I love picking out a good gift book for an avid reader. Sometimes, however, it can be hard to find the right book, especially for someone whose reading style you don’t know well. Book swaps can be a fun way to receive books out of your traditional genres, but can also pose a bit of a challenge. Check out this list of books that I think would appeal to a broad audience and make great books for a gift swap.
In our family, we have done a white elephant book exchange the last two years. It’s hard to find a good book that I think will appeal to enough people in my family that it’s worth purchasing for the swap.
People have different reading interests and opinions. Some heavy or deep books might not appeal to casual readers. Many non-fiction books have a perspective or an agenda that could turn off readers who don’t necessarily agree. (I know we shouldn’t all love in echo chambers, but in don’t want holiday gifts from me to be the genesis of political debate or opinion battles). Humorous books don’t always connect with everyone in the same way.
Despite all these challenges, I really want to add a book to the exchange that lots of people will like.
After a god bit of digging through the lists of books I’ve read, best seller lists of years past, and recommendations from a few of my favorite book bloggers and bookstagrammers, I think these books could appeal to a broader audience and be good choices for a holiday book swap. No book will appeal to everyone, but I think these ones are pretty darn close.
Hopefully my family agrees!
P.S. If you need a last minute holiday gift, one of these might do the trick.
9 Great Books for Book Swaps
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal
Two sisters, one farm. A family is split when their father leaves their shared inheritance entirely to one of two daughters. Despite baking award-winning pies at the local nursing home, the older sister struggles to make ends meet. For many years, she seems to envy her sister who used the money from the farm to make a life as a successful brewer. Eventually, the older sister gets her chance at creative beer brewing, in a story where the characters are lovable and quintessentially American. If there is one book on this list that I think lots of readers with different tastes might enjoy, this is it.
Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist
Bread & Wine is a collection of stories about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. I just finished reading it, and I can’t wait to make some of the recipes she shared. The stories that accompany these recipes that are so important to the author and connect her to her loved ones are also delightful to read. They are touching, deep, and relatable. I loved reading this book, and it’s a pretty quick read as well.
I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
This is a delightful book about Poppy and Sam who end up in each other’s lives in an unpredictable turn of events. However, through a series of funny exchanges, many through email and text messages, they can’t seem to untangle their connection. It’s light, fun, and engaging story with plenty of twists and turns.
American Spy: A Novel by Lauren Wilkinson
Inspired by true events, Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She’s brilliant, but she’s also a young black woman working in an old boys’ club. Her career has stalled out, she’s overlooked for every high-profile squad, and her days are filled with monotonous paperwork. She lands an opportunity to take an exciting engagement and finds herself wrapped up in all sorts of interesting challenges. Her experience changes everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover, a sister, and a good American.
The Other Americans: A Novel by Laila Lalami
Late one spring night, Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant in California, is walking across a darkened intersection when he is killed by a speeding car. The repercussions of his death bring together a diverse cast of characters. As the characters tell their stories, the invisible connections that tie them together–even while they remain deeply divided by race, religion, or class–are slowly revealed. When the mystery of what happened to Driss Guerraoui unfolds, a family’s secrets are exposed, a town’s hypocrisies are faced, and love, in its messy and unpredictable forms, is born.
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú
A memoir from Francisco Cantú, he shares his story about the US – Mexican border and how closely he is tied to so many different aspects of it. Driven to understand the hard realities of the landscape he loves, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. Eventually he leaves the Border Patrol, but when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the full extent of the violence it wreaks, on both sides of the line. Given the prevalence of border issues in our country currently, this is an enlightening read to highlight various perspectives from people living the controversy every day.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps writes love letters to the boys she has loved, and she keeps them in a hatbox her mother gave her. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life. One day, those loves letters are sent out, and this story follows Lara as her secrets are revealed to the boys who have rolled through her teenage love life.
This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving Where You Live by Melody Warnick
When we move to a new place, do we come to love or hate the place by chance or is it based on intentional actions taken to learn to love our new home? In the book, Warnick sets out to answer this question. She dives into the body of research around place attachment—the deep sense of connection that binds some of us to our cities and increases our physical and emotional well-being—then travels to towns across America to see it in action.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as brilliant and her startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. But things were not as they seemed. Carreyrou dove deep into the circumstances surrounding the company and interviewed people in the company to unravel significant corporate fraud plagued by ambition and hubris bolstered by overconfidence of Silicon Valley.