The Smart Pop gift guide: books and more

By November 28th, 2011

December always sneaks up on me: suddenly, I’m inundated with Black Friday sales emails, and I realize I have a full list of Hanukah and Christmas gifts to shop for and not a lot of time to do it in.

In case you’re in the same boat: here’s our top 5 best gift bets from our last 12 months of new releases. We’ve also added a few related non-book gift options to round out each suggestion–just in case you really like the person (or your Secret Santa lower limit is higher than a list price of $16.95).

For the Mad Men fan, the foodie, or the history buff:

The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook

You’re especially in luck if your giftee is all three. Every recipe is put into its Mad Men context (you can look each dish or drink up by season and episode, and the authors provide a quick sense of the scene in which it appeared) and accompanied by plenty of historical detail and nifty food history facts. Not to mention, every recipe we’ve tried has been pretty darn tasty, too.


Add-on gifts:


For the Hunger Games fan who can’t wait for the movie:

The Girl Who Was on Fire

This collection of YA writers like Carrie Ryan, Ned Vizzini, Sarah Rees Brennan, and more, all talking about various aspects of the Hunger Games (from reality tv to the love triangle, from self-sacrifice and community to fashion and PTSD), is a great extra for both casual and hardcore Hunger Games fans–as well as readers on both the “young” and “adult” ends of the genre’s spectrum.



Add-on gifts:


For the amateur (or professional!) psychologist, or anyone intrigued by Lisbeth Salander:

The Psychology of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

By the time Christmas comes, the US version of the film with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara will be in theaters–which means people will be talking yet again about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s heroine, Lisbeth Salander. Here, psychologists and psychiatrists take on the mystery of Lisbeth Salander, using the clues provided in the series to get inside Lisbeth’s head, and come out with some intriguing insights about the way she interacts with the world around her and what our reactions to her say about us.


Add-on gifts:


For the science lover, the “geek,” or the geek-adjacent:

Unraveling the Mysteries of The Big Bang Theory

Our favorite aspects of this non-traditional tv show companion? The photo-illustrated tour of the Sheldonian universe, “from couch to cosmos”; a guide to the meaning of every episode title; a survey of the show’s real-life scientist guest stars; and the “elemental explication” sidebars that pepper the interior. But there’s plenty more, here, too, for both the Pennys and Sheldons among us.



Add-on gifts:


For the science fiction buff, or the Joshua Jackson fan:

Fringe Science

Okay, maybe not so much the Joshua Jackson fan, if he’s the only reason they tune in every Friday night. Otherwise, Fringe Science’s survey of the science and SF in the show (always with an eye toward the show’s larger themes) will help your loved one weather the current winter hiatus and re-energize them for new episodes in January.



Add-on gifts:

Happy gifting, and happy holidays!

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