I daydream when I drive. It’s a thing I do. I pay attention to the road and drive safely, but only so much of my mind can be occupied by staying between a set of yellow lines. And when I daydream, I often daydream about random things. A few weeks ago, the daydream of the moment was what I would do if I ever met Tom Hiddleston. He’s such a charming guy, and that’s the kind of opportunity you can’t screw up. A girl needs to be prepared!
I decided I’d hug him, if he didn’t mind (I don’t think he would), and I’d give him a book. Because that’s what you do when you meet nice people. You give them books. But what book? You can’t just give any book to any person. Books should be tailored to a person’s tastes. I spent the rest of my drive home figuring out just what book I would give to Tom Hiddleston should I ever meet him, and it was so much fun that I kept going.
Code Name Verity and Vicious
Ah Tom. You’re so sweet and charming. Tumblr has dubbed you a real-life Disney prince. You read Shakespeare and poetry for fun, so clearly you value the power of the well-written word. For you, I have Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. You’ll love the subtly complex narrative structure, the emotional impact, and the refined power sewn into each sentence. You’ll be so overwhelmed that you’ll come to me for reading recommendations from here on out, and we’ll become the best of friends. And as a bonus, you also get Vicious by V.E. Schwab so that when Hollywood approaches you to play one of the lead roles, you’ll be prepared.
The Book Thief and Vicious
Benedict! Of course when I think of Hiddleston, I think of you, his real-life neighbor and friend. You also get Vicious for the same reason as above. Preparation, man! But you also need a copy of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak in your life. The audiobook narrator sounds like you, and I think you’ll love the imaginative mataphors Zusak uses. And when you reach the end, I’ll be your shoulder to cry on, no thanks necessary.
SUCH A HARD DECISION. I had three choices for JLaw. One went to Amy Poehler, one went to Emma Stone, so it was the third – Terrier by Tamora Pierce – that stuck around. I know there are purists out there who think all Tamora Pierce fans should start with Alanna, but chronologically speaking, Terrier comes first. Also, it’s freaking awesome. The main character, Beka, is a wicked tough girl who works hard and loves hard, can talk to dead people in pigeons, and hear whispers in windstorms. She’s adventurous and exciting, and with that braid, she even looks like Katniss!
Joseph Gordon Levitt
This Song Will Save Your Life
JGL is one cultured dude. He looks great in a three-piece suit, he’s part of a neat online collaborative community, he’s headed up several story collections, and he can sing. I’d get him a book that’s artsy but funky, and the first one I thought of was This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales. I haven’t read it, but from what I’ve heard, it hits all the right notes (ha! punny) and really goes for the throat emotionally to boot.
Oooh, this was a hard one, mainly because I couldn’t decide whether to give Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers to Ms. Poehler or JLaw. But I decided to go with Ms. Poehler because of this segment she did with Oprah talking about the books she read that changed her life. Not only does she express a desire for complex characters (just WAIT til she meets Sybella), but many of the books on her list were historical. As someone who is very pro-female friendships, I think she’ll like the bonds between Ismae, Sybella, and Annith, as well as the kick-butt nature of this historical tale. Also, as Robin LaFevers’ assistant, do you really think I wouldn’t give one of my favorite books EVER at some point on this list? 🙂
Alanna by Tamora Pierce
This was a tough pick for me, not because it was hard to match books with Ms. Banks, but because there are so MANY that would be right for her. I wanted something funny but also a story that was smart with a lot of heart and very pro-girl. While rare in other areas, these elements are fairly common in YA, hence my problem! In the end, I settled on Alanna by Tamora Pierce. It meets all the necessary criteria, it’s a classic, and it’s short, which would leave her hungering for more! And who knows, maybe after she finishes turning the Heist Society books into movies she’ll want a new project. 🙂
The Thief and The Queen of Attolia
For whatever reason, it was hard for me to get a handle on Mr. Armitage’s tastes. I knew he’d read and liked The Hobbit, so fantasy was an option. And I knew from this interview that he was a character-first kind of reader, which allowed for a slower beginning. In the end, I had to go with my favorite recommendation, the first two books in Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen’s Thief series. I try to always give these two together because while The Thief can be hit-or-miss for more impatient readers, the sequel will hook any reader without fail.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
What’s more intimidating that choosing a book for the Doctor? I purposely steered away from time travel and sci-fi stories, as they seemed too obvious. While paying jobs aren’t always indicative of a person’s taste, I ended up drawing from his work in audiobook narration. In addition to some works of Shakespeare and several forms of poetry, he also lent his voice to the adaption of How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Rides Again. So lovely prose, fantasy, and fun led me to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Cathrynne Valente. Normally I wouldn’t give a middle-grade book to an adult straightaway, as adults are oddly snobbish creatures, but if anyone can handle such a gift, the Doctor can.
