No, no, I'm not suggesting War and Peace--so don't worry! Almost no one else wants to read my choice of tomes. Though I was pleased to see that Oprah has bestowed her "selection" magic on two Dickens classics...Read the recent piece on her Dickens-duo of holiday book picks here.
As for me, I prefer to recommend books by living writers--and a good case in point is the recent anthology from City Works Press, a local non-profit press that annually produces a couple of top-flight literary works--many of them anthologies. The newest collection of writing is Mamas and Papas: On the Sublime and Heartbreaking Art of Parenting, edited By Alys Masek and Kelly Mayhew. The list of writers includes Neal Pollack, Wanda Coleman, Sam Apple, and Jim Miller (author of one of my recent faves, Flash: A Novel).
As the editors put it: "While we published valentines to the experience of being a parent, we also included pieces that explore the difficulty, contradictions, and frustrations of raising children as well as work that explores what it means to not have children or to acquire and parent them in other ways."
As someone who is "childfree" but adores her three nieces, I really responded to many of these pieces; it's definitely not a "parents only" book--far from it...It speaks to the human condition, and to the essential emotions: wonder, fear, frustration, anger, and joy. (But yes, it is perfect for a new parent as well as someone contemplating parenthood--and for grandparents, too!)
Check out the whole line-up of books from City Works Press--there's something for everyone on your list...Spread some knowledge--spread some joy--give someone a book.