I picked this up at the library on Kate's suggestion because she thought I'd like it. I trust her opinon and I’d never read any Neil Gaiman, so yay. It’s wonderful. A dark fairy tale, beautifully written, that really focuses on memory and the powerlessness of childhood. I liked it so much that I’m now reading Neverwhere.
Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
I read this recently and I’m not going to lie - it’s more than a little bit devastating but absolutely worth reading. It's about love and grief and goes to some weird places but comes back again with a very satisfying conclusion. I found the characterization of Lily (who is a dachshund) completely charming and it kept me fully invested.
The Martian by Andy Weir
Did you see the movie? I liked the movie but I loved the book. It’s easy to read, surprisingly funny, and suspenseful even if you already know what happens. I’m not a space nerd and I had no problem getting into it but if you have a space nerd in your life who hasn’t read it, definitely buy a copy for him or her.
In The Woods by Tana French
I was surprised that I hadn’t included this in one of my previous book gift guides! I’ve enjoyed all of Tana French’s books but I think the first two are the strongest. They’re part police procedural and part psychological mystery with a tiny element of supernatural thrown in. In The Woods (the first in the series) is beautiful in it’s details and French's writing style just sucks me in. Highly recommend. (Warning: The ending is controversial but the devil, so to speak, is in the details. You’ll see.)
Cold Comfort Farm
This is a odd little classic that everyone should read. It’s a ridiculously funny parody of gloomy rural English doom novels (Hardy and the like) and it just gets funnier the more you read it. The movie (starring a nearly unrecognizable Kate Beckinsale) is good too.
National Velvet, by Enid Bagnold
I always include a childhood favorite! This is an oddly dreamy book and very much not your typical little-girl-and-horse story. I loved it as a kid because it was strange and old fashioned and full of British slang I didn't understand. I love it as an adult because it's an interesting slice of life from the English rural 1930s and more about the struggle of growing up than it is about a horse race. (I suggest buying a used hardback version with illustrations by Paul Brown. It's my favorite edition.)
Books on my Wishlist:
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
This definitely seems like the kind of book you could give to almost anyone on your list and it would be well-received. It definitely appeals to me. I mean, glowworm caves? Hell yeah. And shoutout to the Great Stalacpipe Organ in Virginia!
Appetites: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain
I don’t have this and I really, really want it. I just love Bourdain’s no-bullshit attitude and the recipes in this book (those that he thinks everyone should know how to cook) are exactly the kind of things I like to make. Nothing super complicated, just good home cooking. There’s also this gem regarding insufferable foodie message board commenters:
“You know what? If Jacques Pépin tells you this is how you make a fucking egg? The matter is settled, fuck nuts. Now go back to arguing about Bundt cake recipes.”
Marry, me Bourdain.