Reading Group Center

16 Foolproof Gifts for Everyone on Your List

16 Foolproof Gifts for Everyone on Your List

You already know that books make the best gifts, so of course you want to give a book to everyone you love this holiday season. But choosing the perfect read for each person can be a challenge.

Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered! Here at the Reading Group Center we’ve compiled a list that contains the ideal choice for even the trickiest names on your list.



BraveEnoughBrave Enough by Cheryl Strayed

“Brilliant, purse-sized perfection.” —E. CE Miller, Bustle

From the bestselling author of Wild, a collection of quotes—drawn from the wide range of her writings—that capture her wisdom, courage, and outspoken humor. This book gathers, each on a single page, more than one hundred of Cheryl Strayed’s indelible quotes and thoughts—“mini instruction manuals for the soul” that urge us toward the incredible capacity for love, compassion, forgiveness, and endurance that is within us all.

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Chestnut-StreetChestnut Street by Maeve Binchy

Chestnut Street has everything that makes Binchy special, in small delicious bites.” —NPR

Chestnut Street is a place in Dublin where neighbors come and go. Behind their doors, we encounter very different people with different life circumstances, occupations, sensibilities—and stories. Imagined with the humor and understanding that are hallmarks of Maeve Binchy’s work, this world charms us as we discover its joys and sorrows, get to know the good and the bad, and have our hearts warmed by her storytelling.

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ChildrenActThe Children Act by Ian McEwan

“Another notable volume from one of the finest writers alive.” —The Washington Post

Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge. Renowned for her fierce intelligence and sensitivity, her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. She is called on to try the case of Adam, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy who is refusing, for religious reasons, life-saving medical treatment. When Fiona visits Adam in the hospital, the encounter has a powerful impact on them both, and her judgment has momentous consequences.

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LastNightInMontrealLast Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

“Breathtaking…. Simply blew me away.” —Nancy Pearl, Morning Edition, NPR

Lilia Albert has been leaving people behind her entire life, ever since her father showed up and absconded with her one snowy morning. Now, she finds it impossible to stop. Haunted by an inability to remember her early childhood, she moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers along the way yet still trailed by the private detective who has pursued her for years. Still, when her latest lover follows her from New York to Montreal, determined to learn her secrets, the past threatens to catch up with her.

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LolaQuartetThe Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel

“An ingeniously constructed literary thriller.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

After losing his job for plagiarizing, Gavin Sasaki returns to his Florida hometown. He gets a job with his sister, Elio. Eilo recently met a ten-year-old girl who looks very much like Gavin and has the same last name as his high-school girlfriend, Anna, who left town abruptly after graduation. Determined to find out if this little girl might be his daughter, Gavin sets off to track down Anna, starting with the three friends they shared back when he was part of a jazz group called “The Lola Quartet.” As Gavin pieces together their stories, he learns that Anna has been on the run for good reason, and soon his investigation into her sudden disappearance all those years ago takes a seriously dangerous turn.

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SingersGunThe Singer’s Gun by Emily St. John Mandel

“Mandel’s talent is clearly visible from the get-go.” —Los Angeles Times

Everyone Anton Waker grew up with is corrupt. His parents dealt in stolen goods, and he was a successful purveyor of forged documents until he abandoned it all in his early twenties, determined to live a normal life, complete with career, apartment, and a fiancée who knows nothing of his criminal beginnings. He’s on the verge of finally getting married when Aria—his cousin and former partner in crime—blackmails him into helping her with one last job.

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PainterThe Painter by Peter Heller

“Breathtakingly good…. A darkly suspenseful page-turner.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

After shooting a man in a Santa Fe bar, the famous artist Jim Stegner served his time and has since struggled to manage his dark impulses. Now he lives a quiet life…until the day that he encounters a hunting guide beating a horse, and he commits a brutal act. Pursued by men dead set on retribution, Jim must return to New Mexico and the high-profile life he left behind, where he’ll reckon with past deeds and the dark shadows in his own heart.

