SFGN Gift Guide: Books

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You do it at least once a week, just because. It’s fun, relaxing, enlightening, and social. You love to shop… except when you have to shop for a gift for someone and you don’t know what to buy. Gah.

In that case, how about a book? How about one of these books…..

LGBT STUDIES

If there is a young adult on your list who’s recently come out – or who knows someone who has – then “This Book is Gay” by James Dawson has answers to a lot of questions, including those from people who’ve come out already and who offer advice. It’s a quick-to-read, easily browse-able book that treats all subjects factually. Bonus: you can borrow it back if you have questions of your own…

Here’s a different book that your giftee might like: “Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men” by Jane Ward. This book takes a look at what defines gay, for a man. Are “straight” men who flirt with men really straight? Is there a fine line in sexuality, or none at all? This is a thought-provoker, so be prepared to discuss…

Do love and politics make strange bedfellows? Your giftee will know, once you’ve wrapped up “Don’t Tell Me to Wait” by Kerry Eleveld. This book, written by a former Advocate reporter, takes a hard look at the Obama administration and how the LGBT community helped change policy.

If there’s someone on your list who’s fascinated by (or uninformed of) LGBTQ history, then “The Gay Revolution” by Lillian Faderman could be the best gift he (or she!) gets this holiday. This brick of a book is filled with over 700 pages of tales of the fight for basic rights and the triumphs as they happened. Wrap it up with a book that looks at another facet of LGBTQ history: “QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology,” edited by Raymond Luczak. It’s a book filled with stories – 48 of them – written by authors who explore what it’s like to be disabled and gay.

COOKING / FOOD

The mixologist on your list will truly enjoy “Cocktail Noir” by Scott M. Deitche, an all-things-gangster look at speakeasies, gin joints, hooch, authors who write about them, and recipes. Mystery fans will like it, too. Also look for “Best Food Writing 2015,” edited by Holly Hughes. Your foodie will love you for it.

The foodie on your gift list will love this pair of memoirs about food: first, there’s “Life from Scratch” by Sasha Martin, a book about a food writer who undertook an unusual project, and how it helped her face her memories. Pair it with “Eating Viet Nam” by Graham Holliday, foreword by Anthony Bourdain. That’s the story of a man who also undertakes an unusual (and actually quite risky) project overseas.

Also for the mystery fan who loves to cook: “Goldy’s Kitchen Cookbook” by mystery writer Diane Mott Davidson. It’s a sort-of-semi anthology of the recipes that have been featured in Davidson’s whodunits, as well as a few other dishes you can make. The only mystery is what to make first…

GENERAL NON-FICTION

Is there a lover of All Things Southern on your list? Then wrap up “Southern Living: 50 Years: A Celebration of People, Places, and Culture.” This heavy, huge compilation of half a century of the iconic magazine is jam-packed with photos, short articles, photos, pictures and… did I say “photos”?

If Beatlemania has hit someone on your gift list, then the gift to give this year is “The Complete Beatles Songs” by Steve Turner. This large-sized book is full of lyrics from the Fab Four, as well as stories of how the songs came to be, and plenty of photos of John, Paul, George, and Ringo. It could be the Ticket to Ride this holiday… Wrap it up with “Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Zoe Cormier. It’s a scientific book about our impulses and what makes us par-tay!

No doubt, the fashionista on your list will be overjoyed to unwrap “That’s What Fashion Is” by style-maker Joe Zee. It’s a little memoir, a little how-to, and a whole lot of ideas and gossip. What’s not to love, ‘specially when you pair it with “Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic” by Jennifer L. Scott, a genteel book on looking, dressing, and acting elegant.

No doubt, there’s a MAD Magazine fiend on your list, so “Spy vs. Spy: An Explosive Celebration” from the MAD mag folks (foreword by Lewis Black) is a can’t-miss gift. It’s absolutely filled with classic cartoons, posters, and everything you loved about that gleefully revenge-filled cartoon. If you can, put “The Art of Horror,” edited by Stephen Jones in the box, too. It’s a huge coffee-table book jam-packed with posters, drawings, stories, and shivers.

FICTION

For the historian who needs a little fiction now and then, “Viet Man” by D.S. Lliteras may be the thing to wrap up. It’s the story of a warrior, after he comes home, and the memories of battle that he struggles to forget. Wrap it up with “The Guyana Contract” by Rosalind Kilkenny McLymont, a ripped-from-the-headlines thriller about a high-powered female executive whose new work assignment seems suspiciously underhanded – a feeling she especially gets when she learns that a man from her past is involved, too…

No doubt, there’s a tender heart on your gift list – someone who’s always sunny and smiling. “100 Days of Happiness” by Fausto Brizzi is the book you want to give her (or him?). It’s the story of a down-and-out man who learns that he’s going to die, so he spends his last 100 days on Earth doing good for the people around him. Wrap it up with “The Best Advice in Six Words,” edited by Larry Smith. What a really great gift idea! (Count ‘em – there’s six!)

How could I not include a zombie book on my gift list? There’s no way I couldn’t – so why not wrap up “Posi+ive” by David Wellington, a post-apocalyptic novel of zombies, insane road warriors, and a new world in the making. Could your giftee resist? I think not… Wrap it up with the Young Adult novel “The Six” by Mark Alpert. It’s the story of a teen whose disease has stolen his mobility, but he’s found an alternative: a virtual world where he always wins. Problem is, so does the program….

The crime buff on your list will absolutely love unwrapping “Charlie Martz and Other Stories” by Elmore Leonard. It’s a collection of previously-unpublished short stories, written in the early years of Leonard’s career. It’s a little bit of mystery, a little bit of western, and a whole lot of goodness. Pair it with “Bull Mountain” by Brian Panowich, a story of crime, family, honor, and moonshining…


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