Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

The Hired Girl

Laura Amy Schlitz

The Ultimate Holiday Book Buying Guide

The Ultimate Holiday Book Buying Guide

“What greater gift than the love of a cat?” wrote Charles Dickens. And if live animals aren’t your thing, not much beats a book in the gift-giving department. At least, not if you ask us.

But which book? For which reader? Don’t worry: We’ve done the hard work for you, sifting through hundreds of titles to cull our selections of Books for Every Reader on Your List. Even better: Every book listed here links to an actual review of the book.

Consider yourself one well-informed holiday shopper.

animal storiesAnimal stories

Who can resist a dog (or a gorilla, or a talking mouse, for that matter)? Man’s best friend does make an appearance, but the rest of these books feature a bona fide menagerie of animals—both real and imagined.

Middle Grade (Ages 9-12)

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Masterpiece by Elise Broach

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

YA (13+)

Rotten by Michael Northrop

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel


Books that make you go, “Awwww.”


The tear-jerkers. The heart-melters. The books you wish would never end. We wouldn’t go so far as to call these melodrama, but if you—or a reader on your holiday list—like stories of struggle and redemption, one of these is sure to be a winner.

Middle Grade (Ages 9-12)

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

YA (13+)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

What Comes After by Steve Watkins

A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

John Riley’s Daughter by Kezi Matthews


Dying is easy; comedy is hard. Which perhaps explains the dearth of humorous fiction on the market these days. Thank goodness for the authors on this list, who aren’t afraid to approach life—and writing—with a sense of humor. Give any of these novels to the book-lover in your life who likes a good laugh—and a good read.

Middle Grade (Ages 9-12)

Holes by Louis Sachar

A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck

YA (13+)

My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies by Allen Zadoff

Since You Left Me by Allen Zadoff

What Boys Really Want by Pete Hautman

Withering Tights by Louise Rennison

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going

Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick

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