We say "word nerds" in the most endearing sense possible (and with the full knowledge that many of us would qualify as such). These readers have favorite authors you've never heard of and always have a great book recommendation up their sleeve for slipping out at a cocktail party. They've read everything, so what books do you get for them? We humbly offer up the titles below, ones that have won awards, blown away their readers, and gained their authors instant praise and attention in the literary world. But wrap these with a gift receipt; who knows if your word nerd has already devoured them.
From left to right, top to bottom...
1. In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell // A haunting, shockingly beautiful, surreal fairy tale of a novel.
2. We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo // A Man Booker shortlist title that explores an Zimbabwean emigrants quest for identity in America.
3. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton // A no brainer. It won the Man Booker, for crying out loud!
4. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent // The guardians of a young woman charged with murder find there's more to her story than everyone thinks.
5. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri // Jhumpa Lahiri is just brilliant.
6. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra // Beautifully fleshed out characters brought together by the Chechen war discover the coincidences that have brought them together.
7. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride // With the flair of Mark Twain, McBride tells the story of the failed raid on Harper's Ferry. Impressive research makes this an excellent read.
9. The Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon // The darling of the English department, Pynchon, gives creative writing students something to envy and enjoy.
10. Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karin Russell // A writerly short story collection with brilliant moments.
11. The Tenth of December by George Saunders // National Book Award finalist and refreshingly original short story collection from a master of the medium.
8. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld // A masterfully told story about family ties.
12. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward // Award-winner Ward's heart-wrenching memoir about loss and circumstances.