What if someone stops by out of nowhere and gives you a holiday gift? Here is an idea to help you deal with that situation - keep a few books handy as your gifts to them.
Books are affordable, compact, and can be personalized for almost any person. See a recommended list below.
For your favorite niece/nephew under 12 years old
"Island of the Blue Dolphins" by Scott O'Dell, paperback, $6.99
In 1961, this book was awarded the Newberry Medal, which recognizes excellence in children's literature. 50 years later, the book is being reprinted and introduced to a whole new generation of readers. It follows the story of a 12-year old girl surviving on an island by herself for almost two decades - think Robinson Cursoe only female and a teenager and no Friday!
For the teenager that only reads the Twilight series
"The Best American Non-required Reading 2010" edited by David Eggers and David Sedaris, paperback, list price $14.99, selling online at $10.
Such non-required reading edition comes out every year, it is full of short stories, non-fiction, and graphic art. This is the wonderful way to introduce new authors, ideas, and genres to your favorite teenager. The contents are so varied that even the most hard-to-please reader will find something to enjoy!
For the budding Iron Chef
"The Flavor Theasurus: A Compendium of Pairings, Recipes adn Ideas for the Creative Cook" by Niki Segnit. Hardcover, list price $28, online price only $17.
For any cook, the trick is to know what flavors that naturally go together. This book goes into the science of the flavor and look at what combinations we might have overlooked. It's not a recipe book, so you don't have to worry about your recipient's diet restrictions. Instead, it's a book that your favorite kitchen wizard might take up to bed to read until the wee hours - and then come back down to whip up a fantastic breakfast!
For your favorite fiction lover
"Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen. Hardcover, list price $28, online only $14.
Jonathan Franzen won the National Book Award for The Correction in 2001. The literary community has been waiting anxiously for his follow up to see if he was the real thing or just a on-book-wonder. After 9 years, he has proven he is not that one-trick pony and most reviewers have quickly added this book to their best of 2010 lists.
For the person who has just about everything
"40: A Doonesbury Retrospective" by G. B. Trudeau. List price $100, but online price is only $59.
No matter what your political leanings, you just can't overlook the influence Doonesbury has had over the last four decades - and it's really fun. This hardcover tome weights in at over 10 pounds and includes every Doonesbury comic strip from Thudeau's first scribblings while a student at Yale to the modern day. It also makes a great gift for your local columnist!
For the history fanatic (you will find them everywhere)
"Tories: Fighting for the King in America's First Civil War" by Thomas B. Allen. Hardcover, list price $27, online price $18.
For history books, there is this rule of thumb - the more obscure the topic, the better. After all, your historian friend probably knows all about George Washington and Henry VIII, but maybe not so much about the Tories (those loyal to Britain during the American Revolution). This relatively unexplored aspect of the revolution will be sure to pique the interest of American and European history enthusiasts alike - so it's a safe bet!
For the person whose literary tastes elude you
"Madame Bovary" by Gustave Flaubert. List price $28, online price $18.
When you are not sure what they like, you will always be safe with a literary classic. Even if they don't like it, they will feel they shoudl liek it and complimented that you think that they will like it. For this to work, you will need to go a little off the beaten path, so no Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. Madame Bovary has the theme that is timeless, the writing is beautiful, and it's not one of the classics you had ot read in high school!