November 29, 2008

More Gift Book Ideas

I did a post about Black Friday Book Deals on Friday, but they still seem to be at those deal prices today, so perhaps they are Black Friday WEEKEND Deals? Well, whatevs.

Today's post is more gift books, but while yesterday's was all about Awesome Deals, today's is just Good Choices. Yeah, maybe I should have done them the other way around.

And when I say "Good Choices," I guess I kind of mean "Good Choices If You Are Shopping for Swistle---or WERE Shopping for Swistle Back in Time, Because Now She Already Has These."

...Let's start over.

Today's topic is books that might make good gifts. These are books that seem to me to hold at least some interest for a wide range of people, as opposed to, say, Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs, Sixth Edition, which, you know, for the right person would be GREAT, but for anyone else it's...uh...that is, just saying, don't put it on my wish list.

Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items From Around the World ($10 down from $15) is one of the most mesmerizing books I have ever read. Even Paul's sister, who doesn't like to read, loved this book. It's a bunch of...found stuff. Like notes. Shopping lists. Pieces of torn-up love letters. Photos. Crazy posted notices. Sketches. It will make you die of curiosity to know more, More, MORE about the people who wrote them or lost them. It will also make you look feverishly for scraps of paper on the ground. If you want a good gift for about $20, get it and also get Found II ($11 down from $14), the second volume.

Speaking of dying to know more, PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives ($18 down from $27) will have you practically climbing the walls. People wrote secrets on postcards and mailed them in; the book is half artwork, half wall-climbing revelations. The book is large and heavy and hardcover, and looks impressive and fun and interesting. Like the Found books above, it'll get passed around while the rest of the presents are being opened.

What It Is, by Lynda Barry ($16.50 down from $25) is another large, impressive hardcover. Just about every square inch is COVERED with doodles, bits of writing, questions, instructions, writing assignments, helpful hints. This is the book/workbook version of a class Lynda Barry teaches on "writing the unthinkable." It would be a great gift for anyone who likes to write or wants to write, but it would also work for anyone into self-analysis or dreams or art.

Pretty Little Mistakes ($10 down from $15) is a choose-your-own-adventure book for grown-ups. And I do mean for grown-ups: don't go giving this to your teenaged niece unless you want her parents smacking you into next winter for the, um, racy themes. At the end of each short section, you get to choose what "you" do next: do you help dig the grave, or do you run away? do you go home with the bartender or do you go back to your apartment alone? do you go to Brazil or do you go to Palm Beach? Each path leads to your death---either premature or at a ripe old age. It was some of the most fun I'd ever had reading a book, and I read it and read it and read it until I'd tried every single option. It's a paperback, but a largish and pretty one with a fancy (cut-out in the center) cover.

Fair warning: my mom tried it and read one path and then wasn't interested in trying another. She didn't like the way the character made choices she (my mom) would NOT have made, and she didn't like being told that "you" (she) did things. We agreed we would have preferred it if the book picked a name other than "you" for the character, something more along the lines of "Do you think Anne should go home with the bartender, or do you think she should go back to her place?"

You know how everyone is constantly talking right now about spending less and cutting back? The ones who really mean it might enjoy a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette ($15.50 down from $23). I love love love this book and have read it again and again---as much for fun as for tips. It is packed to the gills with tips and sketches and recipes and explanations and tests and experiments and patterns and ideas, all on the theme of saving money. She takes it WAY farther than I would, but I just pick out the tips I actually want to use and enjoy reading the others for fun (people...MAKE underwear?). It's a paperback, but it's HUGE: almost a thousand pages, and in the big-paperback size (9ish x 7ish) not the romance-paperback size.

Caution: it's a TEENSE risky to give someone any kind of self-improvement book. There can be the implication that you think they SHOULD CHANGE. Mothers-in-law probably should not buy this book for daughters-in-law. Probably no one should buy this book for people who spend noticeably more than they do.

Along those same lines is Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior ($23 down from $35). It's a great book: a nice fat impressive hardcover, and so funny and so smart and so fun to read her answers to all the "Dear Miss Manners" letters from readers. But...there is a slight risk that someone will think you are giving them a book on manners because they, er, NEED it. Mothers-in-law should definitely not buy this one for daughters-in-law, especially if mothers-in-law have harped on the subject of thank-you notes in the past.


Ellen said...

GOOD choices! I'm addicted to the site Years ago, when I was an editor at Redbook magazine, I worked on an article about Amy Dacyczyn (The Tightwad Gazette author) that I still vividly recall. The woman had a coffee table made out of cinderblocks. And she didn't just buy in bulk, like Costco, somehow she managed to get her hands on Army-quantity flour and the like. Basically, she practices what she preaches and knows her stuff.

I was at Border's today and they had EXCELLENT deals on gift-y books for kids—$4 each!

If anyone needs ideas for developmental toys (including ones for special-needs kids), I did a blog about that (my son has mild cerebral palsy):

Psuedokim said...

Uh oh, another Lynda Barry I must have! *Adding to Amazon wish list*

I actually think my mother-in-law would love The Tightwad Gazette and since her birthday is annoyingly in the month of December, I think I just found the perfect gift. She would't be the type to get offended at all. So THANK YOU AGAIN!!!

Tracy said...

Where do you find the time to read? I would love to read more, but my overwhelming desire for sleep seems to hinder the reading process. Great book choices.

Erin said...

Ooo! I want to check out that Miss Manners one. Sounds fun. But you are RIGHT, and I would probably not appreciate receiving that from my MIL.

ya ya's mom said...

I love post secrets!!! I also loved the book Pretty Little Mistakes...which reminds me I loaned it out and never got it back...hrmfff...that bugs me! Glad you found some bargains!

Astarte said...

I love a lot of these books! PostSecret is my first-visit every Sunday morning.

You know, a lot of these hardcovers can be found at the Five Below chain of stores. I have found several "-ology" books there (Pirateology, etc) as well as Wii accessories, etc. I think I'm going to post about 5B today, actually, come to think of it. It's a great store.

d e v a n said...

Left you something here:

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Love book recommendations, so thanks!

Sometimes when I read Post Secret, I get all guilty feeling as if I have some great secrets that need revealing too.

But I don't, so I think that's just my crazy side getting all worked up over the confessions (being too empathetic). All the elusive/creepy ones make me anxious. LOL. I can't read the website too often, lol.

But, that's just me being me. LOL.

Anonymous said...

THIS IS THE MOST HELPFUL POST!!! Really...two of these books were just perfect for some of my husband's relative's who I don't know very well but had to buy gifts know the drill. Yea! More posts like this!