Book recommendations for your last-minute holiday shopping needs.

If you’re like me, you kind of hate leaving your house. And you probably aren’t quite done with your Christmas shopping. And time is running out. It’s a cunnundrum.

But! Never fear! Use the crap outta that Amazon Prime membership and order the just-right book for those hard-to-shop-for folks on your list. Here are my recommendations.

For your angsty teen-aged niece: When did teen girls get so scary? They dress better than me and I’m pretty sure they’re judging my sensible footwear and OMG, teen girls are terrifying! But, all that aside … you can smooth things over and buy some street cred with Rainbow Rowell. These novels are technically young adult, but I’ve read them and they are wonderful – engrossing and smart. Consider Fangirl: A Novel or its new followup, Carry On.

For your father-in-law who thinks everything made after 1950 is crap: The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown. Because this book is about some hard-core dudes from when men were men. This book has it all: pulling yourself up by your bootstraps; sports; and beating Nazis. If you liked Unbroken, you’ll like The Boys in the Boat. If you haven’t read Unbroken, well, that would make a good New Year’s resolution. You won’t be sorry.

For the wanna-be fabulous folk in your life: Modern Mix by Eddie Ross. OK, usually, I only look at the photos in decorating books. Show me, don’t tell me. But this coffee table book combines gorgeous photos with text that’s engaging and gives you permission to do yo’ thang. Eddie loves flea markets, color, and dishes. And this book is both inspiring and empowering. When it comes to decorating, your stuff doesn’t have to match: it has to go. And you deserve to live in loveliness.

For the naughty girl and/or felon: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. Because it seems like just another thriller set in post-WWI London and your mom asks to borrow it when you’re done reading, but then you get into it and it is … steamy? And you realize that you skimmed over the cover blurb that called it “volcanically sexy?” And it offers a nuanced view of what it was like to be gay less than 100 years ago? And also, murder?

For the history buff or the slightly nerdy teen-aged boy: One Summer: America, 1927. So, I love Bill Bryson. His writing reflects his genuine curiosity about the world and is so engaging. This book covers just a few months in American history, but what a few months: Lindburgh, Ruth, Ford, Capone. I learned a lot, and found myself wanting to know more. And isn’t that the greatest gift?

For your friend in need of a change: Sometimes, you’ve got to mess up and get lost to figure things out. Lost & Found by Brooke Davis is a lovely novel about just that. There’s the little girl who’s living in a department store; the elderly man who runs away from his nursing home; and the old biddy who hasn’t left her house in 7 years. And then? Well, stuff happens. It’s funny and heartbreaking and life-affirming and I just loved this book.

For the young reader who isn’t yet an angsty teen but might be starting to figure out that you aren’t cool: This might be your last chance to share a book from your childhood. Or mine. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L Konigsburg is a novel that I loved as a kid. I reread it a few years ago and it’s just as magical. Claudia and Jamie run away from home to … The Metropolitan Museum of Art, of course.

What did I miss? And what books are you giving (or hoping to receive!) this holiday?

Friendly reminder: When you shop through my links, Amazon throws me some spare change. You know, to pay my library fines. Because sometimes I borrow books instead of buying them. Because I’m not made of money. And libraries are awesome.

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  • Reply Becky December 17, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    I saw those Rainbow Rowell books and wondered if my teen daughter would like them. I loved (LOVED) Eleanor and Park, but she was sort of meh about it. So I passed on them when I found them for a song somewhere….
    She requested the "I am Malala" book, so I guess I'll get her that because I absolutely hate buying her books that she doesn't read. I'd rather her borrow them from the library.

  • Reply Violet December 18, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    I have four nieces and a nephew and I give each of them a book for Christmas every year. It was easy with the oldest niece. I gave her the book that was my fave at her current age. Not so easy with her two younger sisters, however, but I've done ok. One of the girls got Mixed Up Files a couple of years ago – love that book!! They are 20, 17, 12, and 8 (twins) this year. I phase them out at 18, so four books this year. They are getting:

    17 year old – Ride the Wind (Looks like a romance novel, sorta, but it really isn't. I read it probably 20 years ago, LOVED it, and still think about it often. This one is a gamble since this niece is seriously into dystopian society stuff.)

    12 year old – The Wizard of Oz (Maybe a bit young for her, maybe not. She's not a book lover but she has an amazing imagination and the book is so much more than the movie.)

    8 year old niece – Little House in the Big Woods (Because Laura Ingalls Wilder.)

    8 year old nephew – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Because Narnia.)

    I've become almost exclusively Kindle when it comes to reading for pleasure. I use Book Bub to download a lot of interesting books for free or super cheap. $1.99 is my limit for paying for an e-book unless it's something I am desperate to read.

  • Reply Cha Cha December 20, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Oh, Becky – I loooooooved Eleanor & Park, too! Maybe it's more powerful to those of us who have been out of high school (ahem) for a while. I'll be curious to hear how she likes Malala!

  • Reply Cha Cha December 20, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Violet, you are the auntie with the mostest! I want to be in a book club with your nieces and nephew.

  • Reply Green Girl in Wisconsin December 29, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    We get and give books with abandon 'round here. If you liked Unbroken, check out Devotion by Adam Makos (same sort of story, set in Korean War). D and I both loved One Summer (read it last summer!). So many cool connections in that one.
    And if you like Rainbow Rowell, get Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. Seriously awesome.
    I just started Fates and Furies and I luff it so much.
    My sons got all kinds of books, too, but the titles escape me at the moment.

  • Reply Karen (formerly kcinnova) January 3, 2016 at 5:52 am

    My boys gave me The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which could be a way of telling Mom that she is a slob surrounded by clutter. But actually, it just meant that someone finally discovered that I had an Amazon wish list and actually used it!

    My sister gave my boys books for many years, but we no longer exchange gifts with extended family. (Distance is a killjoy.)

  • Reply Karen (formerly kcinnova) January 3, 2016 at 5:56 am

    I wish I had been caught up on my blog reading in time, because the Bill Bryson book would have been a perfect gift for my father-in-law!

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