Okay, okay — I know not everyone jumps up and down when she feels the outline of a book beneath the wrapping. But this gift guide will make sure that once your recipient tears open the paper, he or she will be pleasantly surprised, no matter if you're gifting to a chef, your sister, or someone who hasn't read a paper book in a year. And you'll find more here than just novels and non-fiction tomes to give to your mother and grandfather. In the last few months of the the year, publishers release tons of stunning, highly gift-able art and photography books, so this list is chock full o’ those, too.
And, hey, here's a little PSA: Although we link to Amazon for you to take a peek at these titles, there isn’t any better time than the holiday season to support your local bookstore. Nudge, nudge.
For Your Stylish Friend
Critic Postrel’s examination of glamour and its cultural influence is an engaging, thought-provoking look at how the concept affects us on a broader scope. She makes a compelling case. And, as expected, the physical book is chic as can be.
For the Domesticated Hipster
The Kinfolk aesthetic is a very distinctive (read: stylish) one, and no page in this cookbook of recipes and stories from home cooks around the world, is an exception. Even if they never make a single thing from it, the pages will get worn as they flip through its stunning photography.
For the Sports Nut
Garnering rave reviews across the board, Dawidoff’s intimate look inside a year spent with the New York Jets gives a humanizing portrait of a sport that can, at times, be the least human. His writing will capture anyone; diehard fans won’t be able to put it down.
For the DIY-’til-Death
The King’s County Distillery, nestled away in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, makes some of the tastiest moonshine there is. This book’s for the one who’s not afraid to get nerdy about science and history, and who’s down to get her hands dirty.
For the Chef with Skills
The recipes in this beautiful cookbook from Chelsea Market heavy hitters aren’t 1-2-3 to whip up, but if she’s up for the challenge, the results are well worth it.
For the College Student
Written and curated by the guy who leads award-winning pizza tours all over New York, this book shows that there’s a ton more nuance and culture to the college student’s favorite food than anyone could have ever imagined. (The art of the Freshman 15.)
For the Feminist
No matter which wave of feminism she espouses, she’ll spend hours paging through this glossary of all (well, many) things female. Compiled by the present and former editors of the most successful feminist media project on the planet, it’s smart, hilarious, informative and exactly as opinionated as you’d expect from the Jezebels.
For the Anglophile
The title tells you what you need to know: the full-color stamp illustrations provide a unique guide for navigating British history, used as tools to uncover tons about the empire from 1840 through 2012. Insanely comprehensive.
For the Word-Obsessed
If you’ve ever said, “I wish there were a word for that,” there is — in German, and you will probably find it in this book. Discover ways to say, “The incidents and accidents caused by alcohol” and “a shameful love of bad food” in one fell (word) swoop.
For Your Funniest Friend
Hanawalt’s drawing collection is dirty, smart, and shameless. It’s like social commentary on speed put through the illustrated ringer, taking on everyone and everything from Anna Wintour and Martha Stewart to sex and Thanksgiving. The result is just the right amount of weird and hilarious.
For the Culture Sponge
For Your Dad
In Dissident Gardens, Lethem blends decades of history and New York City culture with an edge that feels totally fresh compared to the author’s last couple of efforts. It’s a novel that keeps delivering with its vivid prose, taking on American radicalism, Judaism, baseball, and way more.
For Your Younger (but Not-Too-Young) Brother
For Your Older Sister
This book didn’t come out this year, but if she hasn’t read newly crowned Nobel Prize-winner Alice Munro’s latest (and possibly last!) story collection, this book is a sure hit gift. Munro is one of the most prolific and masterful writers of our time, and every story is crafted with a deft hand.
For Your Younger Sister
She may be too young to remember the days of cut ‘n’ paste zines and mixtapes, but Rookie’s second yearbook does a dynamite job of recreating that aesthetic. It also brings in incredible contributors like Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Tavi (of course!), and other up-and-coming feminist voices. Most of all, it’s fun.
For the Person With No More Room on Her Bookshelf
She’s the reader you go to for all of your book recommendations… which makes her a veritable lending library, too. Here’s how she’ll get her beloved books back for sure.
Personal Library Kit, $16, knockknockstuff.com
For the Reader With One Foot in the Digital Door
This iPad case’s design is a nod to the Penguin Classics series. This can be either the snarkiest or most sentimental gift for the iBook reader — depends on how you write the card.
Penguin Classic DODOcase, $80, penguingroup.com