By Terri Schlichenmeyer

You knew this was coming.

You knew that you were going to have to finish your holiday shopping soon, but it snuck up on you, didn’t it?  And even if you’re close to being done, there are always those three or five people who are impossible to buy for, right?  Remember this, though: books are easy to wrap and easy to give, and they last awhile, too. So why not head to the bookstore with your Christmas List and look for these gifts…


Is there a better book to give your BFF than “How to Kill Your Best Friend” by Lexie Elliott? I think not. This is a book about three friends who’ve been inseparable since college. Sadly, one of them, a strong swimmer, drowns under mysterious circumstances. Is there a murderer in their rapidly-shrinking friends circle?

Fans of thrillers will absolutely want to unwrap “Bullet Train” by Kotaro Isaka, the story of five assassins who find out that their respective assignments have a little too much in common for comfort. Give this book for a gift, along with two movie tickets, since it’s about to become a motion picture.

The person on your gift list who loves mythology will be very excited to see “Daughters of Sparta” by Claire Heywood beneath the tree. This is a story of two princesses of Sparta, of which little is expected but birthing an heir and looking beautiful. But when patriarchal society becomes too overbearing, the princesses must decide what to do. Far from your normal “princess” tale, this one has shades of feminism in ancient times.

The folk music lover who just happens to also enjoy novels will love “The Ballad of Laurel Springs” by Janet Beard. It’s the story starts with ten-year-old Grace, who learns something shocking about her family’s past and the event became a song. She’s not the only one, though: songs and lyrics tell the rest of the tale, through generations of Tennessee folk music. Wrap it up with a promise of summer music festivals to come.

LGBTQ Interest

If there’s about to be a new addition to your family, wrapping up “Queer Stepfamilies: The path to Social and Legal Recognition” by Katie L. Acosta would be a good thing. In this book, the author followed forty LGBTQ families to understand the joys, pitfalls, and legalities of forming a new union together. It can’t replace a lawyer, but it’s a good overview.

For the parent who wants to ensure that their child grows up with a lack of bias, “Raising LGBTQ Allies” by Chris Tompkins is a great book to give. It’s filled with methods to stop bullying in its tracks, to be proactive in having That Conversation, and how to be sure that the next generation you’re responsible for becomes responsible in turn. Wrap it up with “The Healing Otherness Handbook” by Stacee L. Reicherzer, PhD, a book that helps readers to deal with bullying by finding confidence and empowerment.

If there’s someone on your gift list who’s determined to get “fit” in the coming year, then give “The Secret to Superhuman Strength” by Alison Bechdel this holiday. Told in graphic-novel format (comics, basically), it’s the story of searching for self-improvement and finding it in a surprising place.

So why not give a little nostalgia this year by wrapping up “A Night at the Sweet Gum Head” by Martin Padgett?  It’s the tale of disco, drag, and drugs in the 1970s (of course!) in Atlanta, with appearances by activists, politics, and people who were there at that fabulous time. Wrap it up with “After Francesco” by Brian Malloy, a novel set a little later – in the mid-1980s in New York City and Minneapolis at the beginning of the AIDS crisis.

The LGBTQ activist on your gift list will want to read “The Case for Gay Reparations” by Omar G. Encarnacion. It’s a book about acknowledgment, obligation on the part of cis citizens, and fixing the pain that homophobia and violence has caused. Wrap it up with “Trans Medicine: The Emergence and Practice of Treating Gender” by Stef M. Shuster, a look at trans history that may also make your giftee growl.

Young readers who have recently transitioned with enjoy reading “Both Sides Now” by Peyton Thomas. It’s a novel about a high school boy with gigantic dreams and the means to accomplish them all. Can he overcome the barriers that life gives him? It’s debatable… Pair it with “Can’t Take That Away” by Steven Salvatore, a book about two nonbinary students and the troubles they face as they fall in love.

The thriller fan on your list will be overjoyed to unwrap “Yes, Daddy” by Jonathan Parks-Ramage. It’s the story of a young man with dying dreams of fame and fortune, who schemes to meet an older, more accomplished man with the hopes of sparking his failing career. But the older man isn’t who the younger thinks he is, and that’s not good. Wrap it up with “Lies with Man” by Michael Nava, a book about a lawyer who agrees to be counsel for a group of activists. Good so far, right? Until one of them is accused of being involved in a deadly bombing….

For the fan of Southern fiction, you can’t go wrong when you wrap up “The Tender Grave” by Sheri Reynolds. It’s the tale of two sisters, one homophobic, the other lesbian, and how they learn to forgive and re-connect.

Health and Wellness

For the past months, it seems like we’ve heard a lot from doctors and nurses. So why not wrap up a book by a psychiatrist? In “Committed: Dispatches from a Psychiatrist in Training,” author Adam Stern, M.D. writes about what it’s like to be accepted for a prestigious program in which he and his colleagues learn to help patients on a psychiatric ward. Wrap it up with “Being You: A New Science of Consciousness” by Anil Seth, a book to help you tap into an inner self and get to know you.

Give this one carefully: “Everything I Have Is Yours: A Marriage” by Eleanor Henderson is a book about boy-meets-girl and love blossoms. It’s about two children and a Happily-Almost-Ever-After, until chronic illness steps in. It’s a hard book to absorb but for the right giftee, it may be the best gift to give. Also look for “The Problem of Alzheimer’s” by Jason Karlawish, a sort of history of the “crisis” and where science is taking its treatment.

If your giftee is determined to live life to the fullest this coming year, then “Heartwood: The Art of Living with the End in Mind” by Barbara Becker may be what you need to wrap. Yes, it’s the story of death but it’s also about the way that grief can lead to growth.

Here’s a book that any reader can identify with: “Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine” by Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley. Learn what quarantine meant almost 400 years ago during The Black Death, what it means in a world with COVID-19, what we can expect during the next pandemic, and how this all meshes with the entire idea of freedom.

What to give to the person who loves the world of scent? Easy: “Revelations in Air: A Guidebook to Smell.” by Jude Stewart. Yes, it’s about things that smell good (and bad) but it’s also informative, with lessons on how to practice gaining a discerning nose. Wrap it up with a scented candle or a bottle of perfume, of course.