The mistletoe is hung, and so are the garlands, the ornaments, window decorations, and lights. You'd be ready for the holidays, too, if you weren't hung up on a gift for that one certain person.
Now what? Now head to the bookstore with this column in-hand, and look for one of these great books...
If your giftee is a lover of memoirs, "Woman at 1,000 Degrees" by Hallgrimur Helgason is a novel she may like, too. It's told in the voice of 80-year-old Herra Bj'rnsson, who is at the end of her life and she's in the mood to share... Wrap it up with "The Clockmaker's Daughter" by Kate Morton, a novel of an archivist, a very old manor, and a bit of a mystery that transcends time.
Your cat lovers will take to "Talk to the Paw" by Melinda Metz like catnip. It's a little bit romance, a little bit angst, a theft, and a purr-fect ending.
If it's not too timely to be a good gift, look for "Only Child" by Rhiannon Navin. It's a book about a school shooting and a mother's actions when her son is injured in ways that can't be bandaged.
The short story fan will be glad to unwrap "Sweet & Low" by Nick White. This book is full of Southern fiction, characters you forget are not real, and situations that make a good yarn great.
For true short-story fans, pair it with "Everyday People: The Color of Life - A Short Story Anthology" edited by Jennifer Baker.
For the giftee who sometimes wishes for a life-rewind, "The Dinner List" by Rebecca Serle could be a good choice to give. It's a story about one evening, one meal, a lot of loved ones (past and present) and a chance to make things right. Pair it up with "The Dream Daughter" by Diane Chamberlain, a book about a mother's first chances.
If you give "The Witch Elm" by Tana French to your suspense-novel lover, be prepared to be ignored for the rest of the day. Not on purpose, but because this is a story of an injured man, a decades-old mystery, and plenty of spine-tingles.
For the historical fiction fan, look for "A Well-Behaved Woman" by Therese Anne Fowler. It's a multi-generational tale of wealth and high-society (and the Vanderbilts), set in the years following the Civil War, and one woman's desire - need? - to make it to the top of New York's social scene.
For the person who can't get enough of John, Paul, George, or Ringo, "Visualizing the Beatles" by John Pring and Rob Thomas is something they'll want to hold in their hands. It's a graphic history of the Fab Four, so lots of pictures, easy to browse, fun to have. Pair it with "The Cutting Edge" by Leslie Cavendish, who was the woman who cut and styled the Beatles' hair.
For the armchair detective or CSI fan, "The Handy Forensic Science Answer Book" by Patricia Barnes-Svarney and Thomas E. Svarney will be a welcome gift this year. In a Q&A format, this book teaches and answers the kinds of questions any detective-show fan can come up with. It may also chill you... Wrap it up with any good murder mystery, of course! Or better yet, wrap it up with "Murder, Lies, and Cover-Ups" by David Gardner, a book about conspiracies and the whodunit deaths of celebrities your giftee will surely remember.
Yes, Earth is a pretty good place to live. Oxygen, water, trees... but what is our presence doing to the planet? "Darwin Comes to Town" by Menno Schilthuizen is one of those books that'll answer your giftee's questions while it also invites him to think. How is our world thriving and surviving? Pair it up with "The Simpol Solution" by John Bunzl and Nick Duffell, a book about fixing the global problems we face today and our children could face tomorrow. Consider more with "The Disaster Survival Guide" by Marie D. Jones, a book that's a good primer for coming out the other side of nature's worst and mankind's unthinkable.
If your giftee would love something otherworldly, try "Sister of Darkness: The Chronicles of a Modern Exorcist" by R. H. Stavis with Sarah Durand. Yes, this book is for real. Yes, it could scare the Dickens out of someone.
For the fashionista, you can't go wrong when you give "Fierce: The History of Leopard Print" by Jo Weldon. Yes, that's what this book is about - the evolution of a wild fad that shows no signs of slowing down. You know what kind of paper to wrap this book in, don't you? Wrap it up for the perfect gift for the giftee who mourns the end of summer from October to May: "Hollywood Beach Beauties" by David Wills. It's a large picture book full of starlets on the beach, circa 1930 into the 1970s. Not just fun for sun lovers, but for fashion followers, too. Another book to try: "An Atlas of Natural Beauty" by Victoire de Taillac and Ramdane Touhami. It's exactly what it sounds like: a book of recipes for her to naturally enhance her gorgeous looks.
The writer / reader on your gift list will truly enjoy "The Handy Literature Answer Book" by Daniel S. Burt, PhD, and Deborah G. Felder. It's a book about books, authors, reading, and more books. Pair it up with "1,000 Books to Read Before You Die" by James Mustich, which is a gigantic tome filled with suggestions that will keep your giftee busy for a lot of Christmases to come. Might also want to think about "Atticus Finch: The Biography" by Joseph Crespino, a biography of Harper Lee and the first man in her life.
