It’s almost Christmas and maybe you haven’t done your shopping yet, because you have no idea what to give. No worries! I’m here to help you out with gifts for big and small budgets and for all kinds of people. Ok, I left out the really expensive ones. I limited myself to books released in 2017, except for the last category. I wanted to share those books, because I believe that anyone can benefit from reading more non-fiction and becoming more creative, no matter what you do.
Have a look to see if you can find the perfect gift for a relative, friend or partner. Or maybe a gift for yourself?
For the aspiring writer
For the aspiring writer, or anyone who likes to write by hand, I have this small selection. I could go on about the different kind of notebooks, pens and inks, but these are my go to products if you don’t know much about the writing habits of the receiver.
Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen
The Pilot Metropolitan selection is wide range of fountain pens in different colours and patterns. It’s not too expensive while it’s still good quality. The nibs are mostly medium, but some shops also offer the fine nib. If you don’t know the preference of the person, think of their handwriting. If it’s on the small side, go for a fine nib.
It also uses international cartridges, which makes refilling it easier since more shops carry these.
Diamine Ink Cartridges
The Diamine Ink Cartridges come in larger packages (18 instead of 6, or even 20) and the quality of the ink is superior to the house brand cartridges. I’ve noticed that one small cartridge also lasts longer than the J.Herbin cartridges I used before. Diamine has a ton of different colours and shades. I bought Sapphire Blue as my standard blue colour because I prefer a more vibrant colour over the usual Blue Black. If I had the money, I’d buy a box of all the colours.
Rhodia Notebook A5
$19.95 – $24.95
The Rhodia notebooks have the best paper for fountain pens. The pen glides across the paper. Even with a fine nib you won’t experience the scratching sensation you might have on other, cheaper, paper. The notebooks have a faux leather cover and come with various kinds of paper: ruled, dotted or blank. But they’re also available as dairies and goalbooks (for all the bullet journal enthusiasts). All notebooks have the orange bookmark and elastic band to keep your notebook and other content together. The orange colour is part of the original design of a black notebook with orange accents. I think that it still matches with most of the colours.
Books for the widely interested
Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
I wanted this book on the list. Mostly because Kazuo Ishiguro has won the Nobel prize for literature this year and his work deserves to be read. But most people haven’t heard about him or his books. I know most people would recommend Remains Of The Day, but I’ll put Never Let Me Go on the list. It’s been years since I’ve read it and I have to confess that I didn’t see the movie, but I still remember quite a bit about it. The story stuck with me.
In one of the most acclaimed and strange novels of recent years, Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewered version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now 31, Never Let Me Go hauntingly dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School, and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life.
Mythos – Stephen Fry
This one was on my own wishlist and I’ve received when we celebrated Sinterklaas (Dutch holiday) earlier this month. I didn’t have a chance to read it yet, but I’ll tell you why I wanted this and probably many others will enjoy it as well.
- It’s written by Stephen Fry.
- I also enjoy the subject, Greek mythology, something that seems to be influencing a lot of the entertainment coming out these days. It never hurts to read more about it so intertextual references will be more apparent.
- It will look great next to Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. I also believe that the two books will be friends before killing each other in the most entertaining ways.
No one loves and quarrels, desires and deceives as boldly and brilliantly as Greek gods and goddesses. They are like us, only more so – their actions and adventures scrawled across the heavens above.
From the birth of the universe to the creation of humankind, Stephen Fry – who fell in love with these stories as a child – retells these myths for our tragic, comic, fateful age. Witness Athena born from the cracking open of Zeus’s great head and follow Persephone down into the dark realm of Hades. Experience the terrible and endless fate of Prometheus after his betrayal of Zeus and shiver as Pandora opens her jar of evil torments.
The Greek gods are the best and worst of us, and in Stephen Fry’s hands they tell us who we are. Mythos – smart, funny, and above all great fun – is the retelling we deserve by a man who has been entertaining the nation for over four decades.
Good Night Story For Rebel Girls – Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo
This one I gave to my niece for her birthday. Adults might not enjoy this, but I think it’s important to share female accomplishment and this book does just that. There are a hundred stories about awesome women from many different fields, some I knew and others I didn’t. Young girls should be exposed to this, and show them that, whatever it is they like, they can do it.
What if the princess didn’t marry Prince Charming but instead went on to be an astronaut? What if the jealous step sisters were supportive and kind? And what if the queen was the one really in charge of the kingdom? Illustrated by sixty female artists from every corner of the globe, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls introduces us to one hundred remarkable women and their extraordinary lives, from Ada Lovelace to Malala, Amelia Earhart to Michelle Obama. Empowering, moving and inspirational, these are true fairy tales for heroines who definitely don’t need rescuing.
Books for fantasy enthusiasts
I’ll stay away from high fantasy and mainstream authors, sequels and other fantasy books that fans might have already bought. I’m looking at you, J.K. Rowling and all the books published in your franchises. And also Peter V. Brett with your wonderful end of the series, The Core. And you, Robin Hobb, with just about everything you’ve written.
No, I’ll give you a few books that are the first in a series and lesser known authors. Philip Pullman is probably more well known, but hey, some people might have forgotten him.
The Book of Dust – Philip Pullman
The Book of Dust is the first book of the series La Belle Sauvage, the new trilogy by Philip Pullman and the follow-up on the His Dark Materials series. I absolutely loved His Dark Materials, but lets forget the movie shall we? Rereading His Dark Materials is probably not a bad idea if you’ll receive this one for Christmas. It’s been seventeen years since it came out, after all.
If The Book Of Dust is much like His Dark Materials, it’s the perfect winter gift for any fantasy loving reader. Cuddle up with a blanket and a warm beverage of choice and just read.
Eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, live with his parents at the Trout Inn near Oxford. Across the River Thames (which Malcolm navigates often using his beloved canoe, a boat by the name of La Belle Sauvage) is the Godstow Priory where the nuns live. Malcolm learns they have a guest with them; a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua…
The Bear And The Nightingale – Katherine Arden
A YA Romance story warmed me up to Russian fairy tales and how perfect they are to create a fantasy world that’s both beautiful and dangerous. That seems to be the case for The Bear And The Nightingale as well. It’s fresh, it’s different, it’s lovely. The snowy setting is perfect for those cold winter days. And if you don’t want to wait, the sequel, The Girl In The Tower, is out now as well.
Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, Vasya loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. Wise Russians fear him, for he claims unwary souls, and they honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil.
Then Vasya’s widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow. Fiercely devout, Vasya’s stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. And indeed, misfortune begins to stalk the village.
But Vasya’s stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for marriage or a convent. As the village’s defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has long concealed—to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
War Cross – Marie Lu
The summary is what caught my eye after the bright colours of the cover. I think there aren’t enough books about games and every new one is welcome. This also happens to be a good one. Warcross is perfect for the reader who wants action and likes thrillers.
I know this fits the sci-fi category more than fantasy, but you’ll forgive me for that, right? Especially after you’ve finished the book.
For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.
Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.
YA for everyone
The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give has only been released this year, but it already has a movie deal. We need more books by black women, about women and situations like these. It’s a story that needs to be heard, that could be happening right now, that will wake people up.
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
One Of Us Is Lying – Karen McManus
And this one is turned into a TV show. I haven’t read this one yet, but the premise is great. It’s described as The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars and that is exactly what people are interested right now. I’m thinking of Netflix series as 13 Reasons Why, Riverdale and American Vandal. I’ve been hooked on shows like this and I know that this one turned into a TV show is the right move. But first we have to read the book, right?
Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
- Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
- Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
- Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
- Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
- And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.
[Limited] The Path Keeper – N.J. Simmonds
If you want to know how much I love this book, read my review. One thing has changed though. Simmonds has left her publisher so The Path Keeper is only available in limited quantity until she has a new deal. Amazon has almost sold out, but she still has more than enough available on her site. You’ll even get a signed copy! It’s a wonderful book to give to anyone who loves romance, vivid characters and a little twist.
Creativity, Inc. – Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace
I love Pixar. Lots of people love Pixar. But the true question is, how can we become Pixar? Or at least, how can we work like Pixar?
In Creativity, Inc. Ed Catmull talks about how Pixar came to be and how to nurture the creativity in its employees. I honestly believe that some of the methods mentioned in this book work well for any company, creative or not. They say it’s a book for managers, but everyone aspiring to lead a team one day can benefit from reading this book. There are valuable lessons here about managing people, since they’re using a human first approach.
Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”
For nearly twenty years, Pixar has dominated the world of animation, producing such beloved films as the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, WALL-E, and Inside Out, which have gone on to set box-office records and garner thirty Academy Awards. The joyousness of the storytelling, the inventive plots, the emotional authenticity: In some ways, Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is. Here, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques that have made Pixar so widely admired—and so profitable.
As a young man, Ed Catmull had a dream: to make the first computer-animated movie. He nurtured that dream as a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah, where many computer science pioneers got their start, and then forged a partnership with George Lucas that led, indirectly, to his co-founding Pixar in 1986. Nine years later, Toy Story was released, changing animation forever. The essential ingredient in that movie’s success—and in the thirteen movies that followed—was the unique environment that Catmull and his colleagues built at Pixar, based on leadership and management philosophies that protect the creative process and defy convention, such as:
- Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.
- If you don’t strive to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.
- It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them.
- The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them.
- A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.
Creative Confidence – Tom Kelley & David Kelley
Creative Confidence is a perfect addition to Creativity, Inc. Tom and David Kelley teach us how to be more creative, and not just in our arts, but in any position. The book is filled with cases about companies which aren’t considered creative. This book is perfect for people stuck in a rut and want to refuel over the holidays and go back to work with a fresh outlook. This book will change the way you solve problems, how to keep challenging yourself and how to become better at your job.
IDEO founder and Stanford d.school creator David Kelley and his brother Tom Kelley, IDEO partner and the author of the bestselling The Art of Innovation, have written a powerful and compelling book on unleashing the creativity that lies within each and every one of us.
Too often, companies and individuals assume that creativity and innovation are the domain of the “creative types.” But two of the leading experts in innovation, design, and creativity on the planet show us that each and every one of us is creative. In an incredibly entertaining and inspiring narrative that draws on countless stories from their work at IDEO, the Stanford d.school, and with many of the world’s top companies, David and Tom Kelley identify the principles and strategies that will allow us to tap into our creative potential in our work lives, and in our personal lives, and allow us to innovate in terms of how we approach and solve problems. It is a book that will help each of us be more productive and successful in our lives and in our careers.
Make Good Art – Neil Gaiman
This speech has meant so much to me. I watch or read it at least once a year, because I do need that reminder, “make good art”. The book variant is beautifully illustrated by Chip Kidd to enhance the message. It’s a perfect gift for that person who does art. It doesn’t matter what kind of art, or how hard they art. They might art harder after reading this.
In May 2012, bestselling author Neil Gaiman delivered the commencement address at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, in which he shared his thoughts about creativity, bravery, and strength. He encouraged the fledgling painters, musicians, writers, and dreamers to break rules and think outside the box. Most of all, he encouraged them to make good art.
The book Make Good Art, designed by renowned graphic artist Chip Kidd, contains the full text of Gaiman’s inspiring speech.