The Kunzum Gifting Guide: Give Meaningful Books to Friend, Family, and Foe in 2023!

Make 2023 the year when you gift books to every person in your life! Online retailers may offer discounts but independent bookstores like Kunzum help you choose the best book for any person and any occasion. Here’s a handy guide to give you some ideas!

Buying a gift can be a daunting challenge. You face the immense pressure of choosing an object that not only serves a purpose but is also meaningful to the person receiving it, while conveying the emotions of the giver. That’s a tall ask for any gift. Except a book, perhaps. A book can do many things at once: provide a source of comfort, joy, or escape; offer a new perspective to your circumstances; and even change your life for good! But how do you choose such a book? Fret not! We at Kunzum have crafted a guide that will make you the best gift-giver in town! Whether it’s the mother who loves her melodramatic soap operas, the geeky cousin who collects comics and keep them in mint condition, that BFF who just can’t seem to get herself out of a toxic relationship, or the nibling who’s picked on in school, Kunzum has a book—or three—for everyone!

The Kunzum Book Gifting Guide

1. The Sibling Who Lives in a Victorian Drama

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Do you have a sibling who loves to put on the kettle and an English accent after bingeing on period films and series? They will love Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, which features Margaret Hale, one of the most iconic characters in the genre. When her father leaves the Church amidst a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable lifestyle and moves with her family to the north of England, where she becomes acutely aware of the poverty and suffering of mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice.

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Middlemarch features classic Victorian characters: Dorothea Brooke, the heroine, idealistic but naive; Rosamond Vincy, beautiful and egoistic; Tertius Lydgate, the brilliant but morally-flawed physician; Will Ladislaw, the passionate artist; and Fred Vincey and Mary Garth, childhood sweethearts whose courtship is one of the many humorous elements in the novel. The (mis)adventures of these characters will make one laugh and weep at the same time.

What Happens in London by Julia Quinn

Is your sibling obsessed with the wise and lovely Kate Sheffield, and her beautiful half-sister, Edwina? Written by the author of the acclaimed Bridgeton series of novels, What Happens in London is a must-read! Gossip mongers say that Sir Harry Valentine killed his fiancée, but everything changes when his next-door neighbour, the curious Olivia Bevelstoke, decides to investigate!

2. The Mother Who Loves Her Soap Operas

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Nothing goes wrong in the picture-perfect Richardson family because of the rule-abiding spirit of the mother and decision-maker of the house, Elena Richardson. Enter Mia Warren, with a mysterious past and a special bond with Elena’s daughter Pearl. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena will bear unexpected and devastating consequences for unravelling the truth.

Four Aunties and a Wedding by Jesse Sutanto

Sustanto’s protagonist, Meddy Chan, has been waiting for her perfect wedding day, but when she finds out that the wedding vendors she trusted are ‘The Family’―a mafia group who are using her wedding as a chance to conduct shady business—she’s left horrified. This is when her aunties come to the rescue—with all their sass and swag.

Emma by Jane Austen

Emma is a beloved literary character that your mother will definitely relate to someone in her circle! Beautiful, spoilt, vain, and irrepressibly witty, Emma Woodhouse can’t help influencing the lives of the inhabitants of her sleepy little village, sometimes to unexpected results. Remind you of someone you know?

3. That Friend Who’s Stuck in a Toxic Relationship

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People explores the complexity of modern relationships with simple prose. The book subtly hints at how a person’s class, social capital, and innate traits affect their relationship choices and behaviours. The novel traces the journey of two characters growing up and crossing paths multiple times, from school life to university and beyond. Marianne and Connell keep circling back to each other but suffer avoidable setbacks due to their lack of communication and commitment.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

Toxic relationships come in many forms. In this memoir, Winterson explores her bond with her adopted mother. “Why be happy when you could be normal?” is the real-life question that Winterson’s mother asked while evicting her at 16 for dating a girl and being openly queer.

