All posts tagged: Books

TueNight 10: Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder is the founder of ClearHealthCosts, a journalism startup in New York City bringing transparency to health care by telling people what things cost. “After almost 25 years at The New York Times, I volunteered for a buyout in 2009. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but was lucky enough to land in a class in “entrepreneurial journalism,” at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, with Jeff Jarvis and Jeremy Caplan, where I grew the idea for this startup.” Almost exactly a year later, she won a shark-tank-type pitch contest in front of a jury of New York City venture capitalists and internet bigwigs to found the company. Jeanne hails from Iowa, where she started her career as a journalist at her family’s paper, The Grinnbell Herald-Register, as a cub reporter at the tender age of 13. This means she has been a journalist for more than 50 years! Here is her TueNight 10:1. On the nightstand:  The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer. No One Tells You This, Glynnis MacNicol. Women and Power, Mary Beard. Rereading: Eloquent Rage, …

TueNight 10: Jamia Wilson

Jamia Wilson is quite fond of the Florynce Kennedy quote, “Don’t agonize! Organize!” — a sentiment which prompted her to co-create the kick-ass guide, Road Map for Revolutionaries: Advocacy for All, just out today (Happy Pub Day!). “In the post-Trump frenzy, I turned to books written by strong women disruptors as a roadmap for what to do, says Jamia who co-authored the book with Elisa Camahort Page and Carolyn Gerin. “I was compelled to collaborate on a direct, snappy guidebook that showcases tools you need to ignite the change you want to see in the world.”Jamia is also the director of Feminist Press, the author of Young, Gifted, and Black, and she wrote the oral history in Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World.  Carolina-born and Saudi Arabia raised, she currently lives in New York City, where she’s an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.“I love teaching undergraduate classes about gender studies and revolutions,” she says. “We can learn so much from the past to help inform a better future.” 1. On the nightstand: Training School for Negro …

TueNight 10: Theo Kogan

Theo Kogan is a makeup artist, musician, native Brooklynite, activist and mom. She is well known for being the singer of the Lunachicks, a band of best friends who happened to be girls. Theo and her pals started the band in high school just for fun; they ended up touring the world through the ’90s, becoming one of the Riot Grrrl bands of the era, and opening up for many of the legendary pop-punk bands of the day. She was a NY nightlife muse, and one of the first heavily tattooed fashion models/actors. We were thrilled when Theo made her live reading debut at TueNight Live: 90s Bitchin July. She has two essays in the forthcoming book Women Who Rock, which is being released next month. You can pre-order a copy now, so do it! She is currently painting faces in New York Fashion Week. Literally. Right now. 1. On the nightstand: There’s a stack of books (seriously) but what I am reading is The Power by Naomi Alderman… for the past 6 months. Clearly I don’t get much time to read. Also tissues, my Hurraw! …

TueNight 10: Ginger McKnight-Chavers

Ginger McKnight-Chavers is a writer and attorney whose first novel, In the Heart of Texas, won the 2016 USA Best Book Award for African-American fiction. Though she has lived in New York for decades, Ginger is a native of Dallas, with deep, multigenerational Texas roots. As a result, she can’t stop talking or writing about Texas as a metaphor for everything good, bad and in between. “I want to tell stories from the perspective of different types of Texans than the characters you see in the media. Smart, nuanced stories about the amazing African-American women that surrounded and influenced me.” Ginger’s transition from a demanding corporate/arts/entertainment legal practice to full-time writing was long and often frustrating. “It’s hard for a seasoned professional to be treated like an idiot,” she says. “Luckily, I believed in my work and had others who believed in me as well, and I’m now able to do what I love full-time.” She is currently working on her second novel, Oak Cliff as well as a book about her mother’s life and activism to accompany …

I Was “Breakup Girl,” And Then My Job Dumped Me

Lynn Harris in the 90s. (Photo: Denise Winters) This will not endear me to you: Until my mid-20s, I was convinced that I was special — that my life was actually charmed. That was the through line to my life story: Things just went my way. Hard work paid off. I earned good grades, had halfway normal parents and halfway decent boyfriends. My high school graduation speaker was Gloria Fucking Steinem. I got into Yale. I had the time of my life. I had an amazing dog named Montsi — a gorgeous white shepherd/tundra wolf mix who was my protector and soul sister. My books got published. I always had cool, land-in-your-lap life-changing experiences, like living and bonding with a family and “sister” in Mexico who looked just like me — whom I’m still friends with — and lucking into an awesome apartment with my best friend in Boston and winding up on both Geraldo and Ricki Lake in 1994, just because I looked exactly like Tonya Harding, which is a long story. It wasn’t …

