Monday, November 26, 2012

Boston Bibliophile's Holiday Gift Guide

Well Cyber Monday is upon us, so it's time to heat up the computers, smart phones and tablets and start shopping online in earnest. Unless you've already been doing that over the weekend. In that case, continue!

Here are some suggestions for gifts both bookish and fun for the reader in your life.

 Some of the "it" books of 2012 are still out in hardcover. Any of these would be well-received.
  • Canada, by Richard Ford; 
  • Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, 
  • Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon, 
  • The Twelve, by Justin Cronin,
  • Broken Harbor, by Tana French,
  • Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling, and
  • The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers.
For the literary reader I'd recommend
  • Alice Munro's new collection Dear Life: Stories,
  • The Forgiven, by Lawrence Osborne, a sleek and page-turning suspenser,
  • Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel, this year's Booker Prize winner,
  • The People of Forever are not Afraid, by Shani Boianjiu, set in Israel and focusing on female IDF soldiers,
  • Sweet Tooth, by Ian McEwan, and
  • The Watch, by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya.
I recently read and loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce, and though it's dark it's a wonderful story that I'd recommend to just about anyone but particularly fans of Helen Simonson's recent Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.

Some recent paperbacks that would make great gifts include

  • Elza's Kitchen, by Marc Fitten, for foodies and Eastern-Europe buffs,
  • Pure, by Andrew Miller, for historical fiction fans, 
  • Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain, for readers interested in the Iraq War,
  • Bossypants, by Tina Fey, a great, funny memoir,
  • Drowned, by Therese Bowman, if your gift recipient liked Gone Girl,
  • The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes, last year's Booker Prize winner,
  • Arcadia, by Lauren Groff, about the demise of a hippie commune and the fate of its members, and
  • The Ghosts of Belfast, by Stuart Neville, for crime fans.
Ask your local independent bookseller for more and personalized suggestions!

Non-Fiction Gifts

My number-one, can't-miss nonfiction gift of 2012 is The Hare With Amber Eyes: The Illustrated Edition, by Edmund de Waal. This book has been a best-selling sensation for over a year now, and this gorgeous, lavishly illustrated hardbound edition should be in every gift pile this holiday season! The book is a great read about the history of a famous Jewish family, from the late nineteenth century through the present and the mountains of photographs, documents and other ephemera included in this version make it a real treat.

Deb Perelman's The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is definitely the "it" cookbook of the season. Based on a popular blog, it's been flying off the shelves and is sure to be a hit for lots of cooks.

Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook is my pick for hidden treasure in the cooking department. It's a restaurant cookbook by chef Norman Russell, and it's one of the most beautiful books I've seen, with a gorgeous cover and beautiful exposed Coptic stitching on the spine.

For the baker, I love Laduree: The Sweet Recipes, by Philippe Andrieu. It's beautifully presented in a small, square box and the book itself is wrapped in tissue. It would make a lovely, thoughtful gift for the lover of sweets or all things French.

The conclusion of William Manchester's 3-volume opus on Winston Churchill, The Last Lion, is out now and this or the set would be a stunning gift for the history buff in your life.

The recent biography of musician Leonard Cohen, I'm Your Man, by Sylvie Simmons, would be a great choice for the music fan in your life.

It's also worth noting that Robert Massie's Catherine the Great is now in paperback but Steve Jobs alas is still hardcover only.

Humor and Pets


Francesco Marciuliano's I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats is a must-get for the cat lover in your life. I mean, just look at the title. I own this book and it's hysterical.

The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs is a no-brainer for the canine connoisseur you know. It's a big coffee-table sized book and wonderful.

Dan Wilbur's How Not to Read is also a great gift for the book lover in your life. It's so funny. Just get it, for yourself or a friend.

Bookish Gifts Besides Books-Etsy and Beyond

Etsy is a boon to the book lover. I don't know where else you can find so many customized and unique items for the bookish! All of the shops I'm spotlighting are favorites of mine.

