Home All Holiday Gift Ideas for 2015: Books and Other Things

Holiday Gift Ideas for 2015: Books and Other Things

written by Senia Maymin and Kathryn Britton 14 December 2015
Love of books

Senia Maymin and Kathryn Britton are the senior editors of PositivePsychologyNews.com. Together they have edited two books in the Positive Psychology News series: Resilience: How to Navigate Life's Curves and Gratitude: How to Appreciate Life's Gifts. Kathryn co-edited the third book in the series, Character Strengths Matter, with Shannon Polly. Their co-authored articles are here.

Senia Maymin, MAPP '06, is the coauthor of Profit from the Positive. Maymin is an executive coach to entrepreneurs and CEOs. Her PhD is in organizational behavior from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Full Bio. Her solo articles are here and her articles with Margaret Greenberg are here.

Kathryn Britton, MAPP '06 also co-authored Smarts and Stamina on using positive psychology principles to build strong health habits. Blog. Full bio. Her solo articles are here.

Love of books

For the love of books

Editors’ note: Since 2008, we have published an annual article with ideas for gifts for the holiday season. This year we collected enough ideas for two articles. Today’s includes ideas that you may want to order because we know time is getting short. Later this week the second article will include actions and experiences that don’t take quite so much forethought.

If you need more ideas, we invite you to trail through ideas from earlier years. Here’s a link to 2014, which has a link to 2013, and so on.

Martin Seligman’s suggestions

Russell Shorto, Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City: Why and when the Dutch ruled the world

Scott Berg, Wilson: The Rise and Fall of Greatness

Robert Harris, An Officer and a Spy: The Dreyfus Scandal in a novel

Jack Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World: A truly unappreciated Great Person

Sonja Lyubomirsky’s suggestions

Nonfiction (the starred ones are psychology or science)

Judith Harris, The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do, Revised and Updated* (An all time favorite)

Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Tom Gilovich & Lee Ross, The Wisest One in the Room: How You Can Benefit from Social Psychology’s Most Powerful Insights*

Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance* (not published until spring, but definitely put this on next year’s list!)

Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity* (An all time favorite)

Michael Lewis, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends & Influence People*

Richard Thaler, Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics*

Henry Marsh, Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery* (An all time favorite)

Fiction and Poetry

Wally Lamb, We Are Water: A Novel (P.S.)
Elizabeth Strout, The Burgess Boys: A Novel (An all time favorite)
John Lithgow, The Poets’ Corner: The One-and-Only Poetry Book for the Whole Family

Movie: Spotlight

Jane Dutton’s suggestion

My colleague Bob Quinn’s new book, The Positive Organization: Breaking Free from Conventional Cultures, Constraints, and Beliefs, is terrific. He also has an inspiring blog.

Monica Montijo’s suggestion:

My favorite way to give gifts is to think about the character strengths of the person and to give a gift that helps them engage with or deepen their understanding of that strength. So if someone has a strong appreciation of beauty, I might give a gift certificate for lunch in the botanical gardens or a book about interior design.

Paki Tandon’s Suggestion

Mindfulness. Either a course or a starter book/CD’s such as Jon Kabat Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness

Orin Davis’s suggestion

I love giving people gifts of things that they want, but would never buy for themselves because they fear that it is a frivolous indulgence.

Steve Safigan’s suggestion

Kal Barteski is an artist who creates and sells gifts with messages that uplift. I particularly like her customized prints with the gift recipient’s name on it! Her web site is You Are Awesome

Scott Asalone’s suggestions

I’ve learned a valuable lesson this year. Get people what they want, not what you want. Having been steeped in positive psychology I kept talking about how experiences were all we should give each other. However, my husband likes to open presents with things, like a new shirt or tie. Finally I realized that Christmas is not about forcing my values on him, but giving him a loving gift that he will enjoy. So I’m shopping for some great shirts and ties (but I did throw in a trip to Napa).

Homaira Kabir’s suggestion

Beauty: The Invisible Embrace by John O’Donohue. A beautiful book, with language that is as beautiful as his call to appreciate beauty.

Jeremy McCarthy’s suggestion

The Five Minute Journal: A great daily ritual for focusing on hope, gratitude, and strengths.

Caroline Miller’s suggestion

Notes expressing to people what their friendship means to you, and the ways in which you’ve seen them at their best.

Caroline is writing a book on grit. For a sneak preview, read her article, Grit isn’t what you might think or watch her LiveHappy interview, Authentic Grit.

Elaine O’Brien’s suggestion

Following Dr. Jonathan Haidt’s gift-giving lead, I’d recommend Kathryn Britton and Shannon Polly’s wonderful book, Character Strengths Matter: How to Live a Full Life. This book, and having more time to read, is on my wish list. I enjoy giving and receiving books.

From the cover of Character Strengths Matter: “This is among the best books in all of positive psychology. It takes one of the most important areas of research — the character strengths — and makes it as accessible, as practical, and as inspiring as could be. I particularly love that it is written for sharing. Every couple and every family should have a copy. This will become my standard dinner party gift, instead of a bottle of wine.”
~ Dr. Jonathan Haidt, New York University, author of The Righteous Mind and The Happiness Hypothesis

This was big year of purging, de-cluttering, and change. I’m looking at material things a bit differently. The gift of time, humor, song, and dance are high on my list.

I’m giving my clients and students goody bags filled with a personal note of loving thanks, some dark chocolate, and a lovely star ornament.

To me the present that keeps on giving is the gift of travel. I arranged a trip to Ireland for my husband’s birthday. The trip is coming up this month, and we’ve been savoring the idea of it in anticipation. We have both been working a lot, and appreciate time to have an adventure. For the completion of my recent PhD, we traveled to Spain, France, and Italy. It was a time of renewal for us as a couple, a rich experience, and a time to appreciate wonder, beauty, and our lives. This holiday we will continue to plan more time, working vacations, explorations, and adventures, to enjoy in the New Year.

Shannon Polly’s suggestions

I am planning on donating to charities that are special to the receiver. In addition, I have been impressed with the Give Well site which tracks the best charities and how far your dollars can go. Recent research shows that giving people money is the best use of your giving because most people are likely to spend it wisely. One of the top charities listed on the Give Well site is giving cash to people in East Africa.

In addition, we are going to give a family member a vacation (an experience) and tell her about it before Christmas so that she can savor a bit longer.

Of course, there will be a number of people who are going to receive Character Strengths Matter!

Senia Maymin’s suggestions

Two must-have books: Character Strengths Matter for adults and Truth: Ethics for Your Child (Color Edition) (or Truth: Ethics for Your Child (Black & White Edition)) for parents and kids.

Front page image: For the love of books courtesy of Vipul Mathur

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1 comment

Judy Krings 15 December 2015 - 8:40 am

Wow, my mouth is watering. Yeah for Amazon Prime! Many thanks to all contributors.
Happy Holidays to everyone and keep up your terrific work/play/gifts to us all here at PPND.


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