Friday, November 26, 2021

21 Book Ideas for Holiday Gifts in 2021



Books make terrific presents! Here are 21 ideas for the people on your list: fiction, nonfiction, history, mystery, cookery, gardening, memoir, house books, pictures books, even a sticker book -- a little something for everyone!

These are my personal picks for book gift ideas. Links go to my Rose City Reader shop. You can find my other bookshop lists there too, like 15 Favorite Campus Novels, Winners of the Women's Prize, and others. Feel free to poke around!


In alphabetical order by author name:

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton. A smart, sexy rom-com perfect for holiday reading. Came out August 2021 and was shortlisted for the Wodehouse prize for best comic novel.

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara. On the edges of a sprawling Indian city, a boy and his two friends set out to solve the mysterious disappearances of several children. This spellbinding mystery deserves the international praise heaped on it. It came out in 2020 and won the 2021 Edgar Award for best mystery novel.

Flavours of Greece by Rosemary Barron. Rosemary Barron started a cooking school in Greece in the 1980s and has been championing Greek food ever since. This redo of her best selling cookbook is a must-have for any lover of Greek food who wants to cook at home. Out June 2021 from Grub Street Cookery.

Dragons & Pagodas: A Celebration of Chinoiserie by Aldous Bertram. For the chinoiserie lover on your list, this one is a show stopper. Complete with Bertram's own chinoiserie–inspired watercolors and collages, Dragons & Pagodas is an irresistible confection. This coffee table gem came out September 2021.

Shoot the Moonlight Out by William Boyle. A neo-noir crime story set in pre-9/11 Brooklyn. Fans of Dennis Lehane or Michael Connelly will like this new rich, complex thriller. Out November 2021 from Pegasus Crime.

John Derian Picture Book by John Derian. This oversized coffee table book (11" x 14") came out in 2016 but is so gorgeous it deserves a spot on a gift list. Dreamy! 

John Derian Sticker Book by John Derian. For anyone who loves the world of John Derian -- or just loves really cool stickers! Came out November 2021.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. Lawrence Ellsworth is in the middle of the first new translation of Dumas' "Musketeer Cycle" in over 100 years. His take is is fresh and lively, without the Victorian fustiness of earlier versions. If you thought the Musketeers were fun before, wait until you see how they swashbuckle now! The Three Musketeers is the first book in the series and came out in 2018. It's nice to start at the beginning. Four other books in the series are now available.

The Beauty of Home: Redefining Traditional Interiors by Marie Flanigan. New in 2021, this design book showcases Marie Flanigan's timeless, livable style. She also explains the elements needed to recreate her signature look. Can you tell I like pretty coffee table books? There's probably someone on your list who does too.

The Accidental Collector: An Artworld Caper by Guy Kennaway. This frolic through the world of art dealing and English villages is a freewheeling farce that will bring a smile with every page. It won the 2021 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction. 

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson. Erik Larson writes nonfiction history books that read like the most exciting thriller novels, like The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake. This one came out in 2020 but there are probably people on your list who missed it, just like I did.

Island of Gold by Amy Maroney. Amy Maroney launched a new series with this rollicking adventure story set in 1454 on the Greek island of Rhodes and featuring a strong female protagonist. Great pick for teen readers and any fan of exciting historical fiction.

The Garden in Every Sense and Season: A Year of Insights and Inspiration from My Garden by Tovah Martin. These 100 essays are like spending a year in a garden with a good friend. This reissued edition of Martin's garden classic came out in March 2021 from Timber Press.

Murder at the Castle: An Iris Gray Mystery by M. B. Shaw. Portrait painter Iris Grey arrives at Pitfeldy Castle in the Scottish Highlands to paint a portrait ahead of a New Year's wedding. But she must solve a murder instead. This Christmas-themed cozy mystery is PERFECT for the holidays. It comes out December 7, 2021.

Double Blind by Edward St. Aubyn. As you would expect from the author of the Patrick Melrose novels, Double Blind is rich literary fiction reminiscent of Iris Murdoch or Kingsley Amis. Came out June 2021.

The Florentines: From Dante to Galileo: The Transformation of Western Civilization by Paul Strathern. This masterful examination of the history of Florence is a nice choice for the history buff or Italian lover on your list. Out July 2021 from Pegasus Books.

Hill House Living: The Art of Creating a Joyful Life by Paula Sutton. Paula Sutton is a stylist, writer, and creator of the popular blog, Hill House Vintage. She's like a British, Black, 21st Century Martha Stewart and this is my favorite coffee table book of 2021. Get it for anyone with a sense of vintage style and dreams of living in a Stately Home of England. Came out October 2021.

Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking: A Cookbook by Toni Tipton-Martin. Fresh and modern recipes with deep roots in African American culinary history. This award winning cookbook hit the shelves in November 2019 but is still getting attention. A solid building block for a cookbook library.

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. The new book from the author of A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility. This came out in October 2021. Given the almost universal popularity of his earlier books, you probably can't go wrong with this one!

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci. Who doesn't like Stanley Tucci? For the foodie on your list, this one fits the bill. It came out in October and is getting all the buzz.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. Literary noir set in 1959 Harlem. This page turner of a caper shows Whitehead at his storytelling best. Came out September 2021.

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