Today’s theme is the Top Ten Books I Want To Give As Gifts. An additional requirement was to say who I’d give the book to, but most of the books I chose would appeal to many people. Plus I’m actually giving a couple books as gifts this year, so I had to leave those off! Overall, these are books that I would be pleased to introduce a new reader to.
1. “The Conference of Birds,” adapted and illustrated by Peter Sis
To: Jessica and other fans of graphic novels.
Beautiful illustrations accompany a lovely story of faith and courage, adapted from an ancient Sufi poem. I look through it every time I go to Costco.
Graphic novel runner-up: Watchmen. This book is a must for any superhero fan and a definitive entry in superhero lore. If you’ve been reading comics for a while and want to check out the book that influenced everything from “The Dark Knight” to “The Incredibles,” “Watchmen” should be next on your to-read list.
2. “On China” by Henry Kissinger
To: anyone interested in history or international politics.
I haven’t read this one, but it’s intriguing: Kissinger draws from forty years of diplomatic relations with China to present a thorough view of its history and what may lie in its future.
3. “My Name Is Mary Sutter” by Robin Oliveira
To: Kristi and anyone interested in medicine or historical fiction.
I’m gonna go ahead and brag a little here – I’ve met the author. We’ve chatted about writing and I went to see her reading at Linfield last year. Her first book is a dark and engaging read: Mary Sutter wants to be a surgeon during the American Civil War, and her experiences take her from the New York home that no longer has anything to offer her, to key battles and finally Washington DC itself. It’s emotionally tough to read at times, but it’s thoroughly researched and worth the read, especially if you, like me, tend to stick within a particular era of historical fiction (like Tudor).
4. “The Zombie Survival Guide” by Max Brooks
To: any zombie fans
It’s pretty much what the title suggests, and it’s written by the son of Mel Brooks. Hard to go wrong. If your friend has been raving about “The Walking Dead,” stick this under their tree.
5. “Zorro” by Isabel Allende
To: anyone, especially those who like more literary historical fiction
Allende is an acclaimed writer, most famous for “House of Spirits,” but I enjoyed her retelling of the story of Zorro as a more subdued, serious origins/coming-of-age tale. Her writing is literary but still approachable.
6. “Age of Innocence” by Edith Wharton
To: feminists and anyone who likes “The Great Gatsby”
The story itself is not feminist per se, but it features two interesting female protagonists, and this book made Wharton the first female writer to win a Pulitzer. The language is as approachable as “The Great Gatsby” and the content is similar: wealthy urbanites in conflict between love and social convention.
7. “The Foreign Correspondent” by Alan Furst
To: anyone who likes historical thrillers or spy novels and, um, a unique writing style
Furst’s books are not easy to read. It’s not because they’re complicated stories – on the contrary, sometimes not much of anything happens – but because his syntax is pretty untraditional. Fragments abound and stuff is occasionally written in French. The story’s climax comes at an unexpected point and the story doesn’t really seem to end – just stop. Still, I adore Furst’s books for the evocative details of pre-war Paris and the Average Joe characters who find themselves accomplishing daring feats because they know it’s the right thing to do. Furst’s heroes are not heroic, but they’re brave, loyal, and often in love in the most dramatic ways.
8. “The Serpent’s Shadow” by Mercedes Lackey
To: fans of revisionist fairy tales
Lackey wrote several retellings of fairy tales for her Elemental Masters series, but I think this and “The Gates of Sleep” were by far the best. This one sets the story of Snow White in Edwardian England and stars Maya, a half-Indian woman who wants to be a doctor. Her seven dwarves are seven tropical critters she brought with her from India, and the “evil queen” is her thuggee cult-leader aunt. The story is fluffy and it would be predictable even if it wasn’t based on Snow White, but it’s Lackey, so we all know and love this, and go back for more.
9. “Literature from the ‘Axis of Evil'”
To: anyone interested in world literature or politics
This anthology was published in 2006 and it contains works by authors from countries like Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Cuba, and more. The book’s goal is to remind readers that not every Iraqi is a terrorist, and not every North Korean is a brainwashed hater of the US – the residents of these countries have trouble in school, family dramas, problems at work, and more, just like you.
10. “Notes from an Island” by Bill Bryson
This was recommended reading for my college’s January Term class in England, and…I did not read it. It’s written by an American travel writer who took one last tour around Great Britain, his home for several years, before moving back to the US. I catch glimpses of it in bookstores occasionally and I always kick myself for not reading it. It’s a highly-regarded travel book and one both the English and Anglophiles love.
Check out the other Top Ten Tuesday responses here!
What books would you gift? Have you ever gotten an awesome book as a gift? My grandfather, during those years of high school when my world was “Lord of the Rings,” got me the Alan Lee-illustrated edition. My mom got me my first Mercedes Lackey books for my 13th birthday. And when I was having a crappy couple weeks earlier this year, Jessica sent me a copy of one of her favorite books, “The Serialist,” which Ihaven’treadyetbutit’snextonmylistIswear.