Sleepless in Suburbia

All my life, I have put myself to sleep with a novel—eyelids pulling down, dreams wending vine-like into whatever story I am reading. Sometimes I startle awake and, when I attempt to start reading again, I find that the words on the page don’t match the version of the plot my dreams invented. Proust writes about this in one of his interminable Remembrances novels, this being the only thing I remember about them. I’m sure I fell asleep to him as well. Presumably he would be forgiving. More recently, I’ve switched to getting in bed with my laptop. I watch the red Netflix page download and, soon enough, delight to the introduction: Previously on Damages. No matter how cold-bloodedly conniving Ms. Close is, I can fall asleep to her too. But then, at some wildly inconvenient hour — 2:53, 3:21 or 4:02 — I am wide-awake. Not the dozy, semi-wakefulness I recall from the time my kids were babies and wanted to climb into my bed, having peed in their own. No, I am hyper alert, …

How I Came to Love Shipping (and the Hot UPS Guy)

I was fifteen years old, answering phones in the main office of my high school. “Good afternoon, Park Ridge High School, how may I direct your call?” I’d look up the extension on the printed sheet and punch the square plastic buttons for HOLD and TRANSFER. My best friend had a work-study job in the guidance office, and I put in a few hours a week at my floating desk in the front office. One day, I was answering phones and a tall, handsome woman in a pantsuit pushed open the glass door. She introduced herself as a small business owner from down the street, and said she wanted to post a help wanted notice. “I need someone to work in my business, doing office work after school hours.” I took the index card from her and read the typed requirements. Typing, filing, something about shipping. “I’d like to apply,” I said. I put the card in my pocket, as if to say, I’m not posting this on any bulletin board. “All right,” she said. …

tuenight fling bethanne patrick summer books

10 Books To Have an Affair with This Summer

Choosing books that represent “Fling” is a challenge due to the word’s definition. A “fling,” after all, is “a short period of enjoyment or wild behavior.” Many novels about sexual side stories focus instead on affairs because they last longer and often morph into difficult and tragic tales. That’s the case with the titles on this list — but each of them includes enjoyment and wild behavior, too. Any — or, better yet, several — of these will add fun and a little scorch to your vacation reading. Among them: A women bent on revenge who also has a taste for orgies, a secret affair by the sea, lovers with a connection to the real Casablanca, and a sort of Sliding Doors fantasy about love’s possibilities. 1. If you’re hooked on scandi-crime: All In by Simona Ahrnstedt You may not have thought a novel about “Sweden’s financial elite” would make its way to the top of your to-be-read pile, but look out — Ahrnstedt’s U.S. debut is smart and smoldering, using an affair between cutthroat …

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Mr. Knightley Is Not on Tinder

Newly single, I have, at the urging of friends, downloaded dating apps on my iPhone. On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself in some dark hole of the internet and wondered if I was an unknowing participant in a secret Cindy Sherman project where she’s disguised herself as red-eyed, heavily jowled men sitting next to sedated tigers or at the finish line of Tough Mudders. Those first few swipes felt odd. Throw in a married dad from my son’s elementary school and a few minutes of swiping left made me want to wash my hands. I’ve been guilty of having a few laughs at the expense of these dating prospects. I’ve screenshot their most awkward profile photos to share with friends, and I’ve attended Lane Moore’s Tinder Live Show. When I was first single and my friends would ask me what I was looking for, I would tell them straight up that I wanted someone with integrity. A strong moral compass. Their replies were varied versions of “Good luck with that.” I’ve also mentioned this …

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Policing My Mouth: On the Art of Self-Censorship

