2 December 2018

2018 Holiday Gift Guide


Books are gifts we love to give ourselves... but also what we love giving anyone else who happens to be in our life during Christmas. Everyone has a handful of hard-to-shop-for people on their lists and let's be honest nobody actually needs anything anymore so books are a great token. Here are the ones we deem gift-worthy this holiday season:

I heard about this book briefly over Twitter and I cannot stop thinking about how much I want to read it... it's definitely on my Christmas list this year. It's a firsthand account of the 2016 World Chess match between two players from Norway and Russia. It chronicles the political landscape leading up to that point and discusses the global fascination with chess. I LOVE a competition, and my fiance and I love to play chess (I used to beat him always but now he sneakily practices on his phone and kicks my ass). I have very high expectations for this and am basically expecting it to be Borg vs. McEnroe but nerdier.

I think this would make a fantastic gift for someone who likes reading but is hard to buy for or has read everything. I'd say it's a just far enough outside of everyone's element that they wouldn't particularly choose it for themselves, but has an interesting enough premise that they'd be excited to read it. Butler is an author, but also a journalist and a documentary filmmaker, so I think he'll do a great job telling this story in an approachable way.



I remember always seeing this book on the shelves at Indigo but I didn't think much about it until Starz did a mini series on it and I watched it in like two days on Crave. It's about a group of young people working at a restaurant in New York. I've always been weirdly interested in the politics/dynamics of serving staff and the kitchen.

Sweetbitter is supposed to be a little auto-biographical, but is still marketed as fiction. A lot of it has to do with wine (clearly from the title/book cover). I have no interest in wine, but I have a lot of friends who love to booze, and I think this would be a fun/easy read.


I always like to include one of these 'celebrity' type memoirs but I am SO excited about this one, and it's brand spankin' new. Who doesn't love this amazing couple? The fact that they wrote a book together discussing their relationship is really this year's Christmas gift to us all...

Everyone knows either Offerman OR Mullally from at least one thing... they've been in a ton of stuff. These memoirs are also usually fairly easy to read and in a light essay format that makes them easy to pick up and put down as you like. I expect it to be funny, heartwarming, and incredibly interesting because as far as I know they're a pretty private couple.



Nothing like a handbook for revolution to combat the capitalist Christmas spirit amirite?? When Ben and I first started dating I'd be reading while he was listening to Chapo Trap House and I remember dying laughing at this one Hilary Clinton joke they made. I've been listening to their podcast ever since. This book is written by Amber and all the Chapo boys. I think they are all so, so funny, and I love to hear their take on what's happening in our disturbed world. If you are looking for a new politics-based podcast check this book out, or try listening to an episode on whatever platform you download pods. My favourite episode is "White Men Can't Drumpf"

This would have been something I immediately picked up for Ben but the little brat already bought it. Oh well, get it for another fellow comrade.







A few years ago my disgusting obsession with Sophia Bush led me to discover this beautiful writer on Instagram. Bush had joined Jenkins for the last leg of his bicycle trip from Oregon to Patagonia (largely the content for this book) and I fell in love with his beautiful photos and their thought provoking captions. Since then I've learned he and Bush are part of what I consider to be the coolest friend group in Hollywood and I can make myself sick with jealousy that they all hang out without me. Cheryl Strayed, who we all know I'm a big fan of, has also been praising this memoir, which is how you know it's legit.

Basically Jenkins has the pre-thirty life crisis (something I feel as though I play frogger with daily), and takes this amazing bike trip that I honestly can't wait to read about. I love Jenkins' writing style, I love his philosophies on life, I love the approach he takes in building relationships with the people around him, and I have literally been waiting years for this book to come out. I think it would be the perfect gift for any approaching-thirty person or honestly anyone who just needs inspiration injected into them. I haven't even read it yet and I'm already confident it'll be a book I continue gifting for a long time.



This is a book that I definitely should have let someone surprise me with for Christmas, but Jonathan Franzen is my favourite author after Joan Didion so I knew I couldn't wait around until December 25th. I'm actually reading it right now so my review will be up in a few weeks.

This is a book of essays that predominantly focuses on the destruction of the environment. Franzen is a "birder" and you can see from the cover that there will be a few chapters dedicated to the loss of birds. He's literally the reason I would NEVER have an outdoor cat. Anyone can get behind environmental issues, so I really think this book would make a great gift for anyone in your life.





Every single human in the world likes Friends. My six year old niece likes Friends and even went so far as to tell me Joey is her favourite character. I've never read Jennifer Armstrong's Sienfeldia but I imagine this to be quite similar to that in that it's a full cultural analysis into why we all love Friends so much and what made it so incredibly popular.

Miller is a pop culture writer for Refinery29 and has written a memoir titled Big Girl: How I Gave Up On Dieting and Got a Life. She sounds funny. I love cultural analyses and while part of me wishes Chuck Klosterman had got to this content sooner, I'm super excited to read this and think it would make an amazing gift for anyone who loves the show. Also, the cover art is beyond cute.


I'm a big fan of just getting someone an entire series of books even though this could easily end in disaster. I think it's always a nice thought to get someone the first book in a series because if they like it, sweet, they've got a few more to look forward to. Of course if they hate the book this could be an awful idea. BUT, the Southern Reach trilogy is pretty small. There are only three books but they are actually all pretty tiny.

If you aren't sure if this series would be for the person you have in mind you could always test it out by having them watch Alex Garland's Annihilation which is streaming on Netflix. As of right now the movie is in my top 15 of the year, and you can read my review of Jeff VanderMeer's first book in the series here!



A new thing for me this year is that I started getting really into interiors. I'm not sure if it's because we were planning on building for a few months and I was really focused on the design, or if it's because we ended up moving into a not-new house that needs some personalizing, or whether it's just because I genuinely love being in my own home more than anywhere else... but in any case, I've been very into home interior blogs, renovation shows, one room challenges, and all that jazz this past year.

I'm not always the biggest Joanna Gaines fan, she can be a bit too shiplap-farmhouse for my personal taste, but this is the most beautiful book. It's filled with gorgeous photos of beautifully styled rooms and Gaines has included tons of wisdom about how to actually design a functional home in a way that allows you to follow her guidelines but also incorporate your own personal taste. An added benefit is that it's incredibly beautiful and would make a great coffee table book, even if you never actually read it. This would make an amazing hostess gift as you gear up for holiday party season.



Ben gave me this idea as a potential gift for my parents, and while I kind of shot the idea down it doesn't mean other people wouldn't enjoy it. I am personally not a fan of coffee table books... I just think they are a bit of a waste of space and I never find myself going through them (as Meagan and I both proceed to include coffee table books on this year's list)... but I know lots of other people really enjoy them. I love living in Saint John, I think it is so, so beautiful with the Bay of Fundy curving along the entire city and the historic streets/architecture (especially Germain). There is so much to photograph here and I am actually itching to look through John Leroux's photos.

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