This is my last book gift guide of the holiday season. I hope these lists (see links below) may have helped you find a book or two for someone you love--or for yourself!
A Bossy book-buying note: If you're buying books this holiday season, please support your local independent bookstore. They need and appreciate our business now more than ever! (The book covers on this site link you to Bookshop, a site that supports the beloved indies that keep us swimming in thoughtful book recommendations and excellent customer service all year round.)
The Bossy Bookworm
01 Answers in the Form of Questions by Claire McNear
If your young people love "Jeopardy" and mourned the passing of Alex Trebek last month like mine did, they might be good candidates for this book.
McNear shares interviews with Trebek, producers sharing exactly how they put together the beloved nightly show (there are around 8,000 episodes), hopeful contestants' sometimes wildly competitive trivia paths to the show, and for good measure, also explores the popular "Saturday Night Live" spoof of the show.
Other "Jeopardy"-related books I've given to factoid-loving young people in the past with positive results include two of longtime "Jeopardy" contestant (and highest earning game show contestant ever) Ken Jennings's books, Brainiac and Maphead. (Jennings has also authored a series of Junior Genius Guides to U.S. presidents, the human body, dinosaurs, and more that look interesting for young readers.)
02 Forgotten Fairy Tales of Brave and Brilliant Girls
Forgotten Fairy Tales offers ten stories you may never have heard before that take place around the world, and it showcases young women being their fearless and clever selves. I love books like this (and I hope the young person I'm giving this book to does too).
Usborne, the publisher of this title, produces beautiful books my kids have always loved (I'm also giving an Usborne graphic novel about King Arthur as a gift this year), but the publisher's titles aren't always readily available (and don't benefit local booksellers) because they like to sell direct to customers.
With that in mind, another book, Fairy Tales of Fearless Girls by Susannah MacFarlane, feels similar in sensibility to Forgotten Fairy Tales. Fearless Girls offers retellings of well-known fairy tales, some visible racial diversity in its illustrations, and it features young female characters using their brains to solve problems--although there is still somewhat of a focus on looks and beauty.
03 Sprawlball by Kirk Goldsberry
In Sprawlball, Goldsberry offers A Visual Tour of the New Era of the NBA in a book perfect for basketball fans of any age who like analysis, visual interpretations, stunning illustrations, and who love basketball itself.
Based on research and Goldsberry's own knack for creating visual maps highlighting players' strengths and abilities, Sprawlball is both fascinating and lovely to look at.
Another basketball-focused book gift I like is Basketball (and Other Things): A Collection of Questions Asked, Answered, Illustrated by Shea Serrano. Serrano dives into fan disputes big and small, including "Who was the best dunker of all time?" "Which version of Michael Jordan was the best Michael Jordan?" and other sometimes ridiculous issues in this fun exploration of basketball controversy and information.
04 The Ickabog by J. K. Rowling
I'm just finishing the Harry Potter series for the third time (I read it once on my own before having kids, and I've read it once with each of my children). There are such strong messages of acceptance, embracing diversity, and practicing intense loyalty to friends of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds in those books, I find myself actively trying to separate this immersive, love-filled fictional world of Rowling's with the hurtful comments she made earlier this year about transgender people.
I've found I've been resisting reading this year's Troubled Blood, the newest book in the Cormoran Strike mystery series that Rowling writes under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. But The Ickabog made me want to test my ability to separate the creator from her potentially lovely creation.
The Ickabog is about a monstrous legend in the perfect and delicious world of Cornucopia. The legend takes on a life of its own and threatens the safety of everyone in the land, and young best friends Daisy and Bert embark on an adventure to uncover the true monster and save the kingdom. With illustrations from children across the United States and Canada.
05 The Office by Andy Greene
Young people who love "The Office" and its over 200 episodes are perfect recipients for this behind-the-scenes look at The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s.
Rolling Stone writer Greene offers inside scoop about classic episodes, characters, actors, and storylines. He traces the origins of the show from its funny, humble BBC beginnings to its incredible nine TV seasons aired in the United States--including the story of how it was almost canceled after six episodes, exclusive interviews about the making and evolution of the show, and more.
06 The How-To Cookbook for Teens by Julee Morrison
One positive development that's occurred because of our family's slower pace during the pandemic has been that each of my kids has been cooking dinner once a week. (And because I am so greedy about this, I ask them to double their recipes to ensure the magical existence of leftovers, so there are far fewer meals for any grown-ups to plan for).
They're straddling the kid/adult cookbook genres, ready to take on more slightly advanced techniques and more complex recipes but still wanting straightforward and efficient methods to get the meal cooked promptly. In our house, recipes for semi-beginner cooks need to balance independent tasks and confidence-boosting familiarity; the main goal is to make it both fun and empowering (and helpful to grown-ups). So I'm hoping this cookbook isn't too easy for a young teen who's already done some cooking.
Other cookbooks my kids have loved and cooked their way through recently--and which incidentally don't have a large percentage of dessert and sweet recipes, something we don't personally need more of--are The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs: 100+ Recipes That You'll Love to Cook and Eat from America's Test Kitchen, and The Complete Children's Cookbook: Delicious Step-by-Step Recipes for Young Cooks from DK.
Cookbooks for them=meals for the whole family and less cooking (and more reading) for me. See how I greedily did that?
Two other cookbooks I'm gifting to young people in my own house this year are The Unofficial Harry Potter cookbook by Dinah Bucholz and a cookbook I'd like the young people in my house to aspire to cook from (and then I'd like them to feed the results to me), Milk Street Tuesday Nights: More Than 200 Simple Weeknight Suppers That Deliver Bold Flavor, Fast, by Christopher Kimball.
Which books are you gifting the young people in your life this holiday season?
I mentioned other book gift ideas for kids and teens in an earlier post; like this list, that one includes a book with behind-the-scenes looks at a popular TV show ("The Simpsons") and also lists a tiny inspirational book by Lin-Manuel Miranda, a book of life skills for young people, a gorgeous coffee table book that encourages armchair travels to exotic places, a mention of the kids' cooking magazine I'm giving as a gift, and more.
I'm also giving Obama's book, A Promised Land, to my teen, and not only because I want to read it myself. I think I may actually want to listen to Obama's soothing, dulcet voice read the audiobook (although I've heard he reads it sloooowly and I may need to up my usual listening speed from 1.5x--yet I do like a challenge).
I hope the ideas here and those in my earlier holiday gift lists may help you with a few ideas for beautiful book gifts for the loved ones on your list!
You might also like the book gift idea lists Shhh! Books I'm Giving as Gifts This Holiday, Shhh! More Book Gift Ideas for the Holidays, and Shhh! Books I'm Giving Kids and Teens This Holiday.