We did this to help our holiday shoppers, but thought it could be useful any time of the year. And if this isn't enough to get you thinking, you can see some other useful gift lists here.
Start with our WORD Top Sellers of 2009.
Wanting by Richard Flanagan. For fans of superb historical fiction: a stunning and dense tale of human desire spans the hemispheres from Dickens' London to colonial Tasmania.
And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. For those who like their Beats two at a time.
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. A beautiful, small Japanese novel that finds warmth, affection, and tenderness in mathematics.
The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam. A follow-up to WORD favorite Old Filth, both of which are perfect for Anglophiles and those who like their fiction subtle and dry.
The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway. No, we will not shut up about how great this book is. There might still be four or five of you who haven’t heard the news yet.
Gourmet Today: More Than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen edited by Ruth Reichl. For the person who still doesn’t understand why, exactly, they closed down one of the most beloved magazines of all time.
Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan. One of those great cookbooks that is just as much a story as it is full of recipes. Special treat for our favorite customers: buy this book by 12/11 and have it personalized!
Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It: Make Your Own Bacon, Cheese, Marshmallows, and More by Karen Solomon. Make your own bacon! Cheese! Marshmallows! AND MORE! What else is there to say?!
Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller. This is a book you can actually use, even in your tiny New York kitchen. We have it on good authority that it's fairly simple and, of course, leads to delicious food. Very limited stock of signed editions.
LOCAL: NYC & BROOKLYN
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. We’re cheating a little here, since half of this book actually takes place in Ireland. But it’s so good, we just had to include it.
The City Out My Window: 63 Views On New York by Matteo Pericoli. This is just a fascinating book. Is your view like Ed Koch’s (“My window view allows the light to shine through unimpeded”), Nora Ephron’s (“One of the things I can see through these beautiful Juliet windows in my office is the Chrysler building”), or Peter Carey’s (“I can see dead people out this window, by my desk”)? Pericoli’s line drawings are as simple and graceful as ever.
New York: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd. When a short novel like Brooklyn just won't do, it's time to bring in the big guns, and this is just the book. New York from its founding to 9/11, and from every possible angle.
The New York Times: The Complete Front Pages 1851-2009. Didn't get this last year? Good call. It's been revised and updated, but it's still the same mindblowing collection of over 150 years of American history in 60 point type, and still comes with three DVD-ROMs that have the entire archive of front pages on them.
SUPER LOCAL: GREENPOINT
Organic and Chic: Cakes, Cookies, and Other Sweets that Taste As Good As They Look by Sarah Magid. From a Greenpoint baker comes one of the year’s most fantastic cookbooks. We sell out of this book constantly (and if you’ve ever tasted one of Sarah’s goodies, you know why!)
The Truth About Santa: Wormholes, Robots, and What Really Happens on Christmas Eve by Gregory Mone. Actual quote from this book: “There is strong evidence that [Santa] was a shipbuilder named Jebediah Meserole, and that before moving to the North Pole, he lived in Greenpoint in Brooklyn, New York.” See? You kinda can’t do Christmas without it. Limited signed copies available.
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli. It really is as good as everybody says it is. Would also be a good gift for those last few "comix are for kids" holdouts.
Green Porno by Isabella Rossellini. All you need to do is check out the videos to see why this is one of the funniest gifts you can give someone this holiday season. It even comes with a DVD! Limited signed copies will be available after her WORD event on 12/9. (Tickets still available for the event here.)
Masterpiece Comics by R. Sikoryak. The Crypt of the Bronte. Dostoyevsky Comics. Hester’s Little Pearl. When classic novels and classic funnies collide, only a very special sort of nerd will be amused. But oh, how amused they will be!
Star Wars Spaceships. Now you don’t even have to wait until they start talking to indoctrinate them into the mysteries of TIE Fighters and X-Wings.
Never Smile At A Monkey: And 17 Other Important Things To Remember by Steve Jenkins. You also shouldn’t pet a platypus or swim with a squid. Find out why in this magnificent book.
A Really Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. Did you end up with one of those kids who wants to know about EVERYTHING? Our condolences. This book should ease the pain a tad.
