10 books worth giving — and getting — this season.
Our favorite thing about the holidays is sifting through the literary treasures released over the last 12 months to find the most authentic and interesting stories. A new Filipino voice in fiction, essays, memoirs, and an imaginative picture book were among this year’s best.
Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifton Larson. Just when you thought there wasn’t anything more to be uncovered about the Kennedy clan, Larson details the sad history of Rosemary: her isolation, desperation, and the ways in which her famous siblings tried to change how we treat the disabled.
Love and Other Ways of Dying by Michael Paterniti. Journalist Paterniti begins each essay in such a way that the reader isn’t quite sure where things are going, but will gladly stay aboard for the ride. With stories spanning America, Ukraine, Cambodia, and beyond, he lifts the veil of the soul and penetrates our wider understanding of one another and what makes us happy.
Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Christian Robinson. A whimsical tale of a ghost and his friend who set out on an unconventional adventure together, set against playfully retro illustrations.
A Life of Spice by Monica Bhide. Part memoir, part ode to eating, this sweet collection of remembrances and musings would make a great gift for foodies or anyone who’s simply a fan of good writing.
Home by Carson Ellis. Home is a house in the country, an apartment in the city, a tent, a carriage, or a boat. The perfect picture book to let kids know that home isn’t just where you come from, but also where the whole world lives.
100 Years of the Best American Short Stories, edited by Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor. Spotlighting an array of authors, from Hemingway to Updike to ZZ Packer, this 39-story collection is just the thing for the lit major in your life.
In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar. In this astonishing debut collection reminiscent of Jhumpa Lahiri, Filipinos find their way in the world and back to their homeland.
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. Haruf’s final novel follows an elderly pair’s ascent into an unconventional contract, fraught with all the external noise and opinion that most relationships endure. The author drew from his own marriage to sort through the ideas of loneliness, loss, and restorative connection.
Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton. Stanton has singlehandedly elevated street photography to one of the most soulful portraits of modern humanity that exists today. Withholding all judgment, he captures the most elemental fragments of the lives he encounters in his follow-up to the 2013 mega-hit Humans of New York.
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander. Yale professor and distinguished poet Alexander explores grief in her memoir about the sudden loss of her husband after 16 years of marriage.