You’ve probably figured it out by now: Haley and I are both inveterate listmakers. And one of my favorite things about Christmas is the excuse to make lots and lots of lists. Gifts I want to give. Gifts I’m going to give. Gifts that I would give if I could afford them. Gifts that would be perfect for teachers, friends, and my kids in a few years. And for you: some bookish gifts for grownups!
This isn’t a “best books” list; it’s much more idiosyncratic. Whenever I finish a book I’ve loved, I immediately begin casting about for someone to give it to. Think of this as an odd collection of notes that either or Haley and I have jotted down, over the year, when we’ve read something and enjoyed it. Maybe one of these would bring some joy to someone you love, too.
- The Brothers K: Baseball. Family. Religion. A shout out to Dostoevsky. Baseball. What more could a novel-lover want? (And if you don’t think baseball is novelistic – please, please, reconsider this position.)
- Excellent Women, Barbara Pym. “I was so astonished that I could think of nothing to say, but wondered irrelevantly if I was to be caught with a teapot in my hand on every dramatic occasion.”
- Peace Like a River, Leif Enger. If you haven’t read it yourself, put it on your list. If you know anyone who loves a good story, put it on theirs.
- Sense and Sensibility – pair it with this amazing movie version. Because, really – Jane Austen is always, always appropriate.
- That Distant Land, Wendell Berry. Introduce someone you love to Port William. Only, watch out: they may not want to come back.
- Kristin Lavransdatter, Sigrid Undset. Fourteenth century Norway. But a universal story. For some of us, this has been a life-changing trilogy.
- Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Rebecca West. If you have a travel or history buff on your list, this book is the best of both. And actually, it’s a classic of English letters. History, politics, culture, theology, music, art – it’s all there. In an intelligent, penetrating voice.
- Desiring the Kingdom, James K.A. Smith. An academic look at how desire is formed, and how we can educate so that students desire the Kingdom of God.
- The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, Alan Jacobs. A book club delight! Fun to read, and a lovely encouragement to read for joy.
- A Reader’s Delight – he has a volume on kids’ novels, too. Essays by a Dartmouth professor on the books you missed. For the friend who has “run out of Jane Austen novels”!
- Real Love for Real Life, Andi Ashworth. Haley told me a few weeks ago that I needed to read this book about caregiving as a vocation. It’s on my own Amazon wishlist. You know, in case you were wondering.
- Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne. “A manifesto for protecting the grace of childhood.” A lovely gift for anyone with a child in their life.
- Christian Seasons Calendar Haley and I both have one. The art is gorgeous. And I love being reminded what time it is, not as the world measures time, but as God’s people do.
- Book Embosser For anyone who needs to channel that inner librarian. Plus it gives the reader in your life a good excuse to buy more paper books!
- Framed Literary Quotation I want one! ASAP! Also, one of these. And some Shakespeare hairpins in my stocking wouldn’t go amiss, either.
- eBook Cover For the loved one who has made the digital leap.
- Books & Culture subscription Anyone who loves books, loves ideas, and is interested in an intelligent Christian literary review. I have about 8 years’ worth of past issues sitting in my attic.
- Image Journal subscription A beautiful journal of the arts. Literature, visual arts, essays, and interviews. Again, boxes of past issues are weighing down my attic. They’re so beautifully produced, I can’t part with them.
- Moleskine journals. For starting a commonplace book!
- Donation to International Justice Mission. It’s not bookish. But it is an amazing organization, and a cause close to the Lord’s heart.