life·6 min read

Books to Make Family Dinner Less Awkward

Reads to Make Family Dinner Less Awkward
Nov 18, 2019

We're bringing you tips and tricks to Celebrate Smarter this holiday season. Check it out.

Holidays can be hard. To avoid discussing your job, your SO, your life choices, or your politics... chat about one of these instead. Read them before your big family meal, and your dinner conversations will thank us later.

For when you think you have some family issues...

“The Family Upstairs” by Lisa Jewell

Meet this crew. Lisa Jewell’s, “The Family Upstairs,” is a family saga slash thriller set in Europe. It follows a 25-year-old as she learns of her adoption, new sprawling inheritance, and the truth behind her birth family. It weaves in and out of the present and will leave you on the edge of your seat. The perfect distraction for a conversation you want to stay clear of. 


For when your aunt needs some help in the kitchen...

“Nothing Fancy” by Alison Roman

Give her this. Alison Roman, of “#TheCookies” and “#TheStew” fame, has a new cookbook out. Hit recipes include a slow-roasted chicken, labneh dip, and salty chocolate cookies. The only thing better than eating food with your family is talking about it. PS: pairs well with wine too. 


For your sister who’s still obsessed with “Spy Kids”...

“Agent Running in the Field” by John Le Carré

Try this spy novel out for taste. John Le Carré‘s latest book (his 25th), “Agent Running in the Field,” is here to your rescue. It follows a 47-year-old British Secret Intelligence Service agent who is called in for one final job. Russians are involved and it’s both escapist and real, with references to Brexit, Boris Johnson, and Trump.


For when your family can’t decide on a movie to see...

“Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge” by Sheila Weller

Try out something you'll be able to agree on: the magic of Carrie Fisher. Sheila Weller’s new biography of the “Star Wars” actress is your next great conversation starter. Weller is a famed profiler in her own right (she’s penned a biography on other VIP women like: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon.) Her newest book covers Fisher’s life growing up as Hollywood royalty, her titular role as Princess Leia, her relationship with Paul Simon, and more. May the reading force be with you.


For when your cousin is doing something shady…

“Nothing to See Here” by Kevin Wilson

“Nothing to See Here.” Kevin Wilson’s new book is the perfect family meets friendship drama to distract you from your own holiday problems. It centers on two former boarding school friends who are brought back into each other’s lives as one begins taking care of the other’s two stepchildren with some extra special magical powers. Think: accidentally combusting into flames. It’s fiction with a sci-fi plot twist. 


For when you just want to tune your family out…

“Me” by Elton John

Elton John will do the trick. The “Tiny Dancer” singer is out with his first and only autobiography, “Me.” For prime happiness, listen to the audiobook instead of picking up the hard copy. John narrates the stories along with Taron Egerton, the actor who played him in the movie “Rocketman.” In it, John covers everything from his career and famous friendships with Freddie Mercury and John Lennon, to his struggle with addiction and his collaboration with his longtime song-writing partner. Headphones on, stomach full = the mood we’re heading into the holidays with. 


For your family member who always asks you for travel and food recs...

“The Book of Eating: Adventures in Professional Gluttony” by Adam Platt

Adam Platt knows a thing or two about that. “The Book of Eating: Adventures in Professional Gluttony” is the perfect conversation starter for your next family gathering. Platt, who’s the restaurant critic for New York Magazine, is out with a memoir about his life growing up around the world and eating his way through it. He writes about everything from dim sum in Hong Kong to pierogies in Moscow. It'll make you want to book a dinner and a flight.


For when you think your holiday party might end in disaster...

“The Adults” by Caroline Hulse

Caroline Hulse’s “The Adults” can relate. This one’s what happens when a family Xmas goes very very wrong. The premise: a divorced couple is bringing their new SOs to family Christmas. The police get called and you’re left to figure out what happened. PS: it’s now out in paperback and is the perfect holiday thriller to distract you from politics chatter.


For when you want don’t want to talk about your personal life…

“Vanity Fair: Women on Women” by Radhika Jones with David Friend

Talk about these women instead. It’s an anthology of past “Vanity Fair” archive pieces from women about women. Think: Gail Sheehy on Hillary Clinton. Jacqueline Woodson on Lena Waithe. You get the idea. They’re telling the female stories of the last few decades and is a perfect gift for anyone who loves history, magazines, women, and good writing. Oh and they’re short so you can read a section in between family activities, holiday parties, or even meal courses. 


PS: These are editorially selected, but if you purchase it, theSkimm may get something in return. Thanks.

Subscribe to Skimm Your Life

We're bringing you products, recs, and suggestions that'll make your life just a liiittle easier. It all starts with adding us to your inbox.