A good book is almost always a great gift idea. It may inspire or educate, but it will never expire. It provides hours of entertainment or enrichment, and it can be the door to another world or another path in life. That’s why I’ve compiled my 2019 Christmas book lover’s list. I’ve tried to include literally something for everyone – well, age group.


For Children

The movie “Shazam” is a fun superhero movie aimed at kids but suitable for the whole family. Want to get your kid to read after seeing the movie? I’d recommend Shazam: The Junior Novel for elementary aged kids. For middle schoolers, I’d recommend Shazam: Freddy’s Guide to Super Hero-ing. If you’re dealing with a future STEM student, I’d recommend Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe, creator of the XKCD comic series.


For the Pre-Teens

The “Scythe” series by Neal Shusterman managed to enthrall my kids for several years. When the final book of the trilogy – “The Toll” – came out, they fought over who got to read it first.  I recommend this book for anyone whose kids have been reading the series. Or give someone starting to read young adult fiction the entire three book set. You won’t see them all weekend.

If your kids loved “A Dog’s Life” and / or “A Dog’s Purpose”, then pick up A Dog’s Journey: A Novel. I’d consider it a novelization of the 2019 “A Dog’s Purpose” movie. (The movie was based on the books.)

If you have a geek in the family, I’d suggest How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems. Note that this is suitable for anyone with the vocabulary to follow it or willingness to explain the concepts in the book.

For kids who aren’t as interested in science and tech, the classics The Dangerous Book for Boys or The Daring Book for Girls are appropriate. Entertaining, educational, and we can say from personal experience, safer than the titles imply.


For Young Adults

The first book I’d recommend is non-fiction. “Everyday Millionaires” by Chris Hogan is a good book for cultivating financial literacy. It can be understood as a follow-up to the classic “The Millionaire Next Door” but without going so far into the weeds of data analysis. That data is available but as a separate ten dollar download from Dave Ramsey’s website. If they’re approaching college age, “Debt Free Degree” by Anthony Oneal is essential.

I have reviewed a number of books in the “And Philosophy” series, having received them from the publisher in exchange for a review. The only one my kids read was Rick and Morty and Philosophy. It gets points for educating early teens on major philosophical concepts. Unfortunately, it made “squanch” part of the household vocabulary for weeks.


For Adults

My first recommendation for science fiction fans is Karina Fabian’s Space Traipse: Hold My Beer novel. This novel encapsulates the first chunk of her ongoing Star Trek parody series as well as one of the few “realistic” Doctor Who / Star Trek crossovers. She plays homage to the original series while writing her own, unique story lines and then populating the work with unique characters.

If the gift receiver is more interested in artificial intelligence and robotics than a fun sci-fi romp, I’d suggest “Sakura: Intellectual Property”. Hackers are trying to turn a rock-and-roll playing android into a killer robot. She and a growing network of friends are fighting back, and they learn how deep the conspiracy goes. It is also a deep exploration of identity in a world where your mind can be hacked or copied to another body. Horror and mystery fans will enjoy Declan Finn’s “Dances with Werewolves, Part 1”. I would argue it is of the same vein as “The Dresden Files”, pun intended.

If you’re searching for a gift for the stereotypical nerd, I’d recommend “Dilbert Turns 30”. If they are into politics, “Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America” by Scott Adams is a great choice. Or we’re back to Randall Munroe’s “How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems”.

For those who love memoirs, Educated by Tara Westover is a decent read. While this book is being assigned to high school students, due to the emotional weight of the story, I wouldn’t recommend it for kids under 16.

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