Help! What Should I Give to the Hard-to-Buy-For Person?? (part four)

… continued from last week…


For the beauty on your gift list, wrap up “Bill Duke’s Dark Girls,” photography by Barron Claiborne, interviews by Shelia P. Moses. This wonderful book showcases the beauty of women in many skin tones, and the feelings they have for their unique color. Hint: this book is not just for young women; grandma might like reading it, too!

You may need to find a gift for the historian who has everything, so look for “Samuel Wilbert Tucker: The Story of a Civil Rights Trailblazer and the 1939 Alexandria Library Sit-In” by Nancy Noyes Silcox.  Except for the fact that it has an abundance of pictures and a great timeline, the title says it all.


For the businessperson who can’t quite conquer being on top of everything, wrap up “The Organized Mind” by Daniel J. Levitin. This book takes a look at why our brains are packed tight and how some leaders deal with business TMI.  Wrap it up with another fascinating book, “The Marshmallow Test” by Walter Mischel, a book about self-control and how to conquer and use yours.

If there’s someone on your gift list who’s new to business and is just learning the ropes, wrap up “Compelling People” by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut.  This book uncovers the traits that give someone the ability to sway others and, in turn, to be successful. Wrap it up with “Perfecting Your Pitch” by Ronald M. Shapiro, a very useful communications book that helps your readers reach for success, but not just in business.

For the person who’s just learning the art of managing money, “The Handy Investing Answer Book” by Paul A. Tucci is a great introduction. With a handy question-and-answer format and easy-to-understand info, it could help your giftee into the next family mogul. Hint: it could also be a nice refresher for someone who’s been around the bank a time or two.


For the person on your list who’s thinking of parenthood, “Mommy Man” by Jerry Mahoney could be just the thing to wrap up. It’s the (often very funny) story of a man who never thought he’d have a family, ever, until he and his partner decide that they want a kid – and a great story to tell him (or her!) in years to come.

If your giftee is reaching for a conclusion on religion and lifestyle, then “God and the Gay Christian” by Matthew Vines could be an excellent gift. This book delves deeply into Biblical teaching, but it also contains the author’s personal story of his relationship with family and faith.

For fans of fast-paced thriller-mysteries, “The Talk Show” by Joe Wenke may be a goodie to wrap up. It’s a novel about a controversial talk show host, a reporter who makes a deal with that devil, and the “family” who fears for the reporter’s life – as well as each of their own.

Got a traveler on your list who also loves history?  Then “States of Desire Revisited: Travels in Gay America” by Edmund White will be the gift that lives in the suitcase.  Part travelogue, part a look back some 40 years, this is a peek at gay life then and now, pre-AIDS and after, and how everything changed with a mouse click.


No doubt, there’s someone on your list who loves the Midwest – whether it’s a life-long resident or a new transplant. So “The Heart of Things: A Midwestern Almanac” by John Hildebrand is going to make an awesome gift. It’s a collection of essays on things that are quintessentially Midwestern, including parade “season,” deer in the back yard, summer nights, and chickens. Another idea: send it to someone far away, someone who misses home something fierce.

What can you get the hunter on your list?  Two words: “Blaze Orange” by Travis Dewitz, a book about deer hunting in Wisconsin. Yes, it’s filled with pictures of hunters, deer camp, and trophies. Yes, he (or she!!) will love it.

The lives of your friends and neighbors are richly presented in “For Love and Money: Portraits of Wisconsin Family Businesses” by Carl Corey (foreword by Michael Perry). Logging, furniture making, even a hardware store owned by the same family for nearly 150 years – they’re all in this book, and if there’s a Wisconsin historian on your list, this should be under their tree. Wrap it up with “The Bingo Queens of Oneida” by Mike Hoeft, a book about a group of Wisconsin women who found a very unique way to line some pockets with green.


I seriously don’t think I know one little kid who doesn’t like a bedtime story. Heck, I like a bedtime story, and I liked “Day is Done: Prayers and Blessings for Bedtime” by Elena Pasquali, illustrated by Natascia Ugliano. This is one of those books that can be read quietly for a soothing night-night, both for adult and for child.  Wrap it up with “Little Owl’s Day” by Divya Srinivasan, a cute story about a little guy whose inability to sleep gets him into a big adventure.