I don’t know much about Emma Watson, but she’s Hermoine, so I figured she should be included. Once I started researching her, I’m glad she made the list, because she seems like the sort of person I would enjoy meeting. This interview in particular made me smile, because it cast her as a very responsible, conservative person – just the type I like. With that in mind, I wanted to choose something sweet – a fairy tale retelling like Beauty by Robin McKinley would do the trick but she’s currently filming a movie that started as an adaptation of that book, so I would hope she’s already read it. I finally just had to make a stab in the dark and chose Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst. It’s a beautiful fantasy full of mythology and bravery and a hopeful ending. Also, one of the keys to getting anyone to read a book is the cover, and just LOOK at that one!
*wails* I think Martin Freeman may have been the hardest one on the entire list. For whatever reason, I had it in my head that he would like a) a fantasy b) a war book, or c) a fantasy book with wars in it. So I reached for one of the most beautifully written fantasies I’ve ever read, Seraphina by Rachel Hartmann. Giving a book with a female first-person narrative to a man can be tricky, since there’s no way of knowing how snobby the recipient will be, but Mr. Freeman seems like a pretty cool guy. I think he’d at least give it a chance, and once he starts, there’s no way the prose will let him go.
Ah, Emma Stone. Tumblr’s darling. For Emma, I knew I wanted a book that was freaking hilarious, but also one that had a bit of an edge. No damsels in distress for this chick! With that in mind, Croak by Gina Damico was an easy choice. I have a feeling she’ll get along well with snarky, take-charge Lex, and what girl wouldn’t enjoy reading about the sparks that fly between Lex and her fellow Reaper Driggs?
The Girl of Fire and Thorns
From what I’ve heard, Anne Hathaway is a vegan and very socially conscious, so I think she’d appreciate the different moral dilemmas that appear The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, especially since they continue strongly throughout the course of the series. The girl power in the book is a strong selling point as well. Also, every girl can use some Hector in her life.
I had it in my head from the beginning that I should pick something solid for Ms. Bullock. By solid I mean grounded, both feet firmly on the floor. I looked at sports books, I looked at gritty contemporary books, I looked at fantasies and sci-fis and dystopians. And as weird as it sounds (since I don’t actually KNOW her), none of them felt right. Except for Dead Ends by Erin Jade Lange. There are no off-the-wall twists in this book, no crazy fantasy names, no wild science. It’s a contemporary about two boys – a bully and a Downs kid – and an atlas. I can’t explain my choice other than that it feels right. And sometimes when giving books, that’s good enough.
Robert Downey, Jr.
The Raven Boys
For this guy, I need a book that has funny moments but isn’t corny. In this interview, he said he was going through an existential phase, and he strikes me (rightly or wrongly) as the type of reader who needs to be grabbed right away. I’d bet money that The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater would hit the spot. It has the funky spiritualism and the atmospheric setting to appeal to his existentialist hankerings, some laughs from the quirky characters, and an immediate hook in the form of Blue’s curse.
I’ll admit, I had Twitter help me with this one. I knew I’d get Ms. Bell a book that had to do with animals, but it couldn’t be a sad book. If she cried over meeting a sloth, could you imagine what she’d do if, say, the sloth died defending its human friend?! No, no. Twitter gave me several helpful suggestions, but when Debby from Snuggly Oranges suggested Poison by Bridget Zinn, I knew it was perfect. Poison is a fun, light-hearted adventure that features the cutest little pig! Ms. Bell would love it, I know.
Howl’s Moving Castle and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Dame Maggie is too flipping awesome to be left off this list. I don’t have a lot of experience buying for older adults, so this was a hard one for me. I knew I wanted to get her something classic, something quintessentially YA. In the end, I chose Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones for its revered place in most blogging circles. Also, Howl is dashing, Sophie is funny, and I thought Dame Maggie would enjoy the charm that Diana Wynne Jones infuses into her work. As a bonus, I’d stick The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley in there as well. It’s not YA, but the protagonist Flavia de Luce is a delightful twelve-year-old with a head for mystery and a heart for poisons. It’s very much in the flavor of another great Dame, Agatha Christie.
Neil Patrick Harris
Like Elizabeth Banks, NPH was hard to shop for because of the plethora of options rather than the dearth of them. In an interview with Oprah, he named Bridge to Terabithia as his favorite book and showed a strong liking for quality MG and YA lit, especially those that involve magic. After much deliberation, I chose Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. It’s a beautiful fairy tale filled with magic and everyday bravery. It’s also clean enough that NPH would be able to read it to his children, even though they aren’t in the intended age bracket.
So that’s my fantasy shopping list! If only I really could meet all these people. I’d be the Hollywood book fairy! But now it’s you turn. What do YOU think of these gift choices? What would you change? And if you could buy for YOUR favorite celebrities, what would you pick?