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In which John recommends many, many books that will make great gifts this holiday season. Books really do make the best Christmas presents, and I am not at all biased in saying that. Books discussed in this video:

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME by Ta-Nehisi Coates: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780812993547

THE WHITE BOY SHUFFLE by Paul Beatty http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780312280192

THE COLOR PURPLE by Alice Walker http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780156031820

DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP by Willa Cather http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780679728894

ARE YOU MY MOTHER by Alison Bechdel http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780618982509

CITY OF CLOWNS by Sheila Alvarado and Daniel Alarcón http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781594633331/

BEAUTY FROM ASHES by Eugenia Porter - You'll have to cut out your own flask-shaped hole, I'm afraid.

THE PEOPLE IN THE TREES by Hanya Yanagihara http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780345803313/

A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780385539258/

GILEAD by Marilynne Robinson http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gilead-marilynne-robinson/1100167496?ean=9780312424404

A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS by Marlon James
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-brief-history-of-seven-killings-marlon-james/1118739004?ean=9781594633942

MIDNIGHT ROBBER by Nalo Hopkinson http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/midnight-robber-nalo-hopkinson/1100307502?ean=9780446675604

FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS by Nalo Hopkinson http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/falling-in-love-with-hominids-nalo-hopkinson/1120934054?ean=9781616961985

THE FLAMETHROWERS by Rachel Kushner http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781439142011 / http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-flamethrowers-rachel-kushner/1112033302?ean=9781439142011

JUST KIDS by Patti Smith http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780060936228 / http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/just-kids-patti-smith/1100096808?ean=9780060936228

NO GOD BUT GOD by Reza Aslan http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780812982442 / http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/no-god-but-god-reza-aslan/1100169107?ean=9780812982442

SPQR by Mary Beard http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780871404237 / http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/spqr-mary-beard/1121186183?ean=9780871404237

A THOUSAND MORNINGS by Mary Oliver http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780143124054 / http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-thousand-mornings-mary-oliver/1109475229?ean=9780143124054

FAITHFUL AND VIRTUOUS NIGHT by Louise Gluck http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780374152017 / http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/faithful-and-virtuous-night-louise-gl-ck/1120358585?ean=9780374535773

FIRST AND THEN by Emma Mills http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250090683 / http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/first-then-emma-mills/1120684114?ean=9781627792356

THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT by Jason Reynolds http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781442459519 / http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-boy-in-the-black-suit-jason-reynolds/1119701489?ean=9781442459502

THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER by Sarah Dessen http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780142406250 / http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/truth-about-forever-sarah-dessen/1100362488?ean=9780142406250

VALIANT: A MODERN TALE OF FAERIE by Holly Black http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780689868238 / http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/valiant-holly-black/1100333666?ean=9780689868238

BALL DON'T LIE by Matt de la Peña http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780385734257 / http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ball-dont-lie-matt-de-la-pe-a/1117541537?ean=9780385734257

SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780312674397 / http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/speak-laurie-halse-anderson/1100163764?ean=9780312674397

MIRACLE'S BOYS by Jacqueline Woodson http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780142415535 / http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/miracles-boys-jacqueline-woodson/1100311355?ean=9780142415535

LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET by Matt de la Peña http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780399257742 / http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/last-stop-on-market-street-matt-de-la-pe-a/1120198919?ean=9780399257742

BOOT AND SHOE by Marla Frazee http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781442422476 / http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/boot+and+shoe?_requestid=136838


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Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday.

So I realize I'm a smidge biased here, but I really do think books make the best gifts, because they last. I mean obviously the stories last in your mind, but the books themselves often do too. I mean I still have the copy of Tom Sawyer mom gave to me when I was ten. 

But which books to give? Well, it's hard to go wrong, although not impossible, but I have some recommendations for you this Holiday Season.

First, my favorite book of the year: Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a short, relentless, and brilliant meditation on race and history in the United States.

Also in the recommended to everyone on Earth category, The White Boy Shuffle, by Paul Beatty. This Book is almost 20 years old, but it's still as hilarious and frenetic and heartbreaking as ever and I really think it should be a classic; I've never recommended it to anyone who didn't love it.

Okay, moving on. For the person in your life who loves reading but thinks they hate classics, Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather and The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Both these books are captivating and page-turny and intensely moving despite being read in schools.

For graphic novel fans, Alison Bechdel's Are You My Mother? is the perfect gift for your mother, provided that you and your mother have a very, very dysfunctional relationship.

And I also recommend City of Clowns, illustrated by Sheila Alvarado and written by Daniel Alarcón, who beat me in 1994 in our high school's creative writing contest. He's since gone on to even greater things, including this brilliant story about a young journalist in Peru grieving his father.

Then we have Eugenia Porter's book Beauty From Ashes, which I highly recommend because it is the place where I store my whiskey flask. 

If you have a giftee who likes quote-unquote "literary fiction" for quote-unquote "adults", I have several recommendations, beginning with Hanya Yanagihara. Her first novel was a very strange book with a deeply unreliable narrator who discovers the secret to eternal life is drinking the blood of a certain kind of turtle. It's excellent, but her new book, A Little Life, is even better. I mean, if you thought The Fault in Our Stars was sad, this is sad!

An older book I always like to recommend: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, which is both an excellent novel and kind of a religious one, which is a very rare combination in my experience.

Then there's A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, which is just a brilliant novel that uses an oral history format to tell this massive sprawling story that all revolves around the shooting of Bob Marley in Jamaica in 1976.

For science fiction fans, or also fans of A Brief History of Seven Killings, I recommend Nalo Hopkinson's Midnight Robber, which is set in a world colonized by Caribbean peoples. It's really stuck with me and I've just started her book of stories, Falling in Love with Hominids, which is a great title, and so far also a great book.

OK, books about art and being an artist. Sarah and I both really love The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner and we also love Just Kids by Patti Smith which I can't find my copy of because ever since we moved, my home library has been very poorly cataloged.

Religion: anyone who wants to understand Islamic history or contemporary Islamic thought and practice should really read No god but God by Reza Aslan. Over the years I've read and reviewed dozens of introductions to Islamic history, this is my favorite.

History: I loved Mary Beard's recent history of Ancient Rome, SPQR, although sadly it is also lost somewhere in our home library.

For poetry fans, this year I read two books of poetry I absolutely loved, A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver and Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück. Glick? Glook? I don't know. Both these books are full of precise and profound poems that are moving without ever being pretentious.

Young adult novels: I haven't read enough YA this year, but two recent books I really enjoyed: First & Then by Emma Mills AKA Elmify on YouTube which is funny and my kind of romance, and The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds which is about a young man who's worn a black suit every day since his mother died.

Also it occurs to me there may be a new generation of YA readers who haven't read a bunch of books published ten or more years ago so I have some recommendations on that front. Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie by Holly Black, Ball Don't Lie by Matt de la Peña, The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Those are very different books, they'd probably be called respectively a fantasy, a sports book, a romance, and a contemporary realistic book.

But they all make great gifts and with book gifts I'm a big fan of bundling different kinds of things together. For younger kids, say ten to fourteen, I really love Jacqueline Woodson's Miracle's Boys. And lastly, Henry's two favorite books of this year were Last Stop on Market Street by Christian Robinson and the aforementioned Matt de la Peña, and the adorable Boot & Shoe by Marla Frazee.

You can find links to all these books in the doobly-doo. Hank, full disclosure, you're getting some of these for Christmas so get excited. I'll see you on Friday.