Ah, it's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas and it's funny how it smells just like books. Perhaps that's because one of my favourite things to give as gifts is books. Yes, even to teens.
I have a lot of nieces and nephews, who are now mostly horribly grown up, and I gave them all books each year. The key to giving teens (or anyone really) books for presents is that you have to cater it to their interests, not yours. If you don't know what they'd like, play it safe and get them a gift card for a bookstore so they can pick out what they like. But, if you have an idea of what the teen in your life is interested in, here are my top selections below.
The final book in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Last Olympian, came out this year. If your reader hasn't read them yet start them off with The Lightning Thief and pair it up with a coupon to take them to see the movie on the opening weekend in February. Or if you really want to spoil them get them the whole boxed set (hardcover only as the latest book, The Last Olympian is not yet available in paperback). Bonus points for doing this now when you can still avoid movie-tie in covers (I hate movie tie-in covers).
If they like post-apocalyptic fiction grab Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. If you want to steal one of the ideas from the gift guide I did last year, you can pair it with the Survival Kit in a Sardine Can (something I'm sure Katniss would have appreciated) or a Water Bottle Survival Kit (which would be kind of nice to keep in your car actually - maybe pick up a couple).
I absolutely love Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series. The third book, Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover, came out in June and it sounds like the fourth book will be out in June 2010. This is a great series for smart, confident, daring girls, or girls who wished they were confident and daring. Each time I read one of these books I spend the next two weeks declaring that I want to be a Gallagher Girl. In this same vein, I'd also suggest The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart.
For the sports fan or athlete (especially girls) I'd recommend Catherine Murdock's Front and Center, the third book in her D.J. Schwenk series. If your teen hasn't also read Dairy Queen and The Off Season pick them up and give the whole trilogy.
Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan is a WWI steampunk alternate history that is on my personal wish list. While you are at it you might want to pick up Cherie Priest's Boneshaker, another steampunk novel this time told in Civil War-era Seattle. If you wanted to pair it with anything just search for steampunk on Etsy and you'll find everything from jewelry to t-shirts.
If you are trying to instill a love of classics to your teen, or even maybe get them interested in them try a twist on the usual classic with Quirk Books Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.
Other books that have gotten a lot of attention this year in the YA world include Diana Peterfreund's Rampant (one of my personal faves this past year for one simple reason - killer unicorns), Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Liar by Justine Larbalestier, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan and The Evolution of Calpunia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.
Now, if you are looking for something for a hardcore reader and you don't want to buy them books, book pillows are all the rage. There's all kinds of variations from Levenger's Thai Book Pillow or if you have the ability you can make your own hands free book pillow. I have never wanted to know how to use my sewing machine more than after seeing the book pillow that Bethany made. (I'm convinced this would be totally awesome for college students too.)
Or maybe what your teen needs is a place to read. Perhaps a beanbag or butterfly chair or maybe a floor pillow? Of if they don't have room for more furniture, a bed lounge/lounge pillow? I had one when I was a teen that was a horrid mustard yellow (it was positively fugly) but it was one of the most comfortable ways to read in bed.
If you are looking for stocking stuffers, do not forget bookmarks! Personally I'm a big fan of magnetic bookmarks. The more bookmarks I have around the more likely I am to use one. Ditto book darts.
So go forth and buy bookish goodness for the teens in your life.
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