My second grade teacher, the truculent Mrs. Dunham, masking-taped my mouth shut. She pulled the shrieking roll of tape all the way around my head thrice in front of the entire class. My crime? Announcing in the middle of math drills that the Bookmobile was circling and circling the parking lot because its regular spot was blocked and it had nowhere to park. My classmates’ faces silently told me they were on my side and that I had shared news they needed immediately. What would the driver do? Why was that truck in the Bookmobile spot? It was almost Bookmobile time, so time was of the essence! Someone needed to go do something before the Bookmobile drove away! Mrs. Dunham didn’t want to do anything except punish me for talking. Again. So while the Bookmobile looped like a man without a country, the class beheld the new spectacle of me called to the front of the class while Mrs. Dunham attempted censorship via brown tape. Around it went, sticking to my hair but not truly …

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I Read Banned Books and Hope You Do, Too

When you think of the word “censorship,” what comes to mind? You might imagine a black bar over an image, a political speech, perhaps something sexually explicit. But you probably won’t think about a young Iranian girl, a sensitive teenaged boy or a character created by one of our country’s most revered authors. All of those — and many, many others — have been and are on lists of the most frequently banned books of the past. . .year. That’s right. Not past century or decade but just this past year. Even in modern society, we’ve made so little progress on some fronts that literature of great merit continues to be banned in some classrooms due to “controversial” topics. (The phrase “controversial subject matter” is actually used by more than one book-banning group to describe a volume on this list.) Banned books change with the times. Once, these titles were the most frequently challenged; in 2015, the five below have hit nerves. Notice that almost all of the books on the “older” list are now …

Top Flirting Ideas When You Have Glasses & Other Book-Inspired Lists

Making lists had always had a calming effect on me during my chaotic teenage years, whether it was recounting the “Top 5 Moments Taylor Looked at Me Today” or “Sexy Books to Hide from Mum.” Back then, there was an unbridled intensity when I chanced upon an amazing book that moved me — it had to be dissected in list form for its best and worst qualities in my diaries. It has been rather hilarious to look back at my old notebooks, filled with scented pen doodles and handwritten lists of books that struck a chord in that boy-crazy teenager. At the back of every notebook, there was an ongoing and redrafted list of what made up my dream boyfriend. He was a composite of all the right traits: the bluntness of Mr. Darcy, the luscious hair of Robert from The Princess Diaries, the musical talents of Robbie from the Georgia Nicholson series and the broodiness of a Mr. Rochester. In short, your average entitled rock god. As I saw my friends experiencing first crushes …

10 Hostess Gifts They’ll Actually Want to Use

Our household throws a lot of parties. And although I’ve never expected a hostess gift for our efforts, it’s always lovely to receive something thoughtful. Host gifts are tricky gifting — you don’t want to clutter up someone’s home, but you also don’t want to be the odd guest out who arrives empty-handed. With those caveats in mind, I’ve pulled together my dream list of host gifts — all for less than $50. 1. Linen Dish Towels I love receiving gifts that are a luxurious upgrade to life’s regular, cruddy routines. These natural linen hand towels are the luxurious upgrade you didn’t know your dishes wanted. $32, Etsy.com 2. Footed Aeirum Upgrade your host’s desktop with this adorably footed container for some sweet little plants. Moss, lichens and Tillandsia will change as they grow, or you can add an air plant (starting at $14) for even more magic. $32, floragrubb.com 3. Multi-function Cake Stand Responsible for bringing a dessert? Leave behind this multipurpose cake stand, which also becomes a chip-and-dip platter, punch bowl and salad …

9 Passive Aggressive Gifts They’ll Love. I Guess…

Ah, the holidays. ‘Tis the season to rejoice, make merry, listen to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” and bite one’s tongue when one’s confronted with the time-tested barrage of unsubtle passive aggressive comments from friends and family. Well, two can play that game. In the name of holiday harmony (and your sanity), why not bite your tongue as you wrap the world’s most passive aggressive gift ever? Why say it when you can pay it forward with a gift that does the indirect communicating for you? Why not give something that says you care enough not to say exactly how you feel but not enough to not be somewhat passive aggressive about it in your gift-giving? What? I was only joking! God. You don’t have to get so upset. 1. Fiberglass Confetti Eiffel Chair The gift that passive aggressively says “your taste in housewares is beyond basic.” $395, Modernica.com 2. Basic Repellant Phone Case For your “friend” who IS basic. $38, Valfre.com 3. Shut Up Cards The gift that passively aggressively says, “Literally …

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Books and Bookish Gifts for Your Well-Read Friends

