I Third the Aubrey-Maturin books. Lots of good books were mentioned, but the Aubrey-Maturins are really special for convincingly feeling like they cross the Fiction/Non-Fiction divide. Reading the whole series might be too much of a good thing, but the first book as a present can't miss much with anyone who likes historicals, exciting and exceptionally written non-fiction, and action.
Also, Name of the Wind. Outstanding no-brainer for anyone who loves fantasy, which is not Elinda's dad. There is now an issue with books that are out of print, and not in E-book land. I advise anyone to think hard if they're thinking of making room by dumping all their paper-backs. It will probably turn out as bad an idea as throwing out vinyl records was.
I don't think that reverance or respect for the dead needs the dead to be hidden from sight completely. It is the attitude that you bring, as a witness to a dead body, that matters, not the display and witnessing of a dead body, per se.