A holiday book gift guide for different types of readers


Sarah Rose

“Babel” by R. F. Kuang and “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” by Ocean Vuong are a few books you can gift to a bookworm in your life this holiday season. (Sarah Rose | Northern Star)

By Sarah Rose, Senior Lifestyle Writer

To my fellow bookworms, this one’s for you. From fantasy to mystery, there is no better book recommendation than a personal one. Here are five books to add to the holiday shopping list. 

For the history nerds who love fantasy

“Babel: An Arcane History” by R.F. Kuang combines magic with the real-life world. Content warnings for this novel include misogyny, racial slurs and gun violence. 

The year is 1828, and Oxford is a thriving city full of power and knowledge. The main character, Robin Swift, and his cohort discover the ins and outs of Oxford University as scholars who have dedicated their entire life to studying languages. One of Oxford’s institutions, Babel, is a translation center – one of few in the world. 

“Babel” is a powerful novel that examines how imperialism affects the world of academia, and who colonialism affects. The book leaves readers with a compelling question: “Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence?”

For someone who likes powerful heroines 

Namina Forna writes about a valiant protagonist in her epic fantasy novel “The Gilded Ones,” which includes content warnings of child abuse and gore. 

The book follows Deka, a girl who bleeds gold blood when she’s supposed to bleed red. Already an outcast, she flees her village and her soon-to-be death when a strange woman offers her a deal. Deka soon finds herself fighting for the empire with girls just like her and helping to defeat Deathshrieks, demons who are plaguing Deka’s world. 

Though this book follows common themes such as an oppressive government and an outcast-turned-savior, its impressive world-building and dumbfounding plot twists will leave readers wanting to pick up the second book, “The Merciless Ones,” of the series. 

For those who think aliens are real

Hank Green, YouTuber and author, writes a witty science fiction book titled “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing.” One morning, April May, our main character, finds a giant robot statue in New York City that seemed to appear out of nowhere. After making a YouTube video about the strange statue, which she names Carl, April May gets thrust into the world of fame. 

Soon, she finds out that dozens of Carls appeared in cities all over the world, and she, like others, jump to figure out what these aliens are and what they want. Green’s humor bleeds into his writing, making his work an enjoyable, one-sitting read. 

For someone who needs a good cry

Ocean Vuong masters the art of emotional writing in his novel “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.” This novel includes content warnings of drug use, animal abuse and child abuse. 

Vuong writes in the format of a long letter, dedicating it to his mother who is illiterate. Vuong writes about his experience as a Vietnamese man living in America, the struggles he and his family have faced and all the things he could never tell his mother aloud. 

His writing draws readers in, reflecting his intellect and craft of storytelling. In an interview with Penguin Random House about his book, Vuong said that he wrote this novel “as an attempt to see if language can really be a bridge as it is often aspired to be.”

For those who like an evil awakening 

1920s New York City is a city that never sleeps, and evil doesn’t either. Libba Bray’s series “The Diviners” will take readers on a mysterious adventure, following a diverse cast of characters who all have secrets of their own. 

When murders start littering New York City, the main character Evie O’Neill is tasked with helping her uncle solve the homicides and the cryptic messages being left behind. Little does Evie know, an evil force has just been awakened and will continue to wreak havoc if not stopped. Bray blends horror, paranormal, humor and romance into her four-book series, making it a must-read. Content warnings for this novel include alcohol use and gore.

All of these books are available to purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.