Holiday Books Gift Guide: Fascinating fiction to give and get this holiday season

Holiday Books Gift Guide:
Fascinating fiction to give and get this holiday season



Michael Chabon

Harper, 28.99

Inspired by stories Chabon was told by his grandfather on hisdeathbed, this beautifully-wrought novel tells the story of a relationship that spans the 20th century.

The Spy

Paulo Coehlo

Knopf, $22

The latest book from the author of “The Alchemist” looks at the last days of Mata Hari, the famous Dutch dancer and alleged double agent.

The Fortunes

Peter Ho Davies

HoughtonMifflin Harcourt, $27

This novel comprises four loosely related sections about the Chinese American experience told through the eyes of an immigrant, an actress, a hae-crime witness and an adoptive father-to-be.

The Whole Town’s Talking

Fannie Flagg

Random House, $28

The “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” author’s new novel is set in a small Missouri town with a cemetery that might be haunted.

Razor Girl

Carl Hiaasen

Knopf, $27.95

The latest comic mystery from the king of gonzo Florida noir involves a beautiful scam artist, the star of a Cajun-themed reality show and a lovelorn, cynical ex-detective.

The Last Wolf & Herman

László Krasznahorkai, translated by George Szirtes and John Batki

New Directions, $15.95

Two long stories by the postmodernist Hungarian author: one about a frustrated writer given a terrible assignment, the other about a conflicted game trapper.

A Gambler’s Anatomy

Jonathan Lethem

Doubleday, $27.95

After a psychic backgammon hustler starts losing his vision and his luck, he returns to his former hometown of Berkeley to undergo experimental surgery.

Thus Bad Begins

Javier Marías

Knopf, $27.95

The latest novel from the celebrated Spanish author follows a Madrid college student who takes a job working for a film director with a mysteriously troubled marriage.


Amos Oz

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25

Set in mid-20th century Jerusalem, the Israeli author’s novel tells the story of three unlikely acquaintances: an elderly man, a biblical scholar and the daughter of an influential Zionist.


Ann Patchett

Harper, $27.99

The “Bel Canto” author returns with a novel about two families that become intertwined in California and how an affair affects the lives of the next generation.

Today Will Be Different

Maria Semple

Little, Brown, $27

The comic author’s follow-up to “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” takes place during one crazy day in the life of a Seattle animator and her quirky family.

Little Nothing

Marisa Silver

Blue Rider Press, $27

Part love story, part dark fairy tale, Silver’s novel is about a girl who is born a dwarf and later undergoes difficult and mysterious bodily transformations.

Swing Time

Zadie Smith

Penguin Press, $27

The fifth novel from the author of “White Teeth” follows two childhood friends who aspire to be dancers; their dreams work out very differently.

The Complete Madame Realism and Other Stories

Lynne Tillman

Semiotext(e), $17.95

Tillman has made a career out of gleefully ignoring genre boundaries, and her new collection of essays/stories explores art, television, culture and more.

A Gentleman in Moscow

Amor Towles

Viking, $27 

Five years after the Bolshevik Revolution, a former aristocrat is sentenced to life imprisoned in a luxurious Russian hotel, where he gains insights into the world and himself.

The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead

Doubleday, $26.95

The winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction, this widely praised novel tells the story of Cora, a slave who escapes a 19th entury Georgia plantation via an underground railroad.

Christmas Days

12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days

Jeanette Winterson

Grove Press, $24

The edgy author (“Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit”) continues the British tradition of writing funny, spooky stories for the Christmas season.

Back to top


No Man’s Land

David Baldacci

Grand Central, $29

Baldacci’s latest thriller brings back Army investigator John Puller; this time, he’s trying to solve the mystery of his mother, who disappeared 30 years ago.

His Bloody Project

Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae

Graeme Macrae Burnet

Skyhorse, $24.99

This unlikely finalist for the prestigious Man Booker prize is a thriller, told through fictional documents, about a mysterious murder in small-town Scotland in 1869.


Harlan Coben

Dutton, $28

After two boys from rich families are kidnapped, one is located 10 years later, leading investigators to try to figure out what happened to the other child.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye

Michael Connelly

Little, Brown, $29

Now a private eye, former LAPD detective Harry Bosch is hired by a dying billionaire desperate to find out what happened to his long-ago lover and their unborn child.

