It is finally December which also means Christmas and New Year’s are just round the corner! I have so far been busily scribbling my greeting cards and also about to start on my present buying frenzy. If you are fretting over gifts, here are my top 10 book gift ideas amongst the list of books I read this year and would highly recommend to all readers. (Click on the book titles below for my full-length book reviews)
For the fiction lover:
Train Dreams by Denis Johnson
Having been listed for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Literature, this short novel is a pure beauty. Get ready to be thrown into the wilderness to experience the powerful forces of Mother Nature, the hard work of pioneers who laid the foundations for modern America and the immense solitude they faced. An evocative and poignant book that will capture your endless imagination.
Please Take Care of Mother by Shin Kyung-sook
This tearjerker is all about family ties, perfect to give to the women folk in your family for this homely cozy season. When Mother disappeared at a train station, it triggered off a wave of frantic responses and nostalgic remembrance from her family, often driven by regret and guilt towards the matriarch. A touching and emotional read that will be a hit with the ladies. This book is winner of the 2011 Man Asian literary prize.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Pre-dating the Mad Men era, Jack Kerouac penned this free-spirited read that defined a whole generation of post-war Beats generation. Traverse through America with Kerouac and friends as they drive down the free, wide roads of life. A classic to have on your bookshelf that you could return to reading it again and again.
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
This unfinished novel by the author who passed away in 2008 is for those avant-garde and postmodern individuals. As a big read standing at more than 500 pages, this anti-narrative novel replaces the traditional narrative through the juxtaposition of varying chapters of monologues, snippets and random writings to describe boredom. This book was nominated for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in literature.
Coast – Anthology edited by Lee Wei Fen and Daren Shiau
A book published in Singapore that deserves to be in your stocking this year would an anthology comprising 53 different short stories, poems and plays. All of them are original pieces based on the common theme ‘coast’ but are creatively interpreted to be uniquely different. The Singapore-based publisher is now selling and shipping the book locally and internationally. Click here if interested.
Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
Espionage, spies and the Cold War– a potential scene from a James Bond movie but this time with a beautiful woman undercover in the ‘Sweet Tooth’ as the main protagonist. As much as this is as a novel shrouded in mysteries, deceit and a surprising inception moment, it is also a literary work about literature. This is my pick for any serious readers.
For the non-fiction lover:
Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
This book pays homage to our wonderful brain and memory capabilities penned by full-time journalist and 2006 U.S. Memory Champion Joshua Foer. Apart from being an investigative scientific piece, it also documents his personal journey and the ingenuous methods he took to boost his memory. (My full-length book review was featured on WordPress Freshly Pressed in January 2012)
Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick
Stories of political defiance from six North Korean defectors make this a juicy and intriguing book. With the love story about a pair of cross-star lovers forming the backbone of the story, it narrates the ordinary lives of ordinary North Korean people as they struggle to stay afloat amidst dire poverty and political suppression. Packed with heart-wrenching tales, this book is a grave reality check on our lives.
The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz
This is a cookbook, travel literature and personal biography mashed together with a generous dash of wittiness. As an American chef who moved to Paris, this book is so much fun to read as it documents the author’s cultural shock and culinary adventures in a foreign land with his self-deprecating sense of humor. Although I have not tried any of the recipes from the book, I can testify to its entertainment value, which is enough to please the domestic goddess in your household.
Last but not least would be an e-book reader.
Give your loved ones the gift of knowledge with an e-reader. Ever since owning one, I found myself reading more often because the nifty little device makes reading on the go ever so easy. There are currently a great deal of e-readers in the market you are probably spoilt for choice! My top tip when purchasing it would be to consider the variety and prices of the e-books at the device’s online bookstore to ensure ample content to pick from