November 23, 2016

Great gift books for adults, 2016 edition

It isn't always easy to find the perfect book for the readers on your gift list so NoveList is here to help you out. Every year, our NextReads editors pull together their favorite books from the newsletters they create.

Check 'em out!

Katherine Bradley Johnson
Eclectic reader, editor, writer, cat lover, amateur photographer

The Bees by Laline Paul
A dystopian tale about an oppressive caste-structured society? A novel about bees? First-person narration from a bee's point of view? The very concept of this book seems far-fetched, but readers and reviewers have praised author Laline Paull's skill at crafting the plot and plumbing the narrator-bee's inner feelings. Will Flora 717 save, or destroy, her hive's civilization? Readers who enjoy thought-provoking commentary on human institutions through an animal's point of view will want to dive into this compelling, richly detailed novel.

Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet by John Bradshaw
Despite their ubiquity in our homes (and on the Internet), what do we really know about cats? Are they truly our friends, or -- as some suspect -- are they just using us? Appealing to pet parents, British anthrozoologist John Bradshaw examines a range of topics related to cat behavior and traces the evolution of cats from freelance exterminators to household companions. He explains why cats purr, profiles the personalities of cats he has known, and -- in an accessible, engaging manner -- details research projects aimed at finding out what cats are really up to.

Shauna Griffin
Librarian, reader of fantastic fiction, explorer, dog walker extraordinaire

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew
Here’s a fun one -- it’s a piece of art in its own right, as this graphic novel is full of lavish, inventive illustrations that mimic established cartoonists when not reflecting the author’s own evolving style. It also incorporates newspaper clippings, photo collages, and old sketches. The story itself is the faux biography of an imaginary Singaporean comics artist whose art reflected his political views, which were mostly critical of his country’s governance. Between the art, the politics, and the history of Singapore, this is a winner for curious readers.

The Art of the Con: The Most Notorious Fakes, Frauds, and Forgeries in the Art World by Anthony M. Amore
Art fraud is a highly lucrative scheme for shysters the world over, as head of security for Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Anthony Amore relates in this engrossing mix of true crime and art history. Each chapter covers one great con, whether forgery, Ponzi scheme, or Ebay scam, and goes into great detail about the massive history of art fraud and forgery techniques. Forty percent of art in museums is faked, Amore claims -- and this book shows exactly how that number’s been achieved.

Gillian Speace
Speed reader, beekeeper, hoyden

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
Touching on some of the themes of Nathalia Holt's Rise of the Rocket Girls, Hidden Figures spotlights more unsung heroines of the space race. This inspiring group biography introduces NASA's African American female mathematicians, whose work in the 1950s and 60s played a pivotal role in launching American astronauts into orbit. Working in segregated spaces within the organization, their stories have remained largely unheard until now. Hidden Figures has already been adapted for screen and is set for release in December; pair it with a movie ticket and you'll have the perfect gift for the space buff in your life.

The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks by Amy Stewart
Before there was rum, there was sugarcane, before there was wine, there were grapes, and before there was gin, well, there were a lot of plants (juniper and citrus among them)! Covering 160 plants in a book that is best savored instead of guzzled, engaging author Amy Stewart provides readers with a well-researched history of botanicals in alcoholic beverages that is wittily informative and will please everyone from cocktail masters (recipes are included) to plant lovers (growing instructions are also included) as well as those who are just curious about the delicious history of beverages. Cheers!

Dawn Towery
Reader of books great and small, librarian, volunteer, fan of children and animals

The Hour of Land by Terry Tempest Williams
In honor of the United States National Park Service's centennial this year, naturalist and author Terry Tempest Williams reflects on 12 of the 400+ parks, seashores, monuments, and recreation areas that are, as she so elegantly puts it, "portals and thresholds of wonder." Visiting Gettysburg, Alcatraz Island, Grand Teton, Acadia, Gates of the Arctic, and more, she reflects on her trips and her own past as well as the history of the parks, how politics and people have shaped them and continue to shape them, and the environmental issues they face. Gorgeously illustrated with selections from several accomplished photographers, The Hour of Land is a fascinating book that nature lovers will cherish.

On Trails: An Exploration by Robert Moor
Trails are nothing new. For millennia, they have shown insects, animals, and people the way to go as well as where others have gone before. Most of us just use them and forget them, but who (or what) made them? And why? Pondering these questions and others while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail planted the seed for journalist Robert Moor’s elegantly written, fascinating examination of why we walk where we do. Letting his questions lead him around the world (from Maine to Morocco) he talks to historians, Native Americans, scientists, and others while quoting everyone from Wendell Berry to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Moor provides a wide-ranging (literarily and figuratively) debut book; fans of hiking and travelogues will certainly want to move through its thought-provoking pages.

These are just a few of the fantastic suggestions you'll find in the Gift Books for Adult Readers article.

Find the full list in NoveList by pasting the following search into the search box:

TT great gift books AND ND feature articles


Happy gifting!

Krista Biggs is an Editor/Bibliographer at NoveList. She's an attendee of food festivals, provider of cat kibble, and book omnivore. Want to hear more from her? Sign up for Krista's Book Squad email updates.

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