The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World by Susan Linn. This isn’t technically a kids’ book. But if you give it to a parent whose child is so scheduled that they need their own planner, really, you kinda are giving that kid a present.
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. For all New York kids, because it's based on the Highline, and because it's a great reminder that the actions of even one person in a big city can be important.
Karate Pig by Alan Katz and Daniel Moreton. This pig just won't stop chopping, even though it means pieces are coming off the book! Too much fun to be allowed, but it is.
Moonshot by Brian Floca. For kids with their heads, and their dreams, in the clouds (and beyond).
It's Useful to Have a Duck/It's Useful to Have a Boy by Isol. An imaginative and clever board book good for newborns to 4. Read one way, a duck tells you all the reasons it's good to have a boy ("I use his head to see the view"), but the other way, with the same illustrations, a boy tells you all the reasons it's good to have a duck ("I use him for a hat").
One Shoe Blues by Sandra Boynton. Starring B. B. King and featuring several overeager singing sock puppets! It's a storybook, it's a song, it's a movie, and it's Sandra Boynton, which means it's guaranteed to be smart, funny, and loved by kids.
BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS
Neverland: J. M. Barrie, The Du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan by Piers Dudgeon. Yes, not only was the author of Peter Pan a madman who drove children to nervous breakdowns, but also had his claws in the author of Rebecca when she was young. Luckily, she had foresight enough as a teenager to write it all down. The diaries were sealed, at her request, until 60 years after her death, but are now open to the world, and the underpinnings of this book.
Read Me: A Century of Classic American Book Advertisements by Dwight Garner. These are just fantastic, and astonishing: books used to be advertised as COOL! And you used to be able to buy a hardcover for $2.50! Perfect for all friends in the publishing industry, still employed or not.
Everything I Need To Know I Learned From a Children’s Book: Life Lessons from Notable People from All Walks of Life, edited by Anita Silvey. This one is sort of meta, because it’s filled with book recommendations. Would make a great teacher present, but should be loved by any fan of kids’ books.
Why Not Catch-21?: The Stories Behind the Titles by Gary Dexter. Great stories of fifty well-known books that almost had much less interesting titles than they ended up with. For any book lover, but especially for that important editor in your life.
Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles: Volume 1, 1628-1900 edited by Cees W. de Jong, Alston W. Purvis, and Jan Tholenaar. Not only is this book, you know, completely amazing, but you also get unlimited access to a hi-res image library of all the fonts included inside. This is the perfect gift for a font nerd, or for someone who insists on using Comic Sans for everything.
Roberto Bolano: The Last Interview & Other Conversations with an introduction by Marcela Valdes. Just released for the first time in English, this is the perfect gift for someone who already finished The Skating Rink (Bolano’s posthumous novel of 2009) and can’t wait until 2010 for the next one.
One to Nine: The Inner Life of Numbers by Andre Hodges. Nine chapters, one for each number. Anyone who has felt eight doesn’t get the attention it deserves should be thrilled!
Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by H. W. Brands. A grand biography of a grand man, and also a solid history of the Great Depression and the lead-up to the Second World War. Put it under the tree next to Going Rogue and see if a spontaneous book slapfight breaks out.
The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World’s Most Consequential Trivia by David McCandless. This book has to be seen to be obsessed over, so come in and check it out. In the meantime, we promise you that it is perfect for trivia nerds and design freaks.
Cranioklepty by Colin Dickey. For your friend who loves Stiff, and also for your friend who loves carrying around the skulls of famous people. Limited number of signed editions available.
Bananagrams and Bananagrams!: The Official Book. Do you have a family member who ruins all family Scrabble games because he or she is simply too good at it (knows all the three-letter words and words that start with Q but not U)? Then you really need Bananagrams. It's a quick game that can't be mastered through excessive dictionary reading. Even better, it is shaped like a banana.
NERDS WHO EXERCISE
The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons. This, obviously, would be perfect for any of the members of WORD’s basketball league.
Born To Run: a Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. We know there are a lot of runners in Greenpoint because they jog by our window all the time! They should all read this book. Also a great gift for a runner on the injury list; McDougall looks into why so many people get hurt during the most basic of exercises, and comes up with some astonishing conclusions.
