I freeze up when people ask me what my favorite_______ (color, movie, book) is, but I do enjoy reading other people's lists. It's been a great year of reading for me, so here are my absolute favorites that I read in last year or so--substantial books that could make great gifts.
The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
The Roundhouse, Louise Erdrich
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra
Swamplandia, Karen Russell
Live by Night, Dennis Lehane
The Dog Stars, Peter Heller
Wild, Cheryl Strayed
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Alexandra Fuller
Older Gift-Worthy Novels I Read This Year
The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon (thanks to Amelia for the recommendation). It would be fun to pair this with Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore.
All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy (The entire Border Trilogy would make a nice gift.)
A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin (The third time I've read it.)
Advice on Love and Life
Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed
The Ecopoetry Anthology
New and Selected Poems, Volumes 1 and 2, Mary Oliver (Dream Work is my favorite single volume of hers)
The Four Seasons Poems, Everyman Library Anthology
The Everyman Library Pocket Poet series is wonderful--attractive little books, reasonably priced. Great gifts!
The Best American Series is terrific. I buy several of them every year--always the essay, travel writing, and sports writing volumns. Don't feel you have to limit yourself to this year's books--the older ones make good reading too.
I hope to do another post of detective/espionage suggestion (and maybe on some other random book gift ideas). I read all kinds of books, so feel free to email me (or comment) if you want some suggestions. I'd love to know any favorites of yours too.
p.s. Comments from Alicia and Petra remind me that the majority of people who comment here don't live in the U.S.A. and therefore have no (or limited) access to the books I mention. I didn't think about that when I wrote the post. If you live in another country and have a favorite book or two from there I would love to know what they are. I found the Zafon book when asking Amelia for books by Spanish authors. thank you, merci danke gracias grazie spasbida cheers!