The 12 best books to give this holiday season, according to best-selling authors

Very little can compare to cozying up by the fireplace with a good book and a warm blanket.

To help find the best books to read (or gift!) this holiday season, we've enlisted the help of best-selling authors Harlan Coben, Jeff Kinney and Elizabeth Acevedo.

Book gift ideas: Picks in fiction, history, kids' and more

They've chosen books in four different categories to suit every type of bookworm, from the history buff to the pop culture obsessed.

Here are their favorite books to give this holiday season.

When we release our 2018 gift guides, we make sure all prices are current. But, prices change frequently (yay, deals!), so there’s a chance the prices are now different than they were the day of publication.

Sensational Stories, for the Fiction Aficionado

  • Coben's Pick: "A Ladder to the Sky: A Novel" by John Boyne, $16, Amazon

TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, TODAY does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.

Live a little greener. Show your kids how easy it is to care for the environment. Waste less, recycle, reuse, and conserve each day. Spend an afternoon picking up trash around the neighborhood.

A Ladder to the Sky: A Novel


Set in 1980's Berlin, the main character Maurice Swift is trying to become a successful writer when a chance encounter gives him an idea for a new book. With his first book a success, Swift sets off all around the world to tease stories out from vulnerable people, using their anecdotes as leverage for what will become a conniving climb to the top.

  • Acevedo's Pick: "An American Marriage: A Novel" by Tayari Jones, $16, Amazon

An American Marriage: A Novel


A love story that's bridled with some of the most prevalent social struggles we currently face as a nation, "An American Marriage" follows the story of a young couple in the south whose lives are turned upside down by an unexpected arrest.

  • Kinney's Pick: "Ghost (Track)" by Jason Reynolds, $8, Amazon

Ghost (Track)


This pick is part of series following four kids from a wide range of backgrounds as they get accepted into an elite middle school track team. Ghost is one of the more talented on the team and if he can focus on the sport, he'll go far. But it's up to him to decide how badly he wants it.

A Look Back, for the History Buff

  • Coben's Pick: "The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World" by Sarah Weinman, $19, Amazon

The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World

Repeat: I am not a short-order cook. "It's a child's job to learn to eat what the parents eat," says Ellyn Satter, a registered dietitian and the author of Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family. Instead of the all-or-nothing scenario, offer a variety of foods at mealtime: the main course, plus rice or pasta, a fruit or vegetable, and milk. This way, your child can eat just the pasta and the peas and get protein from the milk. "What a child eats over the course of a day or a week is more important than a balanced meal at one sitting," says Stephen Daniels, the chairman of the department of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in Aurora.


Few people know the real story behind Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita." This book weaves together crime, social history and literary narrative to tell Sally Horner's story for the first time.

  • Acevedo's Pick: "Barracoon: The Story of the Last 'Black Cargo'" by Zora Neale Hurston, $12, Amazon

Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"


Zora Neale Hurston traveled to a small town just outside Mobile, Alabama, in 1927 to interview a former slave and one of the last to be brought over from Africa. Using interviews from the time she spent with Cudjo Lewis, Hurston pieces together a narrative that follows his harrowing journey.

  • Kinney's Pick: "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind" by Yuval Noah Harari, $17, Amazon

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind


If you want a novel that explores the intricacies of humankind, this is it. Dr. Harari explores why we're the only species of human to survive (there were once six on Earth) and how technology is allowing us to manipulate our genes more than ever. What will that mean for the future of our species?

Pop Culture, for the Celeb Obsessed

  • Coben's Pick: "In Pieces" by Sally Field, $20, Amazon

In Pieces


Full listening. Try to increase those times that you give your child your undivided attention and are really listening. This does not mean dropping everything every time she speaks.

Sally Field's memoir takes readers into the deeply fascinating life of one of the most celebrated actors of our time. Field exposes the truth behind the highs and lows of her career in Hollywood, diving deep in to the truth of her longest standing relationships.

  • Acevedo's Pick: "They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us" by Hanif Abdurraqib, $17, Amazon

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us


Hanif Abdurraqib uses music and pop culture as a lens to view the world. He uses social events (like the nightclub shootings in Paris) to explore his identity as a young muslim.

  • Kinney's Pick: "Beastie Boys Book" by Michael Diamond, $31, Amazon

Beastie Boys Book


For the first time ever, you can get the history of the band right from the members themselves. It also includes rare photos, original illustrations and pieces by guest contributors.

Fireside With the Family, for Everyone at Home to Enjoy Together

  • Coben's Pick: "The Princess Bride" by William Goldman $7, Amazon

The Princess Bride


This classic novel is perfect for all ages: Traditional fantasy themes still ring true (pain, death, brave characters and cowardly ones) and make this novel a great read to share as a family.

Don't pay your kids to clean their rooms. "If you give them a buck to make their beds, then when you ask them to help you carry in the groceries, they'll say, 'How much? Why would I do that for free when you pay me to make my bed?'" says author and parenting expert Alyson Schafer. You can give your child an allowance as an introduction to money management and possibly for overall good behavior. But don't tie it dollar-for-dollar to everyday chores.

  • Acevedo's Pick: "Merci Suárez Changes Gears" by Meg Medina, $12, Amazon

Merci Suárez Changes Gears


Meg Medina's book follows Merci Suarez, a 6th grader who attends private school on scholarship and her struggles to fit in. Pre-teens and adults alike will relate to the important themes in the book: family, love and dealing with adversity.

  • Kinney's Pick: "The Broken Ornament" by Tony DiTerlizzi, $8, Amazon

The Broken Ornament


A book that attempts to bring back the true meaning of Christmas, Tony DiTerlizzi takes readers through the story of a boy who doesn't quite yet understand the value of memories. Jack breaks his mother's old ornament and can't understand why she's so upset — and when he can't find a way to fix the ornament, he figures out a way to create some Christmas cheer of his own.

Finding the perfect present can be a challenge, but Shop TODAY's up to the task. No matter who you're looking for, we've got gift guides for everyone on your list, including:

  • The best gifts for women
  • Gifts to help relax and de-stress
  • Great gifts for your zen friends

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