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The 2022 Literary Arts Holiday Gift Guide

It should come as no surprise that Literary Arts’ staff love books and we love to share that love for books with those around us. This is the time of year where people love to give. To aid you in the gifting process we have gathered a list of all the books that some of the staff here at Literary Arts will be gifting this holiday season.

Leah O’Sullivan (Receptionist)

All three of these novels contain characters (especially young women) who are trying to cope with reality through unorthodox and often unhealthy coping mechanisms. These character come across as both strange and heart-wrenchingly relatable, especially in our ever-changing “unprecedented” times. I would recommend these books to anyone who enjoys literary weirdness and pondering the meaning of life.

Liz Olufson (Public Programs Manager)

The Counting to Bananas by Carrie Tillotson rhyming picture book is an absolute riot and perfect for the high-energy kiddos in my life. I’m gifting the lyrical middle grade novel The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander to every man in my life—young and old—because it’s a beautiful exploration of the many complex layers of masculinity. The thriller Take No Name by Daniel Nieh is the perfect pick for my bestie, who loves her books to be fast-paced and infused with plenty of humor.

Jen Gurney (Box Office & Data Manager)

I read the graphic novel Freestyle by Gale Galligan with my seven-year-old. We both fell in love with the well-timed humor and beautiful, fun design. The themes of family and friendship were also thoughtful and heartfelt. A great pick for kids in elementary or middle school!

Whether you are looking to start or stop a habit, this Atomic Habits by James Clear lays out actionable steps and provides interesting insights into human behavior along the way. Recommended for the the nonfiction reader/DIY guru/psych major in your life.

Alberto Sveum (Programs Assistant)

I recommend Letters from a Stoic by Seneca.”Stoic” isn’t just a word we use in the Midwest to describe our elders. It’s also an ancient school of philosophy that we could probably all learn something important from—maybe how to live better lives.

“It matters what you call a thing” Solmaz Sharif says in her debut poetry collection, Look. Besides being a book of incredible poetic craft and formal genius, Sharif asks a lot of political, ethical, and linguistic questions that have stuck with me years after reading for the first time.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil writes about the natural world with such awe and care in their book World of Wonders. The serious examination of and love for animals, plants, insects, and more, is coupled with excellent illustrations throughout the book, too.

Amanda Bullock (Director of Public Programs)

I picked up Family Lexicon by Natalia Ginzburg browsing at Otherwise Bookshop in Rome this summer and was immediately completely in love with Natalia Ginzburg’s writing and plan to read everything she ever wrote. This sort-of novel mostly memoir about her family is brilliant and laugh-out-loud funny, and as the title suggests very much about the language and storytelling unique to our little clans, whether blood relation or chosen family. I loved it, and can’t imagine who wouldn’t.

Borealis by Aisha Sabatini Sloan had come to me from the publisher, Coffee House Press, and hits one of my sweet spots, which is books about cold places. This essay from Aisha Sabatini Sloan is wonderfully unique, exploring her relationship with Alaska and the Alaskan landscape as a Black queer woman and artist. Some of the best “nature writing” I’ve ever read, loved it.

The book I probably picked up the most this year was Yossy Arefi’s wonderful cookbook Snacking Cakes, as my coworkers can attest from the frequent cake in the office kitchen! All of the cakes in this book can be made with one bowl and in an eight-by-eight pan, though Arefi also gives many options for variations on baking vessels and alternate versions of the recipes. I’ve made a bunch and they’ve all been winners, and I love that you can basically spontaneously whip up a cake that is arguably “breakfast appropriate.” A great gift for bakers novice to expert.

Susan Moore (Director of Programs for Writers)

A Book of Days is a daybook, a picture for each day, from Patti Smith’s life and travels, her friends and family. Lyrical and memorable images. Her boots, Rimbaud’s grave, her children, her cat, Fred Sonic’s guitar, and more.They add up to a portrait of an artist with a singular voice who can’t stop noticing.

Lauren Walbridge (Director of Development)

As in The Book of Delights, Gay reminds us to seek the beautiful and joyous, framing both the mundane and extraordinary parts of our lives as sources of community, strength, and survival. Inciting Joy is another reminder that anyone who reads his books feels like family.

Jessica Meza-Torres (Programs for Writers Coordinator)

Weirdo by Julia Gaskill is so sweet and tender. It feels like warm hug to your younger self, and somehow also triumphant and celebratory! It made me feel a lot of feelings, among those feelings: pride for Julia, who is a wonderful poet and community member.

Hope Levy (Marketing & Communications Coordinator)

I absolutely adored Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones when I was younger, and lost my copy a long time ago when someone who borrowed it never returned it. My spouse loves Miyazaki’s masterful movie adaptation, so I got a copy of the book so we can share this treasured story together.


If any of these titles interest you, you can get a copy for you or a friend though our Bookshop.org store front.

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