2013 The Domestic Front Gift Guide: The Bibliophile Edition – Gift Books for Everyone on your List


Things have been quiet (read: busy) but it’s time to start counting down the days to Christmas. First up, a gift guide.

You’ve probably done most of your shopping already (or not. This is a no-judgement zone). But if you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for something else to round out your list. Despite my Kindle love (and I am, in fact a convert – one of these days I’ll write about my Kindle love and the library), there’s nothing like a book as a gift. Easy to wrap, lasts forever, doesn’t take up much room, and can be purchased at a cozy bookstore, which is almost never overrun with holiday craziness (or online. I admit to that, too. And if you haven’t joined Amazon Prime (2 day shipping!) now is the time to sign up for a free trial.) Here then, is my list of great gift books for 2013. (Links are affiliate links).

For your cousin who just got married and is learning to seriously cook with the fancy knives and brand new KitchenAid Mixer she has recently acquired:

The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

Why:  This book is a modern classic for a reason.  Judy Rodgers, who passed away this year, has written a cookbook that is not only a collection of (excellent) recipes, but is also a book that’s interesting enough to read cover to cover and a true primer on technique.  This book will make her a better cook – worthy of all those fancy pots.

For your husband, who follows the stock market for fun and actually reads corporations’ annual reports as if they were magazines:

Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders

Why: To quote my husband (who happens to read annual reports for fun): “You’re getting the collected wisdom of America’s greatest investor in real time.” (He also wanted me to point out that you can print these for free off the Berkshire Hathaway website.)

For your college roommate, who has been going through a tough time and could use a laugh and some empathy:

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

Why: Anyone who reads her genius blog knows that Allie Brosh is a wonder – she manages to be both poignant and hysterically funny at the same time.  The book is a collection of some of her best cartoons and some new material, but it’s all fresh and hilarious and so, so true.

For your gay BFF, who follows pop culture like it’s going out of style and will never leave New York because of Broadway:

Humans of New York

Why:  Anyone with a Facebook feed knows that the zeitgist has arrived, and it was photographed by Brandon Stanton

For your mother who loves to cook and who loves to travel, but tends to cook the same things and visit the same places over and over:

Jerusalem: A Cookbook

Why:  This is the best cookbook I’ve bought this year, maybe in many years.  The recipes are fresh and exciting – evoking the city that inspired them with beautiful photographs.  It’s a great book for the armchair traveler, but it’s also a great book for the cook – the flavor combinations are often surprising and always delicious.

For your curly-haired rosy-cheeked toddler, who learned animal noises before he learned any actual words and thinks every dog he meets is a friend:


Why:  with cute pictures of real dogs, a lilting, fun rhyme, and some basic pop up characteristics, this book is sure to be a hit. It also teaches opposites (big dog, little dog, neat dog, sloppy), and some preliminary counting.  In our house, it’s a great favorite, accompanied by cries of “Doggie!’ and “aGEN”.

For your precocious six year old daughter, who is balancing right on the cusp of kidhood, and is just now finding secrets to keep (and the ability to write them down):

Just for Me: My Ramona Quimby Journal

Why: Ramona is both timeless (I myself had a Ramona Quimby diary) and relatable, and you will get bonus hours of enjoyment reading your kid’s creative spellings.

For your book club buddy, who reads as much as you do, and has already read all of the obvious suspects:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel

Why: Gaiman gets overlooked by the lit fiction set who are all busy reading Donna Tartt and Jhumpa Lahiri, but this is a gem of a book. Part horror story, part fairy tale, part psychological insight – you’ll want to read it and then have someone to discuss it with. Plus, it’s short, so you have plenty of time to read it before next month’s meeting – even with all the holiday madness.

For anyone at all: 

One Summer: America, 1927

Why:  Who doesn’t love Bill Bryson?  Funny and smart, he’s an excellent tour guide and dispenser of trivia.  This book covers baseball, gangsters, airplanes, the stock market – all with Bryson’s trademark wit.

Genius Baby Product Recommendations From a Second Time Mom

Bootsy is now nine months old (look at those teeth!), which means he’s been out for as long as he’ve been in.  I, for one, refuse to believe it.  In my mind, he’s still a tiny, snuggly, helpless newborn.  He, on the other hand, has a fondness for lasagna, wants to be walking more than anything else, and is pretty much ready to move out next week. Having a second baby, nearly five years after my first, was a learning experience.  I felt like I had forgotten so much hard-won wisdom.  On the other hand (and don’t all second time moms say this?) I was much more relaxed with Bootsy than I was with the Nuni.  I stepped away from the parenting articles and books and shoulds and “did yous” and was much happier for it.  (As an aside, this parenting article by JJ Keith at HuffPo was maybe the best one I read, ever. You should read it. Especially if you’re in the pregnancy and infancy trenches).

One of the main differences of mamadom, round 2, is that I didn’t buy everything in sight because I thought I needed it. The Nuni in utero got a fully decorated and fully stocked nursery. I learned my lesson when Bootsy came along, though, and we started minimally. Bootsy gets changed on the bed (we’ve only had to change the sheets twice as a result of underdeployed washcloths) and sleeps in a pack and play (it works at home AND on the road), but here are a few innovations in baby gear that have impressed me this time around that I wanted to share with you. (Note: Links are affiliate links, but all the recommendations come from my own sweet self.)

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Ten Fun Gifts for Everyone on Your List


image: Kym McLeod

So Christmas shopping is underway. Maybe you’re a crazy organized person, and you’re totally done. Or maybe you’re like the rest of us, and you’re still hunting. Here are a few things I happen to love that will hopefully spark your imagination! Also check out The Gift Giver’s Guide to Scotch Whisky, The The Domestic Front Kitchen: Essential Cookware and Bakeware, The The Domestic Front Kitchen: Essential Kitchen Tools, Stocking Stuffers for Foodies and Cooks and Eight Great Board Books to Read with Your Child. I’ve also been pinning more ideas on Pinterest

(Disclaimer — I participate in the Amazon Affiliates program and receive a (very) small amount of money if you buy through one of these Amazon links. Other than that, no sponsorships or agendas.)
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The Gift Giver’s Guide to Scotch Whisky


It’s that time of year. Yes, peace and love and joy and family and cookies and all that, but also the time of year when you find yourself looking for gifts for a variety of people. People like your clients, your boss, your brother in law, your boyfriend’s dad.* In times like these, the eager giver turns to Scotch Whisky (note the lack of an “e.” If you’re drinking whiskey, you’re in the wrong country). Scotch is a good gift — it’s expensive enough to convey value, but not so expensive it will bankrupt you. It’s sophisticated, a little exotic, implies that you know a lot about the finer things in life. The question becomes what scotch to buy. This guide will give you a little overview of how to choose a nice bottle of scotch if you are not a scotch connoisseur, as well as discuss it reasonably intelligently with the giftee.

*Although I know many women who drink scotch, I know of no woman who has ever received a bottle of scotch as a gift. I, for one, would much prefer to receive a nice bottle of scotch than either a scented candle or bath products.
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