Each year I try to solve your book-gifting problems by choosing a handful of titles you can present to the, shall we say, “particular” people on your list. This year, I’m adding a bonus round: A few waggish book-related items for the reader who has everything — or to bundle up along with a carefully selected tome. (And I take care in selection so you don’t have to!) 1. For Your Fiercest Kitchen Queen: My Pantry: Homemade Ingredients that Make Simple Meals Your Own by Alice Waters First, she’s Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse. Second, this book, written with her daughter Fanny (Fanny’s Granola namesake), is beautifully produced and has an internal spiral binding so the book will lay flat as you gather your amateur “mise en place,” meaning you can try Alice’s chicken stock, or tomato sauce, or… 2. For Your Hard-to-Impress Aesthete: The Master of the Prado by Javier Sierra Is it a novel? A manifesto? A museum tour? A mystery? The answer is all of the above. Sierra, whose last big …

Hey, This Newspaper Could Be a Sitcom

“It took me a very long time to realize that the ads in the back of the newspaper I wrote for were for prostitutes. I’m not sure what I thought these ladies were selling, I just didn’t know prostitutes were allowed to advertise. Well, whether or not they are, the truth is they do. In fact, the real boom time for alternative newspapers in the United States were the years between the deregulation of 976 numbers and the emergence of Internet porn.”          I took the above paragraph from my first novel, The Big Love. I took all of The Big Love straight from my life, and my life, in my early 20s, was like an old Meg Ryan movie complete with pleated-front khaki pants and very little actual sex. I lived in a brownstone on the most beautiful street in Philadelphia, just like Meg would have, and I worked as a columnist at The City Paper, just like Meg would have. The City Paper was a free weekly, and I got …

The Life and Death of Book Club Attempts

I have been in my current book group for almost eight years, and although I love the books and the company of smart women, what I value most about it is that it did not disband as soon as I joined. Like the other two book groups did. Really, it was enough to give this reading woman a complex. I joined my first book group several months after I graduated from college because I believed that’s what people who graduated from college did, along with living in too-small, overpriced apartments and bemoaning “adulthood.” A woman I met in a writing class at the local Y invited me, and I found myself surrounded by 40-something goddesses who were smart and well-spoken and had read more books than I’d seen in my life. I liked all the women in the group, unusual for a misanthrope like me, and they seemed to like me. All of the women were married (or divorced!), and some had children. Several women belonged to another book group, in addition to ours, although …

10 Books That Have Defined My Life (So Far)

I’ve been taking a break from my own book club this year because I’ve been working on a book — about other people’s favorite books (more on that soon, but it will be out next spring from Regan Arts). So although almost any of you reading this piece would probably be able to put together your own life-in-books article, I feel I’m peculiarly suited to the task as an avid reader who eventually found a way to construct an entire professional life around books, authors and literacy. Here, I’m offering 10 books that not only touched me during the life stages in which I read them but also perfectly illustrate those stages — not just for me, but also for you, I hope. After all, we’re in this together. A very big book club indeed. CHILDHOOD The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf Ferdinand is a great big strong bull who would really prefer to pass his days in a sunny meadow among the flowers. Woven into the words and pictures is a powerful, timeless …

I Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks – And It Changed My Life

What happens when you wake up one day and realize you don’t remember the last book you read? That was me. This isn’t a tragic tale, but it is a story about a little girl who loved to read and grew up losing herself in books and writing in margins and dog-earing favorite passages and then, slowly over time, stopped. And it’s probably one that sounds familiar to you, too. Growing up, I had books that changed my life and shook my foundation with how they were written. Books like The Alchemist, Zorba The Greek, The Fountainhead, and All The King’s Men. I read my fair share of beach reads and quick summer novels too, but it was the life-changing books that made me feel like my inner Wonder Woman was on the rise. I would get lost in words and stories, and it made me feel less nervous about my own future. In my teens and 20s, the future was this audacious and infinite concept and books helped to both ground and inspire me …

