Get a gift card from a bookstore as a holiday gift? Not sure how to spend it? Here are five possibilities:
1. “The Casual Vacancy,” by J.K. Rowling. Rowling’s latest offering proves that her writing talents aren’t limited to Hogwarts and juvenile literature. After the sudden demise of a councilman, townspeople bicker over local issues and vie for his empty chair. Their cynical self-absorption leads to a tragic result, and in this modern day setting, the “muggles” are far more evil–both with overt acts and those of omission–than their Harry Potter counterparts. Rowling is a masterful storyteller and “The Casual Vacancy” proves the range of her talent.
2. “The Fault in Our Stars,” by John Green. A moving story about teenage cancer patients, “The Fault in Our Stars” is an enlightening and thought-provoking book about life and death. Readers are privy to the teens’ dark and cynical humor about their plight as well as their day to day struggles dealing with the disease. The entire living experience feels condensed and amplified as they struggle to accept the fate of their diagnosis while grasping for moments of truly living.
3. “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry,” by Rachel Joyce. When Harold Fry walks to the letter box to send a short note to a former co-worker, he doesn’t know it is the beginning of a pilgrimage. In fact, as Harold passes one letter box after another, the idea begins to form in his mind of walking to see his terminally friend, many, many miles away. As the novel unfolds, readers learn about his marriage, his relationship with his son, and how hope drives him to complete his mission.
And to round out the five options for spending your gift card, two books recently made into movies:
4. ” Life of Pi,” by Yann Martel. This gem was published more than ten years ago but just recently dramatized on the big screen. A young boy is set adrift with unusual companions from the zoo, and the reader is left to interpret what actually happened at the book’s conclusion. A riveting story, it is worth a read either before or after the movie at your preference.
5. “The Hobbit”, by J.R.R. Tolkien. This is a must-read or must-re-read if you’re willing to suspend reality for a bit and imagine there are (or were) such things as hobbits. The movie version, with only the first part released at this time, may inspire you to dip back into Middle Earth and read Tolkien’s original story. If you’re feeling adventurous, an avid Tolkien fan might also pick up the Lord of the Rings trilogy again, or even “The Silmarillion” for more Middle Earth history.
Wishing you happy shopping, good reading, and a happy and healthy New Year!