Monday, December 12, 2016

Gift Guide: YAY BOOKS.

For the past few years I've conveniently forgotten this is a personal style blog and have written the gift guide I most want to write: Books! Books make great gifts. Nothing makes me happier or more content than a stack of promising new books to read and I'm pretty sure most of you feel the same way. So, here are my suggestions for this year:

New Favorites:

The Ocean and the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
I picked this up at the library on Kate's suggestion because she thought I'd like it.  I trust her opinon and I’d never read any Neil Gaiman, so yay. It’s wonderful. A dark fairy tale, beautifully written, that really focuses on memory and the powerlessness of childhood. I liked it so much that I’m now reading Neverwhere.

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
I read this recently and I’m not going to lie - it’s more than a little bit devastating but absolutely worth reading. It's about love and grief and goes to some weird places but comes back again with a very satisfying conclusion. I found the characterization of Lily (who is a dachshund) completely charming and it kept me fully invested.

The Martian by Andy Weir 
Did you see the movie?  I liked the movie but I loved the book. It’s easy to read, surprisingly funny, and suspenseful even if you already know what happens. I’m not a space nerd and I had no problem getting into it but if you have a space nerd in your life who hasn’t read it, definitely buy a copy for him or her.

Old Favorites:

In The Woods by Tana French
I was surprised that I hadn’t included this in one of my previous book gift guides! I’ve enjoyed all of Tana French’s books but I think the first two are the strongest. They’re part police procedural and part psychological mystery with a tiny element of supernatural thrown in. In The Woods (the first in the series)  is beautiful in it’s details and French's writing style just sucks me in. Highly recommend. (Warning: The ending is controversial but the devil, so to speak, is in the details. You’ll see.)

Cold Comfort Farm
This is a odd little classic that everyone should read. It’s a ridiculously funny parody of gloomy rural English doom novels (Hardy and the like) and it just gets funnier the more you read it. The movie (starring a nearly unrecognizable Kate Beckinsale) is good too.

National Velvet, by Enid Bagnold
I always include a childhood favorite! This is an oddly dreamy book and very much not your typical little-girl-and-horse story. I loved it as a kid because it was strange and old fashioned and full of British slang I didn't understand. I love it as an adult because it's an interesting slice of life from the English rural 1930s and more about the struggle of growing up than it is about a horse race. (I suggest buying a used hardback version with illustrations by Paul Brown. It's my favorite edition.)

Books on my Wishlist:

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
This definitely seems like the kind of book you could give to almost anyone on your list and it would be well-received. It definitely appeals to me. I mean, glowworm caves? Hell yeah. And shoutout to the Great Stalacpipe Organ in Virginia!

Appetites: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain
I don’t have this and I really, really want it. I just love Bourdain’s no-bullshit attitude and the recipes in this book (those that he thinks everyone should know how to cook) are exactly the kind of things I like to make. Nothing super complicated, just good home cooking. There’s also this gem regarding insufferable foodie message board commenters:

“You know what? If Jacques P├ępin tells you this is how you make a fucking egg? The matter is settled, fuck nuts. Now go back to arguing about Bundt cake recipes.”

Marry, me Bourdain.

Just in case you're curious: here are links to my book gift guides from 2015 and 2014. Please let me know your favorites! 


  1. This is a great list! I feel like you might enjoy the book I just finished - The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. Not at all like The Ocean at the End of the Lane, really, but there's still a similar flavour somehow.

    1. Thank you! I've read a few of her books but hadn't heard of this one. I'll definitely check it out.

  2. Outstanding book choices, thank you!


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