No matter how many times I hear it, you can never have “too many books.” My (TBR) book list is forever growing and now basically fills an entire notebook, (not even counting what I have saved on GoodReads). That being said, I have read a lot this year, closing in at around 113 books so far. I pretty much will read from any genre as long as the story grabs my attention, (besides romance). This gift guide, however, has not just been compiled from books that I love, but also from recommendations I’ve received from other avid readers.
I have broken down all the best books to buy for the reader in your life this Christmas, (or any holiday for that matter) by genre. If able, I have added great deals I’ve found for the book (e-book or physical) alongside the book. (Article does contain affiliate links, and if you plan on purchasing, please use my links 🙂 , I only get a small portion and have yet to make any affiliate sales).
These are probably the main genre I read on a regular basis. There are SO MANY excellent books in this category! If the reader in your life is a fan of novels like “Gone Girl”, or any type of mystery/thriller – they are sure to love any of the following books this Christmas, (or any other holiday).
All the Missing Girls – Megan Miranda
I finished this one in a few days, (even using my 3 book at a time system). It was a page-turner to say the least.
In a Dark, Dark Wood – Ruth Ware
Discovering the work of Ruth Ware was truly a gem and this is the first of her work that I read. Not only is it a killer mystery, but I picked up some pretty cool slang words in the process of reading it.
Other Ruth Ware novels for mystery lovers:
- The Woman in Cabin 10 (currently reading and LOVING)
- The Lying Game (on my TBR list, but highly recommended by another mystery addict)
- The Death of Mrs. Westaway (Her newest release to date, on my TBR list but I’m confident to recommend it because all of her work has been a solid 5 stars)
I am Watching you – Teresa Driscoll
This story is a combinations of lots of lies that intertwined to make one hell of a great mystery. There’s a girl on the train who is consumed by guilt for not following her gut, a father who lied about the night his daughter went missing and a friend who is very good at keeping secrets. A mysterious postcard arrives: WHY DIDN’T YOU HELP HER?
This novel is gripping!
- At Barnes & Noble for $14.36 HERE, However, I believe this novel is available for free if you have Prime Unlimited, or for “rent” via Kindle if you have Prime.
What have you Done – Matthew Farrell
This one is pretty brutal in its descriptions but if you can get past that, you have one hell of a story on your hands!
The mystery begins when a mutilated body is discovered in a sleezy Philadelphia motel. A forensics specialist arrives and is completely caught off guard when he realizes that he knows the victim, (an affair that he cut off to save his marriage). It starts to look really, really bad for the forensics specialist as he can’t remember where he was the night of the murder and some highly incriminating evidence begins adding up.
Who really did it? The ending was fantastic & I highly recommend this one!
The Girl Before – Rena Olsen
I wasn’t ready for what I was actually in for when I picked this one up but the story is…
Well, it’s told from a very different perspective about a situation that actually occurs in real life.
Without spoiling: The novel begins with a woman being hauled away by police, separating her from her husband. She is infuriated but her story is far from what the cops were expecting to hear. Here it is at Barnes and Noble for $13 and some change.
Lies That Bind Us – Andrew Hart
A group of friends revisiting an old vacation spot takes a dark turn. A woman ends up shackled in a dank basement and must search through all the lies in her memory to determine who is keeping here there.
This one is good, in a bad sort of a way – if you know what I mean 🙂
Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn
Every Gillian Flynn novel I’ve read truly grabbed me. Her writing is so intoxicating, it’s honestly difficult to put down anything she’s written that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Sharp Objects was made into an HBO mini-series starring Amy Adams as the main character.
The mystery involves a complicated past, dead children with missing teeth and a reporter who returns to her home town to delve into the horrendous acts occurring.
Other Gillian Flynn Novels that are beyond epic mystery reads:
- Dark Places (Finished this one in just TWO DAYS because I couldn’t put it down. I may have forgotten to eat) Buy it Here!
- Gone Girl (If you haven’t heard of this one, you must be living under a rock, highly recommended read!)
Squall – Sean Costello
I stumbled on this novel through BookBub – which you should totally sign up for if you have a Kindle. They offer lots of FREE books and some pretty great discounts too!
Honestly, this was one of the best FREE books I’ve ever received. From the first page, I was all in. Two people are randomly brought together during a winter storm and the crossing of their very different paths made for a pretty epic thriller.
Think plane crash, an addict on the run and some very dangerous dudes on their trail. It’s excellent! It falls much more into the “thriller” category but it’s a find you won’t be sorry to read. Here FREE on Nook at Barnes & Noble.
