Going home for the holidays can be stressful — especially if yours is the kind of going home that includes putting everyone even remotely related to you in the same room with a bunch of alcohol. Sometimes it can be hard to find a point of contact with that far-flung relative, whether it be your hyper-conservative great-uncle Murray or your scowling preteen cousin-twice-removed. So why not ask them what they’ve been reading? Afraid you still won’t have anything to say? Well, we’ve got you covered with a list of the books your relatives will probably be talking about this holiday season, so you can at least be prepared to ask a few penetrating questions. Click though to bone up on your talking points and maybe make a new friend. Who is already related to you.
Your Fox News-watching Grandfather: Killing Kennedy, Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
Your grandparents weren’t just born with in-depth knowledge of every historical event ever — and it’s not because they lived through them (necessarily) either. It’s because they love the history books. Not to mention the fact that certain relatives will buy anything Bill O’Reilly says. Or writes. Better bone up on your facts — and we mean that in both on historical and contemporary stage.
The Aunt Who’s Already Read Her Way Through 50 Shades of Grey (twice): Reflected in You, Sylvia Day
What to do when you’ve, um, exhausted your collection of 50 Shades of Grey? Start in on one of its many imitators, of course. The most popular of these is Day’s Crossfire series, where people are named things like Gideon and Eva, and they get up to some steamy stuff.
Your Evangelist Uncle With a Yen for Pop Science: Proof of Heaven, Eben Alexander
If your family has even one non-believer, get ready to hear this pitch: “But listen — this is a scientist offering proof of God!” It’s an interesting story — a neurosurgeon has a near-death experience and comes back certain of the existence of God — but one likely to spark a wee bit of controversy.
Your Clique-Defying Teenage Niece: Divergent, Veronica Roth
Here’s the premise: in a dystopian future, every sixteen year old has to choose a faction based on a virtue — Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent) — to devote themselves to for the rest of their lives. Start thinking about which one you’d pick.
Your Favorite Five-Year-Old Nephew: Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
This cutie is sitting at the top of the NYT Bestseller list for children’s picture books, and it’s been on the list for 61 weeks now, so there’s a pretty good chance your enterprising young nephew has either worn it to shreds with love, or is getting it for Christmas. Check with his parents first, but odds are that a plastic truck would get you in good.
Your Boy-Crazy Little Sister: One Direction: Dare to Dream, One Direction
Their names are Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry, and Louis. Pick your “favorite” and start from there.
The Arty Teenage Cousin Who Can’t Get Over Twilight: Interview With the Vampire: Claudia’s Story, Anne Rice and Ashley Marie Witter
It’s a certain kind of girl who moved on from Twilight to Anne Rice, but all of those girls’ moms are getting them this book. Hey, maybe she’ll watch Buffy reruns with you after dinner.
Your Kooky Mom: Notorious Nineteen, Janet Evanovich
If your mom loves a nutty book with some intrigue thrown in for sport, she’s probably kicking up her feet reading the latest escapades of New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. After all, you’re too old now to come up with any really entertaining hijinks.
The Dad With a Boring Day Job: Kill Alex Cross, James Patterson
There’s a reason James Patterson made $94 million in 2011 — and it wasn’t royalties. It’s because every dad with an escapist itch everywhere bought every single one of his books. Better bone up on your Alex Cross.
The Cat Lady Neighbor You Hoped Wouldn’t Show Up: Shadow’s Claim, Kresley Cole
This is currently the #2 book on the NYT bestseller list for mass-market fiction (after the Patterson number above, of course). A jumble of paranormal characters and romance-novel themes (Bettina, a half Sorceri/half demon princess must be rescued by Prince Trehan, who is a vampire), this one is pulpy to the core. Maybe your Twilight-crazy cousin will make a new friend.