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MANILA, Philippines – Bookworms are both the easiest and the hardest people to think of gift ideas for. On the one hand, you always know that you can never go wrong with a crisp new book no matter the occasion. On the other hand, it seems as if they’ve already read every single book in the world, leaving you with no idea whatsoever on what to get them.
As Christmas rolls around the corner, you’ll soon be racking your brain again to get the best titles to give your book-loving pals. But don’t worry – we rounded up diverse reads across different genres to help you find the perfect book to give all the bookworms in your life some holiday cheer.
For the friends who are suckers for love
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton sees the author reflect on her evolving concept of love and its many forms through the years. Alderton looks back on the different moments in her life – the mundane and the pivotal – that have shaped everything she knows about love today. From bad first dates, embarrassing teenage crushes, getting used to a new job, and navigating friendships, Alderton’s memoir rolls all these female experiences into 368 pages to serve as a comforting read for all women.
For the fiction lovers out there, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver chronicles the double-life journey of Lydia Bird, the book’s titular character, as she heals from grief and tries to learn how to love again. When her fiancé, Freddie, dies in a car accident, her entire world crumbles. To cope with Freddie’s absence, each night, Lydia dreams about the life she and her fiancé would be living if the accident never happened. As this perfect life vanishes the moment she wakes up, Lydia’s waking life becomes nothing short of miserable. Will Lydia be able to bring back that zest for life she once had, and perhaps even find love in the process?
For the friends who are always in the mood to cry
Michelle Zauner’s Crying in H Mart is a captivating memoir that chronicles her rocky relationship with her ailing mother. Zauner was a rebellious kid, so having a Korean mother who enforced the classic strict parenting style almost every Asian kid experienced entailed numerous fights, disagreements, and resentment growing up. When the Japanese Breakfast frontwoman’s mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Zauner tries her best to keep her mother’s memory alive by reconnecting with her Korean roots through food, language, and culture. The book’s title is a nod to a practice Zauner picked up when her mom died: crying in H Mart, an Asian grocery in the US.
Meanwhile, in On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong pens a letter addressed to his mother who cannot read. The Vietnamese-American author poetically explores the experiences he and his mother had as immigrants in the US, and the complexities behind rebuilding their lives in a foreign country. Vuong also vividly recounts the discovery of his queerness, and highlights why it was so important for him to share it with his mother.
For the friends who can’t do without a good scare
Published in 1962 by The Haunting of Hill House author Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a gothic horror novel that follows 18-year-old Merricat Blackwood, who lives with her older sister Constance and their wheelchair-bound Uncle Julian. Since Constance’s acquittal for murder charges, the Blackwoods have been treated as outcasts by the rest of the villagers as they think she got away with her crimes scot-free. When their long-lost cousin Charles suddenly visits them, a chain of unexpected events unfold, causing one of the family’s darkest secrets to be revealed.
When it comes to horror, you can never go wrong with Junji Ito. The manga author’s The Liminal Zone takes readers through four spine-chilling short stories. The first story, Weeping Woman Way, revisits the ancient practice of hiring professional funeral mourners. Meanwhile, Madonna looks into an all-girls Catholic boarding school with an eerie statue of the Virgin Mary crying what appears to be blood.
In The Spirit Flow of Aokigahara, a young couple goes to the infamous Japanese suicide forest to die together, but make a sinister discovery instead. Finally, in Slumber, when an aspiring lawyer moves into a new apartment to get into full focus while studying for the board exams, he ends up having vivid memories of himself killing different people while there is news of a serial killer on the loose.
For the sci-fi junkie friends
Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary follows Ryland Grace, an astronaut who suffers from amnesia after waking up from a long coma on a spaceship. When he begins to regain some of his memory, he vaguely remembers that he must complete a crucial mission to save humanity. But with hardly any recollection of the task at hand, will he be able to succeed?
In the sci-fi thriller Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, Jason Dessen – a happily married man with a son – is suddenly abducted by a mysterious masked figure while making his way back home one night. He then wakes up to a completely different world where everything he has ever known – his wife, his son, and his job as a professor – bear no association to him. What is this new world he has found himself in, and was the previous life he lived ever real?
For the friends who love…friendship!
First on the list is Clare Pooley’s Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting – the stuff of chance encounters. It centers on Iona, an eccentric magazine advice columnist who takes the train to work every single day with her French bulldog Lulu. She always happens to be on the train with the same set of strangers she has taken to assigning nicknames to in her head.
When a medical mishap finally gets the group to start talking to each other, Iona springs into the advice expert that she is and attempts to help the individuals out in matters concerning love and life. Over time, what starts as an ordinary daily commute among total strangers then turns into the forging of unlikely yet lifelong friendships.
Similar to Clare Pooley’s novel, Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto tells the story of an elderly teahouse owner who makes it her mission to solve the mystery behind the apparent murder of a middle-aged man that occurred in her shop. As she begins to spend lots of time with her suspects to get answers out of them, she instead ends up forming wholesome friendships with each of them. And yes, she does get to solve the murder in the end!
On the other hand, Fredrik Backman’s heartwarming yet tearjerker of a novel, A Man Called Ove, follows a grumpy, elderly man with a tough exterior that, for many of his neighbors, is extremely difficult to break through. When a young family moves in next door and comes crashing into Ove’s life, he remains cranky at first, but soon after, they begin to change each other’s lives for the better. – Rappler.com