Like I said last year — there are certain folks that are always tough to shop for. This year I changed up my trickiest recipients list. I’m guessing each of us has one of these types in our life, so hopefully at least one of these suggestions will be helpful. If you can check one item of your list because of my advice, then I’ll have checked one item off of my list, too. Everybody wins!
1. For the Extreme Foodie: Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton
You may have seen reviews of Hamilton’s book, some of which were critical and/or puzzled: She doesn’t provide all of the steps for all of the recipes! Who makes capon broth? Etc. Listen, Hamilton can do anything she likes, especially after writing her extraordinary memoir Blood, Bones, and Butter. Only she could get a publisher to make her cookbook look like a giant hot-pink Moleskine (complete with elastic closure) and include restaurant measurements written on strips of masking tape.
2. For the Long-Married: Kama Sutra Connect-the-Dots by Eland Sparklers
The book description says “Partner Not Included,” which is a shame, because you’ll need one who’s good at puzzles in order to complete these pages. Even if you have a copy of the original Kama Sutra sex manual by your side, the rendering of its pretzel-logic positions into numbered dots will get even your crankiest married pals giggling uproariously over the crazy things two bodies can do — and when the put down their pencils, maybe they’ll give one of the finished illustrations a try…
3. For Those With Aging Parents: Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? By Roz Chast
Perhaps not everyone is already a fan of Roz Chast, whose crackling, hilarious cartoons appear frequently in The New Yorker. But they will be after reading this graphic memoir, an account of her parents’ elderly decline. The book takes readers on a journey that most of us will witness — and many of us will ultimately experience. Tell recipients not to miss the part about the foam peanuts.
4. For the Organizationally Challenged: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Listen, there are a few things in this “Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” book I cannot accept, like Kondo’s dictum that socks should never be rolled, only folded in a drawer: “This is their only time to rest!” she claims. But most of the book isn’t hooey, in my opinion. It’s filled with wisdom about how things can weigh us down. Before your messy friend becomes a honorary Collyer Brother, give her this book on why she should empty her bag every day—and clean her own room, first.
5. For the Book Snob: Station Eleven: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel
There’s one in every book group: the person droning on about how she only reads really serious books. Wrap up a copy of St. John Mandel’s genre-bending, really serious dystopian novel of ideas. Station Eleven isn’t just winning awards and critical acclaim, but loads and loads of readers, who are responding to the author’s gorgeous writing and sentimentality-free tale of a post-fatal-virus future in which humans still strive to create, communicate and love.
Read Last Year’s Picks From Bethanne: