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

… continued from last week…


The Royal Watcher on your list might like watching back a few hundred years with “How to Ruin a Queen” by Jonathan Beckman. This book is about Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, their lives and times – but it also focuses on a true crime mystery of missing diamonds. Yep, this book might work for your favorite mystery maven, too. Wrap it up with “The Romanov Sisters” by Helen Rappaport, a book about Russian Tzar Nicholas’ four daughters and the horrifying end of their young lives.

A curious history for those on the go is “Winnebago Nation” by James B. Twitchell. This book examines our love of RVs, campers, and travel, and it includes plenty of old ads and pictures. Wrap it with a journal and a map for a great gift.

World War II buffs probably have shelves and shelves of books about the War, but here’s an unusual book that might work as a gift this year: “The Dog Who Could Fly” by Damien Lewis, It’s the tale of a two-legged airman and his four-legged co-pilot, a small German shepherd that accompanied his human on many flights and even saved his life. Pair it with “War Dogs” by Rebecca Frankel, a book filled with tales of four-legged heroes and their fellow (human) soldiers.

For the veteran in your life – or for the historian who studies the Vietnam War, look for “Defiant” by Alvin Townley. It’s the story of eleven POWs held in Hanoi during the war, how they survived, and what happened to them (and their families) in the years since their release.

Historians who also love a little geography in their books will love “Empire’s Crossroads: A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day” by Carrie Gibson. It’s a sweeping brick-of-a-book that encompasses the whole area, the countries that have laid claim to it over the years, and the people who live there now.


Surely, there’s an adrenaline junkie on your list who will relish the chance to read “Alone in Antarctica” by Felicity Aston!  This memoir from the first woman to ski across the globe’s southern-most continent all by herself is filled with danger, adventure, and everything armchair daredevils want. Pair it up with “A World of Her Own” by Michael Elsohn Ross, which is absolutely filled with adventure through profiles of 24 women explorers from years ago and today.

If there’s a storyteller on your gift list this year, then “Shake Terribly the Earth” by Sara Beth Childers might be the best thing you can give. It’s a book filled with tales of the Appalachian Mountains and its people: growing up, knowing your kin, and holding friend-of-a-friend tales up for examination.

Stefani Germanotta. If that name means something to someone on your gift list, then you’ll get a lot of smiles when you give “Lady Gaga: Born to Be Free,” an unauthorized biography by Jake Brown. This book takes a good look at the Lady herself, her fans, her career, and yes, there are pictures inside… Wrap it up with “Benson: The Autobiography” by George Benson (with Alan Goldsher).  Yep, it’s about (and by) the musician himself – his life, his friends, and his tunes. You might also want to look for “The Beat of My Own Drum” by Sheila E., which is the story of her life on and offstage, and how she overcame abuse she endured as a child.

For the person who loves compelling memoirs, “The Answer to the Riddle is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia” by David Stuart MacLean could be the best gift ever. It’s the story of a man who lost nearly every memory he had and his journey, not only back home to America, but to the life that almost disappeared forever. Wrap it up with “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierley, the story of a child who got lost on a train, the man he became, and his return home – twenty-five years later, all because of a small memory and a website.

The romantic soul on your list will LOVE “Romance is My Day Job” by Patience Bloom. Bloom is an editor at romance-novel giant Harlequin, but she’d never found love herself. She’d given up on it, in fact, until a tiny little chance encounter changed everything. Happy ending?  I’m not saying, but it’s a romance, after all, you know…

The art lover on your list will smile enigmatically when opening “Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered” by Dianne Hales. It’s the story of da Vinci’s most famous model, her life, and what life was like when she sat for her portrait.


What do you give to the person who’s going through the trial of her life?  You might wrap up “A Breast Cancer Alphabet” by Madhulika Sikka. In here, your friend will find advice, a bit of humor, information from the Been-There, Done-That crew, and more. Bonus: it’s an easy book to browse.

For the forward thinker on your list, “Cannabis Pharmacy” by Michael Backes may be just the right thing to wrap. This is a book about growing, using, and knowing about medical marijuana, from the plant to the end user and everything in between.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook incident, “The Price of Silence” by Liza Long asks the question that many mothers asked: what if the shooter was my child? This book takes a look at mental illness in children, from the perspective of a family member, and it’s a fascinating book that could make a stellar gift.

If there’s a First Responder on your gift list, you can’t go wrong when you give “Bulletproof Spirit” by Captain Dan Willis. It’s filled with non-conventional advice, information on staying emotionally strong, and exercises he (or she!) can do to heal and stay well, both in body and in mind.  Wrap it up with “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D., a book about how the brain can help the body heal from the aftereffects of trauma.

So you have a deep thinker on your list, and you’re not sure what to give?  Think hard, and consider “The Slaughter” by Ethan Gutmann. In this book, the author tells the story of what he says is a dirty little secret in China – which includes mass murder and more. Warning: it’s not for the faint of heart.

For the yoga aficionado, “Going Om,” edited by Melissa Carroll will make a perfect gift. This is a book filled with essays of yoga and what it does to mind, body, and spirit. Wrap it up with a brand-new map and wait for the hugs. Wrap it up with “A Book of Miracles” by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel, a nice anthology of healing, hope, and heartfelt thankfulness.

For the med student you know, take a look at “Grief Sucks… But Love Bears All Things” by Gayle Taylor Davis. It’s a story of loss, and living through it – something your giftee may need to know about in the new career. You also may want to find “Changing the Way We Die” by Fran Smith and Sheila Himmel. It’s a book about hospice care and the hospice movement.

For another look at the same subject, you may want to look for “Unremarried Widow” by Artis Henderson (by a military widow); “Confessions of a Mediocre Widow” by Catherine Tidd (by a young widow with three small kids); or “Young Widower: A Memoir” by John W. Evans (a man’s perspective on this subject).

Do we need our ears to feed our brain? That’s the question in “I Can Hear You Whisper” by Lydia Denworth, scientist and mother of a hearing-impaired little boy. This book takes a look at the subject of learning and hearing, psychology, neurology, and the Deaf community, and it’s a great gift for anyone who’s studying or living this issue. I also liked “Struck by Genius” by Jason Padgett and Maureen Seaberg. It’s the story of a crime, an injury that could have been devastating, and a surprising gift that came out of an almost-tragedy.

… to be continued next Wednesday…

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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