Booklist Reader’s Oddly Specific Guide to Holiday Gift-Giving, 2019

Got a Baby Yoda-obsessed friend or acquaintance in your life? (Answer: YES. YES, YOU DO.) How about a bothersome brother-in-law or fanatic gym + Star Trek fan? No matter which (uniquely) special someone you may be buying gifts for this holiday season, we’ve got you covered. Plus, if you need even more suggestions, simply check out previous years’ gift guides: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015.

For the musician kid/young adult/adult who got a harmonica in their stocking

Harmonicas, Harps, and Heavy Breathers: The Evolution of the People’s Instrument, by Kim Field

From descriptions of the ancient Chinese sheng, which dates back to 1100 BCE, to the more modern instruments produced and distributed by German clockmakers, this book offers everything you ever wanted to know about the humble harmonica! All the makes and models, all the players, all the genres (yes! there are those who blow classical music on the Mundharmonika, too!), and all the records and CDs to buy. A definitive guide. —Chris Anderson

For the person you love to sugar crash with the most

Happiness Is Baking: Cakes, Pies, Tarts, Muffins, Brownies, Cookies; Favorite Desserts from the Queen of Cake, by Maida Heatter

Time-tested recipes, fresh illustrations, and darling (but by no means bland!) recipe notes make this a real treat for the cousin you’re most likely to nap next to after consuming four pieces of pie and 23 cookies together. “Queen of Cake” Heatter passed away this year, just shy of turning 103 years young. 103! This book is basically a prescription for health and longevity! If there’s a better way to say I love you, I don’t know it. —Annie Bostrom

For the friend who loves sci-fi almost as much as they love hitting the gym

Star Trek: Body by Starfleet: A Fitness Guide, by Robb Pearlman

Do you know a health nut who dreams about playing springball on a holosuite or crawling through Jefferies tubes? This is the book for them! In Star Trek: Body by Starfleet, readers can pretend they are maintaining peace on behalf of the United Federation of Planets while they exercise. Cardassian Neck Tricks will beef up their collars, and if they do enough of Riker’s Leg Extensions, they may learn to sit in chairs as memorably as the bearded first officer. Don’t forget my favorite: the Wesley Crunchers! (Bonus points if you do crunches while time traveling!) —Biz Hyzy

For the Janeite in your life

Ayesha at Last, by Uzma Jalaluddin
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, by Sonali Dev
Unmarriageable, by Soniah Kamal
Polite Society, by Mahesh Rao

There was an embarrassment of riches this year for folks who like Jane Austen updates; odds are, the devoted fan on your list has not read all of them. Try any of the above, or let them know they are not alone with Austentatious: The Evolving World of Jane Austen Fans by Holly Luetkenhaus and Zoe Weinstein. —Susan Maguire

For the crafter who cannot get enough Baby Yoda

Mini Knitted Cosmos: Over 40 Woolly Aliens, Rockets, Planets and Other Astro-Knits, by Sachiyo Ishii

Maybe they’ve downloaded all of the hastily written patterns from Etsy (before Disney’s copyright folks could get to them . . . ), but if they can’t get enough Cute Space Stuff, please consider Sachiyo Ishii’s Mini Knitted Cosmos, which, as advertised, includes over 40 patterns for aliens, rockets, planets, and other space stuff that can be made in a variety of yarns and sizes, or perhaps adapted to look like a little green angel with pointy ears and giant eyes and a too-big robe that you would do anything for. ANYTHING. —Susan Maguire

I would die for you, Baby Yoda.

For your brother-in-law, who “babysits” his own kids

Awards for Good Boys: Tales of Dating, Double Standards, and Doom, by Shelby Lorman

Sounds like someone wants some recognition for doing the absolute least! Just the guy Shelby Lorman had in mind when she wrote Awards for Good Boys, in which devastatingly simple drawings and sick burns combine to reward the dude who is “theoretically open to being wrong” or who “interrupts you to make it clear he’s still listening.” Somebody please do this! —Susan Maguire

For the poison enthusiast in your life, who also enjoys a good history lesson

The Poison Eaters: Fighting Danger and Fraud in Our Food and Drugs, by Gail Jarrow

This horror show of inedible or poisonous additives that were once used to doctor food and medicine in the U.S. is a macabre feast of vintage product ads, lethal grocery shelves, and health tonics laced with opium. It’s the perfect choice for murderinos in the making who may not be quite ready for The Poisoner’s Handbook, by Deborah Blum. —Julia Smith



About the Author:

Briana Shemroske is Booklist's Marketing Associate. She graduated with a BA from Lake Forest College where she studied English Writing and Art History. In her free time she can be found eating cheeseburgers, frolicking with her schnoodle, Moritz, and feebly attempting to play board games. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Briana.

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