New homeowners and those who are still looking may like "A Place Called Home" by Kim R. Manturuk, Mark R. Lindblad, & Roberto G. Quercia. It's a rather scholarly look at why we own homes, who owns them, and the financial issues that surround owning your own home versus renting. Filled with data and stats, this book is also great for your favorite Realtor. Pair it up with the historic "The Finest Building in America: The New York Crystal Palace 1853-1858" by Edwin G. Burrows, or "Homeplace" by John Lingan, a story of a town, its future, and its musical legacy.
So your giftee likes to have something to take while waiting for his or her part in the community theatre? "Shakespeare's Ear" by Tim Rayborn couldn't be a better book, then. It's filled with interesting tales and little-known secrets from the world of theatre. For your favorite actor, it is to be. Also look for "Messiah: The Composition and Afterlife of Handel's Masterpiece" by Jonathan Keates.
Where would you favorite pal be without you - or vice versa? In "Text Me When You Get Home" by Kayleen Schaeffer, your giftee will see how female friendships are forged, nourished, and kept strong and what happens when they don't. Will you-know-who share this book with you? Wrap it up with "Girl Talk" by Jacqquline Mroz, a book about female friendships from a scientific perspective, and she might.
For the giftee who needs a specific understanding boost (and be careful when you give it!), look for "It Takes One to Tango" by Winifred M. Reilly, MA, MFT, a book about fixing a marriage. If it feels right, pair it with "Infidelity: Why Men and Women Cheat" by Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, MD, but be cautious!
The person who loves to explore will love reading "Walking the Americas" by Levison Wood. He's a British explorer who walked 1,800 miles through eight countries and this is the story of the people he met, the things he saw, and his thoughts on it all. Pair it up with "Tip of the Iceberg" by Mark Adams, a story of a long journey across the wilds of Alaska.
If there's someone on your list who wonders what the future holds, wrap up "The Next American City" by Mick Cornett, a book about small cities and what the future holds for them and their citizens. Pair it with "Without a Net," edited by Michelle Tea, an anthology about just getting by.
So you say your giftee has been following politics closely. He read "Hillbilly Elegy." Gift him with "What You are Getting Wrong about Appalachia" by Elizabeth Catte. This book nicely balances fact from fiction, and it'll give your giftee more prospective. It could even be a mind-changer. Pair it with something your political watcher will like: "Type R" by Ama Marston and Stephanie Marston, a book about resilience and how to get more of it in today's world.
For the person who's facing That Certain Age in the New Year, wrap up "The Happiness Curve" by Jonathan Rauch. It's a book about the wonderfulness of turning 50 and how life is so much sweeter. Pair it up with "The End of Old Age" by Marc E. Agronin, M.D., which is about making the latter half of your life the best part.
For a reader who craves hard, true facts, "A Book of Book Lists" by Alex Johnson might be just the thing. It's, well, the title is self-explanatory but it also contains a harder look at the classics, literature, and authors' perspectives on both. Just be aware that it's very British. Wrap it up with "The Weather Detective" by Peter Wohlleben, making these books a perfect duo for your fact-hungry giftee.
Everybody with a job will love reading "Danger, Man Working" by Michael Perry. It's a series of essays on having a job. Also fishing, freelancing, living on a farm, veterans, and other things that'll make you laugh and / or know you're reading the words of a kindred spirit. A good book to add to the package before you wrap it is "A Little Tea Book" by Sebastian Beckwith with Caroline Paul, illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton. A good book, a cuppa tea, and a good book about tea will all make an excellent gift.
For the political animal in your family, "Hugs from Obama," edited by M. Sweeney might be just the right gift. It's filled with pictures and quotations from the Obama years in the White House, including the end. Pair it up with "The Watergate: Inside America's Most Infamous Address" by Joseph Rodota, for a scandalous look back in history. More books for the current events fan: "Chosen Country: A Rebellion in the West" by James Pogue is a peek at the militia movement in America; and "My Brother Moochie" by Issac J. Bailey is a book on poverty and racism.
The giftee who loves to laugh will love having "Laughter Totally Is the Best Medicine" by the Reader's Digest folks. Filled with jokes, cartoons, and other funnies, it might also make a great stocking-stuffer. And if your giftee loves to laugh, look at "The Incomplete Book of Running" by Peter Sagal, for a fast chuckle.
And for the cook on your list, "Buttermilk Graffiti" by Edward Lee would make a great gift. It's part history, part memoir, part foodie paradise with recipes and it's yummy. Pair it with a brand-new cookbook for a tasty 2019, or wrap up "Moonshine: A Celebration of America's Original Rebel Spirit" by John Schlimm with it. See what your giftee can cook up now.
So there you are. A bunch of different ways to use that gift certificate for fun, learning, and winter reading anticipation. Remember: if none of these suggestions seem to fit that Special Someone on your list, ask your weary-but-smiling bookseller. She's the one who has all the right answers.