I realize that most of the suggestions I've made for gifts thus far have been for serious books. This morning I was desperately trying to think of the last humorous or light title of nonfiction I've read or liked, and heaven help me, I can't come up with anything. Either I haven't been finding many good humorous books (the last one I tried was I Found This Funny: My Favorite Pieces of Humor and Some That May Not Be Funny at All, a collection of humor pieces edited by Judd Apatow, but it didn't do much for me) or my memory is shot, or (as is most likely), a little from column A, a little from column B.
What I might suggest, if you are at a loss for a book gift and you don't want to give any of the downer books I've already listed, you may want to consider giving the book lovers in your life new or pretty editions of classics. When we went shopping at the bookstore last week, I picked up a copy of Anthony Trollope's novel The Warden (the first in his Barset series)*, on sale. It's an aesthetically pleasing little book, and it's a British edition, so its price is listed in pounds, which always tickles me. I've only read a few pages so far, but every time I pick it up it gives me pleasure; it's got that matte paperback finish that feels so good on the hands, and it's a nice square little copy. If e-books are well and truly coming, these may be our last few Christmases to give and get books as beautiful physical items.
So, what classics? Well, it's hard to go wrong with something like Jane Austen's Persuasion (this link goes to a new annotated version), or of course (for a newer classic) Helene Hanff's 84, Charing Cross Road.** Or there's always Thomas Hardy, particularly the great fun of his underrated novel Under the Greenwood Tree. For the slightly older kids or tweens on your list, consider Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising (a great winter read, and one I'll be re-reading next week).
But what about you? Anyone been finding any light nonfiction they'd like to suggest? What about classics that make great gifts?
*I listened to Trollope's novel The Way We Live Now on tape last year, and LOVED it.
**There's still a few booklovers out there who haven't read this one, which is a situation that should be rectified.