By: Em Perper

It’s officially December, so start scrounging up that wrapping paper. This week, I’ve rounded up choice books for the animal lovers, the dystopian-obsessed, and the music addicts in your life. Hopefully, you’ll find their perfect gifts on this list!

Not every animal appreciator will get a puppy this year, so buy one of these instead:

  • Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home by Nicole J. Georges (Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin, $17.95)
    I loved this graphic memoir so much that I chose it for my holiday staff pick. Author Nicole J. Georges and pup Beija grow up alongside each other and learn about loyalty and love in the process.
  • Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone by Juli Berwald (Riverhead Books/PRH, $27)
    From her dining room in Austin to the seas of Japan, ocean scientist Juli Berwald will teach you to marvel at these bioluminescent creatures and commit to the health of our planet.
  • American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West by Nate Blakeslee (Crown Publishing/PRH, $28)
    O-Six, an alpha female wolf living in Yellowstone, captivated social media users and naturalists alike. Can one powerful wolf change the course of the changing West?
  • Where the Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti (W.W. Norton/$39.95)
    A big, beautiful book worthy of your classroom or coffee table, with gorgeous illustrations that illuminate the lives and habits of baboons, warblers, wolves, pythons, and more.
  • Wild Horse Country: The History, Myth, and Future of the Mustang by David Phillips (W.W. Norton, $27.95)
    Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter presents a fascinating account of the mustang in the American imagination and examines the plight of tens of thousands of wild horses living in federal captivity.


Dystopian diehards will want to add these to their go-bags:

  • The Power by Naomi Alderman (Little Brown and Company/Hachette, $26)
    Written by a U.K. bestselling author who counts Margaret Atwood among her fans. When women gain the power to inflict pain and even death with a single touch, the world’s hierarchy implodes.
  • American War by Omar Al-Akkad (Knopf Publishing Group/PRH, $26.95)
    It’s 2074. In the midst of the second civil war, Sarat Chestnut and her family relocate to a domestic refugee camp called Camp Patience, where her transformation from innocent child to weapon begins.
  • Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich (HarperCollins, $28.99)
    A haunting page-turner in which the government turns against pregnant women and the unknown they carry, written by a mother to her future child.
  • The Ship by Antonia Honeywall (Orbit/Hachette, $14.99)
    After fire and famine wreak havoc on London, Lalla’s father moves their family onto a boat he built, large enough for 500 people. But his floating utopia holds mysteries that Lalla can’t solve.
  • The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $26)
    My manager, Lauren, describes this as a zombie thriller sans walking dead—think ticks instead of zombies—with an unexpected political bent.

Vinyl collectors can shelve these books next to their records:

  • Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time by Ray Padgett (Sterling, $22.95)
    Elvis had “Hound Dog.” Aretha had “Respect.” The Beatles had “Twist and Shout.” How did these smash hits come to eclipse the originals completely and take their place in the American music canon?
  • Ballad of the Green Beret by Marc Leepson (Stackpole Books/National Book Network, $29.95)
    A Hunter S. Thompson-esque saga of war, sex, and rock and roll, about the life and death of Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler, the man responsible for the 1966 hit “The Ballad of The Green Berets.”
  • Mozart’s Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt (Little Brown/Hachette, $27)
    Echophilosopher and naturalist details the inspired relationship between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the starling he adopted in 1784 and rescues a bird of her own.
  • Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music by Ann Powers (Dey Street Books, $26.99)
    Beloved NPR music critic Ann Powers posits that popular music is America’s foremost erotic art.