Other Mystery/Thriller/Suspense Recommendations: (More to be added).
- The Witch Elm – Tana French
- She Rides Shotgun – Jordan Harper
- And then there were None – Agatha Christie
- The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
- Before the Fall – Noah Hawley
- The Girl with all the Gifts – M. R. Carey
- Deep Freeze – Lisa Jackson
- Odd Thomas – Dean Koontz (I LOVE all of Koontz’s novels that feature Odd Thomas. This does have a supernatural element to it, but it’s a fantastic ride).
- Lying in Wait – Liz Nugent
- The Dead Key – D. M Pulley
- The one that got Away – Simon Wood (A violent novel about a girl who survived a murderer, a killer who took her friend’s life. At first, nobody really believes her but this survivor is determined to get vengeance).
- Behind Closed Doors – B.A Paris (This one is frustrating, as the author does a tremendous job of creating obstacles for the protagonist to overcome that seem SO impossible throughout this story). Buy it HERE.
Fevre Dream – George R. R. Martin
When I found out George R. R. Martin had a vampire novel, I picked it up that day. Like any Martin novel I read, it didn’t disappoint.
A Song of Ice & Fire Series – George R. R. Martin
All I can say is that this series is an absolute masterpiece, through and through. I have read the series 3 times, (eagerly awaiting the day that never comes – AKA “The Winds of Winter”). Here’s the Box Set at WalMart!
I would also recommend “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” but it’s a lot more PG-13 than the other books.
The Magicians – Lev Grossman
Have you seen this series on SYFY? Well, the books are better. It’s like Harry Potter, but much more mature. The characters are all pretty epic & the story is great. I like the way humor is mixed in, especially since some parts of the story are so dark. It’s a very unique fantasy novel, in the way it’s written and the way the story interacts with the real world. You can buy the entire Trilogy here 🙂
Battlemage- Stephen Arryn (The Age of Darkness Trilogy)
I almost left out this gem! I’m actually unsure why this book didn’t get a lot more publicity, (or even a movie/TV series). It’s a wonderful piece of fantasy literature!
I haven’t gotten around to the rest of the series, (because of my ridiculously long TBR list but it just got moved up).
The Night Circus – Erin Morganstern
I read this one some years ago but it stood out. The novel is about a mysterious circus that appears seemingly out of nowhere, with no advertising prior to its arrival. And, it’s only open at night. Inside, you meet some great characters with magical abilities who face each other in a very high-stakes game. You can buy it HERE.
Red Moon – Benjamin Percy
So, imagine a world where werewolves exist and are out in the open. This book focuses on the political tension between that notion and is incredibly well written. You get to meet characters on both sides of the werewolf debates – some calling it an “affliction”, and others who fear those who can transform into a terrifying wolf at will. This one caught me be surprise & I’m glad I found it.
More Fantasy & Sci-Fi Recommendations: (Also to be updated as I continue to rediscover the best ones I’ve read).
- The Gunslinger – Stephen King (The beginning of “The Dark Tower” series, which is incredible, overall) Here’s a Deal on the paperback!
- The Wolf Gift – Anne Rice (Weird sex scene warning for this one, but a great novel!)
- The Witcher – Andrzej Sapkowski (Yep, it’s what the popular video game is based off of)
- Lord of the Rings – J. R. Tolkien
- Dark Fever – Karen Marie Moning (This series is SO good. Read the first book and you’ll likely be as hooked as I was).
- Altered Carbon – Richard K. Morgan (Kovacs series)
Above are SOME of the bookshelves I could actually get to in our spare room that have yet to be organized :/
I have an interest in true crime, and I’m not alone, (as much as people try to make me feel weird about it). I particularly love survival stories, unsolved crime and the psychology behind what makes (A) do what (B) never would.
The Serial Killer Whisperer – Pete Early
HUGE trigger warning on this book. If you can’t handle incredibly graphic content – don’t read this. I’m rarely bothered by gore (fictional or within elements of true crime stories) and even I had to put this one down a couple of times. But, the story is one of the most unique ones I’ve ever read, concerning serial killers and their interactions with others, (after their capture).
After a traumatic head injury, a guy is able to “connect” to serial killers on a different level. Whether or not whatever these killers wrote to him were true – it gives a perspective that is both chilling and psychologically intriguing.
In Cold Blood – Truman Copote
I know that everyone recommends this as an excellent true crime book and it’s because it is. It wasn’t the first true crime I have ever read, but it certainly set the groundwork for many that came after.
The Man in the Monster- Martha Elliot
This book got a lot of harsh reviews because of how close the author became with (?), a convicted serial killer who was executed. It’s definitely different than any other true crime novel I’ve read! Highly recommend!
Green River, Running Red – Ann Rule
Ann Rule is one of the greatest true crime writers ever. She’s done so many novels, I still haven’t caught up. This one though, is one of my favorites, as it discusses the case of “The green river killer”, Gary Ridgeway, who killed for twenty years without being discovered.
More True Crime Recommendations: (To be updated)
- Mindhunter (An incredible look inside some of the darkest minds to ever confess their feelings during/after/before committing some of the most infamous crimes)
- The Stranger Beside Me – Ann Rule (About Ted Bundy)
- Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery – Robert Kolker (This novel focuses on an undiscovered serial killer from Long Island).
- Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men – Harold Schechter (Belle Gunness, one of the most twisted of female serial killers took part in some of the worst atrocities between 1902-1908)
- Life After Darkness: Finding Healing and Happiness After the Cleveland Kidnappings – Michelle Knight (One of the survivors of the monstrous Ariel Castro, who kept 3 young women prisoners in his home for years).
Born to Raise Hell: The Untold Story of Richard Speck — The Man, The Crime, The Trial – Jack Altman & Marvin Ziporyn
My Dark Places – James Ellroy
A Head Full of Ghost – Paul Tremblay
Everything I’ve read by Paul Tremblay, I’ve loved. This one though, really sticks out to me as one of his best.
The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum
HUGE trigger warning on this chilling novel. It’s partially based off of true events, (making it that much more unsettling). I am very rarely disturbed by something I read, but this book did it. It’s an all-too-real feeling story of what happens when an authority figure tells people to unleash their twisted rage. This book is pure savagery from start to finish.
Brother – Ania Ahlborn
The novel is an intense story of a family, centered around 2 brothers who only leave their house to go into town on occasion. From the start, it’s easy to see something is really, really wrong with this family and it continues to escalate wonderfully as the story progresses.
Red Rain – R. L Stine
When I found out that R. L Stine, (author of the popular “Goosebumps” phenomenon), wrote an adult novel, I had to get my hands on it. Goosebumps was a huge part of my childhood.
The story is quite…different than anything the author had previously written, (obviously, since it’s made for adults), but you could still get a sense that it was Stine writing it – if that makes sense.
For a horror novel, overall, I found it to be a good read, even though there were some weird analogies used. It focuses on a woman feeling the need to adopt a pair of twins while visiting an island that was ravaged by a storm. I won’t spoil anything. Let’s just say, shit gets weird.
Other Horror Recommendations:
- Something Wicked this way comes – Ray Bradbury (A true classic)
- The Ruins – Scott Smith (Gore alert but a fantastic horror story where plants are the villain)
- Lost Boy, Lost Girl – Peter Straub
- The Complete Tales & Poems of Edgar Allen Poe (Buy it here!)
- Penpal – Dathan Auerbach (An eerie read from the very beginning with quite the shocker of an ending).
- The Cabin at the end of the world – Paul Tremblay
- Dr. Sleep – Stephen King (A sequel to “The Shining”, which I also recommend)
- The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson (A classic paranormal read that will always be in my top 20).
- Pet Cemetary – Stephen King (Read this as a kid and parts of it still haunt me).
- Bird Box – Josh Malerman (While I didn’t love this book, or find it particularly scary, I cannot deny that it was written fantastically and that a lot of friends I have consider this book as one of their top 10 horror novels).
- World War Z – Max Brooks (I don’t think this one falls under “horror” alone, but it’s a look at a zombie apocalypse from quite a few different perspectives – much different from the movie that focuses mainly on a single character).
Kin -Kealan Patrick Burke
The Ritual – Adam Nevill
- The Haunting of Blackwood House – Darcy Coates
I know a lot of people stray away from the classics simply because they’re old. I get it. There are lots of time periods that I avoid reading, (the old west being one I rarely ever read). But, some classics are completely worth the hype and are still excellent reads. Here are some of my favorites:
Dracula – Bram Stoker
One of my favorite vampire stories ever – and a classic. The entire story has that pure “Gothic era” feel. I adore the descriptions in this novel, as they truly allow you to paint a picture in your mind and really be “in” the story itself.
