Good morning, Hank. It’s Tuesday. So, I realize I am a smidge biased here; but I really do think books make the best gifts because they last! I mean, obviously the stories last in your mind. But, the books themselves often do too. I mean, I still have the copy of Tom Sawyer my Mom gave to me when I was ten! But, which books to give? Well, it’s hard to go wrong, (although not impossible); but, I have some recommendations for you this holiday season First, my favorite book of the year: “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates; a short, relentless and brilliant meditation on race and history in the United States. Also in the “Recommended to everyone on Earth” category: “The White Boy Shuffle” by Paul Beatty This book is almost 20 years old, but it’s still as hilarious and frenetic and heartbreaking as ever; and I really think it should be a classic. I’ve never recommended it to anyone who didn’t love it! Okay, moving on. For the person in your life who loves reading, but thinks they hate classics: “Death Comes For The Archbishop” by Willa Cather and “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker Both these books are captivating and and page-turney and intensely moving, despite being read in schools. For graphic novel fans: Alison Bechdel’s “Are You My Mother?” is the perfect gift for your mother provided that you and your mother have a very, very dysfunctional relationship. I also recommend “City of Clowns”, illustrated by Sheila Alvarado and written by Daniel Alarcón; who beat me in 1994 in our high school’s creative writing contest! He’s since gone on to even greater things; including this brilliant story about a young journalist in Peru grieving his father. Then, we have Eugenia Price’s book, “Beauty From Ashes”; which I highly recommend, because it is the place where I store my whiskey flask. If you have a giftee who likes quote-on-quote “literary-fiction” for quote-on-quote “adults”; I have several recommendations beginning with Hanya Yanagihara. Her first novel was a very strange book with a deeply unreliable narrarator, who discovers the secret to eternal life is drinking the blood of a certain kind of turtle. It’s excellent, but her new book, “A Little Life” is even better. I mean, if you thought “The Fault in Our Stars” was sad ; this is sad!! An older book I always like to recommend is “Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson; which is both an excellent novel and kind of a religious one, which is a very rare combination in my experience. And then, there’s “A Brief History of Seven Killings” by Marlon James; which is just a brilliant novel which uses an oral history format to tell this massive, sprawling story that all revolves around the shooting of Bob Marley in Jamaica in 1976. For science fiction fans, or also fans of “A Brief History of Seven Killings”; I recommend Nalo Hopkinson’s “Midnight Robber” which is set in a world colonized by Caribbean people. It’s really stuck with me and I’ve just started her book of stories called “Falling in Love with Hominids”, which is a great title; and, so far, also a great book! Okay, books about art and being an artist. Sarah and I both really love “The Flame Throwers” by Rachel Kushner. And, we also love “Just Kids” by Patti Smith; which I can’t find my copy of, because ever since we moved my home library has been very poorly catalogued. Religion! Anyone who wants to understand Islamic history or contemporary Islamic thought and practice should really read “No god but God” by Reza Aslan. Over the years, I’ve read and reviewed dozens of introductions to Islamic history. This is my favorite! History! I loved Mary Beard’s recent “A History of Ancient Rome: SPQR”; although, sadly, it is also lost somewhere in our home library. For poetry fans, this year I read two books of poetry I absolutely loved: “A Thousand Mornings: by Mary Oliver and “Faithful and Virtuous Night” by Louise Glock. Glick? Glook? I don’t know. Both of these books are full of precise and profound poems that are moving, without ever being pretentious. Young adult novels. I haven’t read enough YA this year, but two recent books I really enjoyed: “First and Then” by Emma Mills, a.k.a. elmify on Youtube which is funny and my kind of romance-y; and “The Boy in the Black Suit” by Jason Reynolds which is about a young man who has worn a black suit every day since his mother died. Also, it occurs to me they may be a new generation of YA readers who haven’t read a bunch of books published ten or more years ago. So, I have some recommendations on that front: “Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie” by Holly Black, “Ball Don’t Lie” by Matt de la Peña “The Truth About Forever” by Sarah Dessen and “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson. Those are each very different books. They’d probably be called, respectively: a fantasy, a sports book, a romance and a contemporary-realistic book. But, they all make great gifts. And with book gifts, I’m a big fan of bundling different kinds of things together. For younger kids, say 10 to 14: I really love Jacqueline Woodson’s “Miracle’s Boys”. And lastly, Henry’s two favorite books this year were: “Last Stop on Market Street” by Christian Robinson and the aforementioned Matt de la Peña; and the adorable “Boot and Shoe” by Marla Frazee. You can find links to all these books in the doobly doo. Hank! Full disclosure; you’re getting some of these for Christmas. So, get excited! I’ll see you on Friday.