It’s getting down to the gift-shopping wire, and if you’re anything like us, you have someone on your list who’s so difficult to buy for that you’ve put off shopping for them until now. For those (lovable) oddballs in your life, we present a hodge-podge list of suggestions from our very own group of weirdos: the staff! Here’s what we think you should be searching for this weekend:
Why: Because everyone loves the zany bunch, Monty Python!
For whom?: People who watched Monty Python shows or re-runs. Anglophiles who don’t want to read the latest Queen Victoria bio, but still need something British on their coffee tables when company comes over. I don’t personally know anyone like that but…..
Sara says: Saga, vol. 1 Deluxe Edition by Brian K. Vaughan
Why: This beautiful hardcover volume collects issues 1-18 of Saga, the bestselling comic sensation. This ongoing series has won multiple awards, most recently the 2014 Eisners (the Oscars of comics) for Best Continuing Series, Best Writer, and Best Painter/Multimedia Artist. This makes a wonderful introduction into the story for new readers, or a great gift for already-devoted fans. There’s also some bonus making-of content to sweeten the deal for those who have already read all the issues.
For: Anyone who likes witty writing, complicated characters, beautiful artwork, a fresh spin on sci-fi/fantasy cliches, and a plot that constantly turns you on your head just when you were starting to get comfortable. Saga is loved almost universally, even by people who have never enjoyed comics before! Please note that Saga is NOT appropriate for kids (or conservative/squeamish adults).
Why: Mary MacLane isn’t having it. Any of it. And it makes for a damned fine read. When originally published as The Story of Mary MacLane in 1902, the (male) reviewers hated it. But it sold like hotcakes and the author became for women, who still weren’t allowed to vote.
Who is this for? Fans of 2014’s bestselling essay collection Bad Feminist and similar contemporary works will be fascinated by the words and thoughts of this extraordinary girl that resonate far beyond her lifetime.
Gary would give: Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom by Jennifer Holland
Why: It’s a great title that teaches all of us how to support & uplift each other.
For: Anyone, any age! But especially animal lovers, of course.
For artistic, poetry-loving dog people, Gary also suggests Dog Songs by the great Mary Oliver, now out in a beautiful deluxe edition.
Emily B. recommends: Area X – The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer
Why: Like Lovecraft, sort of, but a hundred times better. Spooky and atmospheric, full of body horror and fungi, so basically all the best things in life. This beautiful hardcover volume the whole Southern Reach Trilogy, originally published as the three books Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance.
For fans of: Miyazaki, mushrooms, birding, aliens/the alien/alienation/Alien (the movie)/etc.
Why: Oh man! I read it in less than a day. So digestible in one go. Formally, Offill’s paragraphs are shorty-short–not to mention chapters–and her narrator’s focused-yet-wandering mind is one you’ll crave tidbits from…non-stop little prose-snacks, beginning to end. Literary craft and skill without snobbery, for sure.
But for who?: I’m kinda thinking fans of early-ish Lorrie Moore would dig this book. Subject-wise, it’s relationships and personal neuroses and young parenthood and such, but rendered by such an accessibly sassy/smart writer.
Why: 1) There are so many books from my childhood that I’m devoted to—and considering where my career path has led, I clearly like books quite a bit—but gun to my head I would choose these as my favorite. That is how great they are. 2) Need “credentials”? Lloyd Alexander has awards on awards, from the Newbery Medal to the National Book Award. 3) The first book begins when Taran, the young pig-keeper and protagonist, loses his master’s magical, prophetic pig. So, basically, everyone should read this series immediately.
Who needs this gift?: Your precocious 10-year-old who’s declared that s/he wants to start reading/watching Game of Thrones. Use these books to distract from your crushing reply of “Haha…No.” But also: any kid (or so-called “grown up”) who has at some point in life been obsessed with: Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, Redwall, Lord of the Rings, Warriors, the Earthsea Cycle, The Song of the Lioness, How to Train Your Dragon, or all of the above.
Why: This gorgeous coffee table sized book tells the real story behind the LITTLE HOUSE novels. Edited by Pamela Smith Hill, the book explores Wilder’s career as a budding novelist, as well as her working relationship with her journalist daughter. Full of fascinating photos and insider info, this book is the solution to many long unanswered questions.
Who should find this under the tree?: Fans of the LITTLE HOUSE novels, or the popular television series, will be thrilled to receive this book that gives the “story behind the story.” This is also a great gift for anyone who is introducing the LITTLE HOUSE series to a new generation of readers.
Why: This book is a collection of original documents, letters, flyers, and zines from the riot grrrl movement in the 1990s, starting from its very organic conception. What I love best about this book is that these documents are simply printed as is – they are not supplements to someone else’s analysis or history. This enables the reader to experience this era as the grrrls themselves experienced it – and makes it that much more inspiring.
Who would love this gift?: The budding feminist, and fans of Tavi Gevinson, Amy Poehler, Beyonce, and the like.
Why: A customer who collects cookbooks described the recipes in Ottolenghi’s books as accessible for a chef’s cookbook. The publisher describes Plenty More, the follow-up to Plenty, as a visually stunning collection that will change the way you cook and eat vegetables. I believe it. For this vegetarian I would describe the book as vegetable porn. But one doesn’t have to be a vegetarian to appreciate it. Beautiful pictures and lists of ingredients that make the mouth water just reading them.
Who would love this gift? Home cooks, people that love beautiful cookbooks, vegetarians, omnivores, foodies in general, and maybe even gardeners. Pair it with the equally visually stunning and informative “The Whole Seed Catalog” (also vegetable porn), and/or some spices from Penzey’s or a kitchen tool from Kitchen Window (not that the books won’t stand on their own) and it will be quite the thoughtful gift.
Some of these books you may have heard of already, and some might be new to you. But we hope that we’ve given you a good idea of the ways a book can be the perfect gift for anyone, even someone whose gift you normally wouldn’t think of finding at your local bookstore. From modern literature to comics, pop culture to astrology, science to fantasy, and everything in between, we’ll be able to find something that matches the interests of that last person on your list.