate Winslet.
Fans of Isabel Allende will be delighted to hear that she has another book out; the poignant The Japanese Lover, is a great summer read, spanning as it does continents and decades.
There’s so much great homegrown rural romance to choose from too. Try Rachael Johns’ The Patterson Girls about four sisters looking for love, or Pamela Cook’s Close to Home about a vet and horse-lover who returns to her hometown to face a crisis.
Did someone in your family love Lisa Genova’s heartrending Still Alice? Earlier this year Genova brought out another heartbreaking novel, Inside the O’Briens, about a family facing Huntingdon’s disease.
Know someone who likes nothing better than a scintillating thriller? Consider filmmaker turned novelist Ann Turner’s tense thriller The Lost Swimmer or Australian crime-writer Michael Robotham’s chilling Close Your Eyes.
For anyone interested in fiction with a military and macho – yet darkly humorous – bent, try Mark Dapin’s compelling novel set during the Vietnam War, R&R.
For the man or woman who appreciates erotic fiction that is well-written and convincing, Honey Brown’s Six Degrees is a series of short stories set in Australia that combine all manner of romantic and sexy situations.
For a serious but beautiful novel set in the last century through two world wars, someone you know is bound to love William Boyd’s novel about female photographer Amory Clay in Sweet Caress. For a nostalgic, sad and thought-provoking novel, consider Australian writer Stephanie Bishop’s compelling novel about motherhood and migration set in 1950s rural England and Perth, The Other Side of the World.
Who doesn’t know someone who is a shopaholic, social media and selfie addict? They might love Ellie O’Neill’s funny and loveable novel, The Enchanted Island, about a young woman who escapes city life on a magical island off the coast of Ireland.
Fantastic award winners this year include Australian novels The Strays by Emily Bitto (The Stella Prize), and The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna (The Miles Franklin). And US novelist Anthony Doerr won the Pulitzer Prize for his mesmerising story of a blind French girl and German boy in World War 2 in All the Light We Cannot See.
Have you or your friends or family discovered the wonderful Elena Ferrante novels yet? If not, you’re sure to know someone who would be thrilled with the first in the series of four stunning novels, My Brilliant Friend. Or, if they’re already a Ferrante fan, buy the latest (and last) in the series, The Story of the Last Child. (They will love you forever)
Cookbooks are welcome treats at Christmas. For the those with a sweet tooth, treat them to The Cook and Baker by Cherie Bevan and Tass Tauroa, a gorgeous cookbook filled with twists on traditional, indulgent favourites. Or for those with a more healthy leaning try The Wholesome Cook by award winning blogger Martyna Angell – it’s packed full of delicious and nutritious recipes that cater for those with food intolerances and dietrary restrictions.
Timely for dealing with all those Christmas leftovers and avoiding waste, is the latest from River Cottage’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, The River Cottage Love Your Leftovers. It’s full of creative and inventive ways to transform your leftover food into easy, delicious dishes.
Or do you know a guy that would love to cook but hasn’t got a clue where to start? Consider giving him Dan Churchill’s Dude Food: A Guy’s Guide to Cooking Kick Ass Food.
For those interested in history, journalist Grantlee Kieza’s thoroughly researched and fascinating insight into one of Australia’s most significant historical figures, Monash: The Soldier Who Shaped Australia, is a must-buy.
Know someone who is an aspiring artist or writer? Then bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic is an inspirational account of her own journey from fearful wannabe writer to phenomenally successful writer.
For a heartbreakingly sad, but beautiful and inspiring story, two families are united by tragedy in the amazing story of Doujon’s Heart.
Would it be possible to get through a book store this Christmas without being tempted by an adult colouring book for at least one person in your family? There are so many to choose from but one of the more recent standout additions is The Harry Potter Official Adult Colouring Book. (See our article earlier this year on Why Adults Are Going Crazy for Colouring Books.)
Finally, does anyone know someone who has way too much stuff and doesn’t know how to tackle the problem – in other words, a hoarder? Then do them a favour and buy them the book everyone’s been talking about this year, Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s a funny, highly readable self help book about how to get rid of all the excess stuff in your life. We disagree with Marie Kondo on one point though – and that’s her recommendation to cull your books. That’s what bookshelves are for; we would never do that.