YA NOT?: A GIFT GUIDE FOR NOT-SO-YOUNG ADULTS (and YOUNG ADULTS)
Pure by Terra Elan McVoy. For the younger teen who wants to read about older teens. For Christians who get annoyed when they see evangelists on TV.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. This is one of the greatest children’s books to be written in years, and thus is for anybody who loved A Wrinkle In Time.
Going Bovine by Libba Bray. For teenage boys and people who still have the brains of teenage boys.
Once A Witch by Carolyn MacCullough. For those who wish witches would be the next vampires.
Skinned by Robin Wasserman. For those who like to wig out about how much technology is about to change everything (or those who are excited about same).
Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman. For former freaks, current freaks, and those who spell magic with a k.
ISLAND OF MISFIT BOOKS
Keel’s Simple Diary. For those who want to keep a diary, but have no idea what to put in it. Keel’s comes full of questions about your day and your life. Could also work as a cure for writer’s block.
All The Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies (or, Frankly, Anybody Else) by Laurie Rosenwald. Though this book seems to have begun life as a rebellious example of a book for introducing a teenage girl to the mysteries of adulthood, it is actually perfect for all people, especially those who have been kicked out of yoga class, or are vegetarians except that they eat meat.
Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett. The little-known adventures of a Victorian robot. Even though this is fiction, it is so clever that you will forget that over and over as you read. For the person from whom you first heard the word “steampunk.”
Sesame Street: A Celebration—40 Years of Life On The Street by Louise A. Gikow. There are many items celebrating Sesame Street’s fortieth anniversary, but this is the best of them all. An incredible collection of information and pictures AND a DVD of the very first episode of the show, which every person should watch. For anybody who grew up watching Sesame Street (that is to say, everybody in the country).
Beautiful Pigs: Portraits of Fine Breeds by Andy Case, photographed by Andrew Perris. Pig breeding is the next natural step in the back-to-the-farm movement sweeping Brooklyn. Be ahead of the curve with this gorgeous book, filled with more pictures and information about pigs than you can imagine.
Bitten: Dark Erotic Stories, edited by Susie Bright. For your dominatrix.
Curious Lists: A Creative Journal for List-Lovers. Hiding Places In A Museum. Trustworthy Names For A Camel. Yogurt Toppings That Have Fallen Out Of Favor in the Past Five Years. Rival Teams. Too bad there's not a list for People Who Would Like A Book of Lists!
Marbles by James Guida. A smart collection of aphorisms for those with short-attention spans.
This year’s gift guide also has a special feature, in which bookseller Anna thoughtfully unveils her entire gift guide, so you can copy it and pretend it is your own. Presenting: Anna Perleberg's Gift Guide for Her Entire Family, and, By Extension, Yours (Because If You're Reading This, Let's Face It, We've Got a Lot in Common):
For My Mother, If She Hadn't Bought It Already:
Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong by Jen Yates. A blog-turned-book that makes one long for frosting spell-check.
For My Father, Who Eats History For Breakfast:
K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude Starring Nikita Khrushchev, America's Most Unlikely Tourist by Peter Carlson. Because even he hasn't heard this story, in which the by-turns jovial and irascible Soviet premier tours the U.S., with the first modern media frenzy in tow.
For My Sister, the Librarian, Who Likes Things To Be Pretty:
Any of Penguin Classics' gorgeous new hardcovers, starting with the Austens.
For My Little Brother, Who Is a Nerd in All the Best Possible Ways:
Logicomix by Apostolos Doxiadis & Christos Papadimitriou. A graphic novel about Bertrand Russell's search for an absolute logical foundation to mathematics. If it were also a d20-based role-playing game, 'twould be the Holy Grail of Geekiness.
For All Those Babies My Friends Haven't Gotten Around to Having:
The new board book set of Amy Krouse Rosenthal's & Jen Corace's Little Pea, Little Hoot,, and Little Oink books, of course!
And Finally, For Me, In Case I Need Another Pretentious Tattoo:
Pictorial Webster's: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities by John M. Carrerra. Because nothing says, "Yeah, I was a philosophy major and now I work at an independent bookstore in Brooklyn" like a 19th-century engraving carved into your flesh.