Hurry in for these great titles and thousands of other great gifts for the reader in your life!
Do get the feeling that the “hot gifts” of the book world will smack of redundancy this holiday season? You don’t want to be giving someone their 5th copy of the new Steve Jobs biography, do you? I know you. You want to be original… Surprising… Remembered. Try these alternatives and witness the genuine surprise on your beloved giftee’s face when they crack open these gently read treasures. Maybe these books aren’t brand new, but they will be new to them!
Listed below are some of this season’s most popular titles and my humble suggestions for alternatives. You can always e-mail me for more or contact us on twitter @openbookstore!
1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – Let’s start with the biggie… both in popularity and in size. Your tech friends will no doubt delight in reading about the genius’ unique vision of computing and business, but I’d be willing to bet that they would delight just as much with Apple Confidential: The Real Story of Apple Computer, Inc. by Owen W. Linzmayer! It may be dated and un-tainted with the story of iPod, but this glimpse into the early history of the company offers an interesting comparison point. If you want to go even farther back, try The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage. Telegraphs, anyone? Finally, a bit of a departure from the tech world… Mona Simpson’s (Steve Jobs’ Sister) novel, My Hollywood is a social drama about two women making their way through the landscape of Hollywood.
2. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – The popular Japanese author’s newest tome of twisting and converging plot lines is on the top of my list, but my love for his storytelling style stems from my love for the writing of two authors from the other side of the world. The Argentinian writers, Jorge Luis Borges (Labyrinths) and Julio Cortazar (Blow-Up) weave tales that will leave your head spinning. If you are stuck on Japanese literature, try Natsuo Kirino’s Out which brings the Japanese mentality to crime/horror fiction in unique and slightly disturbing ways.
3. Game of Thrones and the rest of the A Song of Fire And Ice Trilogy by George R.R. Martin – Fantasy is back! It may be hard to hold a candle to Martin’s no-holds-barred tales of swords and dragons, but for works of historical fantasy, may I recommend Gordon Dahlquist’s The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters or Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, System of the World). These tales may not have dragons, but they pack as much drama and tense struggles for control as any guy with a sword and a 7-week shadow can.
4. Go the F— to Sleep by Adam Mansbach – Yes yes. It is very cute to read children’s books with bad words in them, but what happens when your child starts asking you what that word means? The F Word by Jesse Shidlower is the most complete etymological guide to the much maligned and snickered-at word. If you still need gifts of irreverence for the more crude members of your family, there is always Andrew Gottlieb’s Drink, Play, F— which is a satirical take on Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller. Finally, Porno for Women (a collection of photographs of men doing chores) always makes us laugh.
5. Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me by Mindy Kaling – Comedian and comedienne bios are hot this year. Jill Soloway may not have a television show, but she did write for one (Six Feet Under) and her life is ripe for the next comedy show harvest. Read about it in Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants! Of course, there are funny men too and we can’t think of a funnier duo than Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo. A lot of people have forgotten about Feel This Book. Help those in your life re-discover it! And for the fiction reader, we highly recommend Jincy Willett’s short story collection, Jenny & The Jaws of Life, which is also one of David Sedaris’ favorite books.
6. In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson – Erik Larson captured our city’s heart with Devil In The White City so it is no surprise that his newest book is fast becoming a favorite. For a similar feel, try Howard Blum’s American Lightning. If you’re stuck on Chicago, try Sudhir Venkatesh’s (Gang Leader for a Day) Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor. There’s also One Good Turn by Witold Rybczynski for the tinkerer in your life. It tells the history of the screwdriver and the screw!
7. The Walking Dead – Zombie Hunting is great! Comics are great! You know what else is great? Vampire Hunting! (try Vampire Hunter D). If the person on your list is more interested in the drawings than the disturbing, there’s always local artist Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. Another offbeat (and local) product of the image and story is Audrey Niffenegger’s fantastic picture book for adults, The Three Incestuous Sisters! You may recognize the author’s name from The Time Traveler’s Wife, but this book will expose you to a very different side of her writing.
8. The Hunger Games Trilogy – This instant young adult classic has roots in a not-so-young-adult novel from Japan called Battle Royale. If you are looking for something for the actual young adult in your life, you can’t go wrong with the novels of Sarah Dessen (Someone Like You) or the slightly paranoid tale of technological rebellion told in Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother.
Here are a few more quick comparisons that will be sure to please the reader in your life.
1. If they like Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary, try Hubert Selby Jr.’s The Room
2. If they like Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot, try Nick Hornby’s Juliet, Naked
If they like Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret
, try Reif Larsen’s The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet
4. If they like David Sedaris, try Neal Pollack’s The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature.
5. If they like books and bookstores, try Sam Savage’s Firmin. It’s a tale of of a rat who lives in the basement of a struggling bookstore and learns to read by eating the books that surround him!
The bookstore team is always ready to make additional suggestions in person or @openbookstore!