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
I have the complete works of Oscar Wilde and even though the writing is from (year), it is still very appealing today. My favorite among his work though, is “The picture of Dorian Gray” which dives head first into the subject of vanity, in an awesome way.
1984 – George Orwell
I really don’t get why this always falls under one of those articles claiming “books people pretend they’ve read.” Well, I’ve read it & it’s pretty damn good. It’s a classic and YES most people who say they’ve read it HAVE READ IT.
Why do people think readers say they’ve read something they haven’t? I don’t know of a single person who does this.
- The Odyssey – Homer (YES, I’ve read this one too and I think it’s great.)
- The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley (FANTASY that I consider a classic).
- Jayne Eyre – Charlotte Bronte (A bit romantic for my tastes but an amazing classic that focuses on a fabulous character).
- Moby Dick – Herman Melville
- Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte (I know I said I don’t read romance but this is truly something special).
- Lord of the Flies – Willaim Golding
- Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut (I know a lot of people complain about this book but it’s a great read).
Other Awesome Books
These are just going to a mixture of books. Graphic novels weren’t really my thing until I discovered “Outcast”, and then I began to gather other recommendations. I’ll probably throw in a few YA novels, (even though I rarely read them) – all the books I recommend, I LOVE – or someone I really, really trust loves them.
Believe me, I don’t want you to read anything boring 🙂 A big problem for me is finishing a novel that I don’t really enjoy, but I still feel some odd obligation to finish it once I’ve started: Nerd problems!
The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros & the Game of Thrones
This book is full of fantastic illustrations and the history of Westeros & beyond. Learn more about the families in GOT & the history. It’s pretty entertaining & like I said, the pictures are incredible. It’s a great gift for any GOT fan. 🙂
The Demonologist – Gerald Brittle
Heard of Ed & Lorraine Warren? Well, this author focuses on the controversial couple’s most terrifying “cases” of their “encounters” with the paranormal & MOSTLY demonic.
You want creepy, like “real world” creepy? This is a great read and was so creepy, I tossed my Ouija Board in the trash. (And, I’m rarely freaked out, especially by paranormal type stories).
I think Ed Warren is so articulate, he could’ve made just about anyone buy what he was selling. Either way, whatever you believe, this is an excellent book filled with some pretty off the wall stories that will have you second guessing messing with a Ouija board.
Sleeping Beauties – Stephen King & Owen King
I couldn’t really decide where to put this fantastic book because I think it falls under more than one genre and honestly, books that do this well, are great reads.
So, this addictive story has an odd plot that is truly original. When women fall asleep, they not only don’t awake, they become covered in a “cocoon like substance” and some pretty awful incidents occur if one attempts to remove the covering. Ever wondered what a world without women may look like? Give this one a read. (Spoiler, but obvious – without women, men lose their shit).
The Walking Dead Graphic Novels
- Waking Hours – Lis Wiehl
- Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, #1) – Dan Brown
- The Divergent Trilogy – Veronica Roth
- True Blood Collection (Sookie Stackhouse #1-9) – Charlaine Harris (I LOVE this series & truly miss one of my favorite heriones ever – Sookie Stackhouse).
- The Walking Dead Graphic Novels – Robert Kirkman (Yeah, I know the show sucks, the story doesn’t).
Happy Gifting and Happy Reading:
I will keep updating this list because I am sure I left out a TON of awesome books, so check back if you didn’t find anything that interests you or a reader in your life. I’m going to keep UPDATING this list, as I know I have left out some great reads! I just became overwhelmed with the number of books I had actually forgotten I read, (that are still amazing).
Please share & let me know in the comments if you love any of these books or have further recommendations 🙂
Some Reads with High Ratings that are on my TBR List: (To be Read)
– a sloppily written page in one of my TBR notebooks.
While I can’t officially endorse these books because I’ve yet to read them, I’m guessing that most of them are pretty damn good. Forgive the books I’ve read that are checked off & my awful handwriting in the above picture 🙂 (PLEASE let me know in the comments if you have read any of these and what you would rate them).
- Deadly Encounter – Wayne Kilkenny
- The Lying Game – Sara Shepherd
- Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
- The Cipher – Kathe Koja
- A Darkness Absolute – Kelly Armstram
- The Elementals – Michael McDowell
- Naomi’s Room – Jonathan Aycliffe
Plus A LOT more that I’ll continue to add – Just want to get this posted while everyone is on the search for Xmas Gifts 🙂
Please feel free to leave me book recommendations in the comments!!