My 6 Favorite Travelogues

“Often I feel I got to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I am.” – Michael Crichton This quote is from a book that probably doesn’t enter many people’s list of favorite travelogues, but it tops mine. The book aptly named Travels, was written by Crichton in 1988, nearly 20 years after Andromedia Strain and two before Jurassic Park. It would be another 10 years before I had heard of or read Travels. By that time, Crichton was a household name. Still, I hadn’t read any of his books until a friend of mine suggested Travels. We were sitting on the beach in Koh Samui, Thailand; he was reading it and intermittently laughing out loud. A book about travel, written by an author known for sci-fi, is funny? I was intrigued. I’ve since read and re-read the book and currently own my third copy. I’ve often recommended and too-often loaned it and never seen it again, hence the need for new copies. What I love about Travels is not just …

Margit’s Note: The First Rule of Book Club…

At least skim the book. 2nd rule of book club: Drink copious amounts of wine. 3rd rule of book club: Try not to disband after a few months. I’d bet that each one of us has attempted, loved and probably struggled with a book club at some point in our lives. Getting together with good or new friends to read and discuss a book sounds delightful in theory — and sometimes it is. And sometimes it’s a failure of messy schedules and pressure to get to the last page in time. But we try it because we love LOVE to read a good book, we want to absorb it, share our joy (or pain) and live inside its pages while we can. Right now I’m slowly tag-teaming two books — the surprisingly subversive Dietland by Sarai Walker and the graphic novel (easy reading!) prequel to Fun Home, Are You My Mother by Allison Bechdel — and, yet, not spending nearly enough time reading books. Somehow buzzy Facebook-shared articles, zombie television, time-passing games (a hint to next week’s theme) …

My Crime Novel Addiction Revealed!

I was one of those kids who always had her head in a book. I didn’t just adore reading—I loved being transported to fabulous other worlds, rendered magical by clever fiction writers. The first books I remember reading were those “learn to spell” picture books Dick and Dora. “This is Dick. Run, Dick, run.” I don’t remember Dora doing much running, but Nip sure did. At age nine, I remember being asked by my teacher to read The Hobbit aloud. I had excellent comprehension skills and a quick eye, so I didn’t stumble over the tricky names or complex dialogue. No one else got up to read to the class. Towards the end of primary school, I was placed in an advanced reading strand along with one other boy and we were granted access to a more challenging set of kids’ literature. To keep up with my insatiable appetite, my mum enrolled me in a borrow-a-book club. Various slim paperbacks started arriving by mail every two weeks. It was so exciting! During lunchtime, I mostly …

5 Juicy Memoirs from Old-School TV Stars

Who among us has not wiled away an evening or weekend afternoon watching reruns of a sitcom or drama? Such a great guilty pleasure. For this week’s book list, I’ve got some more guilty pleasures: Delicious gossipy memoirs penned by some stars of your most beloved old-school shows. Don’t tell us you didn’t watch. Don’t tell us you don’t remember. Love Life by Rob Lowe Who knew this guy would be able to make the transition from child actor to Brat Pack bad boy to happily married, in-demand TV star? Now 50-something, Lowe remains handsome and funny, but has added humility and compassion — plus, the guy can write! From stories about the Playboy Mansion’s hot tub to tales of coaching Little League; Lowe’s life is full — and juicy! Born with Teeth by Kate Mulgrew You loved her as Captain Janeway, the first female Star Trek captain, but you may love her even more as the irascible Red on Orange Is the New Black. Kate Mulgrew spins an honest, funny and breathless account of …

5 Very Different Books About Eggs

Eggs, those delicious sources of protein, are also packed with symbolism and meaning. A book list based on the idea of “egg” could include titles about pregnancy, birth, infertility, new beginnings, chickens and so much more. Instead of selecting one theme, this list includes books from five different genres: Memoir, science fiction, mystery, cooking and even children’s literature. The Egg and I: Life on a Wilderness Chicken Ranch by Betty MacDonald Ms. MacDonald had a farm — and no, it wasn’t that kind of “chicken ranch!” From 1927 to 1931, Betty MacDonald and her husband ran (or attempted to run) a chicken farm on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. While dated, the book (also a 1946 movie starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray) is still very funny — especially if you’re trying to raise urban chickens in your Park Slope backyard. Bluebeard’s Egg and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood These Margaret Atwood-penned short stories are a departure from the author’s more well-known pieces such as The Handmaid’s Tale. They’re quieter than much of her other work, and based on folktales …

