Still looking for the perfect gift for your various in-laws, your significant other, your best friend, your niece—anyone, really? Well, we asked the editors of some of our favorite literary magazines to share some of their favorite books to give as gifts. We ended up with an eclectic and awesome list. We are tempted to go out and get these all for ourselves, but that wouldn’t quite be in the spirit of the season. Enjoy this list and thanks to all the awesome editors who contributed.
Emma Komlos-Hrobsky, Tin House: My Life in France by Julia Child & The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Laura Spence-Ash, CRAFT: Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón
Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón. I love Ada Limón’s poems. There’s something so honest, so fresh, and so alive about her work. Each poem tells a story, usually with an unexpected turn towards the end. This is a book of poetry that’s a wonderful gift for those who love poetry but also for those who aren’t so sure. By the time they’ve read this book, they’ll be hooked.
Tara Laskowski, SmokeLong Quarterly: The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker
This is an odd one, but the first thing that came to mind is The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. I first read this book in college and it has stuck with me for many years. His advice about trusting your instincts and learning how to take care of yourself is spot-on. This book discusses how to fend off creepy advances, break off ties with exes, deal with stalkers, and how to act in scary or vulnerable situations. I’ve given this book to many friends over the years. Sadly, it’s especially timely now—but then again, it’s always been especially timely.
Ashley Farmer, Juked: Fever Dogs by Kim O’Neil
Right now, Fever Dogs, the debut collection by Kim O’Neil, is at the top of my list. This stunning, evocative book about three generations of women will appeal to a wide audience (and writer-friends will admire the wholly unique voice and the dazzling sentence-level dynamics).
Lena Valencia, One Story: The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark
The Driver’s Seat opens with Lise, the slightly unhinged protagonist, berating a salesgirl in a dress shop for attempting to sell her a dress with stainless fabric (“Do you think I spill things on my clothes?”). From there, we follow Lise on her doomed vacation, which we learn, early on in the book, will be where she spends the last days of her life. This slim little thriller isn’t for everyone, but those with a flair for the morbid will appreciate Muriel Spark’s black humor, sharp dialogue, and the clever way she uses Lise’s character to explore ideas of victimhood and agency.
Sadye Teiser, The Masters Review: My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales edited by Kate Bernheimer
I love to give this thick, magical anthology as a gift. Kate Bernheimer has collected and edited forty contemporary takes on the classic fairy tale form. There is just about no grownup who doesn’t appreciate a good fairy tale, be it whimsical, gruesome, or both. This anthology features stories by authors such as Aimee Bender, Kevin Brockmeier, and Kelly Link. Plus, it makes an excellent coffee table book.