Your 2013 Holiday Shopping Guide

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s official: the gift-giving holidays are upon us. Hanukkah has already started.  There are trees and ornaments and lights and wreaths EVERYWHERE.  And I have already heard my all-time favorite song four times today.

As everyone knows, today is the biggest shopping day of the year.  So, in honor of Black Friday, I created a holiday shopping list of books you can give to your literate friends and family members:


9780061574283The Lump of Coal
Lemony Snickett

As with all of Lemony Snickett’s books, this one is irreverent, silly, a little dark, and lots of fun.  It begins:

This holiday season is a time for storytelling, and whether you are hearing the story of a candelabra staying lit for more than a week, or a baby born in a barn without proper medical supervision, these stories often feature miracles.

Lemony Snickett is a weirdo, but he’s the best kind of weirdo.

I would give this to: funny kids, weird adults (like Bryan, my favorite weirdo in the whole wide world).

The Hanukkah alternative: Give the first eight A Series of Unfortunate Events
books (one for each night of Hanukkah), also by Lemony Snickett.


Holidays on Ice
David Sedaris

You may recall my extended rant about David Sedaris a few months back (if you don’t, you can refresh your memory here). In it, I griped because Sedaris just isn’t as funny as he used to be.

But there was a time when he was quite funny. And this was it. This collection is vintage Sedaris—it’s funny, it’s crass, it’s over-the top.  And (BONUS!) it’s holiday-themed.

I would give this to: Sweater (i.e., people who like quick, clever, quippy stuff, which is old-school Sedaris’s specialty).

And, if you’re feeling especially generous, you can also give: Me Talk Pretty One Day, another collection from Sedaris’s earlier—and funnier—days.


This is a toss-up.  If your friend is a “foodie,” go with:

Ad Hoc at Home
Thomas Keller

Keller is the man responsible for The French Laundry in California and Per Se in New York (which I wrote about briefly here).  This cookbook is big and gorgeous—I wouldn’t be surprised to see it used as a foodie’s coffee-table book.  But, surprisingly, the recipes are (mostly) easily executable.  Bryan and I have tackled several, and they are all amazing (especially the Asparagus and Tomato-Bacon Stew with the Pan-Roasted Halibut.  Nom nom nom).

I would give this to: Eds (i.e., people who love good food, love to cook, and are obsessed with beautiful things).

If your friend looks down his/her nose on foodies and just loves to cook delicious meals, then go with:

UnknownThe Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh
Barbara Fairchild

I have a ridiculous number of cookbooks, but this is my go-to.  The recipes are super-duper easy, extremely straight-forward, and always DELICIOUS.  I’ve cooked everything from enchiladas verdes to Asian lettuce wraps from this cookbook, and every single thing has turned out delightfully.

Also, when you give this book as a gift, there is a super-exciting, surprise bonus gift included: the book comes with a free year’s subscription to Bon Appétit magazine, which is a treat for the eyes and has reliably delicious recipes.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

I would give this to: Lindsay (i.e., people who like to make delicious, healthy meals at home).

Or, if you’re feeling especially generous: Get both cookbooks!  Strawberry shortcake is one of my all-time favorite desserts, and I have tried approximately one billion recipes.  The recipe I now use includes the biscuits from the Bon Appétit Cookbook (secret ingredient: orange rind) combined with the berries from the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook (secret ingredient: Grand Marnier). Together, these cookbooks make the perfect dessert:strawberry


bee_paperbackLittle Bee: A Novel
Chris Cleave

This is a little heavier than your average book-club fare, but it’s a good book that is bound to yield some interesting book-club discussion. Briefly, it’s about two women (a teenage Nigerian and an adult Brit) who meet on the beach in Nigeria.  Two years later, the teenage Nigerian, Little Bee, makes her way to England.  And that’s all I can tell you without ruining it.

I would give this to: Linda (i.e., people who read interesting books–not just fluff–with their book clubs).


Why Unicorn Drinks
C.W. Moss

This is one of those adult books that is designed to look like a kids’ book.  Yes, it has fun, colorful unicorn drawings.  No, it is not appropriate for tikes.

Some of the (more appropriate) reasons Unicorn drinks include:

  • “He can’t eat at his favorite restaurant anymore because he tripped and impaled ‘one measly kid.’”
  • “People think he is a carnival game.”

I would give this to: Kellie, Stephen (i.e., people who can relate a little too well to ol’ Unicorn).

And, if you’re feeling especially generous, you can also giveUnicorn Being a Jerk (delightful drawings of Unicorn doing despicable things like: “Hating an illustrated book”).

*     *     *     *     *

If none of the above strikes your fancy, think about any of the following, which are sure to be a hit (and are all books that I have given to various friends and family members over the past few years):

One final savvy-shopper note: and Barnes & Noble are both offering 30% off one book for Black Friday.  Amazon’s coupon code is BOOKDEAL (good until 12/1/13).  Barnes & Noble’s is BFRIDAY30 (good until 12/2/13 and works on any one item–doesn’t have to be a book).

A book-filled holiday is a happy holiday!  Happy shopping!!

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