The holidays are coming up, and for most of us that means a significant amount of downtime where we have like, nothing to do. All the TV shows are on hiatus, and despite the stereotype, there are rarely ever any good movies to see on Christmas. (I would know, I was forced to go see Unbroken a few Christmases ago because nothing else remotely decent was playing.) That’s where this archaic invention called “books” comes in. There’s a book for every occasion and every person. Whether you’re book shopping for yourself or your friends and family, here are a selection of new releases for everyone in your life.
‘I’m Judging You’ by Luvvie Ajayi: For Your Sassy Friend
Listen up, judgy judges (so like, all of you if you read this site, I assume). I’m Judging You is probably the most entertaining book you will read all year. In a series of essays, culture critic and blogger Luvvie Ajayi slams basically every part of modern culture, from everyone’s godawful social media habits (no, it’s not okay when you do it) to organized religion to people in relationships and many other areas in between. She says everything you’ve ever thought while angrily scrolling through Facebook, only way funnier and more eloquently. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry… of laughter, you’ll fucking love this book and be gifted with a new set of vocab words with which to judge people. And you’ll (probably) be motivated to do better. The hardcover copy with a new bonus chapter just came out on November 21, so there’s even more comedic material to savor.
‘Dinner At The Center Of The Earth’ by Nathan Englander: For Your Woke Bae
If you have that one friend who won’t STFU about politics—and I’m not talking about your uncle when he has too many Scotches at any family meal, but I guess maybe him too—they would probably enjoy the latest from Nathan Englander. Basically, this novel centers around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but not in a pedagogical way. It’s a work of fiction, and all the characters’ lives are shaped by this conflict in varying ways—it’s at once political and an escape from the political. Does that make any sense? IDK.
‘Seven Days Of Us’ by Francesca Hornak: For Your Dysfunctional Family Members
If you liked The People We Hate At The Wedding from our summer reading list, the next stop on your dysfunctional family book train needs to be Seven Days of Us. If you thought your family was fucked up, just wait till you read about the Birches, a British family who is forced to quarantine themselves for seven days over Christmas when Olivia, the eldest daughter, returns from curing the HAAg virus in Liberia. Think of it like, if one of your family members was traveling to South Sudan at the height of the Ebola crisis. Yep. Stressful. And like any dysfunctional British family, everybody’s got their fair share of life-ruining secrets they’re trying to keep—not so easy to do when you’re cooped up in a house with only each other for a week.
‘The Broken Girls’ by Simone St. James: For Your Dead Inside Friend
If your friend is truly dead inside in every sense of the word, and a little bit indecisive, she will breeze through The Broken Girls. Set in a quaint town in Vermont where a creepy abandoned boarding school is located, The Broken Girls flips back and forth between 2014 and 1950. This book has a little bit of everything—murder, ghosts, corruption, and more—for whatever morbid cause she’s into.
‘Girl In Pieces’ by Kathleen Glasgow: For Anyone Who’s Going Through Some Shit
A fictional, more poetic Go Ask Alice, this heartbreaking book follows Charlie Davis, who, at 17, has already gone through more shit than I hope any of us will have to face in a lifetime. Along the way Charlie has developed some unhealthy coping mechanisms and picked up some bad influences, but setback after setback, you’ll nonetheless root for her from start to finish. Anyone who’s dealing with something tough—or really, anyone who’s human—will take comfort in reading this testament to human resilience. Or at the very least, it will be reassuring to know you could have it much, much worse.
‘One Of Us Is Lying’ by Karen M. McManus: For Your Angsty Little Cousin
Truth be told, this book is basically The Breakfast Club, but with murder. Are you sold? Because that’s all I’ve got—but really, it’s all you should need. Your angsty teenage cousin probably won’t know the difference, because they’re too young to think The Breakfast Club is anything other than the name of your brunch crew’s group chat. *Sobs* I am ancient.
‘We Were Liars’ by E. Lockhart: For Anyone Whose Life You Want To Fuck Up
Full disclosure, this book came out in 2014, but I only just read it this year and I was so affected by it that I keep recommending it to everyone I know at all times, regardless of the current topic of conversation. This YA novel is about Cadence, a 15-year-old who lives for the summers which she spends with her family on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Don’t be fooled by the YA categorization; the writing is stunning, almost like a series of prose poems, and will grab you by the collar and pull you in from the very first sentence. At the climax comes a revelation that will shake you—I’m not exaggerating when I say I had a visceral reaction to it. I almost cried; I almost puked; I was haunted for days afterward. Anyone who is the same after reading this book probably isn’t human, so gift it with caution and be prepared to ruin lives. In the best way, I mean.
‘I Had A Nice Time And Other Lies: How To Find Love And Sh*t Like That’ by The Betches: For Your Single Friend
Would it be a reading list if we didn’t include one of the best books ever? Hardly. This cuffing season (kill me), get your single friend a no-nonsense dating advice book. Let’s be real, she’s not doing anyone any favors by “being herself” or “waiting for love to come find her” like all the bullshit clichés suggest, so let us
violently push gently nudge her in the right direction.
Images: Ben White / Unsplash; Amazon (7)