Editor’s note: With books being a hot holiday gift item thanks to more time spent at home due to COVID-19, we’re rounding up a few to consider gifting each day this week. This is part three of five.

The holidays this year are going to be, well, unique.

Some family members won’t be there. Others are coming, regardless of whatever’s going on. Still, others are sending their regards and a box of presents, which is something you might do, too.

Here’s the good news: Books are easy to wrap, easy to box and easy to ship. Why not try one of these great books for that person who can’t make it to your table this holiday season?

Nonfiction continued

There’s someone on your list who loves gardening and will love to see “The Language of Butterflies,” by Wendy Williams, under the tree. It’s the story of butterflies, why we love them, what scientists are learning about them and how the world would be the lesser without them. Pair it with “Naturalist,” by Edward O. Wilson, adapted by Jim Ottaviani & C.M. Butzer, a graphic-novel-type biography about Wilson, who is a science-expert on ants and bugs.

The giftee who looks toward the future, always, will love to unwrap “A Woman’s Influence,” by Sheri Gaskins and Tony A. Gaskins, Jr. It’s a book for women who want to take better control at work, at home and in their relationships. Wrap it up with “Ready for Anything,” by Kathi Lipp, a book about resilience amid crises of any size.

Is your political animal a little sorry to see the election over? Wrap up “Fight House,” by Tevi Troy, a book about the back-stabbing, fang-baring tumultuousness and rivalries inside the White House in the last century or so. Pair it with another great history book: “Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood,” by Colin Woodard.

For the writer on your gift list, you want to choose right: “Mastering the Process: From Idea to Novel,” by Elizabeth George. You might know George as a novelist. If you do, you know the advice in this book is solid.

Wanna see your scientist smile? Wrap up “The Next Great Migration,” by Sonia Shah. It’s a sweeping, vast look at where we’ve been, where we went, when we left and how we got to where we are. Pair it with “The Sum of the People,” by Andrew Whitby, a book about why countries take a census and how it has shaped the world.

If you’ve got a science-minded someone you’re looking to gift, look for “Exploring the Elements: A Complete Guide to the Periodic Table,” by Isabel Thomas, pictures by Sara Gillingham. It’s lighthearted and makes this branch of science easy and fun to understand. Wrap it with “Can People Just Burst into Flames?” by Larry Scheckel, a book of science trivia, questions and answers for any scientist (or anyone who’s curious), ages 12 and older.


If you’ve got a biker on your gift list this year, “Revolutions: How Women Changed the World on Two Wheels,” by Hannah Ross, is the book to give. It’s a history of bicycling mixed with feminist history. Wrap it inside a new helmet for a great gift, and add “Mobile Home,” by Megan Harlan, a book about travel and the things we call home.

For the lover of sports, sort of, “Loving Sports When They Don’t Love You Back,” by Jessica Luther and Kavitha A. Davidson, is the right book to wrap up. It explores and discusses all the sports-related things that make your giftee take pause: Loving teams that lose, racist mascots, paying for that new stadium and owners who are unethical.

Biographies and memoirs

The biography lover on your list will be very happy to unwrap “Family in Six Tones,” by Lan Cao and Harlan Margeret Van Cao. It’s a book about a woman who came to the U.S. from Vietnam as a young girl, settled in and became an American success, then struggled to raise an American daughter. It’s about family, legacy, love, and your giftee will adore it. Wrap it up with another story of time and place: “Miracle Country: A Memoir,” by Kendra Atleework, set in Eastern Sierra Nevada, Minnesota and back.

Is there a giftee on your list who’s obsessed with celebrity? Why not wrap up “Ladeo Romeo: The Radical and Revolutionary Life of Charlotte Cushman, America’s First Celebrity,” by Tana Wojczuk. It’s a fascinating story that includes history and a lot of old-time glitz and glamour. History buffs might enjoy it, too.

If your giftee needs something inspirational this holiday season, wrap up “More Alike Thank Different,” by David Egan. It’s a memoir about living with Down syndrome, competing in the Special Olympics and teaching those who need to learn. Wrap it up with “Sitting Pretty,” by Rebekah Taussig, the likewise inspirational story of a disability advocate who never lets four wheels hold her back.

The reader who loves a good family story with a twist will love unwrapping “Let’s Never Talk About This Again,” by Sara Faith Alterman. It’s the story of growing up in a strict family that abhors profanity, then finding some skeletons on the family bookshelf.

True crime

The person on your gift list who loves a good murder will be happy with “18 Tiny Deaths,” by Bruce Goldfarb. It’s the story of Frances Glessner Lee, a grandmotherly woman whose small doll-house-like crime scene recreations revolutionized the science of forensics. Wrap it up with “How to Catch a Killer,” by Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D., a book filled with stories about serial murderers, how they’re profiled and what it took to put them away.

No true crime fan will want to miss unwrapping “Doctor Dealer,” by George Anastasia and Ralph Cipriano. It’s the story of a motorcycle gang, an dishonest doctor, drugs, murder and loose money. Wrap it up with this unusual true crime book: “The Last Assassin: The Hunt for the Killers of Julius Caesar,” by Peter Stothard. Yes, it’s really every bit as fascinating as it seems.

What would make your true crime fan happiest this holiday? “Dancing with the Octopus,” by Debora Harding. When she was a child, Harding was the victim of a horrible crime. Years later, when trying to deal with what had happened, she meets the man who hurt her. Pair it with “Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir,” by Natasha Trethewey, who writes of a family tragedy and a mother’s history.

Pets and animals

If your giftee is a cat person, you can’t go wrong when you wrap up “Cat Vs. Cat,” by Pam Johnson-Bennett. It’s a book for when there are two cats in the house, and they don’t like one another one bit. Wrap it up, and avoid hissy fits.

If a pet-themed novel might be perfect for the hard-to-buy for animal lover, look for “Of Mutts and Men,” by Spencer Quinn. It’s a mystery told by Chet the dog, who is half of a crime-solving duo. See if your giftee doesn’t sit up and beg for this kind of book. Pair it with “The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals,” by Becky Mandelbaum, a novel of family drama and rescue animals.

Imagine how happy the horse lover on your list will be when “Horse Crazy,” by Sarah Maslin Nir, is opened this holiday. Your horsey giftee will find a story that’s familiar: A lifelong love of horses, horses through history and culture and finding horses wherever you look.

If your giftee is a rescue mom or dad, you can’t go wrong with “Dawgs: A True Story of Lost Animals and the Kids Who Rescued Them,” by Diane Trull, with Meredith Wargo. That title should tell you everything you need to know.

Schlichenmeyer is a freelancer from La Crosse, Wis.

Schlichenmeyer is a freelancer from La Crosse, Wis.

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