The Mark Blog

Bookmark This: What Books to Give “That Difficult/Particular Person” in Your Life

For the final Bookmark This of the year, the PEN Center USA staff selected books to give even the most discerning people. From your too-cheerful aunt to your male friend with relationship problems, they’ve got you covered. And don’t forget to chime in with your own humorous book ideas below. 

Libby Flores
“For anyone that has trouble saying ‘it’: Please Read This For Me: How to Tell the Man You Love Things You Can’t Put Into Words by Neil Chesanow.
Also a great gift for that dark writer in your life who could use these as writing prompts, Please Read This For Me gives you a script for almost any difficult relationship issue. You're in a sticky situation— just hand your loved one the page to read. The delivery can be hilarious or heartbreaking.”
 
Examples:
Page 82, "You act like Cary Grant in public and Archie Bunker at home." 
Page 134, "I think about marriage all the time."
Page 136, "You'd probably prefer if I were an orphan." 

 
Grant Hutchins
"For your excessively cheerful aunt: Worstward Ho by Samuel Beckett.
A brief excerpt from this unrelentingly grim and hopeless book has been hilariously misappropriated by various chirpy self-help books: ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ Give this gift to remind your favorite relatives of the bleak, inescapable nightmare that is the ‘holiday season’ all year 'round.”

 
Michelle Meyering
“Reserved for the silliest, cuddliest, tickliest lovies on your list: I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg.
This is the book that Romeo would have given Juliet, Charlie Brown would have given Snoopy."

 
Lilliam Rivera
“For your guy friends who are forever wondering why their relationships keep failing: This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz.
Diaz’s whole collection is tough and smart, but I would point your friends to the last story, ‘The Cheater’s Guide to Love,’ so that they can make sure to take down some notes on what not to do.”

 
Geneva Skeen
“For the Overindulgent (Insert-Family-Member-Here): Lounge Acts by Doug Nufer.
I had the delight of spending a couple late nights rambling around Seattle with experimental poet Doug Nufer this year, including experiencing a live reading from Lounge Acts -- a clever collection of one-liner boozy band names. Pairs excellently with post-holiday dinner party activities, especially since there's a live recording available.”

 
Adam Somers
“For the writers and non-writers: Ron Carlson Writes a Story by Ron Carlson.
It's a good tune-up for writers and it helps people outside of writing get an idea of what's going on in writers' heads."

 
Stacy Valis
“For children of all ages: Now We are Six by A. A. Milne
Now We Are Six is a book of 35 children’s verses. The older I get, the better the book gets.”