2021 Gift Guide: Maria Zuppardi of readingmaria

Our first gift guide recommendations are brought to us by the passionately bookish Maria Zuppardi who runs the popular bookstagram readingmaria. “For those who love a good snow-themed winter getaway” to “the ones who need a literary hug for the holidays,” Maria’s book picks will satisfy all sorts of lit-picky readers on your list. 


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Tune in this week as we share book recommendations from some of your favourite authors.


For those who love a good snow-themed winter getaway

Because Venus Crossed an Alpine Violet on the Day That I Was Born by Mona Høvring, translated by Kari Dickson & Rachel Rankin (Book*hug Press)

Be prepared for an atmospheric novel that will transport you right to the mountain village where these two sisters go, partly to try and rekindle their childhood connection, but also because one of them has just been released from a sanatorium with a prescription for a change of scenery. Although sisterhood is the main theme explored in Because Venus Crossed an Alpine Violet on the Day That I Was Born, you also get themes of mental health, personal connections, and learning to use your voice. With a full cast of hotel employees, family, and more, they all play a role in adding to the vibrancy of the setting they’re in, as well as the imagery surrounding them. You will literally read this in one sitting and then pick it right back up again.Pair this book with a mug and hot chocolate set to complete the winter-theme aesthetic! 

For those who want to be lulled into a different world when reading 

Book of Wings by Tawhida Tanya Evanson (Véhicule Press)

Book of Wings by Tawhida Tanya Evanson is another book that you’ll want to pick up again as soon as you’ve finished it. I like to think that this book is definitely one you must read twice—the first time to just absorb the poetic and lilting language, and the second time to read for the journey. This is a heavy book though, with grief, displacement, and heartbreak as a few main themes, but it is also a story of discovery and bravery in a world where you aren’t treated like you belong. Pick this up for the poetic-like language, stay for the physical (and spiritual) journey from Vancouver to the USA, the Caribbean, Paris, and Morocco.Pair this book with a lovely journal (ideally with birds!) so your recipient can journal their thoughts as they read, but also maybe even create some art of their own.  

For those still searching for who they are


The Partyis Here by Georgina Beaty (Freehand Books)

The Party is Here is dark, comedic, and oh-so-juicy. You know when you feel bad for finding something kind of funny? That’s what a lot of these stories did to me. All of them feature women who are at a pivotal moment in their lives, and you can’t help but feel connected to this cast of characters on a deeper, more personal level. This collection of stories aren’t officially linked, but you can’t help but draw similarities between them, especially since the two major themes of climate change and transformation are distinct with every page. From fertility to tortoises to a research project, this collection is such a strong debut that has something for everyone.Pair this book with a sustainable gift (like a reusable cup, straws, or vegan candles) to stay on-brand with an important theme that’s relevant to our world today.

For the socially conscious people who appreciate the stories of others, but also for those who need to be more socially conscious as of yesterday


Where the Baedeker Leads by James Yeku (Mawenzi House)

Don’t scroll through this book recommendation just because it’s a poetry collection. Trust me, Where the Baedeker Leads is one that’s easy to understand, although I recommend taking your time going through it instead of reading it in one sitting like I did. The poems are equal parts powerful, vivid, and full of lessons. Whether it be our addiction to social media (guilty), or again, being classified as an other, James Yeku touches on the issues that literally force many people to leave their countries and seek a new home elsewhere. If you’re looking to connect someone with a book that will make them feel seen, or to open someone’s eyes to a world in which many people are not set up to succeed, this is the right book for them. Pair this book with a donation to a trusted, Black-owned organization in their name, or with another poetry book that has similar themes, like Finish this Sentence by Leslie Roach. 

For the ones who need a literary hug for the holidays

Home of the Floating Lily by Silmy Abdullah (Dundurn Press) 

Home of the Floating Lily is a beautiful short story collection rich with Bangladeshi culture. If your gift recipient has enjoyed Scarborough writers like David Chariandy, Carrianne Leung, and Téa Mutonji (to name a few), then this book is for them! These characters realistically reflect on what it’s like to leave a home, whether that be a country or a family, and the connecting theme between each story is not only loneliness, but also a sense of being on the search for something more, like belonging. Sounds slightly bleak, I know. But these characters are interesting to learn about – their lives are different, but also, oddly, so similar at the same time. When finished reading this book, you’ll just want to give it a (literal) hug and sit with these characters for a while. Pair this with other #ScarboroughLit authors like Catherine Hernandez, Adrian de Leon, and Natasha Natasha Ramoutar, or add some ingredients they’ll need to make Cha (milk tea) so they can have it while they read.

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Maria Zuppardi is a passionate book lover turned Marketing Coordinator at Dundurn Press. When she’s not creating bookish content for Instagram, TikTok, Youtube, and her blog, she’s furiously trying to read as much as possible with a ridiculously oversized mug of coffee. 

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Thanks so much to Maria for this thoughtfully curated list of books for all kinds of giftees on your list. Stay tuned this week for even more recommendations and follow along with the hashtag #ALUgiftguide!