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Hot Type for the Holidays: Best Holiday Gift Books for Travelers 2020

by Our Editors
Best Books of the Month and Best Gift Books for 2020

Here’s a sled full of reading and gift suggestions for the holiday season.

Jim Gladstone

One sliver of silver lining to being largely housebound through 2020’s pandemic has been the chance to reengage with the joy of reading. So many of us have tapped back into the pleasures that emerge from uninterrupted hours of time with a good book. Whether between hardcovers, on a tablet screen, or through earbuds, books provide a dependable way to travel through time and space, even when we’re physically restricted. Whether it’s to learn more about the world we’re struggling with today, or to escape into the realms of fantasy and imagination, reading is a gift we can easily give to ourselves and others during even the most trying times. Here’s a sled full of suggestions for the holiday season.

QUIRKY QUEER FANTASIAS
The real world slathered in magical frosting
Boys of Alabama - Best Books of the Month, Best Gift Books for 2020Boys of Alabama (Liveright. $26.95. www.genevieve-hudson.com), “American boys are clever, thought Max, and they want to trick you.” Max is a German teenager unexpectedly transplanted to rural Alabama when his father, who works for Volkswagen, transfers to a U.S. plant. His preconception of southern youth is modeled on Tom Sawyer, who he recalls conning his neighbors into painting a fence. In the contemporary America of Genevieve Hudson’s bewitching salamagundi of a first novel, the locals have different tricks up their sleeves: The small town of Delilah is home to a holy rolling Fundamentalist church where worshippers, including most of Max’s school football teammates, handle snakes and speak in tongues. Max also struggles with strangeness of his own: For one thing, he’s gay; for another he has the power to revive dead things. Max’s closest new American friend is a genderqueer Latinx goth kid named Pan, who, thanks to Hudson’s provocative resistance of virtually every stereo-type her characters might suggest, is not a butt of bullying who Max swoops in to save. Merging Norman Rockwell charm, Shirley Jackson chills, and achy teen romance, Hudson builds a singular fictive world with a lyrical tone all its own.

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Moonstone: The Boy who Never was - Best Books of the Month, Best Gift Books for 2020Moonstone—The Boy Who Never Was (Farrar Straus Giroux. $15. www.sjon.siberia.is). Originally published in 2016, this eerie, erotic historical fantasy by the poet and novelist Sjon takes on new urgency in the era of the coronavirus. Set in Reykjavik, Iceland during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, this haunting, under-200- page tale follows a 16-year-old rent boy whose obsession with silent film blends with his dreams and his fevered imagination. Balancing sex, cinema and horror in a shimmering equipoise, Sjon—with the impressive translator Victoria Cribb—will creep into your head with this unshakable story of alienation and strange magic. Like its title, this is a spooky, sparkling gem.

BUY BOOK When you purchase a book from our curated Bookshop.org shop we earn an affiliate commission. The books are independently reviewed by our book editor and the potential commission does not influence the review in any way.


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