Books For Every Personality Type: Suggestions For The Reader/Non-Reader In Your Life

November 27, 2012  |  
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According to published reports, in a PR blitz to promote Small Business Saturday, President Obama took his daughters to an independently owned bookstore for some holiday shopping. Am I the only one, who thinks that is pretty cool?

No not holiday shopping. Holiday shopping sucks – unless we are talking about the art of book gifting. Yes, I am that person. I love giving and receiving books as presents. But gifting books can be a tricky endeavor. While I am a firm believer that everybody is a reader, it does take a special book to bring that bookworm out of some folks. And all too often, booklovers will end up gifting a book, which they might enjoy, but it offers little to no interest to the special someone they are giving it to. So in the effort to help us bibliophiles during this holiday season, I have searched the bookshelf in my hallway to provide for you a list of 10 great book suggestions to impress even the most finicky of readers in your life.

Angry Black Man-reader:

We know him well: he is the father, the brother even the disgruntled recent graduate, who can’t get a job. And it’s all because he is a black man in America. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is not only classic from era of the Harlem Renaissance but also speaks very fluidly to the invisibility and overall identity issues facing black men. However, since most Angry Black Men already think they know  every damn thing about their situation; perhaps a better book gift for this disgruntled brother is Walter’s Mosley’s The Man in the Basement, a story about a bitter black man, with a white man locked in the basement of his home.

Broke College Student-reader:

If you really cared about his person, you would send them a check. However, if you want to be sort of sadomasochist about it, stick a check inside of The Broke Diaries by Angela Nissel. Your broke college relative will appreciate the irony and the camaraderie from Nissel’s witty narrative of what it is like being a broke college student.

Best Friend with Cheating Man-reader:

She’s been decoding iPhone passwords and hiding in the bushes for months, trying to catch her dude red handed in the act of creepin’. What better book to gift that friend, who doesn’t know when to let go, than What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People, by Joe Navarro and Marvin Karlins, Ph.D? That way, the next time he doesn’t come home all night, she can decode all his deceptive behavior without having to go full Jason Bourne on him.

Your Man’s Son’s Drama-Loving Mamma (a.k.a baby momma)-reader:

Sometimes it is not about child support or anything he did. Some women are just bored, troubled and are not quite ready to move on. So in the spirit of sisterhood, understanding and inner peace, gift her Raja Yoga by Master Subramuniya.  The more time she focuses on spiritual enlightenment, the less time she will be involved in your relationship.

For the armchair traveler-reader:

Tired of hearing about how one day, Uncle Stevie is going to Africa, especially when Uncle Stevie doesn’t even have a passport and hasn’t been outside of North Philly?  You may not be able to afford a plane ticket and a hotel stay but you can get him Basic TWI for Learners (Asante) by J. Yeboa-Dunkwa and bring a small piece of Africa, by way of the Akan tribe, to Uncle Stevie.


Mr. I prefer movies to reading-reader:

Some people are just prefer visuals when it comes to storytelling. However they too could appreciate Leonard Maltin’s annual movie guide, which features ratings and other insightful information about thousands of movies and television shows. Also for the inspiring filmmaker, you may want to gift Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song: A Guerilla Filmmaking Manifesto by Melvin Van Peebles.

For the cousin that is just “different”- reader:

Honestly, you don’t know what they are. All you know is that they are your suburban cousins, visiting for the holidays and they dress weird; have weird hair and listen to some sort of weird Afro-electronic/funk/punk/hip-hop fusion garage band music. But you like them. So to help them navigate around your very same neighborhood, may I suggest the White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty.

The Security Guard at your job, who also makes beats in his basement-reader:

This dude is like 45 years old, has a wife and two children and is still hip hop for life. When he is not busy guarding the lobby of some major (or minor) corporation, he is at home, working on his Mr. Holland’s Opus, the same debut album he has been working on for past 15 years. You got to love his persistence, even though you wish he would stop burning you copies of his beats.  So as a token of your appreciation for all his hard work in guarding stuff, gift him The Message: 100 Life Lessons From Hip-Hop’s Greatest Songs by Felicia Pride. Or if he is a more socially conscious Emcee, give him Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas’s Illmatic by Michael Eric Dyson and Sohail Daulatzai.

For the co-worker, who just got married to a vegan-reader:

She likes steaks and eggs; he likes tempeh. How they got together is a mystery but if they are going to stay together, get her a cookbook. Man cannot live off of salad alone; therefore the newlywed couple will both appreciate recipes like Open-faced BBQ Tempeh Sandwich with Carrot-Cayenne Coleslaw from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry.

For the Conspiracy Theorist believer – reader:

You know that one cousin, politically astute and smart as a whip but always goes off on a tangent at the dinner table about the New World Order?  Then he or she will love Everything is Under Control: Conspiracies, Cults and Cover-Ups by Robert Anton Wilson.  Your Black Boule/Illuminati/Reptilian believing cousin will enjoy countless hours disputing fact and fiction and connecting dots with this encyclopedia of all things conspiracy.

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