Three Cheers For Literacy! The Best Books To Buy For EVERYONE This Holiday Season

Give these fancy, shiny books that are just as fun to look at as they are to actually read.

Dec 6, 2013 at 10:00am | Leave a comment

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If you don't know by now, I'm a bit of a freak for books. It's really difficult for me to walk past a bookstore and not go in. I love them all -- used, dogeared paperbacks, glossy and exorbitantly priced coffee table books and everything in between. I want them all, even though I've had to start stacking my collection on tables and the floor. Oops.

Anyway, as part of my addiction/a part of my holiday gift guide series, here is a collection of the best and brightest books anyone on your list would be happy to receive. And if they're not? Well, maybe you should stop talking to them because they're clearly a jerk. (All of the books listed below are available on Amazon.com. I just placed a huge order for family members tonight because books are a fantastic gift, OK?)

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Hanging with, from top, "Jane & Serge: A Family Album", "Rookie Yearbook 2" and "David Bowie Is".

1. Jane And Serge: A Family Album, $40

This one has caused a bit of a personal freak-out for me. I need it. Need it. Designed to look like a real-deal, decades-old family photo album, this book includes countless personal photos and ephemera from the 12-year relationship of the late Serge Gainsbourg, French singer and icon, and Jane Birkin, British singer, actress, model and handbag-name-inspirer. Together they made their daughter Charlotte and a pretty naughty tune, to name a few things. Many of the items in the books can be taken out and looked at, giving the feeling that you're peering into something very private and tender. Plus, there are stickers. I just really love stickers, OK?

2. Rookie Yearbook 2, $21

Okay, so I work for Rookie, but I'm not in Yearbook 2 so I can say that I am promoting this sheerly out of love! The truth is, this second offering from the beautiful folks at Rookie is a perfect encapsulation of teenhood, laid out month-by-month in glorious thematic chapters full of content featuring dreamboats like Judy Blume, Grimes, Lena Dunham, Carrie Brownstein and Morrissey. It's also absolutely incredible to look at, adorned with fantastic illustrations by talented artists I'm amazed to call my friends. And it has stickers! And tarot cards! It's the perfect gift for any misfit teen in your life or, I don't know, yourself, because we're all pretty much misfit teens forever.

3. David Bowie Is, $40

In collaboration with the V&A, the first museum to hold the David Bowie Is exhibit (which just left Toronto *sniff*, I saw it twice) this gorgeous exhibition catalog profiles the beginning of Bowie's life to present day, with an in-depth look at the many objects and experiences that helped make the man. While I know it's not quite the same as attending the exhibit (a must-see, and dropping into Chicago next if you can make the trip), it still manages to hold its own with pages upon pages of Bowie's costumes, ephemera, original artwork, plus essays and oh-so-much more. 

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L: "A Scene In Between", R: "Modern Manners".

4. A Scene In Between: Fashion and Independent Music in the UK 1983-1989, $19

If you frequently wear baggy, pilly sweaters, enjoy walks in the fog and have a heart that skips a beat whenever it hears a distortion pedal fuzz its way into a song, this is the book for you! Taking a very aesthetic-based look at the music (and the fashion that went hand-in-hand with it) from a world where the Smiths, the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine reigned supreme (just to name a few). Perfect for anyone who wants to spend their rainy afternoons listening to shoegaze and slowly sipping from a cup of tea until it goes cold.

And finally ...

5. Modern Manners: Tools To Take You To The Top, $16

I think it would be really crummy to give someone a book about etiquette, as it might send them the wrong message about themselves. Instead, I'd recommend picking up this book for yourself (I plan on doing the same), since I think there's nothing wrong with brushing up on manners and etiquette on the regular.

Written by Dorothea Johnson, etiquette expert, and her granddaughter Liv Tyler (actress and all-around beautiful soul), the book offers a 21st century take on dealing with the sometimes uncomfortable bumps that life can bring us. I mean, I took out Emily Post's "Etiquette"from the library when I was a teenager, and while it was slightly outdated, I learned lessons that I still incorporate in to my day-to-day life (for example, if someone offers to pay for something, you can only refuse twice, after that you just seem annoying and ungrateful! And also the proper way to respond to a compliment which is, duh, "thank you", end of story) . Now that there's something out there that makes sense for 2013 and beyond (i.e., new tips on how to deal with phones and e-mail mishaps in a classy way), I'm prepped and ready to to learn. Please. And thank you.  

If all these ideas seem like a total flop to you, then might I suggest the 2014 Extraordinary Chickens Calendar? Or like, one of James Franco's gazillion books?