Unique book gifts to share this 2020 holiday season


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Even in quarantine, it isn’t always possible to go through all of the books you want to read – not with so much zoom training and doom scrolling. When the holidays start to creep in and the free time starts to lengthen, it’s the perfect time to give just the right book to the right person, or five or ten. Herewith a carefully compiled list of the most exciting, funniest and most urgent jobs of the year.


“The Vanishing Half”

In Brit Bennett’s first book since her acclaimed debut, The Mothers, twin sisters who were born in a city in the deep south, fair skinned and black, both as teenagers in the 1960s, flee. One of them fades later than white. It’s a tricky story to get right, and as The Times reviewer Bethanne Patrick wrote, “Bennett does a great job.”

27 $ | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here


(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Raven Leilani made his debut with the Book of Summer: The sour, funny, hot, and hyper-real story of a 23-year-old publishing assistant who clawed her way up from the bottom and pushed her way through New York’s men in a threesome.

$ 26 | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

โ€žThe Old Driftโ€œ

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE - Cover of the book The Old Drift: A Novel by Namwali Serpell.

Namwali Serpell’s 2019 Epic, now available in paperback, has clearly established itself as the great Zambian novel. Tracing four generations of three families across the color and box spectrum as the landlocked African nation changes seismically, Serpell uses magical realism in perfectly calibrated doses to create a dazzling effect.

$ 18 | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

“The story of a goat”

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE - Cover of the book The Story of a Goat by Perumal Murugan.

There is a long tradition of coded animal parables (“Animal Farm”?), But few are as heartbreaking as Perumal Murugan’s story of a little goat exposed to all the forms of suffering and comfort that visit modern India. Its author turned to allegory only after he was persecuted for writing more directly about India’s diseases.

$ 16 | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here


Jacket cover for "Bestiary," by K-Ming Chang.

(Random House Publishing Group)

K-Ming Chang’s grand debut is told by Mother, Daughter, and Grandmother – a polyphonic novel that brings together a strange growing up, a Taiwanese American immigrant story, a family abuse document, and the mythical journey of a girl raising a tiger. That is magical realism in its reality.

27 $ | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE - Cover of Jack: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson.

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The fourth of Marilynne Robinson’s earthy, philosophical, and very American Gilead novels focuses on the title son of a pastor who, in the 1950s in the Midwest, decides to marry a black woman and suffer the possible consequences. Above all, it is a soulful and transcendent love story.

27 $ | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

‘Leave the world behind’

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE - Cover of the book Leave The World Behind: A novel by Rumaan Alam.

Buckle up. When a family of New York bobos goes for a weekend in the Hamptons and the writer is Rumaan Alam, expect social satire – and get it. But then the world literally falls apart, revealing our desperate desire to cling to normal in the teeth of the apocalypse. It is the more or less flawless end-of-world novel 2020.

28 $ | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

“The adult life of lies”

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE - Cover des Buches The Lying Life of Adults von Elena Ferrante.

(Emanuele Ragnisco / Europa Editi)

Can Elena Ferrante’s latest match keep up with her globally popular Neapolital novels, a quartet about two very different girls growing up? Anyway, โ€œLying Lifeโ€ is a masterpiece in its own minor key, in which a teenager reacts to the breakup of their family in expected and strange ways.

$ 26 | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

“Red pill”

Red pill from Hari Kunzru

Red pill from Hari Kunzru

(Knopf / Penguin Random House)

Anyone baffled by America’s descent into conspiracy frenzy would get a dark kick from Hari Kunzru’s latest film, which features an American scholar in Germany who talks about an obscure right-wing cabal linked to a reality show by a television cop , falls into a rabbit hole.

28 $ | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

“Winter Counts”

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE - Cover of the book Winter Counts: A novel by David Heska Wanbli Weiden.

David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s native noir about a vigilante on the trail of a gang that imports heroin into his Lakota reservation is so organic and sonically fascinating that one wonders why it took so long to develop such a mashup .

28 $ | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

Non-fiction books

“Conditional Citizens”

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE - Cover des Buches Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America von Laila Lalami.

Laila Lalami is an author of thoughtful novels about the lives of American immigrants like her, turning to non-fiction books, revealing exactly how US citizenship ranks despite her Statue of Liberty bromides through personal experience and broader research.

$ 26 | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here


HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE - Cover of the book Intimations by Zadie Smith.

Zadie Smith has always been an essayist at least as phenomenal as a novelist. This sleek, Flash-published volume of reflections on life in quarantine rides the waves of fear, loneliness, community, loss, and self-refection that we have all gone through – and still are.

$ 11 | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

“To forget”

GIFT GUIDE - Cover of Unforgetting: A Memory of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in America by Roberto Lovato.

(HarperCollins / HarperCollins)

Roberto Lovato has long been a poet and activist, but he has never written as frankly or extensively as in this memoir of his more militant days, which is also a comprehensive history of the Salvadoran diaspora in California’s vicious circle of violence at its source in American politics.

27 $ | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here


HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE - Cover of the book Caste by Isabel Wilkerson.

Isabel Wilkerson’s study surpasses many books on institutional racism in describing the problem as something broader and more concrete. We suffer from a caste system in which a dominant, shrinking group is fighting for continued supremacy and the lower caste are still fighting for full human rights.

32 $ | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

“Too much and never enough”

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE - Cover des Buches Too Much and Never Enough von Mary L. Trump.

(Simon & Schuster / Simon & Schuster)

In a year of Trump exposรฉ, the strongest came from an unexpected place: a Trump niece with personal grudges. Mary Trump uses her firsthand knowledge and experience in psychology to paint a damned and ultimately tragic portrait of a man bred to be bullied and abused.

28 $ | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

“Eerie Valley”

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE - Cover of the book Uncanny Valley: A Memoir by Anna Wiener.

(MCD / Farrar, Straus and Giroux / MCD / Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Anna Wiener started out in the publishing world in New York before moving west to follow the tech boom. It is ideal for turning a personal memory into an insider indictment against Silicon Valley, tailored precisely to a moment when we question its utopian promise.

27 $ | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

“The Americans without papers”

Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

(One World / Penguin Random House)

Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, an implicit reprimand for novels that purport to “humanize” undocumented immigrants, goes deep into the actual lives of undocumented people and their own upbringing. They suffer from a range of social ills, but they are not statistics; they are simple (and powerful) people.

$ 26 | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

,Find out’

GIFT GUIDE - Cover of Figure It Out: Essays by Wayne Koestenbaum.

(Soft Skull Press / Designed by Mic / Soft Skull Press / Designed by Mic)

In what is probably the strangest and most delightful book of the year, Wayne Koestenbaum is an essayist and artist who comments on everything from butterflies to Susan Sontag, Robert Rauschenberg and Jackie O with sharp script but little open sense of direction – beyond a wildly contagious curiosity.

$ 17 | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

“A promised land”

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE - Cover des Buches A Promised Land von Barack Obama.

Will President Barack Obama’s two-volume report on his tenure compete with the great? Ulysses S. Grant could get a run for his money based on the evidence for “My Father’s Dreams”. The first volume ends with the death of bin Laden and the life of General Motors. Due November 17th.

$ 45 | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

โ€žMemorial Driveโ€œ

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE - Cover of the book Memorial Drive: The Memories of a Daughter by Natasha Trethewey

Natasha Trethewey’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry has always handled the pain of southern black history. In this essay, she goes into something even more personal – the murder of her mother by her stepfather. With poetry and documentary precision, she builds an indelible memorial to her mother.

28 $ | ๐Ÿ‘‰ Buy here

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