Hot for Holiday:
The Best Books to Buy This Winter

by Jennifer Ridgway

Image credit: JDawnInk, DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

Books make wonderful gifts for just about anyone. Choosing the right book can demonstrate that you truly know and appreciate the recipient, be it a family member, a friend, someone you want to thank, or (let’s be honest) yourself. We’ve pulled together some great new books, with suggestions of who might appreciate them, to help you with your holiday shopping. Happy giving!

  • Must-Have Books from Their Wish List

  • Every year, a crop of buzzworthy books is released in the months leading up to the holidays. Here are six books that are sure to be on a lot of to-be-read lists:

  • Today Will Be Different

    by Maria Semple

    Following a blockbuster bestseller like Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is really hard. Thankfully, Semple has managed to deliver yet another brilliant and funny novel. Eleanor Flood wakes up with a plan for the day; as we all know, the best laid plans rarely work, and so we get to follow Eleanor as she tries to cope with one comedic pothole after another. Perfect for all those women who feel like they’re always falling short (all of us?) and need a good laugh.

  • Moonglow

    by Michael Chabon

    Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon’s latest book may be his most personal. Blurring the line between fiction and nonfiction, Moonglow is the result of conversations between Chabon and his grandfather during the last two weeks of his grandfather’s life. Bouncing around in time, the book offers a slow revelation that the past is personal. Perfect for anyone who loves beautifully crafted literature, and has a desire to know more about their own family.

  • Faithful

    by Alice Hoffman

    In tender and loving language, bestselling author Alice Hoffman explores survivor guilt, grief, and endurance. When Shelby survives a horrific accident and loses her best friend, she hits rock bottom. Faithful is the story of her slow, painful climb back to life. A moving novel for both mothers and (adult) daughters alike.

  • Commonwealth

    by Ann Patchett

    Ann Patchett, renowned author and bookstore owner, offers up an exploration of how one chance event reverberates through the years. Commonwealth is a character-driven study of blended families, family secrets, and tragedy. A fantastic read that will appeal to book club members — and anyone with a big (and complicated) family.

  • Born to Run

    by Bruce Springsteen

    Readers who are fans of The Boss’s music, want a behind-the-scenes look at his life, or are simply rock-and-roll junkies will love Springsteen’s autobiography. Born to Run is an introspective work, covering everything from his youth and upbringing to what motivates him today.

  • The Mothers

    by Brit Bennett

    Available from:

    The Mothers may have been the most anticipated debut novel this fall, garnering a host of stellar quotes and reviews before it even hit the stores. With language and storytelling abilities that make it hard to believe that this is her first novel, Bennett has woven a tale of friendship, regret, and growing up. Perfect for college students or anyone on the lookout for the next new literary talent.

    Also available from:
  • The Undoing Project

    by Michael Lewis

    Behavioral Economics has become a hot subject and has even spawned its own book genre. In The Undoing Project, bestselling author Michael Lewis dives into the history of the field, exploring the friendship and collaboration between Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Their unique relationship (they were seemingly polar opposites) led to a new way of looking at the ways our minds work. This nonfiction read is great for readers who enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s work or listening to the Freakonomics podcast.

  • Christmas-Inspired Reads

  • Every year I try to read one holiday-themed book to get in the festive spirit (and take a break from the giant to-do list). Here are five new books that you might consider for yourself or as as gifts for loved ones.

  • Twelve Days of Christmas

    by Debbie Macomber

    Available from:

    Debbie Macomber is well-known for sweet, often romantic stories and Twelve Days of Christmas is no exception. In a tale that is perfect for today’s digital age, Macomber has created a Scrooge-like man and a kind woman determined to get through to him, who chronicles all her efforts on her instantly popular blog.

    Also available from:
  • Penguin Christmas Classics Boxed Set

    by various authors

    Available from:

    With beautifully repackaged editions of six holiday classics, including Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Louisa May Alcott’s A Merry Christmas and Other Christmas Stories, and E. T. A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker, this boxed set is a great fit for readers who start counting down to Christmas in July.

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  • Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days

    by Jeanette Winterson

    Every year, this award-winning author has written a short story before Christmas. For the first time, Winterson is publishing a collection of them (which also includes an essay about her own Christmas memories). The short stories are well-crafted and great for readers looking for a holiday read they can dip in and out of.

  • The Mistletoe Murder: And Other Stories

    by P.D. James

    Available from:

    With two stories that feature a young Adam Dalgliesh and four previously uncollected stories, The Mistletoe Murder is both a treat for fans of P.D. James and a riveting entrée for mystery readers who haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading this beloved and bestselling author.

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  • Pretty Paper: A Christmas Tale

    by Willie Nelson and David Ritz

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    “Pretty Paper” is a well-known and oft-played Christmas song, but did you know that a one-armed, one-legged man whom Willie Nelson encountered outside a department store just before Christmas inspired it? More than 50 years later, Nelson has written a fictionalized account of the man’s life based on a diary he left behind. It is a heartwarming story, and is perfect for the holiday season.

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  • The Snow Queen

    by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Sanna Annukka

    Available from:

    While the tale itself is obviously not new, this gorgeous edition of it certainly is! The famed fairy tale auteur’s tale is, at its core, a struggle between good and evil. The vivid illustrations in bold colors make this book a great family reading experience, especially if your children are fans of “Frozen” (which was originally inspired by this fairy tale). Also be sure to check out this new addition of Hans Christian Andersen's The Fir Tree, which is also newly illustrated by Sanna Annukka.

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