24 Books for the Hard-to-Shop-For Person on Your List

December 11 2017
Share 24 Books for the Hard-to-Shop-For Person on Your List

It’s that time of year again. The holidays. The time of year filled with family and friends, turkey and pie, tickets home and car rides, Black Friday deals and glasses of cheer. And for many of us, it’s trying to find a present for those hard-to-gift people in our lives. You know—the ones you’ve already given a coffee-shop giftcard to and a scented candle the year before that. We hope this list helps you cross a few more off your shopping list.

 

For your coworker throwing a holiday party
LINCOLN IN THE BARDO, George Saunders’s incredible first novel, is the winner of the Man Booker Prize—a very smart choice. TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD will show that you have some humor and fits in with the party theme.

 

For your neighbor who brings in the mail when you are away
UNCOMMON TYPE, a charming new story collection from one of America’s greatest actors, because who doesn’t love Tom Hanks? The same goes for Agatha Christie.

 

For your cousin who brings the antipasto each year, with extra olives just for you
INGREDIENTI is a charming book perfect for a foodie, written by Marcella Hazan, the inimitable woman who popularized Italian cuisine in America, and her husband Victor. SUPER TUSCAN is a beautiful book that introduces the flavors of Tuscany into everyday dishes.

 

For the White Elephant
Ah, this is a tough one. I recommend WHAT IF? or STEPHEN COLBERT’S MIDNIGHT CONFESSIONS. Either of these books will no doubt become the coveted gift in the White Elephant.

For your college-aged niece
It’s tough to keep that cool reputation you’ve carefully cultivated all these years. NOVEMBER CRIMINALS has been compared to CATCHER IN THE RYE and is now a major motion picture. THE HANDMAID’S TALE is one of Margaret Atwood’s finest works, and the Hulu series has garnered much acclaim.

 

For your boss
Choosing a gift for your boss can be challenging, especially when you’ve already exhausted the wine, candle, coffee route. Try LEONARDO DA VINCI or PRINCIPLES. Whether your boss is the general manager or the president, these books offer inspiration for life and work.

 

For your sister’s new boyfriend who you’ll be meeting for the first time
Does anyone not like Bob Dylan, the winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature? Ray Bradbury’s SOMETHING WICKED COMES THIS WAY is a classic in a stunning new package.

 

For the brother-in-law of your sister-in-law
You refer to each other as the outlaws. You’ll both be laughing with these humorous picks: WAITING FOR THE PUNCH or IT’S ALL RELATIVE.

 

For your dog sitter
BLUE DOG LOVE is filled with the whimsical art of George Rodrigue, a wonderful coffee-table book. THE CATS OF COPENHAGEN, though seemingly ironic, will work if your dog sitter is also a cat sitter, too.

 

For your child’s teacher
Astronaut Scott Kelly is hugely inspirational and a great example of the ability to achieve whatever you set your mind to. THE SUN AND HER FLOWERS is a beautiful collection of poetry from the author of MILK AND HONEY.

 

For your brother’s ex-girlfriend who is coming to dinner
The holidays may offer up some awkward situations, but these books won’t. THE RULES OF MAGIC is the prequel to PRACTICAL MAGIC from beloved author Alice Hoffman. LITERALLY ME is collection of illustrations and essays from “Instagram’s favorite illustrator.” (Vogue)

 

For your tween nephew 
You have a close with relationship with your nephew, but he’s past the Legos. WONDER is a #1 New York Times bestseller soon to be a major motion picture. THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION is a modern classic, a dystopian novel that has won several awards, including the National Book Award.

Lincoln in the Bardo
George Saunders

George Saunders is an acclaimed short story writer of collections THE TENTH OF DECEMBER, PASTORALIA, and more. His first novel, LINCOLN IN THE BARDO, is a mesmerizing blend of historical fact and fiction. It is the story of the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie, told almost entirely through the voices of the spirits in the graveyard where Willie is laid to rest and where Lincoln returns to hold his son’s body. —Erin

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Tequila Mockingbird
Tim Federle

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Uncommon Type
Tom Hanks

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Murder on the Orient Express
Agatha Christie

The most famous Hercule Poirot mystery, which has the brilliant detective hunting for a killer aboard one of the world’s most luxurious passenger trains.

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Ingredienti
Marcella Hazan and Victor Hazan

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Super Tuscan
Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar

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What If?
Randall Munroe

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Stephen Colbert's Midnight Confessions
Stephen Colbert

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The November Criminals
Sam Munson

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The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Atwood

This horrifying vision of our society radically overturned by a theocratic revolution has become one of the most powerful and widely read novels of our time. It has endured not only as a literary landmark but also as a scathing satire and dire warning of a possible future that is still chillingly relevant.

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Leonardo da Vinci
Walter Isaacson

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MENTIONED IN:

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Principles
Ray Dalio

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

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By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

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100 Songs
Bob Dylan

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

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By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Ray Bradbury

The show is about to begin.The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of a calliope beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes. . .and the stuff of nightmare.

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
Waiting for the Punch
Marc Maron

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
It's All Relative
A. J. Jacobs

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
Blue Dog Love
George and Wendy Rodrigue

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
Cats of Copenhagen
James Joyce

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
Endurance
Scott Kelly

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
The Sun and Her Flowers
Rupi Kaur

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
The Rules of Magic
Alice Hoffman

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
Literally Me
Julie Houts

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
Wonder
R. J. Palacio

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting fifth grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. This moving portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance is the most inspiring book I have read in years.

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
The House of the Scorpion
Nancy Farmer

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close

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