…of the book variety.
Due to my reputation as a book worm/word nerd, and also due to the existence of my superhero alterego Grammar Girl (“saving the world, one apostrophe at a time”), I am often consulted at this time of year for suggestions for Christmas presents.
I firmly believe that everyone is a reader; they just have to find the books they like. Bookshops can be intimidating places for the uninitiated and I think people get put off. If you know someone well enough, you’re bound to be able to pick a book that will keep them entertained even if they claim they don’t like to read. Books are also relatively cheap and in the “current economic climate” (yawn) I’m sure everyone wants to keep present costs down.
So, for what it’s worth, I thought I’d offer some suggestions for Christmas presents for your nearest and dearest. I have most of the below and so can recommend highly!
For the Music Lover
There are some fantastic biographies out at the moment. You could buy this lurid, warts and all, biography of Led Zeppelin. For dance music enthusiasts, this great history of the legendary Hacienda club in Manchester is a must read. For those who love jazz, But Beautiful by Geoff Dyer is a tour de force. And for Irish readers In Bloom by Jenny Huston is a great guide to up and coming Irish bands.
For the Fashionista
Scott Schuman has been taking street style photographs for four years and his blog, The Sartorialist, is a must-read for those in the fashion industry. The best of the website has just been compiled in this gorgeous book which would make a great gift for any clothes obsessed person in your life. Alternatively they might enjoy Fruits or Fresh Fruits by Shoichi Aoki, Dior by Christian Dior, or the Purple Anthology by Olivier Zahm.
For your little sister
I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith probably has one of the best opening lines ever written, and is the charming tale of Cassandra, her eccentric family and their decaying house in England. This will be guaranteed to keep a girl quiet for days! Alternatively she might prefer this beautifully illustrated version of Alice in Wonderland.
For your Mum
One Christmas I bought my Mum Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons and Love In A Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford. All I heard for the following few days were snorts of laughter and giggles coming from the corner of the couch. Hysterically funny stuff without the need to engage your brain too much, which anyone’s Mum will appreciate after all that seasonal stress!
For the serious reader
It’s always difficult to buy books for the serious reader as you’re never quite sure if you’re buying something they already have. My recommendations would include A Fan’s Notes by Frederick Exley, which is a brilliant but almost forgotten work of genius, this fantastic biography of Richard Yates by Blake Bailey, as Yates has undergone a serious resurgence thanks in no small part to Leo and Kate in Revolutionary Road, and The Stories of Richard Bausch, a brilliant American master of the short story.
I’m always delighted when I can buy a seasonally appropriate book by one of my favourite authors as a Christmas present. Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story is a beautiful Christmas tale and this Faber and Faber edition is a great stocking filler.
A Christmas Memory is a gorgeous if somewhat sad story by Truman Capote. Largely autobiographical, it tells the story of a very young boy making Christmas cakes with his cousin.
Another book I seem to give to many people as a present is True Tales of American Life, which is edited by Paul Auster. It is possibly the only book that has ever made me believe in the existence of God, or some divine presence. Kinda appropriate for the season that’s in it.