December means two things: end-of-the-year best-of lists and crippling migraines induced by frantic shopping for the holidays. But there's no need to worry — this year we've got your back. Here at The Airship and Black Balloon Publishing, if there’s one thing we believe in beyond celebrating great literature, it’s efficiency. So in an effort to streamline the inevitable holiday madness, we’ve compiled a mutant list — a two-headed hydra that not only catalogs our favorite books of 2013, but also lets you know who you should be gifting each to.
Simply peruse the list below, keeping an eye out for the kinds of people you’re trying to pick a gift for (e.g. that cousin you see once a year who always wears an ascot — what’s up with that?), and we’ll suggest the perfect read for them. Plus, you can always borrow the books after your family and friends are done reading them — making them the gifts that keep on giving!
For Your Significant Other
For your reckless boyfriend whose dream itinerary looks like the State Department’s list of Travel Warnings, a collection of short stories from young Afghans: The Gifts of the State, Edited by Adam Klein
For your wife who has always been a total theater nerd, a novel about a guy who gets a role starring as his hero Henry Nunez, in a revival of The Idiot President: At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcon
For your wife who prefers The Mary Tyler Moore Show to Girls, an inside look at how two men turned a show about a divorced woman with a career into a cult classic: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
For Your Family
For your dad who never let you watch anything but P.B.S. and considered “Talk of the Town” solid bedtime story material, a collection of essays from The New Yorker's number one book critic: The Fun Stuff by James Wood
For your little sister who is already smarter and cooler than you could ever dream of being, 350 pages of interviews, photo editorials, collages and illustrations from the Rookie staff: Rookie Yearbook Two, edited by Tavi Gevinson
For your sister who scorned all the people who came down to Occupy Wall Street hoping to see Thom Yorke, a pocket-sized guide for revolution: Beautiful Trouble, edited by Andrew Boyd and Dave Oswald Mitchell
For the brother you love unconditionally (even though you’re secretly convinced that the two of you would never be friends if you met at a party), an homage to a late brother: My Brother’s Book by Maurice Sendak
For your brother who is — let's face it — sort of an asshole but also a really good person, the last piece of work from a snarky-yet-poignant writer: Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish by David Rakoff (Check out our coverage of the live reading of Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish here.)
For the younger sibling who just had their first long-term relationship come to an end (and they’ve told everyone, including the cashier at the grocery store, about it), an intimate novel that chronicles five years of a troubled romance: This Is Between Us by Kevin Sampsell
For your nephew who stares at his iPhone during a conversation and who once showed up to Christmas dinner (ironically?) wearing a One Direction T-shirt, a novel from the king of alt lit: Taipei by Tao Lin
For your 14-year-old cousin who loves to read — just so long as it’s not, like, too serious or, you know, super sad — a Y.A. love story that doesn’t skimp on pithy dialogue or realistic depictions of relationships: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Read our review of Rainbow Rowell’s other novel, Fangirl, here.)
For Your Friends
For your friend who has their life so together that they not only have a coffee table but they have stunning coffee table books, a photo book that explores confrontations between the world's various indigenous groups: Before They Pass Away by Jimmy Nelson
For your friend who is adamant that she doesn’t care about her recent breakup (yet Spotify tells you she’s listened to nothing but Taylor Swift for the past month), a pithy and poignant take on the apathetic post-breakup attitude: Even Though I Don’t Miss You by Chelsea Martin
For your friend who spends his lunch break tweeting about all the things he hates (which just so happens to be everything), a book that confirms all of his grievances: The Kraus Project, written by Karl Kraus, translated by Jonathan Franzen
For your friends who swear they’re huge fans of Julio Cortazar, but haven’t read anything besides Hopscotch, an illustrated version of his most unconventional work: From the Observatory by Julio Cortazar
The perfect gift is as unique as each recipient, and this year saw the release of an array of great books, so the list above — as long as it may be — can only be too short. But you can help us improve it! Had a favorite title from 2013 that we failed to mention? Know of a book that would make the perfect gift for anyone’s second cousin who’s weirdly into reptiles? Let us know all about it in the comments below!
Black Balloon Publishing is an independent press with both print and digital distribution channels, headquartered in New York, NY. We've published literary fiction, nonfiction and memoir, and we're willing to grow our reach in any direction that suits: Our books evolve, rotate, get mapped onto cities and light up your screen. We champion the weird, the unwieldy, and the unclassifiable.
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