We’ve all been there. Christmas is just a week away and you haven’t got anything for anybody. Maybe you blew all your savings on some great Black Friday deal or you’ve just finished taking the finals that’ve occupied your mind for the past month, or maybe you just forgot. Whatever the deal is, a desperate sprint to find great gifts for people you love (or, in the case of a few, like) has begun. But, fear not, because below is a gift for every person in your life. And, if you can’t find anything here, check out my guides from 2017, 2016, and 2015 for even more inspiration.
For the cousin who just can’t resist bringing politics up at the dinner table
If this is where you’re struggling, you’re in luck because I just could not choose between two fantastic novels for this person in your life. My first recommendation is Gabrielle Zevin’s Young Jane Young, a hilarious take on a young intern’s affair with her congressman. The second novel I chose is Tahereh Mafi’s semi-autobiographical A Very Large Expanse of Sea, which follows a Muslim-American teenager finding her place in high school (and the world) in the wake of 9/11.
For the world’s biggest fan of A Christmas Prince and The Princess Switch
There’s something irresistibly lovable about cheesy Netflix Christmas movies set in small, imaginary countries in Europe. I can only handle so much sugar-and-spice, but if you know someone who can’t get enough, I’d recommend Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. Chances are they’ve seen this summer blockbuster, but Crazy Rich Asians the book is so much better. Your friend will delight in Kwan’s gossipy footnotes and swoon over protagonist Rachel Chu’s very own Cinderella story.
For your friend’s brother’s boyfriend’s cat’s aunt’s husband’s sister’s secret santa
You have no idea how you’re related. You’ve never had a conversation beyond Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the occasional Easter. But, you picked them in secret santa, so now you need a gift. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid is a universally pleasing. There’s good writing. There’s romance. There’s politics, but not too much. It’s short, but never feels rushed. Best of all, it’s in paperback, so you don’t have to worry about going over that pesky $15 limit.
For the person counting down the days until Game of Thrones’ final season
Am I projecting a little bit? Maybe. Regardless, if you know a friend who needs to get a fantasy fixing before the final season of Game of Thrones in April, gift them Lady Midnight, the first in Cassandra Clare’s addictive Dark Artifices urban fantasy trilogy. And, if you’re feeling extra generous, add in the next two in the trilogy, Lord of Shadows and Queen of Air and Darkness.
For the aunt who’s read everything
They’ve read it all, so don’t even bother trying to find something they haven’t picked up yet. Instead, look to Gabrielle Moss’s Paperback Crush, a vibrant, nostalgic glimpse into the Young Adult novels of the 80’s and 90’s.
For me (Dad, are you paying attention?)
The book highest on my Christmas list this year is How Do We Look by Mary Beard, a look at how classical art influences modern society. Soon after is Fruit of the Drunken Tree, Ingrid Rojas Contreras’s debut about an unlikely friendship in 1990’s Colombia during the reign of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.