Did you buy an e-reader, either for yourself or a gift, at one of this weekend's many sales? Don't buy the generic cover made by manufacturer. Get a one-of-a-kind design from one of the many artisans on Etsy. I bought a cover that I love from Elizabeth David Designs. She makes beautiful, sturdy and customized covers from her huge stash of gorgeous fabric. And she's very prompt and nice.

Great for a diary, scrapbook or what have you, I love blank notebooks "upcycled" from old book covers. You can find just about any book made into a notebook; I'm giving them out like popcorn this year to friends of all ages. One of my favorite Etsy shops for these notebooks is Heaven Sent Crafts.

One of my very first Etsy purchases was an Alice in Wonderland book purse from Chick-Lit Designs. I love my purse! It's so cute and always gets me noticed. She now sells iPad and other tablet and e-reader covers as well.

For something really different, find an art doll of a favorite fictional character, historical figure or author at Uneek Doll Designs. I have one of her Jane Eyre dolls; I love it! Artist Debbie Ritter makes beautiful, detail-rich miniatures of many, many people both real and imaginary and they are

Totes and Branded Gifts. Publishers Penguin and Melville House sell branded tote bags for the imprint fan in your life; both are high-quality, durable and very attractive.

Many bookstores- biggies like Powell's and the Strand as well as many of your local independent bookstores- sell branded totes, mugs, t-shirts and other goodies. If you know someone loves Porter Square Books in Cambridge (just to pick a random example *cough*) get them a tote and see their face light up!

Out of Print Clothing has a well-known line of totes, shirts and accessories featuring famous book covers like Lolita and The Master and Margarita. 

Reading Life  

OK. You've got your book. You carried it home in a great purse or tote, and you've got a cute doll or notebook to decorate your table. Now what? Now you need to curl up and read. 

Pick up perennial favorite Novel Tea from Bag Ladies Tea Co. for yourself or an easy office gift. At $12.50 for 12 bags, they're priced to give! Novel Tea is a yummy English breakfast blend of caffeinated black tea.

Protect that beautiful dust jacket with mylar covers to keep it safe from dust and tears. Demco, Brodart and other library suppliers have a great selection and good prices.

Hit a bargain store like TJ Maxx or Homegoods for pretty pillows, fun mugs and warm throws so your favorite reader can really get comfortable with that cup of tea!

For the crafty reader, consider a book-making kit. Lineco brand kits are sold in many arts and crafts stores and feature projects from Japanese stab-binding books, to checkbooks, to photo albums, boxes and blank journals. And that is but one of many brands of bookmaking kits and supplies!

Or give the gift of time. Take your friend (or child) out to a bookstore and a cup of something warm and yummy. Make a day of bookstore tourism and find a new-to-them-or-both-of-you store to explore. Use LibraryThing Local or to find your next destination.

Finally, for the book lover who has everything, and the gift-giver with it all to spend, consider Paper Passion perfume, created by Geza Schoen, Gerhard Steidl, and Wallpaper* magazine, with packaging designed by Steild and Karl Lagerfeld, the latter of Chanel. Supposedly it smells like paper. $98.00 is a lot for a gag gift, but what the heck, right?


bookspersonally said...

These are great suggestions. Paper perfume - ha! love it! (Though would one wear it? I wonder...) Can't wait to read the Alice Munro. The Hare sounds very intriguing... need to check it out!

Audra said...

This whole guide is made of win -- I want one of everything. I'll be pouring over your links for a while -- I'm an Etsy addict.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I'm just going to print this whole post and give it out to my family as my Xmas list...

Zibilee said...

Holy Moly! I think I am just going to buy my own Christmas gifts this year, and use this post as a guide. I can't imagine a more lovely holiday season! Thanks for putting all this in one place for me!

Anonymous said...

Wow, great list. Several of these are on my to-read list, and I have Arcadia out from the library now. Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtfully done list.

Jenners said...

Great list! Now I'm adding to my own "I want this" list!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

You are just the person to write a holiday gift guide for readers! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Wow! You've made my idea list so much bigger! Thanks so much for taking the time to make it. I really need to check out those dolls on Etsy!

Booksnyc said...

great list! I love the book totes from The Strand - I have used them in place of giftbags.

I am going to check out some of those Etsy shops for an e-reader cover.