Buying bookish presents can be challenging! Working in a bookstore I have all day to try out ideas; it's fascinating to watch what comes across the register, what I'm stacking on the shelves or what I come across as I go about any number of my daily tasks. Even when I don't have time to browse, which I actually rarely do, I still get so many ideas all day long!
Come In, We're Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World's Best Restaurants, by Christine Carroll, was a gift to a young woman who's on her way to medical school but who has been working at a number of fine-dining restaurants part time for the past few years. It's a cookbook and a documentary coffee-table book as well.
For my crime-fiction-reading father in law, I bought a handful of first-in-series detective novels set around the world. Included in his gift basket were:
- He Died With His Eyes Open, by Derek Raymond, a literary noir set in England;
- Happy Birthday, Turk! by Jacob Arjouni, a comic noir with a serious underside set in Germany;
- Death and the Penguin, by Andrey Kurkov, a surreal and funny noir set in Ukraine, and
- The Ghosts of Belfast, by Stuart Neville, set in Northern Ireland.
For friends with different interests, I bought copies of some of my favorite novels and passed them out as best I could. For a science fiction reader I got The Islanders by Christopher Priest, an elaborate puzzle book by one of our best living SF writers. For a friend who likes womens' fiction I bought The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton, one of my very favorite novels and my bestest selling staff pick at work, and for a book-loving relative who doesn't normally read realistic fiction, I picked Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese, because I just really hope she'll love it anyway. I also gave her a homemade quilt to cuddle up in with that or any other book she'd like to read.
My husband loves to read and has almost as many books as I do, so I never run out of ideas for him. He got Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise, The Extremities by Christopher Priest and lots of Doctor Who reference books.
I gave Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) by Norman Russell, to my mother in law, because she loves Venice and cooking. The book is beautifully produced with exposed Coptic stitching and gorgeous photographs. She liked it so much we had to remind her to open the rest of her presents!
Books are the best holiday gifts. You truly can find something for everyone; even if your giftee doesn't like to read, there are cookbooks, craft books, and lots of other choices at your local independent bookstore. Don't forget about them for birthdays and other celebrations all year long!