Reading Group Center

Holiday Gift Guide: Staff Picks

Holiday Gift Guide: Staff Picks

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. This year, we’ve created seven custom gift guides guaranteed to help you select a wonderful present for every reader on your list.

Read on to see some Staff Picks from all of us here at the Reading Group Center, and check the bottom of the post for our full collection of gift guides.

Click here to view a downloadable PDF of all of our selections that you can print and bring to your favorite bookstore!

tinyTiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Recommended by Paige S., Marketing

I really enjoyed Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild, but it wasn’t until I read Tiny Beautiful Things that I truly appreciated how much her experiences have shaped her. This collection of advice columns that Cheryl wrote as Dear Sugar at The Rumpus is unlike anything you’ve read before. In these pages she delivers compassion and tough love, heartbreak and hope—all conveyed with touching honesty and wisdom. I love giving this book as a gift because at its core it’s a testament to the power of human connection and shared experience.

Read an excerpt | Buy the book

the food of italyThe Food of Italy by Waverley Root

Recommended by Tom P., Editorial

The perfect guide to Italian food, for Italophiles, tourists, and armchair travelers alike. Root covers the country region by region, packing in an astonishing amount of fascinating historical detail. There’s no better book for dark December days.

Buy the book



foolNobody’s Fool by Richard Russo

Recommended by Beth L., Publishing

I didn’t expect a novel about the down-on-their-luck residents of a blue-collar town to be this warm-hearted and funny, but Richard Russo’s characters are so fully realized that you can’t help but root for them, even when they’re willfully doing the wrong thing. Nobody’s Fool is at its heart a feel-good novel about friendship, family, and community—and all of the drama, love, and craziness that comes with it.

Read an excerpt | Buy the book


station elevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Recommended by Jess D., Marketing

You really can’t go wrong with the post-apocalyptic novel Station Eleven. It’s smart, absorbing, and unsettling in the best possible way, and it’s my go-to recommendation for any type of reader.

Read an excerpt | Buy the book



home cookingHome Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin

Recommended by Angie V., Publicity

Laurie Colwin’s delightful essays on cooking are best digested during one’s time off, simply because her reader will want to take a crack at every home-cooked recipe she lovingly accounts. Her recipes are delectable and improvised, and she makes it all sound easy. The aspiring chef on your list will want all the time in the world to try them out and create their own versions. What better time than over the holidays?

Read an excerpt | Buy the book


backpackA Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka: A Memoir by Lev Golinkin

Recommended by Jackie L., Design

My mother’s family escaped Ukraine much earlier than Golinkin’s but I can’t help imagining I could have easily been in his position. A profound reflecting memoir to remind us to power through despair in hope of a better future.

Buy the book



momPlease Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin

Recommended by Eliza H., Publishing

In the midst of so much divisiveness the world over, this book is a beautiful reminder of the ways we are all the same—I see my own family reflected in its characters, and the spirit of their story resonates accordingly. Plus, it’s about how badass and resilient women are, which seems a point worth underlining these days.

Read an excerpt | Buy the book


secretThe Secret History by Donna Tartt

Recommended by Laura C., Marketing

I gasped out loud the first time I read this book, and always look forward to a reread. It’s mesmerizing, well-paced fiction and is my favorite recommendation when my friends ask what they should read next.

Read an excerpt | Buy the book



deptDept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Recommended by Adam M., Social Media

This book is a knife. Every line cuts with an acerbic, bitter, hilarious truth that will leave you reeling even as you turn around to read it again.

Read an excerpt | Buy the book




midwivesMidwives by Chris Bohjalian

Recommended by Irena V., Marketing

Midwives is transfixing from start to finish and has all of the hallmarks of a classic reading experience. It’s a book that tugs at our emotions and intellect intertwined with the stories of the small-town Vermont families who are affected by it. It’s a courtroom thriller, domestic drama, and a novel of ideas which challenges our ways of thinking about the bonds of family, the power of medicine, and the effectiveness of our court system.

Read an excerpt | Buy the book


novelHow to Write a Novel by Melanie Sumner

Recommended by Andrea R., Editorial

Melanie Sumner’s How to Write a Novel is the perfect gift for any aspiring novelists in your life, one that winks at the difficulties of the writing process with heart and humor. It’s also just a delightful family story.

Read an excerpt | Buy the book




Browse all of our gift guides:

For the . . . Memoir Reader | Super Sleuth | Fiction Addict  | Movie Maven | Science Fiction & Fantasy Fanatic  |  Nonfiction Enthusiast