I am really pushed for time this year and will not have much time for mall-browsing for christmas presents. Maybe you're feeling the same way. I love giving good books as presents. Why don't we swop ideas of good books for the various relatives?
My suggestions are:
1) For preschoolers, Tabby McTat by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler is a great great kids book. Really engaging.
2) For a brainy, history-loving grown up, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel or Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson.
3) For a great 'people' novel that is suitable for sensitive souls, The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
Have you got anything to recommend :-)
A short read that is a delight is by Truman Capote entitled The Grass Harp. Of course, his In Cold Blood is an interesting journalistic novel.
And, there are still many women who enjoy Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre or Tess of the D'Ubervilles.
Among the contemporary novels, The Kite Runner is very popular. Al Roker has mystery thrillers that are doing well, too.
Among non-fiction, there are several books, among them Jesse Ventura's Conspiracy Theories and Mr. Bush's recent memoirs.
I love giving Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris collections to people I know who are contemporary readers. They are humorous and light, and books you can read over and over again. They do have some controversial content, so I wouldn't recommend them for your most conservative aunt or grandmother, but a quirky cousin or a friend definitely! I especially suggest Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs and Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.
I am a huge fan of Geraldine Brooks and would highly recommend anything by her, but especially her last three books: The Year of Wonders, March, and The People of the Book.
She is an excellent researcher, and I enjoy a unique glimpse into a variety of different time periods. She also does interesting things with structure and style. She won the Pulitzer Prize for March.
The Year of Wonders is set against the backdrop of the Black Plague in Europe -- sounds awful, but it is a great story -- very compelling characters.
March is the story of the father of the daughters in Little Women. It tells of his experiences in the Civil War. He is a character we only ever hear about in Alcott's book, and you don't have to remember any details from the former book to appreciate what Brooks does here.
The People of the Booktells the history of an important Jewish prayer book backwards from the present day to the days it was originally created. The frame of the story is a modern-day book restoration specialist who is researching details she notices about the condition of the book, and with each detail we are thrust back into a different point in time about the book. Very clever.
I would recommend The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Our book club read it, and I have recommended it to many people. Set in the South, all who have commented to me liked the book, especially the characters. To me, the characters who tell the story are memorable for what they go through and the changes they make. The other book I have recommended to middle schoolers, teenagers, or even adult family members is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The first book of a trilogy, it has the feeling of the short story "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson where someone is chosen as a sacrifice to the gods for the coming year. This book, as the title says, is a game of survival against all the others chosen to take part in the games. The first book is the best as I found the next two of the trilogy to be lacking the spirit of the first one. Neither of these is great literature, but absorbing all the same.
Every single person that I have recommended The Book Thief by Markus Zusak to has really enjoyed it. Some struggled with the format at first, but once they got used to it (it is narrated by Death, who is friendly, and sees in souls in colors), they were hooked. This is one of my new favorite books; mature teenagers that like to read up through adults will like it. It isn't a good recommend for people who only read light, fluffy, entertaining fiction though; it is a bit heavy and sad, with intense themes and emotion. However, the characters are incredibly appealing; not since To Kill a Mockingbird or Peace Like a River (another good suggestion) have I been so emotionally connected to characters.
some of my favorite books includes Eragon, along with the few other books in the series.