Gift ideas for bibliotechs and babies

Hinsdale librarians offer their recommendations, from board books to travel guides

This Christmas, forget sending an Amazon gift card via text. Think about celebrating the old-fashioned way by giving a book - an actual book with a cover and pages that turn (and not with the swipe of a finger).

Not sure which books would make good gifts?

Not to worry. We asked librarians and staff at the Hinsdale Public Library to share their suggestions for titles many on your list would love to receive.

"All Systems Red" (Murderbot Diaries 1) by Martha Wells

"All Systems Red" is a fast-paced science fiction novella that is more gripping than it has any right to be. It follows a semi-misanthropic security android (aka SecUnit) with a mysterious dark past. These days, all the SecUnit (who calls itself "Murderbot" in the privacy of its own head) wants to do is watch TV and be left in peace. Unfortunately, its owned by a company that has hired it out on a contract protecting a group of humans, and things aren't going to go to plan.

"All Systems Red" makes a great gift because it is a page turner with a hero who's easy to love and it will leave your giftee contemplating a big question: What does it mean to have humanity? It's perfect for sci-fi fans, busy readers who want something they can devour in a day and those who love a little philosophy mixed with a huge dose of fun.

- Lizzy Boden, adult services manager

"Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide" by Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras

Tom Colicchio called this book "deep, yet snackable." It's on my gift-giving list for family and friends alike. And maybe for my dentist's office! You might sit down with it in the afternoon and look around to find it is midnight. Or you might look forward to reading a page a day, with a notebook at hand to jot down places you'd like to visit, recipes you'd like to make or just fascinating facts to tell the folks at the office the next day.

Did you know there are only four women in Italy who know how to make Threads of God pasta? Or that Sumo wrestlers make and eat a particular stew for every meal? Why are carefully mended teapots essential to an Afghani soup recipe? Why does the European Food Court (like, a judge and jury court) exist and what do they do? And where exactly is that pecan pie vending machine in Texas?

Crammed with beautiful pictures and cheerful text, this substantial book explores culture, history, geography, and humanity, through something we all enjoy – food.

- Roberta Johnson, interim assistant director

"The Midnight Library"

by Matt Haig

Nora Seed, questioning her will to live, ends up in a purgatory state that takes the shape of a library. She retrieves (with the help of a librarian, of course!) different tomes representing the lives she could have lived. She is then transferred to these worlds to try her hand at other existences.

My best friends and I take on the role of Oprah at Christmastime and gift each other our "favorite things" from the year. This book landed as one of my favorite reads since it is a great reflection of middle age and the contemplation of life choices. Haig also wrote a nonfiction book called "The Comfort Book," which could be a great companion gift. It compiles aphorisms and short stories helping readers find reassurance. These are both great books for those end-of-year reflections while we seek peace and comfort.

- Lauren Cooper, adult services assistant

A trio of picture books

If you are looking to make a little one in your life smile, these picture books will have you both laughing out loud. Three of my top favorites for gifting are "Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion" by Stephen W. Martin, "Something's Wrong" by Jory John, and "Still Stuck" by Shinsuke Yoshitake. You will want to read them again (and again). All three stories are hilarious, delightful and fun for all ages!

- Lisa Winchell, Youth Service Manager

"Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow"

by Jessica Townsend

"Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow" is the perfect book to give any Harry Potter fan. The book centers on Morrigan Crow, a girl who has lived her life believing she is cursed and fated to die on Eventide day. When a mysterious man named Jupiter North shows up on Eventide, saying she has magical powers, Morrigan knows she has to follow him. She travels to Nevermoor with Jupiter and pledges herself to join the Wundrous Society, a magical organization that will teach her to harness her abilities. However, she must first win the competitive and mysterious trials, all without knowing what her magical ability is. Filled with whimsy, magic and adventure, this book promises to delight readers of all ages.

- Caitlin Atkinson, youth services assistant

"Peek a Who" by Nina Laden

Who doesn't love to help build a library for little ones? I find I am purchasing lots of baby books right now and one that I pick up regularly is "Peek a Who" by Nina Laden. (This is also a favorite in the library's storytime rotation for babies.) It is a darling, interactive board book that brings joy to both the reader and the listener. Vibrant illustrations, rhyming, flaps to engage developing small motor skills, suspense and a surprising final discovery that is truly a crowd pleaser! The bonus is that it will remind you to play peek-a-boo, too. A great gift that guarantees giggles.

- Martha Kennedy, patron services manager

"The New York Times 36 Hours: 125 Weekends in Europe"

Given to me at Christmas one year, I now love gifting this travel book to others. Great for both seasoned and novice travelers alike, it includes traditional landmarks, delicious restaurants and off-the-beaten-path gems for 125 European cities. Each city is broken down into a 36-hour stay, which makes jetsetting feel very manageable (airfare, time off requests and child care notwithstanding). Whether you want to armchair travel or are looking to build an actual itinerary, this book is a perfect place to start. Flipping through hundreds of beautiful and colorful photos will get any traveler inspired for their next quick getaway or grand European tour. For those who prefer to stay closer to home, try "36 Hours: USA and Canada for 130 itineraries in North America."

- Molly Castor, marketing, outreach and data manager

Author Bio

Author photo

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean