Book Gift Guide

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11/25/2009 4:00 AM |

For ten years now, New York Review Books has been reissuing stylish paperbacks of neglected demi-classics by everyone from L.P. Hartley and J.R. Ackerley to J.P. Farrell and J.F. Powers. The NYRB Classics 10th Anniversary Complete Collection is what it says it is: the 250 monochrome spines increasingly ubiquitous in your local bookstore, all in one life-altering package. Buy it on Amazon and save over $1,000 off the list price! (

Everywhere we go, including to the deli, and Denmark, we travel by Chinatown bus. But we understand that many of you people have “cars.” In that case, you’ve probably nearly crashed, several times, due to your passenger reading by the dome light, even though you specifically told him that you can’t see a goddam thing when he does that, is Special Topics in Calamity Goddam Physics really more important than special topics in not driving into a goddam tree?!? A Hydra LED Booklight (, with twin flexible lamps fitting to the spine of a paperback or hardcover, is quite handsome, and will probably save your life several times over.

If anyone in this wired hyperlinked world is to ever read another book ever again, it will be, we’ve heard from reliable sources (Motoko Rich, in the bathroom line at Galapagos, if you must know), due to the irreplaceable book-as-physical object. The Center for Book Arts ( offers classes on bookbinding, letter-pressing, woodcutting, and other ways to hand-make a lovingly unique art book, chapbook, or even ‘zine.

“If only we had a writer’s space,” we think to ourselves, “we could buckle down and finally write our long-dreamt-of 700-page magic-realist coming-of-age novel about a young half-man, half-goose, who takes a job as a junior editor at a free alternative biweekly culture guide in Dumbo, and the life lessons he learns and sexual experiences he accrues while there.” (We do, we think this to ourselves, every day.) “Plus,” (still us, thinking to ourselves some more), “if someone rented us this writer’s space for us, as a gift, we would feel duty-bound to make use of it, lest their well-intentioned gift go to waste.” If you rent room at a writer’s space for a friend, family member, lover, ex-lover, or young junior editor at a free alternative biweekly in Dumbo, you’re not buying them the space you’re buying the guilt-trip that keeps them motivated. Maybe A Sentimental Goose-ducation will even be dedicated to you! (In Manhattan: The Writers Room,; Paragraph, In Brooklyn: Brooklyn Writers Space,; Brooklyn Creative League,; Ditmas Workspace,
Subscription libraries are just like public libraries, except with collections more tailored to the tastes of their members, and a small membership fee, to weed out the hoi polloi and to ensure there’s not a dozen names ahead of you on the hold list for the hottest titles (to this day, we’ve still never read Sex by Madonna. Damn you, fellow-patrons of the Prince Memorial Library of Cumberland, Maine!). The Center for Fiction ( is renowned for its carefully curated fiction and mystery collection, as well as its events and classes.

If you love the passionate partisanship and light cotton of team t-shirts, but find most sports and their fans sweaty and off-putting, local line Novel-T has produced a line of Yankee-away-jersey-gray Ts emblazoned with the name, number and speculative logo of your favorite required-reading authors and characters. Just please don’t sport your “Dick” tee in Ahab territory. (

If you have the means to commission a London-based sustainable architecture and design firm to significantly renovate to your beloved’s living quartersâ�‚�¦ well, it sounds like you’re pretty much wealthy enough to buy everyone you know a pony, and should probably just do that this year. But it may also interest you to know that London-based sustainable architecture and design firm Levitate has a quite handsome bookshelf staircase: each step is a level of the bookshelf, extending all the way around to the wall. In that case you’re going to have to forgo the pony and also buy an apartment with stairs. (