Holiday Gift Guide: Our Favorite Books of the Year (Grown-Up Edition)

We've rounded up some of our favorite books of the year -- great for gifts, or just for curling up with.

Looking for something to buy for your father this Christmas, or maybe just a book or two to hibernate with over a long winter? We’re big readers here—and if you’re looking for recommendations, here are a few of our favorite recent publications for adults (a children’s edition is coming soon).

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. We raved about this book when it was published, and it remains one of our favorites of the year. An epic tale of racial discrimination and scientific experimentation written with remarkable insight, it’ll leave you thinking long after you’ve shut the cover.

The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. We must admit, Gretchen Rubin is a long-time friend of Gimundo—but even if we’d never heard of her before, we’d still be singing her praises. She’s been doling out advice and insight on how to lead a happier life on her blog, The Happiness Project, since 2006; her book packs her years of study into a fascinating, fun, and extremely readable package.

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 by Mark Twain. Mark Twain’s autobiography was so juicy that he insisted on waiting until 100 years after his death to publish it—but now his secrets are here for all to read. This is just the first volume, but it’s packed with fascinating anecdotes about his life and views. Pick up the bulky hardcover as a coffee table book, or buy the Kindle version for just $9.79. (And if you don’t have a Kindle, we highly recommend that, too.)

Cleopatra: A Life, by Stacy Schiff. More than 2,000 years after her death, the legendary Egyptian queen still fascinates us. Find the truth behind the legend in this detailed but extremely readable biography.

Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. This gripping novel travels from India to Ethiopia to America over generations, exploring family ties and the role and rituals of medicine. Although some of the hospital scenes may make you squeamish, the book will leave you wanting more.

The Memory Chalet, by Tony Judt. Tony Judt had been a world-renowned historian and writer in his prime when he was struck with ALS in 2006. The disease paralyzed his body little by little, and he was soon completely immobile. Still, he retained his ability to speak, and used his voice to tell his greatest story yet: a series of essays reflecting on a life well-lived.