Forget the latest gadgets and tech toys: books are always my favorite presents. If you need some last-minute gift ideas, consider buying a book for a friend or family member. Wrap it in pretty paper, tie on a bright bow and give the gift of imagination. Here are just a few of my favorite books to consider buying as gifts this Christmas:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.
If you know someone who has NOT read this book, give it to them! There are so many lovely editions to choose from, and the story is adored by kids and adults alike. This first book of the seven-book series is about a young boy who learns he’s a wizard, and it started something amazing: we now have an imaginary universe that is a sort of spiritual and emotional home for millions of people. These are people who get sorted into their “houses” (I’m in Ravenclaw, BTW), buy magic wands and boxes of jellybeans with rather questionable flavors, and dress up in long black robes when they visit Universal Studios. And they don’t care who sees them. Buy this book for anyone who wonders what all the buzz is about, and see if you can’t convert a new Potterhead! (Shout out to the waiter who served me a while ago at a local Perkins. I saw that “dark mark” tattoo on your arm. You may be in Slytherin, but we’re still family). 🙂
McDuff Moves In (or any of the other “McDuff” books) by Rosemary Wells and Susan Jeffers.
This is for the “littles” in your life. These picture books about a small West Highland terrier have gorgeous illustrations and incredibly sweet stories. When my kids were small they fell in love with McDuff and I happily read them the same stories over and over. Reading these books somehow takes you to a wonderful place where you feel like you’re wrapped in a warm, fuzzy blanket while seated in front of the fire, sipping cocoa. You’re in Grandma’s kitchen again, eating freshly baked cookies and getting one of her special hugs. You’re in your favorite PJ’s, watching Christmas movies on Netflix…just buy these books! You won’t be sorry.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
This would be for tweens and older. My youngest started reading this in school and I was reminded of how much I enjoyed this classic story as a child. The story takes place in Victorian times. Young orphaned Mary moves into her uncle’s largely empty manor house with over 100 rooms and has nothing to do but listen to the wind howl across the lonely moors…or is that someone crying? As the mystery unfolds the story becomes a sweet and life-affirming tale about the gifts of nature and how the presence of love and hope can heal our bodies and our hearts.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.
For the adults in your life, this first in a series of murder mysteries would be a fun gift. The story grabbed me from the start and didn’t let go. Just as I’d happily move in the Weasleys if the Harry Potter universe were real, I’d also love a chance to visit Flavia at Buckshaw, her crumbling manor house in England. (I seem to have a thing for old English country homes, but whatever). Flavia is eleven, a precocious self-taught chemist with a genius IQ who just happens to solve murders in 1950’s England. She’s a snarky delight and the secondary characters are just as much fun. Flavia’s universe expands as the saga continues with each new book in the series, and the connections between all the characters grow and deepen in sometimes surprising ways. (I’m hoping for a series of movies just like the Harry Potter films. Or how about a BBC mini-series?)
The French Impressionist by Rebecca Bischoff.
Okay, I know–shameless self-promotion! But consider buying this book as a gift. Both adults and teens would enjoy this story. Rosemary runs away, discovers a mystery and struggles to deal with it while battling her own inner demons, all the while hoping she won’t be discovered and sent back home. And it takes place in the south of France. Need an escape? Buy this book!