Season’s readings

Five must-read books suited for the entire spectrum of your holiday shopping list.

We've got a read on who ended up on your list this year, and we're telling you it doesn't matter—there's a book for that. Make your life easy and channel your inner Oprah this holiday season: "You get a book, and you get a book, and everybody gets a book!" It's one-stop shopping at its finest, and you'll come off looking well-read too—shhh, we won't tell. Here's a handy gift list you can steal, to pull out the perfect tome every time.

Nancy Rose, Merry Christmas, Squirrels!
Give this book to any child or any kid-at-heart who happens to be on your list this year. "Books for Christmas?! What the heck is that?!" Words to remember from one indignant three-year-old YouTube star, but he's just some dumb kid so what does he know? Books are actually the best gift— especially if they happen to be holiday-themed and contain photos of actual squirrels interacting with miniature sets that local photographer Nancy Rose sets up in her back yard. That poor kid probably just got the wrong books for Christmas that year...

Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies
Give this book to a friend stuck in a shitty relationship or marriage—you hope they come to their senses but will keep your mouth shut until they do. Groff exposes a marriage over 24 years through competing perspectives of husband and wife Lotto and Mathilde. Dealing in secrets, complications and things left unresolved, Groff's sharp prose cuts through the meat of one marriage and reveals the elegant way two people have of hurting each other without saying a word.

Lauren Holmes, Barbara the Slut and Other People
Give this to your younger sister, cousin, neighbour or friend—anyone who just needs someone to "get her." These stories will introduce a coven of complex and misunderstood women, from an estranged daughter travelling with Victoria's Secret underwear to visit her mother in Mexico who will sell them at an intense markup, to a recent law school grad who takes a part-time job at an adult toy shop which aggravates her conservative father. And stories about a woman dealing with a lover-turned-squatter, one from the perspective of a dog who watches the decline of its owners' relationship and my favourite, the titular Barbara who attempts to navigate high school while branded a slut. You will find yourself in any one of these characters, or hopefully, in a little bit of all of them.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between The World and Me
Give this book to your brother-in-law, the guy who once sincerely tweeted #AllLivesMatter. Coates' newly minted National Book Award for Non-Fiction-winning memoir is framed as a letter to his teenage son, in which he grapples with American history, both seen and unseen, and offers him advice for living in a world that more than ever seems balanced on a violent edge. Coates writes with emotion and persuasion and will infiltrate even the most misguided heart.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
For your best friend, the one who has a day job but swears she's going to write the next Harry Potter someday. The perfect book to light a fire under your creative aspirations, Gilbert mines her life and writing process along with those of her literary friends to offer up advice, manifestos, tidbits and courage to do away with all your excuses in short, easy-to-gobble-up chapters. But, even beyond that, it reminds you what's so magical about inspiration to begin with.

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