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Holiday Gift Guide: For Adult Readers

December 13, 2012

Today’s gift guide features a few of my favorite picks for the adult readers on your holiday shopping list. These are choices sure to please readers of all types, from the fiction lover to the chef with a bold sense of humor!


I’ve devoted an entire blog post to the lovely memoir The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe (you can read it here) but I couldn’t make a gift guide for adult readers without including the book I believe is the perfect choice for any recipient on your list. This moving story of Will’s relationship with his fascinating mother Mary Anne, their journey through her cancer treatment, and the two-person book club they formed to pass the time waiting at chemotherapy appointments is uplifting, thoughtful and poignant. Each chapter includes Will’s family story, but also serves as a book discussion of all kinds of reads, ranging from classics to new fiction. I created my own to-read list from the comprehensive title list at the back of the book and I’ve already read the book Will and Mary Anne chose to start their club, Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. This is a terrific choice for friends, family members and your friends from book club!


J.R. Moehringer came to readers’ attention with his beloved memoir, The Tender Bar. He is back with his first novel, Sutton, a humorous, exciting and romantic look at notorious bank robber Willie Sutton. Sutton robbed banks so successfully for thirty years that he ended up on the FBI’s first Most Wanted list. Because he robbed banks that were considered bloodsucking and predatory at the time, and because he never fired a shot or harmed someone during a robbery, the public began to root for him, and when he was finally jailed for good in 1952, crowds of fans surrounded the jail cheering for his release. Moehringer is a gifted storyteller who brings Willie Sutton to life in this vivid mix of research and imagination. This would make a wonderful gift for the reader who enjoys adventure novels or American history.


For the non-fiction fan of books like Kitchen Confidential, I would recommend Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky. This eye-opening memoir of a career spent working in hotels luxurious and shabby, doing jobs ranging from valet to housekeeping to front desk, will shock and delight you. Tomsky’s expose of the hospitality industry will make you laugh and scare you a little, and he also provides helpful insider tips on how to get upgrades and free stuff, and also how to avoid having your luggage mishandled or your requests denied. This is a quick-paced, fascinating read.


Building Stories by Chris Ware is a book of sorts that you will want to give to those die-hard print fans in your life. It’s a graphic novel inside a keepsake box, with fourteen different books, magazines, pamphlets and even a Golden book, that, when put together, form the story of a Chicago apartment building and its occupants. The pieces make up the story as a whole, but readers can pick and choose where to begin. This is not a novelty item, it’s a moving story told in parts. It’s also hefty and gorgeous. This is sure to wow the most discriminating reader! If you want a peek at more of the box’s interior contents, you can see them here.


I had to include the parody/cookbook Fifty Shades of Chicken by FL Fowler for all Fifty Shades of Grey fans! This is an actual cookbook created by an acclaimed chef using a nom de plume, so the food is delicious (or “bound to be delicious!” as the clever tagline reads), but what makes it such a hilarious gift is the nonstop double entendres that tie into the Fifty Shades trilogy. The recipe titles range from the mildly racy, like Sticky Chicken Fingers, to the bolder Bacon-Bound Wings, to the much wilder Mustard-Spanked Chicken (and many more too mature to list here!). The photos are done in the same color palette and style as the books, and the cookbook’s back story is the transformation of an innocent free-range chicken who submits to a dominating chef and learns the thrill of becoming the main course. I guarantee this book will bring a smile to your recipient’s face!

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 13, 2012 8:14 am

    I hope a lot of people find books under their trees this year!

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