Holiday Gift Guide: Reading list!

Books are always good gifts, and they’re super-easy to wrap, too. How about one of these great selections for that One Person…

FICTION

the-jealous-kindFor the independent traveler on your list, Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes might be a great bon voyage gift. It’s a collection of short stories about change, opportunity, independence and life in general. Pair it with The Jungle Around Us: Stories by Anne Raeff. It’s a collection of tales with the jungle — its mystery, darkness and richness, as both metaphor and connecting force here.

The reader on your gift list who prefers books set in other time periods will love Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt. It’s a 1960s-era story of a woman who chooses a man over the sister who basically raised her, and the dynamics of family. Put it together with Jazz Moon by Joe Okonkwo, a book set in Harlem, 1925, where Paris is where it’s at, baby.

The person who loves a little mid-century drama will enjoy The Jealous Kind by James Lee Burke. It’s a bit of a Romeo-and-Juliet novel set in the 1950s in Texas, at a time when the line between the “haves” and the “have-nots” was drawn in the sand with danger, and money talked a lot. Definitely wrap it up with another great drama-mystery, Manitou Canyon by William Kent Krueger. Cork O’Connor is back and sleuthing. Fans, rejoice.

Historical novel lovers will devour News of the World by Paulette Jiles, a book set in Texas in the years following the Civil War. When a down-and-out former Captain of the military is hired to deliver an orphan girl to her distant relatives, he partakes an adventure — not just through rough terrain, but through rocky childcaring, too. Wrap it up with The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa, a multigenerational novel about home, based on a true story.

Dog lovers will howl over Jonathan Unleashed by Meg Rosoff. It’s the story of a man who’s at the end of his leash, and his brother’s dogs, who begin to show him that dogs are smarter than they seem. And won’t the pet lover on your list love getting A Guinea Pig Oliver Twist in that package, too?  Yes, it’s Dickens as you’ve never seen him before…

GENERAL NONFICTION

trialsFor the true-crime buff, Trials of the Century by Mark J. Phillips & Aryn Z. Phillips is a great go-to gift. What made Sam Sheppard’s case, the Lindbergh baby, and Charles Manson leap onto the headlines?  This book looks at those famous cases, and more… Add on I Will Find You by Joanna Connors, a story of a reporter who finally reveals a crime she had to hide, and the man who committed  it.

Is there someone on your gift list who loves nothing more than to be scared?  The one who longs for a different holiday? If so, The Monster Book by Nick Redfern is what you want to wrap up. Using quick chapters and scattered photos, this book informs, entertains and (good for your giftee) scares!  Definitely wrap it up with Real Visitors, Voices from Beyond, and Parallel Dimensions by Brad Steiger and Sherry Hansen Steiger. Ooooooh, then shiver!

For the woman who’s just about had enough this year – of everything – you’ll want to get The Bitch is Back, a collection of essays edited by Cathi Hanauer. This no-nonsense sequel to The Bitch in the House is just as empowering and strong as its predecessor, and it’s perfect for the strong woman on your list.

Science fans will love The Point Is by Lee Eisenberg, a book on who we are, why we’re here, and how we can make the most of life until we die. For the know-it-all on your list, Head in the Cloud by William Poundstone might make a great gift. Why, Poundstone asks, do we know celebrities but not mathematics? When we can look things up online, why should we know things in our heads?  You can’t go wrong with this gift if you also give A Field Guide to Lies by Daniel J. Levitin, a book about critical thinking and believing (or not) everything you see online.

LGBT

fateIn Saving Delaney by Andrea and Keston Ott-Dahl, your giftee will read the story of one little girl, her life before birth, her lesbian moms and her wealthy parents, and what happened when she entered the world with Down’s syndrome. Wrap it up with tissues and Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood by Eric Rosswood, a book filled with tips and tales of gay and lesbian folks who finally became parents.

If there’s an art lover on your gift list, they’ll love unwrapping One Man Show: The Life and Art of Bernard Perlin by Michael Schreiber. Part gay history, part art, this book showcases the life of a man who painted portraits of gay clubs and street life, and whose works were collected by mid-century high-society collectors, some of which still hangs in museums today.

For the mom or dad who’s just learned that their child is gender-questioning, The Gender Creative Child by Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D. might be a loving gift. It’s a book that will guide them through many early questions and thoughts they may have now, and later.  Wrap it up with When Your Child is Gay by Wesley C. Davidson and Jonathal L. Tobkes, MD, for the answers to even more questions.

What does it mean to be a man or a woman?  In The Fate of Gender by Frank Browning, your giftee will learn what science says about gender, brains, chromosomes, social pressures and how other countries see gender and the spectrum. Wrap it up with Queer Identities and Politics in Germany: A History 1880-1945 by Clayton J. Whisnant, a fascinating history book that looks at German LGBT organizations, people, publications, and the culture, especially during World War II.

MEMOIR / BIOGRAPHY

How do you drive someone happy this holiday?  Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow by Steve Lehto, foreword by Jay Leno. This biography of Tucker, the creator of an ahead-of-its-time vehicle is a car-crazy reader’s dream.

atticus-finch_my-father-and-atticus-finchFans of the latest Harper Lee novel will love receiving My Father and Atticus Finch by Joseph Madison Beck. Pulling a page from Lee, it’s the tale of a white trial lawyer in Alabama who defended a black man charged with rape. Happened in 1938. Your giftee will love reading it in 2017.

The lover of Christmas will also love Tree of Treasures: A Life in Ornaments by Bonnie Mackay. It’s a memoir written through the trimmings of a tree; where the author got them, why she loves them and how they make her remember. For the person who loves a touch of romance beneath the tree, Casanova: The World of a Seductive Genius by Laurence Bergreen takes readers to Europe and through history to walk through the life and times of a man whose name is synonymous with love.

POLITICS

dowdUndoubtedly, there’s a political animal on your gift list who didn’t get enough politics this year. Fear not! Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton by Joe Conason will let you check off another name. This book takes a look at Clinton ’s work in his post-presidential years. If your giftee is still wondering what happened this political year, you can’t go wrong with The Year of Voting Dangerously by Maureen Dowd. It’s a book filled with essays by the woman who’s covered elections for the past nine presidents. Nope, can’t go wrong here.

FOOD WRITING

What’s it like to feed the people in America ’s largest city?  Your giftee won’t be able to wait to read Food and the City by Ina Yalof, a book about the chefs, cooks, street vendors, and others who serve up apples (and more) in the Big Apple. To make it an even tastier gift, pair it with The Book of Spice by John O’Connell, a book about all the things that make meals zestier.

MUSIC / MOVIES / TV

There’s someone on your gift list who loves music of all kinds, and They Call Me Supermensch by Shep Gordon will be a welcome gift. Gordon was a manager for a number of Big Name music acts, as well as an innovator in the entertainment industry. Who can resist a book like that? Nobody, especially when you wrap it up with another mensch-y book, Seinfeldia by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong. It’s a book about “nothing,” which surely became a great big something.

madonnalandFor the midnight-movie fan who can’t get enough of toast or Janet, The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ by Dave Thompson is exactly what you want to give. This book is absolutely jammed with facts, stories, fun-to-know details, everything you ever wanted to know about Frank-N-Furter and more.

Want to see the biggest smile ever?  For the fan of the newest Pulitzer Prize Winner for Literature, buy Bob Dylan: The Lyrics 1961-2012.  This book is huge — at nearly 700 pages and weighing, well, let’s just say the reindeer will complain and it’s also on the spendy side but if you’ve got a Dylan fan on your list, this will get you hugs through at least Independence Day. And for an even better gift, you may want to pair it with Madonnaland and Other Detours Into Fame and Fandom by Alina Simone. It’s a look at The Material Girl, music, and being a rock star.

HISTORY

Who loves reading about the Civil War?  Your giftee, that’s who – so you’ll want to get City of Sedition: The History of New York City During the Civil War by John Strausbaugh. New York played a major part, behind-the-scenes, in what happened during the War Between the States. Another volume on the war is just what your giftee wants this year. If there’s a social studies fan on your list, make White Trash by Nancy Isenberg the gift you give. It’s a look at poverty, class, American caste and how it’s been perceived for the last 240 years. The Downton Abbey fan on your gift list will love Mind Your Manors by Lucy Lethbridge, a book about keeping house (or would that be mansion?) in Great Britain in times gone by.

CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOKS

The kid who already misses Halloween will love Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick-or-Treating by Laura Gehl, pictures by Joyce Wan. It’s a tale of two friends, one of whom has a stubborn streak and is easy to scare. For the budding fashionista on your list, D is for Dress-Up by Maria Carluccio will be a welcome gift. Starting with “A,” of course and moving through guess-what-Z-word, this book doubles as a great learn-the-alphabet gift, too.

For the little one whose get-up-and-go never got up in the first place, Schnitzel: A Cautionary Tale for Lazy Louts by Stephanie Shaw, illustrated by Kevin M. Barry will be a great gift. It’s a tale of a wizard’s apprentice who takes a very ill-fated shortcut. For the child who loves nighttime, Max at Night by Ed Vere will be a great gift. It’s the story of a cat who has a very special friend. Unfortunately, the friend only comes around a few times a month.

Season’s Readings!

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Holiday Gift Guide: Cyber Monday

Here are some items you can click on for easy buying while coming out of your four-day turkey coma.

orthodox-calendarCalendar boys. We all know what a DILF is. Or a MILF, if you swing that way. But a PILF?! That’s Priests I’d Like to… well, you know the rest. We’ve been fans for several years of the Orthodox Calendar, which combats religious hypocrisy by recruiting gay and gay-friendly priests of the Orthodox Church to pose in artistic yet homoerotic settings. The 2017 PILF calendar, with 12 charged months of photos, is available in both classic and explicit versions, and there’s even a video option to see the making-of each calendar. (From Europe, so prices are in euros: 16–30.)

Available at Orthodox-Calendar.com.

(In addition to this calendar, there’s always one of the hardcore collections from our friends at Colt Studios.)

The music and mood of the season. A great gift idea you can get right now? A pair of tickets for you and a loved one to see a show. And the Turtle Creek Chorale’s A Not So Silent Night Holiday Concert — which runs Dec. 8–11 at City Performance Hall, is a queerlicious way to spend time together and get into the holiday spirit.

Available at TurtleCreekChorale.com.

In addition, you can enjoy song and dance with Mistletoe Magic, the annual fundraiser and cabaret from the Bruce Wood Dance Project. It, too, takes over City Performance Hall (on Dec. 20) with Broadway and recording artists Liz Callaway, Hugh Panaro and Joseph Thralken performing live.

Available at BruceWoodDance.org

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Naughty but nice: Sexy last-minute stocking stuffers

CheapUndiesSanta checked his list twice for who’s naughty and nice so your Christmas is filled with sugar — and now some spice.

Slaphappy Flat Vibrator. Marketed as the Swiss Army knife of vibrators (which, granted, maybe isn’t the best tag line for a device you’re putting up your hoo-ha, but I digress), the Slaphappy bendable five-in-one flat dildo is made of 100 percent body-safe silicone, cycles through eight vibrating modes, and stays super quiet so family brunch isn’t too awkward in the morning. $50. SlapHappy.com.

L. Condoms. Wrap up your love with “the most natural, pleasurable way to practice safe sex,” according to Fast Company magazine. For every L. condom purchased, one is distributed in a developing country where the brand partners with developing organizations to support women and HIV/AIDS prevention. Plus, one-hour delivery is available in Brooklyn and San Francisco for all you bang bros too lazy to hit the bodega. $15 for 12. ThisIisL.com.

Knix Women’s Underwear. Figure-flattering Knix underwear for women features cutting-edge technology to keep your partner fresh, dry and confident in three outperforming fabrics: the original seamless basic, sexy lace for a special night out and a sporty cut for active lifestyles. $20-$38. Knixwear.com.

Adam & Eve Finger Bangers. For hesitant bottoms who like a light touch, Adam & Eve mini-vibrating finger bangers are designed with a tapered tip to focus vibrations for maximum pleasure in two styles — ribbed blue and nubby purple — to drive your partner wild with every pulse. $8. AdamAndEve.com.

kylovepassionEZ Reach Prostate Massager. Backdoor play gets a boost with the EZ Reach Prostate Massager featuring a unique textured surface and curved shaped for ultimate satisfaction while a maneuverable tipped handle stimulates as he moves it around — because every time a prostate sings, an angel gets its wings. $15. AdamAndEve.com.

K-Y Love Pleasure Gel Lubes. Intensify your sexual connection with this line of couples’ pleasure gels from K-Y – which include “Sensuality” and “Passion” varieties – to take your body-connecting experience to a tingly new level. $17. K-Y.com.

Cheap Undies. There’s a veritable smorgasbord of skivvies to choose from at Cheap Undies – including third-party brands like CIN2 and Ginch Gonch – but this holiday season you can make his assets shine with the Golden Luxe Briefs collection, a super-soft cotton blend in saturated tones and shimmering waistbands for that Midas touch. $10. CheapUndies.com.

— Mikey Rox

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Holiday Gift Idea: Mouth-watering calendars from Colt

!colt_web-0315We’re gay men, we like to look at sexy bodies. And few are sexier than the models from Colt Studios. With a selection of 2016 wall calendars, you can have your choice of almost any look that pleases the porn lover in your life, from leathermen to bubble butts to couples and even uncharacteristically twinkie young men from Colt’s Buckshot label. And the Colt online store also offers items a simple coffee mug to sex toys and of course DVDs. And if you use the code STUFFER15 at checkout, you can save 25 percent on select items. You’re welcome. Calendars from $15.95.

Available at Colt Studio Store.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Holiday Gift Idea: The gift of music

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Two new hot music box sets might be the perfect idea for the music lover on your list:

David Bowie, Five Years 1969-1973. The iconic cover of the U.K. edition of David Bowie’s 1971 release The Man Who Sold the World features the queer icon sprawled out in a silky gown, pensively gazing forward. His skin is soft; his hair is long. He looks like a pastel painting. The Man Who Sold the World was just Bowie’s second album and already it was clear: Bowie would not be playing by the rules. Some 50 years later, he still doesn’t.

A new album due in early January, Blackstar, Bowie’s 25th, is said to bend all expectations, morphing his left-of-center rock genesis into Kendrick Lamar-influenced hip-hop. It sounds crazy, and hopefully it is. But even in the early ’70s, Bowie’s restless curiosity and his own fantastical forays were apparent as he challenged the zeitgeist with deviations of gender and genre. He crushed the paradigm. He made waves. He reinvented.

In just five years, from 1969-1973, he released six studio albums. His eponymous debut established his short-lived psychedelic folk phase, characterized by the landmark single “Space Odyssey” and the career-foreshadowing sound of Bowie’s life-affirming, nine-minute anthem, “Cygnet Committee” (producer Tony Visconti and Bowie himself offer track-by-track commentary on the album in a comprehensive book within the collection). December 1971 signaled a shift in Bowie’s sound. Hunky Dory was the first time Bowie shed his musical skin, introducing a prominent theatricality that would mark most of his later recordings. It surely wasn’t coincidence that “Changes,” a single from the disc, launched his latest career chapter. (Nor was it accidental that he exuded femininity as Marlene Dietrich on the album’s glam cover — he was inspired by a photo book of hers he brought to the cover shoot.)

With later releases, especially the sexually wound The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Bowie continued to cut through convention, queering his aesthetic, mapping a road less traveled. Why yes we did need an entire album about a bisexual alien rock star, and this was it. Heck, we did need (and still need) David Bowie, period. And so did Boy George. And so did Adam Lambert. This expansive collection capturing Bowie’s first very prolific five years, which also includes two live offerings, is a thorough exploration of the stage Bowie set — the one that would forever change rock music and queer culture.

HMO122115ALANIS1Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill (Deluxe Edition). Alanis Morissette knows a good burn when she writes one. In 1995, she lashed out at an ex-lover, a transcendent career move that catapulted the Canadian songstress to international Grammy-winning stardom. “Are you thinking of me when you fuck her?” was the burn, the “Hello. It’s me” meme of 1995. And the song it’s from, Morissette’s mega-hit “You Oughta Know,” was one of the greatest early-’90s catharses.

By the time the song blazed the radio charts, Alanis had already recorded two other albums (this was her third), but “You Oughta Know” — and the album it would appear on, Jagged Little Pill — elevated the singer-songwriter to massive mainstream heights because who doesn’t like a song about a woman taking the piss out of a man. With Tori Amos and Fiona Apple on her team, The Great Estrogen Takeover was in full force. When it came to Alanis, the world was transfixed and transformed. Her anger translated to unheard-of-these-days-unless-you’re-Adele album sales, moving a whopping 33 million copies around the world. And for those who found moxie in Alanis’ scathing tear-downs (a lot of us, apparently), or her not-so-ironic ironies or her chill “Hand in My Pocket,” it was just what the music doctor ordered.

That emotion-fueled candor teemed throughout Jagged Little Pill, defining not only Alanis’ career but the very complicated facets of our own lives. How we’re all sinners. How we’re all imperfect. How we’re all still learning. Morissette wasn’t even 20 when she recorded these songs, a fact made clear on a collection of demos released in conjunction with this anniversary reissue. The intriguing demos reveal an artist still in self-discovery mode. On “London,” she muses on pimples, her cervix and “the boy with the androgynous song”; “Superstar Wonderful Weirdos” celebrates fringe life, and “No Avalon” examines white privilege.