Board books are always great gifts for the smallest person on your list, and “I Love Hockey” is just right for the future sticks fan. And keep this one in mind: “Little Birthday,” a book of riddles. Yes, unlike most board books, these two have a good amount of narrative, so they’re also presents you can read aloud.

The mini-farmer on your list will want to unwrap “I Love You Just Enough” by Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen.  It’s the tale of a wild baby duck and the girl who raised him after he was separated from his mother. But ducks grow faster than do little girls, and it causes a bit of concern…

Who has enough books?  Not your giftee, and not the kids in “The Children Who Loved Books” by Peter Carnavas. It’s the tale of too many and too few, but having enough of the important things. Wrap it up with “If You Wish” by Kate Westerlund and Robert Ingpen, a beautifully illustrated story of a little girl who learns that books can take her to all kinds of places without even leaving her house.

For the child who loves making friends, you can’t go wrong with “Jenny & Lorenzo” by Toni Steiner and Eve Tharlet. It’s the tale of a mouse and her very unusual friendship with someone who wants to have her for dinner.


The budding politician (or the 7-to-13-year-old current events fan) will love owning “The U.S. Congress for Kids” by Ronald A. Reis, foreword by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, afterword by Rep. Kristi Noem. This book includes history, stats, facts, pictures, graphs, and activities that underscore what your child learns. This is a great gift for the kid who just returned from or is going to visit the Capital this year.

If there’s a mystery lover on your list, then look for “Somebody on this Bus is Going to Be Famous” by J.B. Cheaney.  A strangely empty bus stop. A bus full of kids, each with one clue. A bus driver who acts all weird. Can your whodunit fan solve the mystery before the kids on the bus do it?

“The Original Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm” translated & edited by Jack Zipes, illustrated by Andrea Dezso may be a challenge for kids this age. You might have to help with some of the words or you may even want to read it aloud together. But if your 7-to-12-year-old enjoys fables and such, then you can’t go wrong with this heavy, elegant investment in their reading future.

Young science fans will devour “Before the World Was Ready: Stories of Daring Genius is Science” by Claire Eamer, pictures by SA Boothroyd. It’s a book about scientific theories that were originally ridiculed (along with their creators) and how those unfortunate men were eventually vindicated.

For the lover of espionage, “Top Secret Files: World War II” by Stephanie Bearce will be a great gift. This is a nonfiction book about undercover work during the War, including spies and secret missions, rat bombs, double agents, and more.  Bonus: it might get the kids interested in history, too.


Teen readers who love futuristic novels (but can’t handle a whole lot of fantasy) will love “The Scavengers” by Michael Perry. It’s the story of a young woman who’s left behind by her family when they leave town, and the only way she can survive is by scavenging – alone. Excitement. Danger. What more could your teen want? Wrap it up with “The Girl From the Well” by Rin Chupeco for a gruesome gift duo.

For the teen who enjoys history, or for a diary-keeper, “Yoko’s Diary,” edited by Paul Ham might make a great gift. This is the true story of a 13-year-old Japanese girl who lived near Hiroshima during World War II. It’s a powerful book, made even more so by the editor’s notes. I also liked “Colonial Comics: New England, 1620-1750,” edited by Jason Rodriguez. It’s a graphic book (a sort of comic book, if you’re wondering) about the early years of America, written by various authors and illustrated by various artists.

So your teen has loved The Wizard of Oz since toddlerhood?  Then wrap up “Dorothy Must Die” by Danielle Paige. It’s the story of the anti-Dorothy – a girl named Amy, who’s been trained as a warrior. Dark?  Yep, but great for your fave fantasy fan. Wrap it up with “Night Sky” by Suzanne Brockmann and Melanie Brockmann. It’s a thriller about a kidnapping and a different kind of hero that may – or may not – save the day. (And yes, by the way, that’s novelist Suzanne Brockmann, of course).

Novel lovers will completely enjoy “Boys Like You” by Juliana Stone, the story of a girl with a guilty broken heart and a boy with a different sort of painful burden, and how they find each other to help mend the ache.

And there you are! A whole lot of ideas for that hard-to-buy-for person on your gift list. Best of all, if these ideas don’t fill the bill, then you can always give a gift certificate, or you can throw yourself at the mercy of your friendly bookseller. Yes, he or she is absolutely brimming with ideas for everybody on your gift list, so what are you waiting for?

Season’s Readings!

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this weblog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of PBG Lifestyle Magazine.

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