4 Books on Productivity You Shouldn’t Put Off Reading

It’s a wonder that these lines are appearing on the screen in front of you now and not next week. But since no procrastination was employed in the production of this column, you will be able to learn about a few of the best books to help you stamp out all kinds procrastination. (Wait, where is that list? Oh, phew. A couple of other tasks got in the way…) The Power of Habit may be the most important book to recommend for getting past your unproductive habit of procrastinating. Author Charles Duhigg examines the routine and often unconscious behaviors that rule so many of us through amusing anecdotes and science-based research. He offers productive techniques to help you break bad habits, restructure your life and meet your goals. If your goal is to procrastinate more, well, even Duhigg can’t fix that. In 2002, Steven Pressfield wrote The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle, and changed many a writer’s life: He identified how outward ambitions get in the way of creative discipline. The key? …

Dating By the Book

From the moment we’re allowed to date (the age of which varies greatly, depending on whether you’re a precocious urbanite or a Duggar), the road to romance is full of perils and potholes. Does he like me? Does she like me? Does this dress make me look fat? Does this mascara make me look fat? Some of these perils have been solved — or forgotten — by the time we reach midlife. Most of us know we have physical imperfections and have made peace with them, learned to camouflage them, or paid hundreds of thousands to have them eliminated (or all three). We’re more comfortable with ourselves and able to put our romantic interests at ease, too. We know what kind of situation we’re looking for, and we make sure our signals remain clear. HAHAHA, right! Dating is just plain hard work no matter how young or old you are. If you don’t believe it, just take a look at the following mix of novels and memoirs about women pursuing love later in life — which, in our current culture, means all …

5 #Winning Reads

When people hear the words “prize” and “books” together, they usually think of “Pulitzer,” which makes sense given that literary awards are prestigious — not to mention a great way to winnow your reading lists. But there’s another side to the words “prize” and “books,” and that’s books about prizes. Many a plot revolves around winning something: A suitor’s eye, a coveted job, even a lawsuit. The following list involves books in which winning actually involves a prize of some kind. What a fitting reward one of these titles would be to read after a long day.   The Submission by Amy Waldman Imagine what might have happened if they held a juried contest for a New York City 9/11 memorial — and the winner was a Muslim. That’s what Waldman (a former reporter for The New York Times and correspondent for The Atlantic) attempts in her 2011 debut novel about how one woman, widowed by the tragedy, stands up for an artist whose vision she believes to be the most truthful. A powerful and thought-provoking choice for …

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The TueDo List: Movies, Shopping and Holiday Cheer

Hanukkah is happening. Christmas is nearly here. And the crush is almost over — as well as the chance to order anything in time for, well, anything. I’m not sure I can take one more bold type e-mail from a retailer, telling me that “THERE’S STILL TIME,” which of course implies the opposite. (There is still time for stocking stuffers, and there are some fun ones all day today on Amazon Prime.) Here’s how to catch up on some last-minute odds and ends for the people in your life. You can buy most of them from home, so you’ll also have time to relax and enjoy the weekend, holiday-style. Movies and TV I already told you I love my Roku, and I can’t stop talking about it. I’ve already got a Netflix membership, but I only have Hulu free for three months, so I’d love to get that picked up for me by someone who loves me. Sometimes, it’s the coolest thing to have someone else spring for a relatively small splurge item like that. If someone cares about my media, they care …

5 Gifts For Kids That They Don’t Already Have

Gift giving for children gets harder and harder as kids get more and more sophisticated. Outwit the little ones this year with presents they could never find on a TV screen or through an app. Warning: You may have to reach into your own past…   1. “Vintage” Star Wars belt buckle You DID watch the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, right? Episode VII of the series? No…? That’s OK, I’ll wait while you check it out. From now until December 2015, you’ll need to know enough about the movie to talk to any kid over the age of 8. Impress them (and their folks) with an eBay original that might just remind you of your own days of yore. $35, eBay.com   2. The Drawing Robot Speaking of R2D2, check out this super cute robot. Your DIY-loving kid can put it together using cardboard, tape, a little wiring and a battery. Add pens and turn it on, and this is a mini marvel. Include another robot and tape on a couple of …

Books to Give Your Trickiest Recipients

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. $45, randomhouse.com   2. For the Long-Married: Kama Sutra Connect-the-Dots by Eland …