Looking for bookish gift ideas for all your booklovin’ friends? Then take a look at this impressive list by Buzzfeed. I’ll list some outtakes below.
For the pop culture–obsessed
Maybe you’re an aspiring TV writer, or maybe you’re just a TV fan who binge-watched all of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s brilliant Emmy award–winning dark comedy Fleabag. If that’s the case, Fleabag: The Scriptures is just for you; it contains all filming scripts for the show’s two seasons, plus behind-the-scenes commentary from Waller-Bridge.
Speaking of iconic TV shows, Sex and the City fans might want to consider We Should All Be Mirandas: Life Lessons from Sex and the City’s Most Underrated Character. Written by Chelsea Fairless and Lauren Garroni, the creators of the hit Instagram account @everyoutfitonsatc, We Should is a tongue-in-cheek appraisal of the famous redhead, complete with fun illustrations and how-to guides on how to be a boss like Miranda.
But perhaps you’re more of a Friends fanatic, unfazed by recent divisive (but ultimately correct) retrospectives. In that case, Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era by pop culture historian Saul Austerlitz should hit the spot; it features new interviews with the show’s creators and tells the story of how this sitcom came to be. If you’d rather see glossy pictures with your Friends trivia, consider Friends Forever: The One About the Episodes by Gary Susman, Jeannine Dillon, and Bryan Cairns, which not only offers behind-the-scenes info (did you know Marta Kauffman and David Crane wrote Monica Geller for Janeane Garofalo?), but also has tons of photographs and will look pretty sitting on your coffee table.
Maybe you really just want some irreverent commentary on some of the biggest movies of the past 25 years. If so, you should seek out Shea Serrano’s Movies (And Other Things), an illustrated compendium that asks the tough questions like: Is this movie better, the same, or worse with the Rock in it? And which race was white-saviored the best by Kevin Costner?
Or perhaps you like your pop culture talk a little more highbrow and academic. Lauren Michele Jackson’s White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue…and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation, a look at how black culture has been appropriated by everyone from the Kardashians to Christina Aguilera, is well worth a read.
For young adults (the literal ones and the ones at heart)
In Akwaeke Emezi’s Pet, an allegorical YA debut that was long-listed for a National Book Award, monsters aren’t supposed to exist in the city of Lucille — but when one appears, a young trans girl named Jam has to figure out how to get rid of it. Also on that National Book Award list: Jason Reynolds’ Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, a collection of short stories, each centering around a different kid in middle school.
If you like YA romance, then you’ll want to cop Mary H.K. Choi’s Permanent Record, about a debt-riddled college dropout who works at a bodega and ends up falling for a social media influencer. David Yoon’s Frankly in Love is another great get on the romance front. When Frank Li falls in love with a white girl, he concocts a hilarious scheme to fool his conservative Korean parents. (Read an excerpt here.)
For fans of The Crown
Queen Elizabeth’s personal dresser, Angela Kelly, has written a memoir, The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe about her 25-year relationship with Her Majesty that comes with never-before-seen photos of the Queen and some of her more memorable outfits. Anglophiles, unite! If you prefer a more fantastical, romantic bent to your Anglophilia, get Jasmine Guillory’s Royal Holiday, which tells the story of a woman falling in love with the Queen’s private secretary. If you watch The Crown but wish it were 10,000% gayer, cop Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue, in which the son of an American president and the son of a British royal have a will-they-won’t-they affair.
For ravenous romance fans
Helen Hoang, whose 2018 novel The Kiss Quotient was a breakout hit, is back with The Bride Test, about a young Vietnamese American man who has trouble expressing his emotions and the mixed-race Vietnamese woman who’s determined to help him love again. James Gregor’s Going Dutch is another fun romp, a very millennial take on modern dating for a young gay grad student named Richard living in New York. For a slightly grimmer portrayal of the dating scene — we’re talking postdivorce and middle-aged — check out Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s biting, hilarious Fleishman Is in Trouble.
And if you loved last year’s Conversations With Friends, you’ll love Sally Rooney’s latest novel, Normal People, (also set to be a series on Hulu) about two childhood friends, Marianne and Connell, who end up at the prestigious Trinity College in Dublin and are clearly into each other, though hijinks ensue.
Something super short
The good folks at Canadian-based publisher Biblioasis have whipped up some adorably cute classic Christmas ghost stories with signature illustrations. Read Daphne du Maurier’s The Apple Tree or Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Old Nurse’s Story as if they’re brand new. Morgan Parker’s Magical Negro is another good buy. Her funny, moving poems are a wonderful ode to black womanhood. Also to consider: Imani Perry’s Breathe: A Letter to My Sons — a great addition to the epistolary memoir. Changing tacks, somewhat, you might also want to get Avidly Reads Board Games by Eric Thurm, a short little ditty put out by New York University Press that looks at the history of board games. And Mary Gaitskill’s novella, This Is Pleasure — a trenchant, nuanced take on #MeToo that was first published in the New Yorker — is worth acquiring too.