4. The Nibling Who’s Bullied at School

Wonder by RJ Palacaio

Wonder is one of those rare books that can help a child who doesn’t fit in. Ten-year old Auggie wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid, but his new classmates can’t get past his facial deformity. Auggie suffers isolation and shaming but eventually stands up to his bullies. Auggie’s story makes children realise that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

The Babysitters’ Club by Ann M. Martin 

The Babysitter’s Club is a series of novels centred on a group of friends who run a babysitting service in the fictional suburban town of Stoneybrook in Connecticut. So successful were these books and so relatable their characters that the series went from the originally planned four books to as many as 213—by the time it ended in the year 2000! For the avid reader, this series alone offers an endless source of gifts.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery 

A much-loved classic that explores all the vulnerability, expectations, and dreams of a child growing up, Anne of Green Gables narrates the adventures of Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan. In this hilarious and heartwarming novel, Anne makes her way through a dramatic life after she’s sent by mistake to two middle-aged siblings who had originally intended to adopt a boy.

5. That Family Friend Who Thinks He’s Woke But Needs Feminist Lessons

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists is a powerful pocket-size book for the family friend who is too impatient to read a big one. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the masked realities of sexual politics and exclusive feminism, Adichie has penned a remarkable exploration of what it means to be a woman in the 21st century.

Lies Our Mothers Told Us by Nilanjana Bhowmick

Through this 2022 book, Nilanjana Bhowmick offers real context to think about feminism in present-day India, beyond the claims of women’s progress and visibility in public domains. The book combines personal testimony with stories of middle-class women, underlining how tremendously overworked women are and how it affects their mental and physical health.

Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

Breasts and Eggs paints a portrait of contemporary womanhood in Japan by recounting the journey of three women: Makiko, who wants to get her breasts enhanced; Midoriko, who has recently grown silent; and Natsu, who confronts her anxiety about growing old alone and childless.

6. The Teenager Whose Only Exposure to Poems is on Instagram

Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods by Tishani Doshi

Most ‘Instagram poets’ deal in pithy lines and no punctuation, which caters to a generation low on attention span. But if you want to introduce a poetry-inclined teen to nuanced verses in a variety of forms, this slim collection is our top pick. In her poems, Doshi inhabits different homes: her childhood, her body, cities that were passed through, cycles of rain. Her poems engage with some of the oldest themes, like love, grief, suffering, and anger—in startling and haunting verses.

Ms Militancy by Meena Kandasamy

Meena Kandasamy’s full-blooded and highly experimental poems challenge the depoliticised practice of poetry in India. Ms Militancy exposes the regressive core of myths and uses words, images, and metaphors as tools of subversion, asserting, in the process, her caste, gender, and regional identities. This book is everything the growing feminist needs to shun social media—and inherent biases.

Devotions by Mary Oliver 

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver had a way of making you see the physical world around you anew. Throughout her writing life, Oliver remarked on the beauty of the natural world and the connections between all living things. This collection presents Oliver’s personal selection of 200-plus poems, which span five decades of her literary career.

7. The Parents Who Need to Realise Our Planet is Dying

Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Following the death of his wife in a road accident, astrobiologist Theo Byrne searches for life on other planets while single-handedly raising his nine-year-old son, Robin. The kid who has trouble controlling his emotions in social situations, has inherited a keen sense of empathy for all creatures from his mother and fails to understand human greed-driven destruction of nature. At the heart of Bewilderment lies the perplexing question: how can we tell our children the truth about this beautiful but imperilled planet? Ironically, you will be doing the same for your parents by gifting them this heart-wrenching novel.

The Great Derangement by Amitav Ghosh

In this work of non-fiction, Amitav Ghosh examines our inability—at the level of literature, history, and politics—to grasp the scale and violence of climate change. He suggests that politics, much like literature, has led to the reckoning of personal morals rather than collective action. It is the definitive book on climate change to gift a parent who likes reading non-fiction books.

