Are you looking for a good book to give as a Christmas present?

Like every year, there are a lot of great candidates.

If you’re interested in autobiographies, there’s one that has out sold them all.

Michelle Obama’s Becoming tops most of the lists with more than 10 million copies purchased—and it’s on its way to becoming one of the best-selling autobiographies of all time.

There are non-fiction classics that made most best-of lists, including Tara Westover’s extraordinary memoir called Educated, a piercing look at a young woman whose abusive father kept her from interacting in society. She later became a Rhodes scholar.

Of course, you can’t talk about best books of the year without including Delia Owens remarkable Where the Crawdads Sing, which has spent 20 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list. It’s an extraordinary story that may be the best book of the year (although it was actually published in 2018).

Another one is Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, the sequel to Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, about a United States that has become a brutal totalitarian state known as Gilead. Atwood, an 80-year-old Canadian, is also a renowned poet and commentator.

If those books are a bit too heavy for your taste, you will find some entertaining language (and story-telling) in Elton John’s new autobiography Me. Like the Tom Petty biography we mentioned here a few weeks ago, John’s difficult childhood greatly influenced his career. Anyone who loves music will enjoy this story.

If music is not your taste, how about another cookbook, this one is a best seller from Ree Drummond. Drummond, a Southern Cal graduate and popular blogger, has a book called The Pioneer Woman Cooks: The New Frontier: 112 Fantastic Favorites for Everyday Eating. Drummond, who hosts a popular TV show, has also written a number of learn-to-read children’s books called Charlie the Ranch Dog, in case your gift-giving involves little people.

Speaking of that, we can’t leave out the best-selling kid’s books by Dav Pilkey, whose Dog Man series, at more than 13 million copies, is one of the best-selling books in America (in any category). Pilkey, who was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD as a child and has also written about bullying, created the best-selling Captain Underpants series (with now more than 80 million copies sold).

Of course, you can always count on the legal drama, murder mysteries and spy novels, like John Grisham’s latest, The Guardians, a legal thriller about a lawyer who suffers the consequences of taking a wrongful death case (Grisham’s predictable plot lines wore thin on me years ago, but he’s sold more than 275 million books, so what do I know, anyway?).

The only book ahead of Grisham’s ‘Guardians’ on the NYT’s Best Seller (fiction) list is the latest Jack Reacher story by Lee Child. It’s called Blue Moon and Child and has Reacher involved in a Ukranian gang war.

There are two local authors whose books are terrific—one a true crime thriller and the other a historical fiction story set in the early 1900’s.

Journalist Mike Buffington, who has won numerous national awards, has written A Conspiracy of Silence, a book which details the 1967 assassination of Floyd “Fuzzy” Hoard, the Solicitor General in Jackson County. At 140 pages, you might read this in one afternoon (it’s that good).

And Hoschton resident Sharon Gloger Friedman’s book, Ashes, won a national “Indie” award for being tops in its category. It’s an unforgettable story about the abuses suffered by a Jewish family in the early 20th century garment industry.

Either of these two books would make for a special gift, and it’s another way to support not just local writers, but independent publishing in general, where many great writers get started.

If politics is your thing, there’s plenty to choose from. If you’re a Trump backer, you’ll be sure to like Donald Trump Jr.’s number one best seller called Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us. The first three words of Trump’s book are: I’M NOT MAD. (Yes, that first sentence is in all caps).

Of course, if you’ve got a friend that’s a never-Trumper, you could go with Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television and the Fracturing of America. The book, written by New York Times television critic James Poniewozik, takes a clever look at how the evolution of cable television over the past 20 years created a perfect storm for the election of Donald Trump.

For poetry lovers on your list, you can’t miss with Ilya Kaminsky’s brilliant Deaf Republic, poems of a deaf child growing up in warring eastern Europe. Kaminsky, who became deaf at age four, has since regained much of his hearing. The poems in this book are riveting.

Finally, how can we leave out coffee-table books? Don’t you have some already that you are no longer reading? We do. In fact, they sit unappreciated on middle bookshelves, with topics ranging from The Civil War to the NFL to JFK to The History of Rock & Roll.

This year, there’s The NASA Archives: 60 Years in Space, a beautiful look at the agency created in 1958 after Russia launched Sputnik into space. Actually, this book looks great (although the coffee table price of $90 is literally out of this world—in fact, it’s significantly more expensive than our first coffee table was). If that price seems a little steep, consider this one: America’s National Parks, at 320 beautiful pages, it’s a bargain at $14.99.

Okay, these are just tip-of-the-iceberg suggestions for your holiday book-giving gifts. There are just too many to choose from — but if you do decide to give a book you won’t go wrong.

It’s a gift that lasts a lifetime. And if it’s a coffee-table book, even longer.

Happy Thanksgiving!

David R. Altman writes about books and writers for MainStreet Newspapers. Altman was nominated for Georgia Author of the Year for his poetry book, Death in the Foyer (Finishing Line Press). His poems have appeared in the American Journal of Poetry, the Blue Mountain Review and the upcoming Multimedia Poetry and Art Journal by Riza Press. He can be reached at or email at

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