The cost of eBooks may be rising thanks to publishers, but books, be they digital or paper, are still a great gift to give this holiday season. Whether they’re read on a new Kindle Fire or in hardback, here are some suggestions The Sheet thinks you, your family and friends will enjoy.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stroud ($14 paperback, $9.99 kindle, Random House). Winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize, this novel of linked stories paints a portrait of a quiet coastal town in Maine where secrets and unfulfilled desires work like currents beneath the surface of each character’s seemingly ordinary life. Olive Kitteridge herself, a complex and fascinating presence in each story, offers a voice at once bracingly honest, painfully funny, and profoundly sad. These simple but wisely told stories will keep you reading from cover to cover.
Just Kids by Patti Smith ($16 paperback, $9.99 kindle, HarperCollins). Poet and musician Patti Smith shouldn’t be this talented, but in her lyrical memoir she proves herself a master of not only poetry and songwriting, but also of prose. Smith’s book brings to life the vanished New York City of the 60s and 70s, capturing all its beauty, seductive charm and danger. Just Kids chronicles a lifelong friendship between Smith and provocative photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who died in 1989 of AIDS. This book will make you believe in the power of art and friendship.
The Gentleman’s Hour by Don Winslow ($25 hardcover, $11.99 kindle, Simon & Schuster). A sequel to The Dawn Patrol, this stand-alone mystery novel follows surfer and former cop turned P.I. Boone Daniels on another misadventure that tangles him up with a Hawaiian gangster, a rich man’s straying wife, and the San Diego surf community itself. Winslow’s style is rhythmic and hypnotic, and perfectly Southern California cool. A must read for mystery fans.
Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes ($15.95 paperback, $7.57 kindle, Grove Press). Written by a decorated Vietnam veteran over the course of 30 years, Matterhorn offers a powerful depiction of the Vietnam War. Like the best war novels, it captures combat in all its complexity: the boredom, terror, and unexpected beauty, as well as the horrible meaninglessness of men’s lives lost for the sake of politics at home. Marlantes’ book will make you think about Vietnam, and the warriors who fought there, in a whole new light. This raw and devastating novel is a must read.
A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin ($35 hardcover, $14.99 kindle, Bantam Books). Fantasy may not be your cup of tea, but then again, this isn’t your typical fantasy. If you haven’t read the entire Song of Ice and Fire series, think about picking up the 4-book boxed set, because these books are addicting. Packed with action and intrigue, the latest in Martin’s epic series picks up reader’s favorite characters and throws them into ever more perilous situations. A Dance with Dragons is a compelling continuation to the dramatic series that’s redefining the fantasy genre.
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins ($53.97 hardcover, $17.85 kindle, Scholastic Press). Katniss Everdeen is no Bella Swan, and Collins’ Hunger Games books are not your typical Young Adult novels. In the first book, Collins introduces a heroine who is tough, courageous, and resourceful, then tests her to her limits in a dark dystopian world where children fight to the death as mass entertainment. Collins’ writing is spare and sharp, her future world distressingly believable. This series will haunt readers young and old.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, Illustrated by Erin Stead ($16.99 hardcover). This gently loopy Caldecott Medal winner is perfect for kids, and won’t make parents roll their eyes while they read. The illustrations are delicately rendered using woodblock print techniques, with just a touch of whimsy to match a simple tale of a beloved zookeeper visited on a sick day by all of his animal friends.