Tales of Hazaribagh by Mihir Vatsa

Tales of Hazaribagh: An Intimate Exploration of Chhotanagpur Plateau is a book that combines nature, life history, and travel to invoke the beauty of our planet. The 26-years old author, Mihir Vatsa, leaves the polluted skies of Delhi, battling acute depression and uncertainty, and goes back home to Hazaribagh, which introduces him to a lush landscape and memories of his childhood. The book discovers the wonders of this land while also examining the human threats to it. It won Vatsa the 2022 Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar in English.

8. That Snob Who Thinks All Romance Novels Are Dumb

Book Lovers by Emily Henry 

As the name suggests, Book Lovers is for bibliophiles—but also those who may need a nudge towards romance novels. Nora, a cut-throat literary agent, is not an ideal heroine. She keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a brooding editor. In a series of coincidences, they discover what might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves. 

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

In this coming-of-age novel, teens Charlie and Nick discover their unlikely friendship might be something more as they navigate school life and young love. This series of young-adult LGBTQIA+ graphic novels encompasses all the little stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us.

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

When Eva Mercy, a single mother and erotica writer, and Shane Hall, an award-winning novelist, meet at a literary event, sparks fly. It not only raises the eyebrows of New York’s literati but also excavates some past traumas for both of them—they were teenage lovers 15 years ago. With its keen observations of Black life and modern motherhood, Seven Days in June is humorous, warm, and deeply sensual.

9. The Cousin Who Collects Comics

Why Comics? by Hillary Chute

They might have all the comics in every series they follow, but do they have the primer on comics? Scholar Hillary Chute reveals the history of comics—from graphic novels to underground comics—through a deep thematic analysis and fascinating portraits of the fearless people behind them.

The Annotated Sandman: Volume One by Neil Gaiman

If your cousin has been obsessed with The Sandman on Netflix, they probably have the whole set of comics. But they wouldn’t have this! The Annotated Sandman takes you through every issue of The Sandman panel by panel. Covering issues one to 20, the first volume provides valuable insights in the form of commentary, historical and contemporary references, hidden meanings and more—juxtaposed with the series’ art and text. It’s been edited by Leslie S. Klinger, who has used the scripts of the series and long conversations with Neil Gaiman to offer priceless details into the making of the comics and its iconic characters.

Doab Dil by Sarnath Banerjee

Turn the calming blue book cover of Doab Dil, and you find a book that employs a philosopher’s mind and an artist’s eye. The graphic novel “takes you to still places in a moving world—the place where two rivers (do ab) meet and forests write themselves into history”. Simply put, this graphic novel is unlike any other you’ll find in the market—and makes for a brilliant addition to any collection.

10. That Friend Who’s Still Writing Their First Book

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

You know the friend we’re talking about. They’ve been talking about their book forever, but you haven’t yet seen a single chapter. They say they’re playing it close to the chest, but really, they’re struggling to finish the first draft. Anne Lamott’s key to finishing a book is simple and taken from a childhood lesson on a school report: “take it bird by bird.” With relatable anecdotes narrated in comic prose, Lamott tackles all the challenges that writers face—from writer’s block to fear, imposter syndrome, jealousy, and disappointment—and offers some hard truths about writing (and life).

On Writing by Stephen King

Part memoir, part masterclass by one of the greatest writers of all time, this superb book is a revealing view of the writer’s craft—and offers the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s story of writing will show that friend that no setback is too big—and even the greatest writers have emerged from piles of rejection letters.

Why Write? by Mark Edmundson

In the era of the Instagram influencer, the writer often faces an existentialist question: Why even bother? This book seeks to answer that bewildering question. Why Write? is an essential read—for anyone who yearns to be a writer, anyone who needs to know how to get an idea across, or anyone dealing with a crisis of faith in the craft and its relevance in the modern world.

Did you find these helpful? Know someone who could use a book but doesn’t fit any of these descriptions? Just walk into a Kunzum store today and talk to our community managers, who have helped shape this guide. Also, watch this space for Kunzum’s Book Gifting Guide Part-2, where we will be back with 10 more characters—and the books that they’ll love!

Related: Book Trends of 2022: A Year that Saw Indian Writing Focus on the Climate Crisis and the Best Guardians of Nature

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