Reading is near and dear to me, so Part II of my Xciting Xmas Gift Guide is dedicated to the book lovers out there.
Out Of Print T-Shirts
This company, maker of t-shirts (and other items) with classic lit covers on them, is fashion heaven for the heavy reader. It is so hard to choose a t-shirt!Â Are you in a Lolita mood or a Animal Farm mood?Â Maybe Wuthering Heights? I’ve known about their t-shirts for awhile and the only reason I don’t own one is because I was never able to choose (I think I’ve got it narrowed down – Great Gatsby, until they make a Jane Eyre).
Of course, you can buy all their products online but there’s a great local angle here – you can now buy a great selection of these shirts at Magers & Quinn in Uptown in Minneapolis. One advantage, besides supporting a local store, is that you can examine the t-shirts on display and get an idea of what size is correct for you.. uh, I mean, the person you’re shopping for. That’s always the tough thing about buying t-shirts online, right? What cut is it? What’s a medium like? What’s a large like? Problem solved.
Please note that M&Q does not stock every single design, although they do have many, so check the Out Of Print website for all the options. For example, I can tell you right now that if you want the Atlas Shrugged tee, you gotta go online. And some options are for the ladies and not for men. I guess they don’t find any men clamoring to wear a The Bell Jar t-shirt?
Note: If I did see a man wearing a The Bell Jar t-shirt, I would want to say hello to him. Same for a Pride & Prejudice tee.
Magers also sells the tote bags! Snag that bookie [this is the official new, hip name for people who love books and literature] in your life a Moby Dick tote bag!
Public Library Swag
Anyone who is serious about their reading is a card-carrying member of the library. I think libraries are probably one of the greatest inventions of all time – there are so many books I want to look at, skim and read that, unless I want to be the weirdo who sets up shop at the bookstore all afternoon, the library is the way to go.
Recently, the Hennepin County Public Library announced that as of January 1, 2011, it will put a limit on how many items patrons can have in their “Requests” queue, limiting it to 30 items per person. I know my sister was particularly devastated by this news. For book lovers like us, who rush to put something on hold the moment we hear about it, 30 items is rough sledding.
Part of the reason for this is that the library is facing a reduction in the amount it will be able to spend on new books, to the tune of $2 million. That’s a lot of books it won’t be able to buy and circulate to us, the knowledge-hungry public.
You can buy merch to support the library (you can also become a Friend of the Library). The best of it in Hennepin County is located at the Minneapolis Central bookstore in downtown Minneapolis. Head there to check out the gift options: notepads, coffee mugs, flash drives, book bags and t-shirts, in addition to used books and magazines.
Gift idea: Get the reader in your life a Minneapolis Public Library t-shirt for the holidays this year and then each year add another library to the collection – New York Public Library, Chicago, Houston, you get the idea.
There’s a bonus for you, the gift-giver, too. You can make an afternoon of it at Central -hit the bookstore, go to the Dunn Brothers right next door for coffee and a chocolate-covered graham cracker, see the beautiful building, browse library books and read for awhile by the fire place. Go up to the fourth floor for a view of the city.
Are you a hardcore St. Paulite? The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library has their own swag and you can peruse it online here.
Anything From Fantagraphics Books
I have Keith to thank for this suggestion. Fantagraphics has a catalog of comics and graphic novels like few others. They’ve published R. Crumb, Jamie and Gilbert Hernandez, Dan Clowes, Chris Ware and is behind “the most ambitious publishing project in the history of the American comic strip: the complete reprinting of Charles M. Schulz’s classic, Peanuts.” There are going to be 25 books in all when they are finished with the Peanuts collection (as of now I believe there are 17 out). Keith has been collecting these books slowly throughout the years and, when he gets one, it seems as if he devours it in a few hours.
Gift Idea: get your book lover volume 1 of the Peanuts this year and you’ve got 24 gifts in the making. See how easy I’m making this for you?
Even if your old-fashioned prose-lover is wary of dipping a toe into the comic waters, Peanuts is something anyone will love unless they are dead inside.
Also, out within the past month, is the first volume of what will be a 12-volume set of the Pogo comic strip by Walt Kelly from 1949 to 1973.
You can spend a lot of time on the website looking at all Fantagraphics has to offer (Mark Twain’s Autobiography 1910-2010, anyone?) and you can find the books locally in the Twin Cities. My vote, as a mostly non-comic reader who confesses to dabbling now and then, is to head to Big Brain Comics, located at 1027 Washington Avenue South in Minneapolis. Who knows what else you might find?
This one is for that someone in your life who appreciates the odd, the wacky and/or will read just about anything. You can customize to their taste or pick a theme (I strongly advise a theme for a more personal touch, or getting them as many books as you can from, say, the Left Behind series), all at little risk, what with paperbacks often starting at 70 cents at a lot of thrifts. My favorites ideas are the Hollywood celebrity memoirs, bad poetry (think Jewel), how-to-enjoy-sex books from the 1970s and Erma Bombeck paperbacks, like The Grass Is Always Greener Over The Septic Tank.
Note: I think we are overdue for a Erma Bombeck revival in this country. I hear she’s currently big in France.
Some of my favorite books have been secured at thrift stores, estate sales and antique stores. I found Zsa Zsa Gabor’s memoir in hardcover, something that made me supremely happy. Cookbooks are great to look for (hunt for The First Ladies Cookbook or Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book from the 60s) both for the cook and the person with a cultural anthropology bent.
Gift Idea: If you’re attracted to a cover but think the book itself will be crap, buy the book anyway, cut off the cover and frame it – the best would be to find a trio of covers you like and frame them against solid black backgrounds in black frames (which you could get from Michael’s, JoAnn, Dick Blick, etc. if you make it a standard size – no need to get it professionally framed).
Are you going to tell me you couldn’t look at this cover all day?
Best places in the Twin Cities to look for such books? Arc’s Value Village, any Savers location (but I like the one on East Lake in Minneapolis), the Mall of St. Paul, the St. Vincent de Paul store on West 7th in St. Paul… the list goes on and on. Try thrift stores first, where you should pay less than a dollar per paperback in most cases. Sometimes they mark the good ones (read: salacious) up to $1.99.
But what about books, you might say? New books, exciting books, not relics from the thrift bin. Well, there are any number of round-ups online. Check out 101 Books We Can’t Live Without, the New York Times Gift Guide for Books or their “10 Best Books of 2011,” article, just out today, and Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2011.
Looking for a hostess gift? Check out Xciting Xmas Gift Guide 2011 Part I!