The Whistler

John Grisham

Doubleday, $28.95

A Florida judge is accused of profiting from a Mafia-run casino on Native American land, and lawyer and investigator Lacy Stoltz is on the case.

Small Great Things

Jodi Picoult

Ballantine, $28.99

An African-American nurse is ordered by hospital management not to touch the newborn child of a white supremacist couple; when the infant’s heart stops, she’s forced to make a tough choice.

The Kept Woman

Karin Slaughter

William Morrow, $27.99

A Georgia investigator looking into the case of slain ex-police officer realizes there may be another victim — a woman who lost a significant amount of blood and then disappeared.

Back to top


Luxe Two

A LaLa Land Addiction

Ashley Antoinette

St. Martin’s Griffin, $15.99 paper

Antoinette’s novel continues the story of Bleu, a young woman from Michigan who moves to Los Angeles, only to be undone by an addiction to crack cocaine.


Eve Langlais, Kate Douglas and A.C. Arthur

St. Martin’s Griffin, $16.99 paperback

This anthology of three paranormal romance novellas focuses on sexy werewolves and other humans with the ability to metamorphose into dangerous animals.

Paris for One and Other Stories

Jojo Moyes

Pamela Dorman Books, $25

This centerpiece of this romantic short-story collection from the author of “Me Before You” features a young woman who makes the most of her solo vacation in France.

Back to top

Sci-fi / Fantasy


Warren Ellis

FSG Originals, $13 paperback

The English comic book author’s latest is a short thriller about a burned-out futurist whose nature retreat is upended after a man mysteriuosly disappears.

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy

Karen Joy Fowler, Ed.

Mariner, $14.95 paperback

This year’s installment of the annual anthology contains stories by Charlie Jane Anders, Ted Chiang, Kelly Link, Sofia Samatar and also Salman Rushdie.


A Newsflesh Novel

Mira Grant

Orbit, $25

Readers looking for escapism might want to check out this thriller about journalists covering a presidential campaign amid a zombie apocalypse.

The Fifth SeasonEvery Age Must Come to An End

N.K. Jemisin

Orbit, $15.99 paperback

This epic fantasy novel, about a continent wracked by disastrous climate change, received rave reviews from critics as well as a 2016 Hugo Award.

The Selected Short Fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin Box Set

Ursula K. Le Guin

Saga Press, $59.99

This box set contains two books, each more than 700 pages, from the beloved fantasy legend: one featuring her short stories, the other featuring her novellas.

Death’s End

Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu

Tor, $26.99

The final volume in the Chinese novelist’s "Remembrance of Earth’s Past" trilogy finds Earth in an uneasy détente with the hostile planet of Trisolaris.

The Wall of Storms

Ken Liu

Saga Press, $29.99

The sequel to the well-reviewed "Grace of Kings," this fantasy epic tells the story of an emperor who must find a way to keep his land united after a sudden enemy invasion.

Back to top



Anne Carson

Knopf, $30

The latest from the Canadian translator and poet is presented in an unusual format: a box containing individual chapbooks, which readers are invited to explore in whatever order they choose.

The Rain in Portugal

Billy Collins

Random House, $26

The popular former U.S. Poet Laureate’s new book is a droll, whimsical and moving collection of almost 50 new poems.

Everything We Always Knew Was True

James Galvin

Copper Canyon Press, $16 paper

The seventh collection from Wyoming-based poet Galvin is a plainspoken and sometimes tragic look at the people and landscape of the American West.


Donika Kelly

Graywolf Press, $16 paper

This debut collection from New York state-based poet Kelly, longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award, focuses on interactions with animals, some real, some mythological.

Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code

New & Selected Poems

Thylias Moss

Persea Books, $29.95

This collection by the noted African American poet is a retrospective of her bold, socially conscious work as well as a selection of newer poems.

Pacific Standard Time

Kevin Opstedal

Ugly Duckling Presse, $18 paper

Born and raised in Venice, having lived in Bolinas and Santa Cruz, poet Opstedal’s hard-nosed work is saturated with imagery of the California coast, surf culture and the Pacific Ocean.

Erratic Facts

Kay Ryan

Grove Press, $15 paper

More than 60 new poems from Ryan, the Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate known for her accessibility and wit.


Solmaz Sharif 

Graywolf, $16 paperback

A finalist for the 2016 National Book Award, this electrifying debut collection from  Sharif uses the language of war in Iraq and Afghanistan to examine its human cost.

Back to top

More holiday book lists

Choose a reading guide: