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People, we live in a world where people are willing to stand in line for a week just to get a new video game system. Don’t you think it’s about time we begin our own revolution by getting back to basics and just plain kicking back with a good book? Yes, it’s shocking, but lots of people do actually still read. If you’d like to help reinstitute this fine, upstanding tradition, here’s a list of suggestions for your own Christmas list as well as for your friends and family who don’t necessarily require pretty pictures in their reading material.

Holiday Gift Guide Sections
arrow For the new dad

Daddy Needs a Drink: An Irreverent Look at Parenting from a Dad Who Truly Loves His Kids – Even When They're Driving Him Nuts, by Robert Wilder

The title alone should be enough bring in the father-to-be with a sense of humor, but the contents turn out to be just as entertaining. Personally, I’m partial to the bit where Robert Wilder – a newspaper columnist by day – mentions how his daughter knows the words to an AC/DC song. “Looking back, perhaps I should have chosen Mozart instead of Public Enemy or substituted Raffi for the Ramones, but as Dylan said, it’s all over now, Baby Blue.” As someone has gotten his child to fall asleep to Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, I salute this gentleman. If you’re still skeptical, check out his website for excerpts from the book as well as some of his past columns.

Also Consider The Sane Man's Guide to the Insane World of New Fatherhood
arrow For the retired mom

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, by Nora Ephron

Guys, given that she wrote and directed both “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail,” you’re almost certainly going to want to hand this to your mom, say, “Happy holidays,” and be glad to have it out of your possession. But she’ll enjoy it, rest assured. In this collection of 15 essays, Ephron speaks to her experiences as a woman who’s growing older, and, okay, it might be a little funny even for guys. But if we conceded any more than that, we’d feel guilty.

Also Consider Age Is Nothing: Attitude Is Everything
arrow For your resident sports geek

ESPN Ultimate Highlight Reel: The 365 Wildest, Weirdest, Most Unforgettable Sportscenter Moments of All Time, by ESPN SportsCenter

Actually, you don’t really even need to be a sports geek to appreciate this book. It’s basically the folks from SportsCenter going through 25 years’ worth of material and finding the best of the best, from Michael Jordan to Derek Jeter to Brandi Chastain’s method of celebrating the women’s World Cup victory. (Sports bra ahoy!)

Also Consider Best by Number: Who Wore What With Distinction
arrow For the HBO subscriber in your life

Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Book, by Deirdre Dolan

You probably won’t need to get through all 208 pages of this definitive guide to the HBO comedy series to be convinced that, yes, Larry David really is just as neurotic as the identically-named character he plays on TV. But there’s plenty of evidence to prove it, anyway, including interviews with David himself, his co-stars, directors from the show, and his real-life manager and wife. The book also details all 50 episodes of the series to date, including photos and details on how various scenes developed over the course of filming.

Also Consider Deadwood: Stories of the Black Hills
arrow For the friend who's always saying, "I'm sick of this area; I'm gonna move."

The Absolutely Worst Places to Live in America, by Dave Gilmartin

Frankly, they’ve been sitting on the pot long enough; if nothing else, this should at least help begin the movement process. We’ve probably all been forwarded the email with alternate slogans for various cities, but only Dave Gilmartin has incorporated them into his chapter headings…like the ones for Carson City, Nevada (“Perfect for folks burned out on the high culture of Reno”) or Fairbanks, Alaska (Take the most horrible place you’ve ever been, then subtract the sun”). And, yet, funnily enough, his choice for the absolute worst place to live is where our government resides. Coincidence? I think not.

Also Consider The 50 Crap Worst Places to Live in the UK
arrow For the person who always picks up People while waiting in line at the store

The Pop-Up Book of Celebrity Meltdowns, by Heather Havrilesky

You don’t really need to know a whole lot about this except to hear a few examples of what it contains. Like, for instance, one page causes Janet Jackson to have a wardrobe malfunction, while another causes Tom Cruise to jump up on Oprah’s couch. Don’t worry, O.J. gets his own page, too.

Also Consider The Hollywood Book of Scandals
arrow For the person who never tips more than 10%

Fine Dining Madness, by John Galloway

John Galloway is a guy who has spent more time working as a waiter than most people spend in the public school system; he’s worked at countless fine restaurants, and his reputation within the dining industry is considerable. He’s also racked up quite a few anecdotes during that time – some funny, some poignant – but what he’s really done with “Fine Dining Madness” is provide the definitive guide for those of us who only get to eat at fancy restaurants on a rare basis. With a writing style that finds him dropping historical and pop culture references like Dennis Miller with a PhD, Galloway can flip from getting philosophical to dropping an F-bomb with barely a moment’s hesitation. If you don’t start tipping at least 20% after you’ve finished the book, go back and read Chapter Four again.

Also Consider Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave...
arrow For the person who swears they’ll never read comics because they’re for kids

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1 – Unmanned, by Brian K. Vaughan

There’s not a single superhero anywhere to be found in this science-fiction tale...but now that we’ve set your fears aside about that, don’t get freaked out by the phrase “science fiction,” either. The situation is this: after a mysterious illness strikes the entire planet, Yorick Brown finds himself the only living human male on Earth. And, no, he doesn’t travel around to every girl who said they wouldn’t sleep him if he was the last man on earth, just in case they might’ve changed their mind. It’s a surprisingly deep, dark, and often violent exploration of what would happen to the government, the church, and, indeed, humanity itself if every man suddenly died. (For example, imagine how far they had to travel down the line of succession to find a new President of the USA.) This is only the first volume of eight collections of the series, so it’ll only just whet your appetite. With the news that Garth Ennis’ comic, “Preacher,” is going to be turned into an HBO series, count on someone finally getting the ball rolling on a “Y: The Last Man” film or miniseries. You’d better get in on the ground floor now.

Also Consider Watchmen
arrow For the person who enjoys a good celebrity autobiography and a good laugh

The Gothic BoxI Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This! And Other Things That Strike Me As Funny, by Bob Newhart

If you only know Bob Newhart from his various television shows…well, this book won’t replace the experience of listening to his stand-up routines, which are among the funniest things you’ll ever hear, but it’s a start. Newhart discusses how he left accounting for a life in comedy, and he talks about his work in front of an audience as well as his various film and TV series. The discussions about his longtime friendship with Don Rickles are particularly funny, but, really, there are precious few pages in this memoir that don’t inspire several laughs.

Also Consider A Child of the Fifties Looks Back
arrow For fans of ’50s music

Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock ‘n’ Roll, by Rick Coleman

Antoine “Fats” Domino, Jr., a.k.a. The Fat Man, got some unexpected publicity when he was briefly MIA in the wake of Hurricane Katrina striking New Orleans. It’s a shame about everything the guy had to go through, but having his name re-appear on the mainstream radar might end up selling a few more copies of this incredibly thorough history of an often underrated player in the beginnings of rock and roll.

Also Consider Rock Around the Clock: The Record that Started
the Rock Revolution!
arrow For fans of ’60s music

The Doors, by the Doors with Ben Fong-Torres

Between autobiographies by Ray Manzarek and John Densmore and Danny Sugerman’s biography of Jim Morrison as well his own memoir of working as a personal assistant to the band, you wouldn’t think there’d be much more left to say about the Doors. As it happens, though, this is a surprisingly indispensable look at the band, full of archival photos and interviews with the band as well as their friends and family, done by famed music journalist Ben Fong-Torres. (You may remember his name from “Almost Famous,” where he was played by actor Terry Chen.) It may not change your perception of the band, but it’s definitely a solid historical overview of their history.

Also Consider Louie Louie: Me Gotta Go Now
arrow For fans of '70s music

Punk, by the editors of Mojo

If you’ve been led to understand that punk rock is nothing more than loud caterwauling and sloppy playing held together by spit and safety pins…well, there’s actually a certain degree of accuracy to that, come to think of it. But to view the punk movement from a historical perspective, this is the latest and greatest tome to hit the market, and given that much of its material comes from three of the best music publications the UK has ever offered up – Mojo, Q, and Sounds Magazine – you can count on the information being top-notch. Plus, the forward is written by Blondie’s Debbie Harry, arguably the hottest chick on the New York punk rock scene. With lists of the top 20 British punk singles and the 77 greatest punk rock albums ever, it screams “indispensable.”

Also Consider A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones
arrow For fans of '80s music

American Hair Metal, by Steven Blush

Dude, just look at that cover. You know you want it. It’s tons and tons of photos of all your hair metal heroes, each with a coif so impressive that any one of them could’ve been personally responsible for the destruction of the ozone layer. Plus, author Steven Blush has taken several of these guys to task for their appearance; there are exclusive quotes from David Lee Roth, Jon Bon Jovi, Sebastian Bach, Tommy Lee, Nikki Sixx, Bret Michaels, and Don Dokken, among others. Do we really need to say it? This rocks!

Also Consider I’m Coming To Take You To Lunch

And, hey, if you want to buy a book for a friend and you don’t know what they like to read, but you do know what their favorite movie or TV show is, these suggestions might help:

arrow If they like "Scrubs" and "House"

The Placebo Chronicles: Strange But True Tales From the Doctors' Lounge, by Douglas Farrago, MD

You’ll laugh to keep yourself from getting queasy as you enjoy these true stories of various interns and full-fledged physicians and the various patients they’ve dealt with over the years. There’s a whole section on X-rays where you can see some decidedly interesting items where they really ought not to be, tales of addicts in desperate need of pharmaceuticals, and some gynecological anecdotes that are wayyyyyyy more educational than they ought to be.

Also Consider Kill as Few Patients as Possible
arrow If they like "The Sopranos" or "Brotherhood"

Learn to Speak Mafia, by Giovanni Bruno

How can you not like a book that offers Italian translations for statements like, “You have a lovely home, I would hate to see it accidentally burnt to the ground”? It might not be very long – it’s only 96 pages – but it packs a lot of humor into a small amount of space.

Also Consider Wiseguys Say the Darndest Things: The Quotable Mafia
arrow If they like "Extras" or the original British version of "The Office"

Ricky Gervais Presents: The World of Karl Pilkington, by Karl Pilkington

If you’ve never heard any of the podcasts that Ricky Gervais has done with his writing partner, Stephen Merchant, there’s no way I can possibly do justice to an explanation of their radio sidekick, Karl Pilkington. His understanding of the order of evolution is that it goes “bacteria, fish, mermaid, man, onwards and what have you,” and he once dismissed Aesop’s fables because “it's all about a gorilla and a fox walking through the woods; how often does that happen?" Really, though, all I should need to say is that Gervais calls him “the funniest man I’ve ever met.” That kind of praise doesn’t grow on trees.

arrow If they like any or all of the "Star Trek" series

Voyages of Imagination: The Star Trek Fiction Companion, by Jeff Ayers

You might not know this…or, if you do, you might just choose to keep it to yourself…but there are almost 600 novels out there based on the universe created by Gene Roddenbery back in the ‘60s. Now, to be fair, some of them are really, really terrible, but there are a lot of cases where these books are screaming to be made into either episodes or full-length features. (Lord knows they’d be better than “Star Trek: Nemesis.”) This is the official, definitive companion to the “Trek” universe in print, so if you know someone who isn’t afraid to embrace their inner Vulcan, they’ll love this.

Also Consider Star Trek: Ships of the Line
arrow If they like "Strangers with Candy"…either the TV show or the movie

I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, by Amy Sedaris

There’s little question that Amy Sedaris has a slightly skewed sense of humor (given that her brother is “This American Life” stalwart David Sedaris, she comes by it honestly), and those sensibilities work on the printed page as well. Amy looks so darned sweet on the cover, like she just stepped out of an issue of “The Saturday Evening Post” circa 1954, and within these pages, she presents helpful tips to hosting gatherings at your house. Suggestions for possible munchies include a cake mix milkshake made with water, bananas dipped in Jell-O powder, and a glass of milk with four Milk Duds at the bottom. Mmm-mmm good! She also offers this hint for dealing with the heavier drinkers at your party: “Better to cut them off rather than pretend it's not happening and then allow them to stay over and wet your bed.” A point well taken.

Also Consider Whigfield
arrow If they like "Old School" and "Van Wilder"

The CollegeHumor Guide to College, from the writers of

If ever a book’s cover art screamed out its target audience, this one does. If you went to college and never once woke up to find that someone had written on you with permanent market, it’s clear you never drank enough…and if you’re completely unfamiliar with the phenomenon, you apparently didn’t go to the right parties. The folks at have put together the definitive reference book for incoming freshmen around the country. The subtitle alone – “Selling Kidneys for Beer Money, Sleeping with Your Professors, Majoring in Communications, and Other Really Good Ideas” – is proof that, whether it’s intended as a joke or not, there’s considerable truth to be found within its pages.

Also Consider The Real Animal House
arrow If they like "Empire Records" and "High Fidelity"

Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas, by Chuck Klosterman

Even if you’ve never read Chuck Klosterman, you’ve probably seen someone like him working behind the counter at a record store. Basically, his musical tastes are his own, and he will defend them to the death, even to the point where you’re not entirely sure he even really believes what he’s saying anymore, but, generally, he’s pretty entertaining while he’s doing it. It’s not entirely music-oriented (he’s not afraid to venture into other avenues of pop culture as well), but no matter what Klosterman’s going on about, the result is invariably something you’ll get caught up in, often to the point of shaking your fist at the book and saying, “Dude, you’re fucking WRONG!”

Also Consider One Man's Quest to Become the World's Greatest Air Guitarist
arrow If they like "Boogie Nights" or, hell, if they just plain like porn

The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry, by Legs McNeil and Jennifer Osborne

Oh, come on, we’ve all got at least one friend who unabashedly admits to being a porn hound, and now that the internet has given us much easier access to lots of nekkid folks, more and more such aficionados are coming out of the closet, so to speak. Ironically, though, you don’t actually need to like porn to enjoy this incredibly fascinating look at the rise and fall of porno flicks. Legs McNeil demonstrated his knack for writing oral histories with “Please Kill Me: The Uncensored History of Punk,” and he and collaborator Jennifer Osborne do a fantastic job here as well. It’s not for the faint of heart – there are tales of suicides, prison escapes, drug overdoses, rapes, murders, car crashes, and much, much more – but you once you start it, you won’t be able to put it down.

Also Consider Prisoner of X: 20 Years in the Hole at Hustler Magazine