B&L's Great Gifts List - Part 6

A good book, like a plate of fresh Christmas cookies, is a thing to devour.  I am willing to say that a book is one of the best gifts you can give.  A book opens up new worlds to the reader---what better gift is there than that?!  The thing about books, too, is that you don't have to be a "book-lover" to still appreciate a literary gift.  If chosen well and with care, a book can perfectly suit the recipient.  It can transport, educate, provide an escape or offer unique insight.  I believe that the people who claim to "hate books" have just been tainted by the required reading curriculum from when they were in grade school and have never realized that they can choose their own books that are actually pleasurable!  Fortunately, I am a book fiend, so I have gathered a whole heap of gifts for all levels of readers, from unique library-inspired gifts for tome-loving bibliophiles (like me!) to books that are bound to please all sorts of literary interests.

Not to be overshadowed by all this book stuff, I have also rounded up gifts for your favorite travelers, be they worldly wonders, vacationers, or armchair explorers!    

Now get scrolling!  The holidays are almost here!!!


The perfect calendar for a voracious reader.  The silhouette of a famous author adorns each page, accompanied by a hand-painted pattern and famous quote.  

Quite possibly the coolest--and definitely the classiest--laptop case ever

A curated small collection of 6 decorative books from the Victorian era.  A fantastic gift for collectors of old books and vintage-y things.

I love this commuter cup!  It's decorated with a painted depiction of books on bookshelves...so cute!

A kit for creating a cohesive personal library, this box comes complete with bookplates and library lending cards (to make sure you get your precious books back!)

This shop is great--all the candles are inspired by books!  This one in particular is supposed to evoke the scents of a library: "Part of our Book Lovers' Series, this candle is a completely original scent! Inspired by the smell of bookshops and ideal for bibliophiles of all sorts. The scent is rich and sweet blend of earthy tones, making it easy to imagine yourself curled up with a book! Scents: Timber, driftwood, hazelnut cappuccino and a hint of leather."  Give. Me. Twenty.

A weirdly cool amalgamation of modern and vintage, this typewriter is compatible with a tablet!  Your story will show up on the pad, erasing the need for paper.  Neat!

Wear your favorite literary classics as a scarf!

I used to have these and they are awesome.  Invisible shelves give the illusion of floating stacks of books on your wall.  They are super easy to install and enable you to create your own wall of book-display art!

Need to read:  "A heartfelt, and riveting biography of the short life of a talented young African-American man who escapes the slums of Newark for Yale University only to succumb to the dangers of the streets—and of one’s own nature—when he returns home."

"A stunning, savage novel of art and violence, love and grief, The Painter is the story of a man who longs to transcend the shadows in his heart, a man intent on using the losses he has suffered to create a meaningful life."

This would make an excellent gift for your science-loving dad, your jokester big brother, or any one who fantasizes about surviving hypothetical situations (cough. robot apocalypse, anyone?). 

"Originally published in 1988, Anthony Storr's enlightening meditation on the creative individual's need for solitude has become a classic".  A good addition to any bookshelf and pursuit of a full, meaningful life.

"#GIRLBOSS includes Sophia’s story, yet is infinitely bigger than Sophia. It’s deeply personal yet universal. Filled with brazen wake-up calls (“You are not a special snowflake”), cunning and frank observations (“Failure is your invention”), and behind-the-scenes stories from Nasty Gal’s meteoric rise, #GIRLBOSS covers a lot of ground. It proves that being successful isn’t about how popular you were in high school or where you went to college (if you went to college). Rather, success is about trusting your instincts and following your gut, knowing which rules to follow and which to break."

Whether you love self-help books or despise them, You Are A Badass looks like a good old fashioned kick-in-the-pants.  "Via chapters such as "Your Brain is Your Bitch," "Fear is for Suckers" and "My Subconscious Made Me Do It," Sincero takes you on a wild joy ride to your own transformation, helping you create the money, relationships, career and general all around awesomeness you so desire. And should you be one of those people who dreads getting busted with a self-help book in your hands, fear not. Sincero, a former skeptic herself, delivers the goods minus the New-Age cheese, giving even the snarkiest of poo-pooers exactly what they need to get out of their ruts and start kicking some ass".  (I hate self-help books, but this looks right up my alley!) 

A super addition to a carefully curated coffee-table book collection.  "With more than fifty original paintings and featuring bestselling author and illustrator Maira Kalman’s signature handwritten prose, My Favorite Things is a poignant and witty meditation on the importance of both quotidian and unusual objects in our culture and private worlds...As it speaks to the universal experience and importance of beloved objects in our lives—big and small, famous and private—this unique work is a fresh way of examining and understanding our society, history, culture, and ourselves".  

There are so many reasons to read this book:  It was written by an exceptionally talented young woman.  It resonates universally--with men, women, teens and adults.  It is intelligent and emotional.  "Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at the New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash".  I am fascinated by this book, as well as the story about how it came to be and the tragedy of the loss of such a powerfully creative person.  

I love travel books.  They transport you to foreign lands from the safety and comfort of your couch.  You can dream of far off pastures, imagine exotic tastes, and laugh at the author's mishaps and bouts of Montezuma's revenge without having to endure it yourself.  Iceland is definitely on my list of places to see before I die, but it doesn't look like I'll be able to head that way in the near future.  To compensate for this wanderlust, I'm picking up this book.  "The author of the growing cult classic Publish This Book, Markley dives headfirst into Icelandic history and culture while not ignoring all those weird stories found in the best travel writing: a road trip around the golden circle; partying in Reykjavík on National Day; drinking late into the night with gorgeous Icelandic women; hiking over pristine white glaciers featured in Game of Thrones; encountering a drunk, raging Kiefer Sutherland; crashing in the band Of Monsters and Men's old apartment; getting hit on by a Wiccan in the famed Blue Lagoon; searching for signs of Icelandic "hidden people;" interviewing Jón Gnarr, the actor-comedian who accidentally became the funniest mayor in the world (by vowing not to form a coalition government with anyone who hadn't watched all five seasons of The Wire); and countless other travel tales of youthful irreverence". 

