The holidays are fast approaching, which means you’re running out of time to shop for your loved ones. As someone who gets nervous about shopping for others, I’ve found that books tend to be an easy yet deeply personal gift. The receiver is always impressed with the thoughtfulness behind the present, and for you, the buyer, it only takes one quick trip to your nearest bookstore.
This holiday gift guide is a compilation of my favorite reads from throughout the years with at least one book suggestion for just about every person in your life. That’s right—including that one friend who won’t stop posting #throwback photos since the beginning of quarantine.
For the person in your life who knows it all already
“A Promised Land” by Barack Obama
A president’s memoir acts as a historical document of their time in office—chronicles that will be studied for generations to come. While former President Barack Obama’s first memoir “A Promised Land” does just that, it also gives readers a rare, intimate glimpse into the mind and life of one of this generation’s most influential figures. Aside from the behind-the-scenes look at his political wins and losses, Obama also writes about his story as a son, father and husband; he talks openly about the strains and tolls that the presidency put on his family, as well as the warmth in his household that all of America felt. No matter what the reader’s political views are, the novelistic writing and vivid, granular details of Obama’s accounts will have them hooked from beginning to end.
For the amateur chef who picked up cooking during quarantine
“Cravings” by Chrissy Teigen
Call me basic but if I could have dinner with just about anyone in the world, it would without a doubt be Chrissy Teigen. When I first started experimenting in the kitchen during my college years, I was thankful for “Cravings”, Teigen’s first cookbook that’s filled with recipes for carb-heavy dishes that really did have me craving late into the night. Her instructions are easy to follow and her anecdotes for every recipe make you feel like you’re cooking with a friend. In fact, I find such great joy from this book that I tend to read it just for laughs on days where I have no intention of cooking (or cleaning). Those new in the kitchen will find her recipes approachable and fun to follow along.
For thrill seekers and conspiracy lovers
“Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World” by Bradley Hope and Tom Wright
We all have that one friend who spends hours reading subreddits and falling into Wikipedia rabbit holes—those who find joy in conspiracy theories and study real-life scandals as a hobby. “Billion Dollar Whale” is the perfect book for that person in your life. Authors Bradley Hope and Tom Wright explain in great detail how Malaysian upper-middle class man Jho Low managed to commit the grandest white-collar crime in recent years, moving billions of dollars from the government into his own offshore account. Page Six addicts will also enjoy the casual name-dropping of Low’s entourage, which used to range from UAE princes to Hollywood magnets like Leonardo DiCaprio, Paris Hilton and Miranda Kerr.
For jetsetters and design enthusiasts who miss traveling
“Interior Voyages” by Matthieu Salvaing
Have you been haunted by your friend/family member’s relentless complaining and endless #throwback posts of their 2019 European holiday? (Politely) shut them up with this coffee table book that will cure even the worst case of wanderlust. Photographer Matthieu Salvaing’s “Interior Voyages” is a collection of photographs featuring the world’s most evocative properties belonging to, or conceived by, the greatest tastemakers—Gio Ponti, Piero Portaluppi, Luis Barragán, Lina Bo Bardi and Frank Sinatra to name a few.
For your fabulous aunt who’s in designer clothes from head to toe
“The Chiffon Trenches” by André Leon Talley
Anyone who knows fashions knows the name André Leon Talley, a style icon and former creative director at Vogue. Talley’s memoir “The Chiffon Trenches”, which was released this year, reveals a scathing recap of his time in the industry. Talley talks about his friendship with Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld, the deep racism that runs in the fashion world, and his journey to become one of the most influential voices at Vogue. This tell-all book sets the record straight on who’s who behind the cameras.
For wholesome romantics looking for a good cry
“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens
This book had been recommended to me many times before I finally picked it up—and oh, how I regret not listening to my friends sooner. “Where the Crawdads Sing” is a beautifully written piece that’s easy to read and easier to fall in love with. The story is set in the marshes of North Carolina and traces the tumultuous life of Kya, an abandoned girl who is forced to care for herself out in the wild. There is romance; there is poetry; there is drama; there is crime. Owens captures the best of human nature and takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride.
And other titles for good measure:
- “Remote Places to Stay” by Debbie Pappyn
- “Accidentally Wes Anderson” by Wally Koval
- “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” by Ocean Vuong
- “In Bibi’s Kitchen” by Hawa Hassan and Julia Turshen
- “Made for Living: Collected Interiors for All Sorts of Styles” by Amber Lewis
- “The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War” by Ben Macintyre
Writer: Uracha Chaiyapinunt
After graduating from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism, Uracha Chaiyapinunt moved home and started working full-time at one of Thailand’s leading luxury furniture retailers. Her time in Asia and America has instilled in her a love for road trips, national parks, unique travel experiences and the Dodgers. She has been featured in Eater LA, Travel + Leisure Asia, Cape + Kantary Magazine and more. When not at her 9-to-6, you can find her googling conspiracy theories late into the night. Follow her on Instagram: @urachac.