It’s that time of year when we turn our thoughts to what the heck we are going to source for our loved ones without having to set foot in a physical, upselling store amid millions of similarly harried customers who may or may not have experienced or dished out some carpark rage on their way in.
The problem is that I’ve read few books of my choice this year, and I’m acutely feeling the results of that as I now wrack my brain for book gift ideas. (I only ever give books as presents and my friends and family have come to expect this. As a writer, I’m the one who’s most supposed to be across new releases and quirky finds. Rightly or wrongly, they’re happy to leave the reading recommendations and book buying to me.)
It’s not that I haven’t wanted to read. I have mini mountains of books waiting to be read not so ferreted away in my tiny, one-bedroom apartment. And it’s not that I haven’t been reading. But I’m midway through my PhD (something I rarely talk about because the mere mention of it makes me sound like a pretentious prat) and the workload and the wading through unnecessarily dense journal articles has left me little brain space and even less time for reading for pleasure.
So instead, this year’s gift collection is increasingly looking like a Christmas back catalogue of books I’ve liked and would heartily endorse. Even this is not an exhaustive list (see aforementioned note re: lack of requisite brainspace). What’s clear is that with the exception of a left-of-field reading bomb to give my brain a break (think Twilight and Vampire Academy), my reading and gift-giving preferences skew strongly to the end-of-the-world-meets-saving-the-world creative non-fiction.
I’ve blogged about most (if not all) of the books here before, so if you’re super keen you’re welcome to seek those blogs out and get a more detailed perspective. But the books are also listed because they’re one that haunt me, even through a study-induced brain fog. That’s surely a sign of a good book, right?
Suffice to say, if you’re looking for some Christmas present ideas I’d urge you towards any and/or all of the below. And if you have any suggestions for books I should be both gifting now and adding to my pile of books to be read once uni’s over (a pile that I can’t feasibly ever imagine myself getting through, but that’s an altogether different issue), feel free to mention them in the comments field below.
So, in no particular order and knowing I’ve forgotten more than a few, I suggest*:
- The Secret History
- Vampire Academy and the spin-off series Bloodlines
- Race of a Lifetime (especially worth reading as a retrospective in Obama’s final term)
- Silent Spring
- Animal Liberation
- Eating Animals
- Keeping Hope Alive
- The Psychopath Test
- The Elephant Whisperer
- Babylon’s Ark
- The Last Rhinos
- The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary
- Emergency Sex & Other Desperate Measures
- The Boy in the Moon
- The People Smuggler
- The Hospital by the River
- I Am Malala
- I Shall Not Hate.
- Yes Please (which it seems like everyone is reading right now. If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your verdict)
- Grave Mercy (it’s about young-adult book a girl who runs away from an arranged marriage to a convent where she becomes an assassin. Or something. It had me at the tagline: Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?).
*As a side note, I also think most of those books would be appropriate reading for the politicians and media and more descending on Australia for the G20.