PRHA Staff Gift Guide: Alex's Picks
December 18, 2023

PRHA Staff Gift Guide: Alex’s Picks

Alexandra Hernandez By Alex Hernandez

Gifting books has always been my favorite way of connecting with friends and family during the holidays, because it gives me a chance to reflect on what I learned, how I felt, and even what was going on in the world around me when I fell in love with a story. The way a book can sit in your soul is special, and sharing that with loved ones is special too.

If you’re gifting for yourself and need to fill up your queue for a well-deserved holiday break, I highly recommend listening to this list of audiobooks with a hot drink and in your coziest sweatpants. Get swept away (and prepare to laugh a lot too)!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I first picked up a paperback of The Night Circus the summer after grad school and I remember that it took over my life for a few weeks, long after I’d read the last page. The way Erin Morgenstern paints the masterpiece that is Le Cirque des Rêves, and the star-crossed lovers that star in the show, is almost indescribable. I knew it would be a book that would stay with me for a long, long time.
Last month, I finally listened to the audiobook edition narrated by the great Jim Dale and not only was I once again immersed in Celia and Marco’s spellbinding love story, but listening to the world unfold in my headphones brought me into the luxurious black and white tents, reigniting my childhood dreams of running away to the circus. It really is my favorite book and I hope you and yours love it too.

You, Again by Kate Goldbeck

My closest friends and family know that When Harry Met Sally is my favorite romantic comedy of all time, so picking up Kate Goldbeck’s debut You, Again, which was influenced by the classic film, was a no-brainer! If you’re also a fan of witty banter and the classic friends-to-lovers trope, this audiobook does not disappoint.
Come for an excellent homage to an excellent film, but stay for Kate’s vivid descriptions of New York City, delicious love scenes, awkward arguments, and queer millennials just trying to figure it out.
Maybe don’t listen to it while you’re baking cookies with Grandma though…

Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas

It is so very difficult to describe why Vampires of El Norte gripped me from the very first chapter without spoiling a twist that had me kicking my legs up in the air in delight! I could not listen fast enough. So, to make sure this gift of a book keeps on giving, I’ll only say that I highly recommend this audiobook for the adventure-seeker in your life. The listener who is looking for a thrilling and romantic escape that comes with a lot of bite and bumps in the night.

Sinner’s Isle by Angela Montoya 

I’ve been talking to friends and colleagues about this young adult debut for months and I see no end in sight. If, like me, you’re a fan of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie and are also looking for more Latin representation in your romantic fiction, or if you’re shopping for a teen who has fallen down the TikTok romantasy rabbit hole but wants something lighter on spice, this is the one.
Angela Montoya weaves a swashbuckling adventure with Mexican mythology, making Sinner’s Isle the perfect escape from the cold wintry months.

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

I listened to Adrienne Young’s deeply atmospheric adult debut in February and it nestled itself into my heart, where it has stayed all year. This audiobook has so many things I love: small town mystery, ancestral magic, angst, and a second chance romance with truly gorgeous writing. Gift this to the Practical Magic fan in your life but beware…they won’t be able to stop listening and will probably hide away from the holiday party until they’ve reached the end. Worth it.

Quietly Hostile by Samantha Irby

Dear listener, I don’t know about you, but this year, I was desperate for a GOOD laugh. The kind of deep belly chuckle that brings tears to your eyes, ensuring that you have to take a couple breaths before composing yourself. Quietly Hostile did that for me.
Samantha Irby, who has also written for the Sex and the City reboot …And Just Like That, among other hilarious essay collections, can always make me feel like I’m laughing over drinks with a friend, especially since her narration is hands down one of the best I’ve heard in recent years. Listen or gift her latest collection…then go back and enjoy them all!

Mean Baby by Selma Blair

From Prince Harry’s Spare to The Woman in Me by Britney Spears, this has truly been the year of celebrity memoirs, especially for those of us who came of age in the early 2000’s.
If you’re shopping for the pop culture aficionado in your life, Mean Baby, written and performed by actress and activist Selma Blair, is one of my favorite memoirs of all time. In this achingly honest and stunning listen, Selma shares her struggles with alcohol addiction, a complicated relationship with her mother, and her sweetly intimate friendship with Carrie Fisher, among many other memories and revelations. If you missed it when it dropped last year, do not hesitate to give it a listen or as a great holiday gift.

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