2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 1 book toward her goal of 285 books.

2023 Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 265 books.

Holidays are Here, HOORAY! (Part 1 of 2)

It’s that time – time for holiday gift shopping!  Hooray!  Let me state right up front so there are no misconceptions – I LOVE present shopping.  I have been a very good (I think, and hope they’d all agree!) sister, daughter, auntie for many years.  Well this year I also get to be a good step-mom, and I’m even more excited to go shopping as a result!

I’m going to organize this into two parts.  The first will be book gifts, and I will do my best to include something for everyone, and will even specify which element of everyone I think the given book applies to.  The second, which will run on Monday (December 5) will be book-related or book-themed gifts, and again I will try to cover the spectrum of gift recipients.  Of course, if you have some really bizarre second-cousin twice-removed who likes NASCAR and the musical stylings of a kazoo band, I can’t make any promises.  But I will do my best…  (teehee)

Oh – and I don’t deserve full credit for everything you will see here…  Some of the ideas are cheerfully pilfered from other bloggers, both of whose holiday shopping lists were so inspiring that I decided to craft my own.  So kudos and thanks to Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl and Devon at The Huffington Post for their ideas – definitely make sure to follow these links to their lists, because they have way more fabulous ideas for you.  🙂

And so, without further ado, I give you book gifts…


A Random Smattering of Gift Books for (Nearly) Everyone on Your List

First Up: Kids (in ascending age order)

  • The Crown on Your Head – Nancy Tillman writes the most beautiful books, with the most beautiful illustrations…  This is her latest “here’s how much I love you” book.  The premise this time: all children are born with a crown of love.  It sounds sappy, and I guess it is, but her gorgeous and lush illustrations and sweet and deceptively simple-sounding words encapsulate parental love in a way that is, well, lovely.
  • All My Friends Are Dead – How on earth can you not buy this book based on the title alone?  This is one of the gift ideas I have freely stolen from my good friend Devon at The Huff Post.  She has quirky random taste, as do I, and this book speaks to me in the same way I imagine it did her.  It is clever, funny, unusual, and features dinosaurs – all things that appeal to nearly every little kid I know.  Plus, I think kids appreciate snarky way more than we give them credit for, and that they are a little darker than we all like to believe.  So why not play into that?
  • The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back – Even my step-son who doesn’t like to read wants to read these.  What more could you ask for?  The illustrations are cute and the book looks like it was written/made by a kid.  The story also covers classic questions – is magic real, what does it mean to be real/true, and how can boys and girls communicate – in a clever and painless way.  Good stuff…
  • The 39 Clues series – Here’s another great set of books for kids who are resistant to the joys of reading…  They’re mysteries featuring clever kids (a boy and a girl, so the series can appeal to anyone) fighting despicable odds (and relatives) to win vast sums of money.  They include secret codes/hidden messages in each book.  They are tied to an online game, that involves information and trading cards provided in the books.  Recipe for success, dontcha think?  Oh – and there are a bunch of them, so you can keep your child wanting more books!
  • Maximum Ride series – My step-daughter loves these.  Again, they feature clever kids fighting despicable odds (and adults) – clever kids who can fly.  The series has more twists than a bag of cheetos – betrayal, loss, fighting, amazing victories large and small, and power dynamics among a group of very talented (genetically modified) kids ranging in age from barely-read-for-school to high school.  They also make great audio books that both kids and adults can enjoy, so if you are setting off on a long drive to grandma’s house for the holidays, might want to consider these…

Next: Adults*

  • Voice – I’ve reviewed this one already, so check out all the great things I have already said about it here.  It’s a great guy-gift, and one you’ll want to make sure to borrow!
  • The Parasol Protectorate – These are so fun.  Steampunk snark with more clever and original characters than you can throw Ivy’s ugly hats at (sorry – book reference, read them to understand).  They read incredibly fast, but fortunately a critical mass of them are already available – and more come out regularly.
  • Go the F*** to Sleep – Is there anything better than a book for adults that is set up to satirize a book for kids?  Every adult (with a perverse sense of humor and levity) who has ever tried to get a child to go to bed will empathize with the father’s frustration – and if you want a GREAT audio book, check out the reading by Samuel L. Jackson, who has the perfect voice for this one.  You’ll have to hide it from the kids, but I swear it’s the funniest and truest story I’ve seen in a while!
  • A Discovery of Witches – Here’s another one I’ve reviewed already.  Great, long and involved fun – read my previous review here.
  • The Know-It-All – This is still one of my favorite non-fictions of all time.  It’s a fun trip into the head of a man who routinely sets himself up to do bizarre challenges in the name of writing.  The writing style is easy, the insights into what it’s like to be married to someone you find slightly exasperating are entertaining, and the challenge – to read the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica – means that the book is full of fun and random facts and likely to encourage you to read up on additional topics once the story ends.  Good stuff!

Be sure to check back on Monday to get some novel (teehee) bookish gift ideas to complement these actual books!


*Of course, there are all kinds of recommendations by genre in my various Top Ten lists and book reviews on the blog.  This list will just be a subset of things I recommend, trying to blend books for men and women and the serious minded and not-so-serious…



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