As I've said a number of times over recent posts, I love getting and giving books as presents but sometimes its difficult to decide what to get and for whom. Hopefully, by the end of this post, you will have loads of ideas for really great books to get for all your friends and family. As a quick disclaimer, I'm going to try and avoid the big hitters (The Fault In Our Stars, Harry Potter, Twilight, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, anything by Dan Brown etc).
I'll structure them by age up till 16, then genre. Most of them will be suitable for reluctant readers (particularly in the age restricted sections) but I'll make it clear if there's a book which is slightly more 'literary' - if there's such a thing!
Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy - With a kick-ass female protagonist and a walking, talking, fire-slinging skeleton this book has just about everything you could want: murder, mystery, magic and some hilarious one liners. Plus, there's a whole series of them, so once you've got your younger family member hooked they can keep on reading to their little hearts content. I think I read this series aged 12-14 and I still really enjoyed them.
Ally's World 'The Past, The Present and The Loud Loud Girl' by Karen McCombie - This series was one of my favourites growing up. It is slightly on the more typically 'girly' side, set in London near Alexandra Palace it is the diary of 13 year old Ally who regales us with tales of her slightly mad family.
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke - For the lover of fantasy. I adored this book, with its sometimes very lyrical language and magical world construction. There is also a very bad film adaptation whose only redeeming feature is its excellent cast.
Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan - Dark, funny, and just a little bit gory, this is the story of a young boy who discovers what its like to get bitten by a vampire. This is on the more 'manly' side, but it was a series I loved growing up, so anyone can enjoy them. Again, another one with a bad film adaptation.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket - Another dark, funny book but for a completely different reason. The Baudelaire siblings are left orphaned and in the care of their suspicious Uncle Olaf after a terrible fire at their family home. This one has a rather good film adaptation which would make an excellent companion present for the book.
The Princess Diaries by Cathy Hopkins - I really enjoyed this series, but I think I read them slightly too young. The later books get a bit 'sexy' as far as I can remember, but all of them should be suitable for 14-15 year olds. It's about 15 year old Mia who suddenly finds out that she is the heir to the throne of (fictional) Genovia. Another book with a good film adaptation.
The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness - As you know I read and loved these books over the summer, and I'm twenty! These books have no age limit on them, really, but I think 14 would be the perfect age to read them. If you haven't seen my review, you can check it out here.
Looking For Alaska by John Green - This is John Green's first novel, and his most mature, so I would definitely recommend being 16 before giving this one a read. Pudge goes away to college, armed with last words, to search for The Great Perhaps, and instead finds friends in The Colonel and Alaska. With humour, romance and great depth this novel is more than just a light read.
Mr Penumbra's Twenty Four Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan - Another book I read at the start of the summer and loved. This book feels very mysterious and little magical. My review is here.
The Lovers Dictionary by David Levithan - This is actually found on the adult shelves of the book shop, but think it is really suitable for a YA audience. I have done a review but the link for it is broken, so that will be up as soon as I've managed to sort out the niggles! This is a book for people who like unconventional narratives. It's a bit of a gateway for poets too, as the style of writing is very lyrical.
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson - Again this is technically an adult book but since it is concerned with a coming of age narrative I think its a great read for young adults. I read it as part of my A level course and adored it.
NW by Zadie Smith - This is a book for people who love books. It is a very 'writerly' and a pleasure to read. I'd avoid this for non-readers/reluctant readers. This book feels like London to me, it speaks with the voice of a city, so I'd recommend it for any Londoners/city folk!
The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson - What can I say about this book? It is hilarious, really easy to read and suitable for anyone - mum's, dad's, grandparents, siblings, friends. I read it whilst bored in a rainy mobile home in France adn I couldn't stop reading sections aloud to my mates. I also reviewed this book back in the early days of this blog, so if you want a little more information you can check that out.
The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal - This is definitely a book off the beaten track for me. My Papa (Granddad) lent it to me a few years ago and, although it was slow going, I ended up loving it! It follows a collection of Japanese netsuke, so it's a great book for people interested in history but delivered in a slightly unconventional way.
Bastard Out Of Carolina by Dorothy Allison - As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I had to read this book for my module and I loved it. It does have some hard hitting content, but I think young women would enjoy this just as much as adults. It would also be a great book to give a young man to teach him about male violence and sexual assault. In both circumstances I'd say this book is for confident readers who are emotionally mature enough to cope with hard topics, which is why I'm keeping it in the adult section rather than moving into YA.
Hopefully that has given you a couple of ideas. Let me know if you have any suggestions of your own! Tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment below.