With only a few days left for holiday shopping, we at CultureMap would like to offer a happy medium between fighting the frenzy at NorthPark and just giving up and throwing gift cards at loved ones. How about a nice book?
The well-selected, gifted book literally and sometimes literarily tells a story to the receiver and can send many messages. I love you. I know you so well. I understand what you like. Please stop trying to force me to read 50 Shades of Grey.
Without further ado, here is the CultureMap definitive, but completely random, book gift guide.
For the movie lover who’s just not into books, let him know Hollywood is with a gift basket filled with The Life of Pi, Cloud Atlas, Les Misérables (the book turned musical, turned movie), Anna Karenina, Jack Reacher, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln and The Hobbit. Do readers' imaginations project at 48 frames per second or 24?
Contemporary lit reader
For the contemporary literary reader with shelves of signed copies and tales of meeting authors, pick up Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue.
If instead you’re shopping for a teen reader who wants to get into the next big series before the rest of the world flocks to the obligatory movie, we suggest the Legend series by Marie Lu, who used to call Sugar Land home. In this post-apocalyptic novel, the main character, a teen, is slated to become an assassin. Things get nutty when she is sent to kill a boy who may have killed her brother.
Need a gift for a foodie who always buys locally? Try a cookbook by a favorite Texas chef. Hugo Ortega’s Street Food of Mexico is not only filled with his favorite recipes, but he also includes personal stories to savor with each dish. An equally good idea is the Salt Lick Cookbook by CultureMap Austin dining editor Jessica Dupuy.
If that fashionista in your life loves the behind-the-scenes drama of the industry as much as the clothes, find some sophisticated gift wrap for Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington, the woman who managed to steal the spotlight from Anna Wintour in not one but two documentaries about Vogue.
Give the gift of historical irony to your favorite hipster satire-lover by pairing Stephen Colbert’s latest, America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't, with some ancient school Gulliver’s Travels. Because if Jonathan Swift were alive today, he’d no doubt have his own Super PAC.
For the bibliophile who refuses to buy an e-reader and is looking for validation, we like Chris Ware’s Building Stories, an oversized box of 27 different booklets, each with a different point of view. It is a book to wade through rather than read start to finish.
And if that lovable Luddite reader is raising little ones, we recommend In My Den by Sara Gillingham, because you can’t download the felt finger puppet that comes with the board book and then poke it through a Kindle.
For the gambler, baseball stats lover or fortune-teller in your life, let he or she know that the future can sometimes be forecast with The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail but Some Don't, the new book by this nation’s recently chosen math-nerd-in-chief, Nate Silver.
An alternative to 50 Shades of Grey
And, finally, for that sweet, budding-sadist friend who won’t stop insisting you have to read 50 Shades of Grey, try giving her The Story of O by Pauline Reage, described as a story of love and submission. It won the French literary prize in 1954, the year it was originally published, and it has been in print ever since. Another option is Exit to Eden, Anne Rice’s S&M romance written under her pseudonym, Anne Rampling.
If those suggestions don’t send the message, throw a hardback copy of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer at your best friend's head. Carrie Fisher would approve.