The album’s official tracks and those aforementioned demos make one thing clear: The truth of Jagged Little Pill is timeless. Morissette doesn’t pretend to know everything. She knows we don’t know everything. We still don’t. “What it all comes down to,” she says, “is that we haven’t got it all figured out just yet.” Twenty years later, the question Jagged Little Pill now poses is: Do we ever?

Chris Azzopardi

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Holiday Gift Idea: Something bubbly

!prosecco-web_0291This is the only time of year many people drink champagne, but the truth is, most sparkling wine isn’t actually champagne, just bubbly from America and other places. You can get a champagne if you want, but why not try a prosecco? From the Italian company Ruffino (available with dishwasher-safe mini flutes) to American-based Barefoot (also available in a four-pack mini; its prosecco is also from Italy), you can toast the new year or just enjoy some wine.

Available at places like Kroger, Sigel’s, Sprouts and other retailers and online.

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Holiday Gift Idea: Cujo couture

Hollywood Feed BowtieThere’s no reason Fido can’t dress as dapper as his dads. The Mississippi Made bowtie collection gives your dog a chance to change his look depending on his (your) mood. Available in a host of styles and sizes. $18.99

Available at Hollywood Feed locations and online.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Holiday Gift Idea: Nice baskets… both kinds!

Bamboxers

OK, time for another Holiday Gift Idea — actually, two! And both show you what can be done with a basket.

First off, let’s gets some personal fashions going. Bamboxers is a startup underwear company (still finishing up its Kickstarter) that claims to offer “the most comfortable boxers in the world,” made from bamboo fibers. Ho-hum, everyone says they are the most comfortable. Thing is, I think they might be right: The pair I tried hug in all the right places and don’t bunch in the wrong ones — you really do feel like you’re going commando. And the touch is incredible soft as well.

Because the company is just getting started, you can pre-order yours for your hubby in time for Christmas delivery, and even get on the ground floor of the trend with some good subscription deals. From about $12.

800 baskets_0279Bamboxers.com.

That’s one kind of nice basket you will look forward to unwrapping on Christmas morning — here’s another. 1-800-BASKETS offers a range of hand-crafted gourmet baskets to appeal to the unique desires of your special someone.

Take, for instance, the tea lover’s basket, complete with mini-teapot, Tazo cinammon apple teabags, Twinnings, tea cookies and jams. And that’s just one example. There are combinations with fruits, wines. And you can also get things like Cheryl’s Cookies, hand-frosted, individually-wrapped shortbread sweets that make great stocking-stuffers.

1800Baskets.com.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Holiday Gift Idea: Come clean with Kiehl’s

soapWhen we published our Holiday Gift Guide, we told you to look for more ideas online. Now that the rush of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday is over, we decided to start up with more gift notions.  To start us off, we decided to come clean … like, scrub-dub clean. This season, beauty product line Kiehl’s is offering a limited edition trio of soaps specifically for me, designed by the “lumberjacks of fashion,” Costello & TagliaPietra. It’s a fresh and manly way not just to get groomed, but do some good — proceeds benefit the fighing-hunger charity Feeding America. $32.

Kiehl’s, 80 Highland Park Village.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

2014 Holiday Gift Guide online special: Gifts for the gifted from Gifted

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Looking for a gift for that special someone who knows how to follow the trends without following the crowd? Then the GMan line of jewelry from Treska has you covered, with bracelets made from a variety of eclectic components including agate, semi-precious stones, glass beads, shell, ceramics, metals, plastics, resin, fabrics and wood.

$5-$20, available at Gifted, 4001 Cedar Springs Road.

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Fido wants to be fashionable this holiday season, too, and the right necklace — uh, collar — can be the perfect accessory to finish off that perfect ensemble. Made from jacquard woven nylon with welded steel D-rings and heavy-duty side-release snaps, and available in a variety of patterns — including several Christmas prints, these 1-inch wide collars from Mud Puppies are perfect for medium- and large-sized dogs. But a little dog can rock the fashion, too!

$6.99. Gifted, 4001 Cedar Springs Road.

 

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Everyone has that special “frenemy” to buy for at Christmas. And what could be more fitting than the Nemesis White Triangle watch? With Japanese quartz movement, a durable mineral crystal to prevent scratches, a stainless steel case and a leather band, the Nemesis White Triangle watch may last longer than your friendship.

$169. Available at Gifted, 4001 Cedar Springs Road.

 

 

—  Tammye Nash