A little artsy, a lot historical, this book chronicles the life, loss, and rediscovery of Hyacinth Blue and the role this sacred color played throughout history.  


"Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement".

Man this looks good.  A modern, racially-tinted story with less-than-subtle hues of a familiar fairy tale....  I'm excited to see how this goes!

A total classic and essential reading for every young person in your life!  Harriet absolutely influenced little me with her badassery and authenticity.  I particularly love this version with the old-school illustrated cover.  It would also make a great addition to any classics collection!

Well, this looks like a winner!  I am totally down to read anything described as "warped, hilarious, and terrifyingly recognizable".

 "Artful and sophisticated... truly unusual. Imagine Lewis's Babbitt thrown into the backseat of a car going cross-country, driven by R. Crumb, Matt Groening, Lynda Barry, Harvey Pekar, or Spike Jonze." -- The New York Times

New York Times Book Review Notable Book • A Washington Post Top Ten Book of the Year • A Chicago Tribune Noteworthy Book • A Huffington Post Best Book • A Boston Globe Best Book of the Year • A Kirkus Best Fiction Book • A Goodreads Best Book

With so many awards, this book must be worth reading!

"Told with urgency, intimacy, and piercing emotion, this New York Times bestselling novel is the riveting confession of a woman awakened, transformed, and abandoned by a desire for a world beyond her own".

A neck pillow that doubles as a hood!  Block out noise and light by cinching it tight, or keep your head toasty by just wearing it up.  Perfect for long flights, college dorm rooms, or road trips, this thing is freaking genius!

A charmingly illustrated travel journal by the crazy popular Rifle Paper Co. makes a great gift for your niece's trip abroad.  Having kept a (required, much to my chagrin) journal during my travels throughout East Asia, I can say I am extremely grateful to now have that as a reminder of the ups, downs, and curiosities of my time overseas.  I'd recommend that any one exploring the world keep one to fill in the gaps pictures can't articulate!

A great companion for the well traveled guy or the aspiring traveler.  This faux leather travel wallet will do more than safely hold his passport.  It also has extra slots for cards and some cash, as well as a slim ballpoint pen to jot down memories.  It's a minimal, manly-version of a travel journal!

While nothing beats a good camera, iPhone cameras have gotten pretty dang decent.  This telephoto lens allows you to magnify your subject 12x (!).  That means you can take photos from far away and still get excellent quality images!  Great for a minimal traveler, the flyer with a weight limit, or to just stash in your purse and use on the daily (that's what I'd do!).  

This is a truly beautiful calendar.  Featuring vintagey-looking vacation photos paired with inspirational travel thoughts.  The website says, "Reflect on the spirit of adventure and travel while you plan your next trip to the Smokey Mountains, or your gramma's house, or the dentist".  Couldn't have said it better myself!

A great reminder for your home, and it's handmade.  Perfect for displaying alongside your favorite vacation snapshots!

A leather-bound journal is a timeless gift.  Literally.  Freaking Christopher Columbus had one.  

A luxe eye mask for wearing on the plane or whenever you need that pesky light blocked out.  It even comes with it's own cute little storage pouch, so you know it's fancy.  

Since America is yet to catch up on the really cool passports trend (see Norway's new passports here), at least add a little fun with this passport case.  I want it because of the mountains and little skiing dude on it!

The World Travel Clock is a genius little contraption, perfect for frequent flyers or for those who regularly need to know the time in different parts of the world.  Its cylindrical body displays 24 different time zones via a clever rolling mechanism (way cool!) and it looks sharp as hell.

These magnets are gorgeous!  Featuring various compass designs, these would make a charming stocking stuffer for your favorite travel buff (and for displaying travel pictures on the fridge!).

This is so smart I can barely handle it.  With pocket options to contain everything from cables to glasses to credit cards you can literally have everything you need at your fingertips!  No more rummaging through carry-ons for what you need, it all zips into a beautiful cognac leather case.  It's definitely craftsmanship at its finest.

SkoshBox is a monthly subscription of Japanese candy and snacks delivered right to your door.  One of my favorite parts about traveling through Japan was their insane amount of candy and snack options, many of which were funny or bizarre!  This would make a fantastic gift for travelers like me who feel a bit of nostalgia for the little things like a place's snack foods, or for your Japanese-loving anime-obsessed nephew.  

This cherry blossom incense would make the sweetest gift for anyone who misses the temples of Japan.  

Dang, I wish I'd had this when I traveled overseas!  It's an itty bity little SIM sticker that detects when you are abroad and connects your phone to local cellular networks associated with KnowRoaming, which saves you a crap ton of money on roaming fees!  

Discover the world through food with Try The World.  This, too, is a subscription of boxed foods delivered right to your door.  Delivered bimonthly, each box contains food from a different region, hand-selected by well-known chefs from each country.  An excellent gift option for the traveler as well as the gourmand, this box is definitely worth looking forward to!


Get your butts in gear, people, there are only 9 shopping days left before Christmas (fewer if you're celebrating Hanukkah)!  And don't forget to check back in soon for the final edition of the BEST Gift Guide EVER.  ;D