The Outlook staff shares the books we’re giving for Christmas

Here are some of our favorite books that we read in 2022.

Wrap up Lauren Groff’s Matrix for anyone who loves strong, unorthodox women; cunning and creativity; abbeys hidden deep in the forest; history and herbal remedies; visions from the Virgin Mary; and a life’s journey that takes you where you never expected to go. — Leslie Scanlon, national reporter

I’m notoriously stingy in my Goodreads reviews, but The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich won my five-star rating. An epic tale set in 1953 and centering Indigenous characters, I found it to be full of both magic and realism, simultaneously breaking my heart and inspiring hope. Based on real-life events and people, it’s a perfect gift for history and fiction lovers … and for pretentious readers (like me) who love to read Pulitzer Prize-winners! — Rose Schrott Taylor, digital content editor

From journalist A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically, comes a well-researched, yet lighthearted, look at how different puzzles intrigue people around the world. The Puzzler: One Man’s Quest to Solve the Most Baffling Puzzles Ever, from Crosswords to Jigsaws to the Meaning of Life is enjoyable as an examination of human nature and as an analysis of those who appreciate games that stretch the mind and imagination. — Gregg Brekke, interim print content manager

In Praying With Jane Eyre, secular Jew Vanessa Zoltan explores how, with “faith, rigor, and community,” we can seek what is sacred in a text. Her book is part memoir – exploring her upbringing as the grandchild of Holocaust survivors and her subsequent search for meaning as a young professional – part “how to” – offering practices to help us find deeper truths in our reading – and 100% satisfying. — Amy Pagliarella, book review editor

Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you this is a wonderful gift! Funny, suspenseful, multicultural, life-affirming; Deacon King Kong was my first turn with the author and dispatched me to the library for his memoir The Color of Water. I concur with the L.A. Times: let’s “get it over with and declare McBride this decade’s Great American Novelist.” — Alfred Walker, office manager

I like to sprinkle around a bit of humor, gentle thought-provoking ideas and subtle reminders about faith and humanity. I find all of these in Cynthia Rylant’s God got a dog — a short, easily digestible book filled with 16 short poems (along with illustrations by Marla Frazee) that explores what God might do if God were living as a human. Perfect for just about any age, from 9 to 99, I find my spirits lifted every time I open it to read about God sitting under a tree … or making spaghetti … or getting a dog. — Jen Jones, graphic designer

This may seem like an odd choice for a holiday gift, but I keep thinking about all I learned from David McRaney’s How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion and Persuasion. Reading this book might just make you welcome holiday conversations with your politically polar-opposite relative. — Teri McDowell Ott, editor