OK, this is definitely my favorite part of Christmas book shopping- the novels. Novels can be tricky to pick out for someone else but a lot of times I think people over-think this particular segment of gift-buying. Most books are perfectly reasonable to read and most people don't get upset at the giver if the book doesn't work out- so don't worry so much, OK? Just pick something that looks like it makes sense even if it might not be the perfect fit. It'll be fine, honestly!
That said, here are my suggestions.
Joanna Trollope's updated Sense and Sensibility is an easy choice for the Jane Austen fan, the chicklit reader or the light-romance reader. And there's a lot of cross-over there!
The special boxed edition of Junot Diaz's How to Lose Her would be great for that hipster you bought that Nick Hornby book for.
Foodies and Francophiles will savor Jonathan Grimwood's solid and entertaining The Last Banquet.
For crime readers, I recommend Stav Sherez's A Dark Redemption, a gritty London noir and first in a new series. It's also one of the best 2013 books I read hands-down.
Italophiles have lots to choose from among 2013 releases. Sarah Dunant's Blood and Beauty recounts the Borgias with a racy and enthralling story of politics and love. Goliarda Sapienza's The Art of Joy is a historical-fiction feast from the 20th century, following the adventures of one woman through the century. And Elena Ferrante's The Story of a New Name brings up to speed on the lives of two Neapolitan women at the beginning of the century and should be given and read with its prequel, My Brilliant Friend.
Some recent heavy-hitter releases perfect for the literary reader include Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, Philipp Meyer's essential classic The Son (a western but so much more), and Eleanor Catton's Booker Prize winner, The Luminaries.
Other books I like for the literary reader that might not be on the bestseller table are:
A True Novel, by Minae Mizumura, an updated version of Wuthering Heights which reviews tell me is much more than a mere retelling;
James Purdy's The Complete Short Stories, and
Thomas Keneally's excellent The Daughters of Mars, about two sisters who become nurses during World War 1 (give it alongside Joe Sacco's The Great War). I loved the Keneally book in particular!
What are you giving this year? What do you hope to get? Any suggestions for science fiction readers, popular fiction, romance,
or anything else I've forgotten?