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“Swiss Army” Recommendations, Part Deux

Rachel Manwill

Staff Writer

Rachel Manwill is an editor, writer, and professional nomad. Twice a year, she runs the #24in48 readathon, during which she does almost no reading. She's always looking for an excuse to recommend a book, whether you ask her for one or not. When she's not ranting about comma usage for her day job as a corporate editor, she's usually got an audiobook in her ears and a puppy in her lap. Blog: A Home Between Pages Twitter: @rachelmanwill

Book Riot’s illustrious co-founder/editor-in-chief Jeff posted back in mid-October about his “Swiss Army” Recommendations — books that will appeal to pretty much everyone and can be universally recommended.  As we approach the ever-exhausting retail mammoth that is Black Friday, I thought adding my own Swiss Army list to the growing number of book buying recommendations out there would of course only help you make holiday purchases. While there are plenty of end-of-year, best-of lists, sometimes it’s hard to gauge which of those brand new books are going to be good options for friends and family who like to read.

And while the qualification “who like to read” is possibly the broadest generalization ever, there are a few go-to books that you can pretty much count on to appeal to almost everyone. Jeff included a few on his list that I would also recommend — Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay by Michael Chabon, The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. But these lists are like any other book lists — the more you read, the more they evolve. So my Swiss Army list has adapted based on great books I’ve read recently, as well as long-loved favorites (and I’m indecisive, so there are 15, not 10). I also included non-fiction in with the fiction titles and I hope that you can find at least one or two books to appeal for that reader(s) on your list:

  1. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  2. Forever by Pete Hamill
  • Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
  • Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian
  • Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
  • Haroun & the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
  • The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert
  • Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  • Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
  • A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger
  • Don’t Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon
  • We the Animals by Justin Torres
  • The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey

    I also encourage you if you’re heading out to brave the crowds this weekend, don’t forget that Saturday is Shop Small Saturday so support your local independent book retailer!