ABC’s Gift Ideas: Psychology/Self-Help, Religion, Romance

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people. And since we’re a bookstore, these posts will be alphabetical by subject. 🙂

Today you’ll find gift ideas for Psychology/Self-Help, Religion and Romance as picked out by section buyers Agnes, Martijn and Sophie. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg – come to either one of our stores to browse many, many more titles in any of these subjects.

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here (scroll down a bit pas 2013), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.

Psychology & Self-Help

Reason I Jump: One Boy’s Voice from the Silence of Autism – Naoki Higashida

Written by Naoki Higashida when he was only thirteen, this remarkable book explains the often baffling behaviour of autistic children and shows the way they think and feel – such as about the people around them, time and beauty, noise, and themselves. Naoki abundantly proves that autistic people do possess imagination, humour and empathy, but also makes clear, with great poignancy, how badly they need our compassion, patience and understanding.

David Mitchell and his wife have translated Naoki’s book so that it might help others dealing with autism, and generally illuminate a little-understood condition. Like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, it gives us an exceptional chance to enter the mind of another and see the world from a strange and fascinating perspective.

Ebook available here.

Sane New World: Taming the Mind – Ruby Wax

Ruby Wax – comedian, writer and mental health campaigner – shows us how our minds can jeopardize our sanity. With her own periods of depression and now a Masters from Oxford in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy to draw from, she explains how our busy, chattering, self-critical thoughts drive us to anxiety and stress. If we are to break the cycle, we need to understand how our brains work, rewire our thinking and find calm in a frenetic world. Helping you become the master, not the slave, of your mind, this is the manual to saner living.

Ebook available here.

You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself – David McRaney

David McRaney’s first book, You Are Not So Smart, evolved from his wildly popular blog of the same name. A mix of popular psychology and trivia, McRaney’s insights have struck a chord with thousands, and his blog–and now podcasts and videos–have become an Internet phenomenon.

Like You Are Not So Smart, You Are Now Less Dumb is grounded in the idea that we all believe ourselves to be objective observers of reality–except we’re not. But that’s okay, because our delusions keep us sane. Expanding on this premise, McRaney provides eye-opening analyses of fifteen more ways we fool ourselves every day.  McRaney also reveals the true price of happiness, why Benjamin Franklin was such a badass, and how to avoid falling for our own lies. This smart and highly entertaining book will be wowing readers for years to come.

A Private History of Happiness: Ninety-nine Moments of Joy from around the World – George Myerson

From the bliss of lingering in a warm bed on a winter morning, to a bracing springtime walk by the seaside, A Private History of Happiness offers the reader a wealth of delightfully fresh perceptions of where and how happiness may be found.  Drawing on a wide and international range of literary sources – from Ptolemy to Tolstoy – George Myerson reveals that small, unpretentious joys have been shared by human beings across cultures and over thousands of years. He invites us to discover the happiness in our own lives that can be found here and now.

Ebook available here.

Religion

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth – Reza Aslan

From the internationally bestselling author of No god but God comes a fascinating, provocative, and meticulously researched biography that challenges long-held assumptions about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth.

Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against the historical sources, Aslan describes a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction; a man of peace who exhorted his followers to arm themselves with swords; an exorcist and faith healer who urged his disciples to keep his identity a secret; and ultimately the seditious “King of the Jews” whose promise of liberation from Rome went unfulfilled in his brief lifetime. Aslan explores the reasons why the early Christian church preferred to promulgate an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary. And he grapples with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself, the mystery that is at the heart of all subsequent claims about his divinity.

Ebook available here.

Silence: A Christian History – Diarmaid MacCulloch

In this essential work of religious history, the New York Times bestselling author of A History of Christianity explores the vital role of silence in the Christian story.

How should one speak to God? Are our prayers more likely to be heard if we offer them quietly at home or loudly in church? How can we really know if God is listening? From the earliest days, Christians have struggled with these questions. Their varied answers have defined the boundaries of Christian faith and established the language of our most intimate appeals for guidance or forgiveness.

Ebook available here.

Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World – H. H. Dalai Lama

Ten years ago, in the best-selling Ethics for a New Millennium, His Holiness the Dalai Lama first proposed an approach to ethics based on universal rather than religious principles. With Beyond Relgion, he returns to the conversation at his most outspoken, elaborating and deepening his vision for the nonreligious way—a path to lead an ethical, happy, and spiritual life. Transcending the religion wars, he outlines a system of ethics for our shared world, one that makes a stirring appeal for a deep appreciation of our common humanity, offering us all a road map for improving human life on individual, community, and global levels.

Ebook available here.

Romance

Dark Witch (Cousins O’Dwyer #1) – Nora Roberts

Sophie: We can’t have a Romance gift ideas without Our Lady of Romance, can we?  Just in time for the festive season, here’s the first part in a new trilogy, set in Ireland and featuring witchcraft, horses, supernatural abilities and, of course, beautiful people madly attracted to one another.

Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.

When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package. Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself-and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope – and love – alive…

Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams – Jenny Colgan

Sophie: I cannot tell you how happy I am this was chosen as a new ABC Favorite this year!  This book will make you laugh and it will make you cry, and if you happen to like candy you’ll even learn how to make some.  A wonderful, warm book.  (And for those of you that are already Colgan converts, Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop just came out.  Just sayin’.)

Rosie Hopkins thinks leaving her busy London life, and her boyfriend Gerard, to sort out her elderly Aunt Lilian’s sweetshop in a small country village is going to be dull. Boy, is she wrong. Lilian Hopkins has spent her life running Lipton’s sweetshop, through wartime and family feuds. As she struggles with the idea that it might finally be time to settle up, she also wrestles with the secret history hidden behind the jars of beautifully coloured sweets. Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams – a novel – with recipes.

Ebook available here.

Virgin River – Robyn Carr

Sophie: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this is a great contemporary romance series.  Full of characters you’d want to meet in real life, with their share of problems to work through, and they do that in some truly touching scenes.  A good antidote to the Fifty Shades hype of last year.

When the recently widowed Melinda Monroe sees this ad she quickly decides that the remote mountain town of Virgin River might be the perfect place to escape her heartache, and to reenergize the nursing career she loves. But her high hopes are dashed within an hour of arriving: the cabin is a dump, the roads are treacherous and the local doctor wants nothing to do with her. Realizing she’s made a huge mistake, Mel decides to leave town the following morning.

But a tiny baby, abandoned on a front porch, changes her plans…

Ebook available here.

Gabriel’s Redemption – Sylvain Reynard

Sophie:  Then again, if you’re just idling away time until the Fifty Shades movie hits theaters, why not read this trilogy in the meantime, starting with Gabriel’s Inferno and continuing with Gabriel’s Rapture? (Or Sylvia Day’s Crossfire trilogy, or anything by Jaci Burton or Maya Banks, or…  I could go on.  :-))  Gabriel’s Redemption is the concluding volume, and due to be published at the beginning of December.

Professor Gabriel Emerson has left his position at the University of Toronto to embark on a new life with his beloved Julianne. Together, he’s confident that they can face any challenge.

But Julianne’s graduate program threatens Gabriel’s plans for their life together, as the pressures of being a student become all consuming. When she is given the honour of presenting an academic lecture at Oxford, several individuals from their past appear, including an old nemesis intent on humiliating Julia and exposing one of Gabriel’s darkest secrets.  In an effort to confront his remaining demons, Gabriel begins a quest to discover more about his biological parents – a search that has startling repercussions for himself and for Julianne.