By Julie Kish

It’s the time of year that stressed-out, well-meaning people start racking their brains to come up with Christmas gift ideas for their friends and family. Why not give books?

  • They can inspire and encourage
  • They can sweep you away to new places and different times
  • They entertain and educate
  • They promote health by offering an alternative to screens
  • They can be treasured for years, shared with others and used repeatedly
  • They are relatively inexpensive and easy to wrap

Here are three suggestions that should cover many adults on your list:

Lessons in Chemistry

By Bonnie Garmus
Doubleday Books, April 2022

Don’t let the pink chick-lit rom-com cover fool you. Lessons in Chemistry is a brilliant and witty story of resilience and determination. The novel covers some heavy subjects but also has some laugh-out-loud scenes.

The story takes place in the 1960s and focuses on Elizabeth Zott, a feisty chemist who works in a lab full of demeaning men. Somehow she manages to fall in love with a fellow chemist, but the relationship does not end happily.

Fast forward a few years and Elizabeth is now a single mother with a four-year-old to support. Fired from her chemist position for being an unwed mother, she ends up hosting a television cooking show designed by the male network bosses to appeal to housewives.

Elizabeth is still a chemist at heart and makes her cooking show into lessons in chemistry. The show’s producers think it’s ridiculous, but the audience loves it. The novel is loaded with fabulous characters, and the story will leave the reader feeling uplifted.

Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath

By Bill Browder
Simon & Schuster, April 2022

For non-fiction enthusiasts, I strongly suggest Bill Browder’s new book about his feud with Vladimir Putin. Browder was part of the dog-eat-dog world of hedge fund investing in the 1990s. He made a fortune for himself and his investors after the Soviet Union’s collapse by heading the most significant investment fund in Russia.

When the corrupt oligarchs began robbing the companies he was investing in, Browder triedto expose their activities. As a result, Putin expelled him from Russia, stole millions of dollars from him, and had Browder’s young Russian-born lawyer and close personal friend imprisoned and murdered.

The first part of this story is chronicled in Red Notice, Browder’s explosive best-seller published in 2015. This book picks up where Red Notice ends, when his friend is murdered. Browder has made it his life’s mission to expose the killers even though his activities put his life in grave danger. It’s helpful but not necessary to read Browder’s previous book because it is summarized in the first chapters of Freezing Order.

The book is a stirring morality story about greed and what ruthless villains will do to protect their money.

Talking to Canadians: A Memoir

By Rick Mercer
Doubleday Canada, 2021

For non-fiction readers who’d prefer something a little lighter, there’s the newly released paperback edition of Rick Mercer’s memoir. It’s a “must read” for anyone who laughed out loud watching This Hour Has 22 Minutes or The Mercer Report. In this revealing and hilarious memoir, the Canadian comedic icon tells his life story using the same quick wit he demonstrated on his TV shows.

Mercer shares hilarious childhood stories and plenty of behind-the-scenes anecdotes. Reading this memoir will be a side-splitting ride for fans of Mercer and/or Canadian politics. The audio version of the book is narrated by Mercer, enhancing the jokes’ delivery.

If these suggestions don’t appeal to you, there are plenty of ideas online. Any search engine will help you find the perfect book, and Goodreads will provide you with scores of honest reviews. You can follow me on my Goodreads account if you’re interested in what I’m reading.

Happy Holidays!