This year's holiday gift guide is all about books. Let's be practical — books aren't hard to find at the last minute, and they're easy to wrap and tie with a sparkly bow. They cost less than an InstaPot and take up less space in the kitchen.
So here's a list of the best books for readers:
For the young adult on Snapchat or making slime in another room:
"The Night She Disappeared" and "Girl, Stolen" are by April Henry. She keeps it interesting and tense from start to finish in her YA books. "Girl, Stolen" will be made into a feature film next year.
"Awkward" by Svetlana Chmekova is a graphic novel by the author of "Brave" about a middle school transfer student named Peppi. Will the artsy, thoughtful Peppi gravitate toward the loner nerd she met on the first day or suck up to the cool kids? Trying to fit in while listening to her heart, Peppi is a character middle schoolers can relate to.
"Wonder" by R.J. Palacio is about a boy with a facial deformity. Yes, it's out in movie theaters, but kids will enjoy it more if they read the book first.
"The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid" is the latest book by Portland artistic duo Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis. Their new book for middle readers is about kid pickpockets who roam the streets of early '60s Marseille, France. Charlie, the lonely son of an American diplomat, is intrigued and wants a piece of the action.
For your relative who loves espionage:
John le Carré's "A Legacy of Spies" picks up where "Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy" leaves off. Oh yes, master spy George Smiley is back.
For book club members who can afford to buy in hardcover:
"Sing, Unburied, Sing" by Jasmyn Ward is a glorious book that's making all the Best Book lists.
For college students, outcasts and artists:
"All the Single Ladies" by Rebecca Traister is about expanding roles and choices women make in their lives.
"The Misfit's Manifesto" by Portland's Lydia Yuknavitch is based on her Ted Talk about being a misfit and being proud of it.
"The Official Bob Ross Coloring Book" has the artist's uplifting encouragement words — "with a brush you can move mountains, you can bend rivers" — opposite outlines of fluffy clouds and landscapes to color and paint.
"LiarTown: The First Four Years" by Sean Tejarratchi is a pop culture pressure cooker mash-up of graphic design, collage and humor.
For the deep seeker on your list:
I am late to the Oliver Sacks party, but I think there is still plenty of room after reading "The River of Conscious-ness."
"God, a Human History" by Reza Aslan is about humanity's "quest to make sense of
the divine" by the best-selling author of "Zealot."
"Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone" by Juli Berwald features more than anyone possibly wants to know about jellyfish, perhaps, but the book jacket is impossible to ignore.
For your doubles partner or any tennis-obsessed person:
With "Unstoppable, My Life So Far," Maria Sharapova still fascinates. Now perfect, flawless Maria has a memoir about her life and some mistakes she, um, might have made. She's human, I guess. Can the Maria haters feel a teensy bit sorry for her after taking a banned performance drug she claimed was for her heart condition? Fleeing Chernobyl as a child with her dad, Yuri, who slaved as a janitor to pay for her tennis, she fought hard to become the highest paid female athlete of all time. Now, after the fall, Maria is ready for a comeback.
For fans of conspiracy and true crime:
"Killers of the Flower Moon, the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI" by David Grann will soon be made into a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. Read the book first about a little known period in American history. Fresh outrage and heartbreak awaits.
For a new angle on Christmas:
"The Usual Santas (Soho Crime)" is a series of short stories by crime writers taking aim at Christmas.
For dog lovers:
"Beloved dog" by Moira Kalman is a mostly illustrated picture book and a reminder that when life gets complicated, go see your dog.
"IQ" and its follow-up, "Righteous," are by Joe Ide, a writer who came to it later in life and stunned critics with his debut. Both books feature an African-American detective named Isaiah Quintabe (IQ), who works his cases on the seedy side of L.A.
For the cook and people who yearn to:
"Appetites" by Anthony Bourdain lets readers prepare the same unfussy, tasty meals he makes for family dinners and dinner parties. Want to know what to always keep in the freezer for appetizers? Those little Hebrew National hotdogs.
"King Solomon's Table" by Judith Nathan is a delicious education in ancient cooking and food history, a culinary journey filled with heart and warmth. Plus, there's a recipe for babka!
Can't get a table at john Gorham's restaurants? Just get the cookbook "Hello, My Name is Tasty" by John Gorham and Liz Crain, which has recipes from the chef behind Toro Bravo, Tasty & Sons and the divine Shalom, Y'all.