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TheFiresofAutumnThe Fires of Autumn by Irène Némirovsky

“Némirovsky wrote, for all to read at last, some of the greatest, most humane and incisive fiction that conflict has produced.” —The New York Times Book Review

At the end of the World War I, Bernard Jacquelain returns from the trenches a changed man. Broken by the unspeakable horrors he has witnessed, he becomes addicted to the lure of wealth and success. For ten years, he lives the good bourgeois life, but when the drums of war begin to sound again, everything around which he has rebuilt himself starts to crumble, and the future—of his marriage and of his country—suddenly becomes terribly uncertain.

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SomeLuckSome Luck by Jane Smiley

“Intimate…. Miraculous…. Staggering…. A masterpiece in the making.” —USA Today

Each chapter in this extraordinary novel covers a single year, encompassing the sweep of history as the Langdons abide by time-honored values and pass them on to their children. With the country on the cusp of enormous social and economic change through the early 1950s, we watch as the personal and the historical merge seamlessly: one moment electricity is just beginning to power the farm, and the next a son is volunteering to fight the Nazis.

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The-Winter-PeopleThe Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

“A hauntingly beautiful read.” —

In 1908, Sara Harrison Shea was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter. Now, in present day, Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister. One morning, Ruthie wakes to find that Alice has vanished. In her search for clues, she finds Sara’s diary hidden in her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie is drawn into the mystery, she discovers that others are investigating the house’s past. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

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GirlsFromCoronaDelMarThe Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe

“A ravishing, stay-up-all-night reading kind of novel—a sad, funny, almost impossibly good debut.” —MORE

Best friends Mia and Lorrie Ann couldn’t be more different; where Mia is reckless and proudly hard-hearted, Lorrie Ann is kind and serenely beautiful. But within a few years, fortunes change. Suddenly, Mia is free to grow up and adventure while Lorrie Ann is weighed down by responsibilities at home. And when good, nice, brave Lorrie Ann stops being so good, Mia must question how well she ever really knew her best friend in the first place.

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FarFromMaddingCrowdFar from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Far from the Madding Crowd is the first of Thomas Hardy’s great novels, and the first to sound the tragic note for which his fiction is best remembered.” —Margaret Drabble

This story of a proud rural beauty and the three men who court her is the novel that first made Thomas Hardy famous. The strong-minded Bathsheba Everdene—and the devoted shepherd, obsessed farmer, and dashing soldier who vie for her favor—move through a beautifully realized late nineteenth-century agrarian landscape, still almost untouched by the industrial revolution and the encroachment of modern life.

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CloseYourEyesClose Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

“A compelling tale of loss, resilience, and transformation.” —The Boston Globe, “Pick of the Week”

Emily Shepard is on the run; the nuclear plant where her father worked has suffered a cataclysmic meltdown, and all fingers point to him. Now, orphaned, homeless, and certain that she’s a pariah, Emily’s taken to hiding out on the frigid streets of Burlington, Vermont, creating a new identity inspired by her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson. But when an emergency threatens the fledgling home she’s created, Emily realizes that she can’t hide forever.

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QueenLuciaMissMappQueen Lucia & Miss Mapp by E.F. Benson

“Benson’s Lucia novels…are camp, sly, poisonous, piquant, stinging, clever, and as delightful as a glass of sweet sherry taken on a sun-dappled lawn.” —The Telegraph (UK)

Two unforgettable characters, both forceful and irrepressible women who dominate their respective villages in southern England, end up hilariously at war with each other. Lucia is the more deadly of the two, with her pretentious tastes and lust for power. Miss Elizabeth Mapp, on the other hand, is younger and able to terrify her opponents into submission. This is a sparkling, classic comedy of manners set against the petty snobberies and competitive maneuverings of English village society in the 1920s and 1930s.

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HowToBeAHeroineHow to Be a Heroine: Or, What I’ve Learned from Reading too Much by Samantha Ellis

“A delightful and hilarious memoir.” —The Economist

While debating literature’s greatest heroines with her best friend, playwright Samantha Ellis has a revelation—her whole life, she’s been trying to be Cathy Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights when she should have been trying to be Jane Eyre. With this discovery, she embarks on a retrospective look at the literary ladies whom she has loved since childhood. From early obsessions with the March sisters to her later idolization of Sylvia Plath, Ellis evaluates how her heroines stack up today.

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WeShouldAllBeFeministsWe Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Nuanced and rousing.” —Vogue

In this personal, eloquently argued essay—adapted from her much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah, offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

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