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For the Person to Whom You Wouldn't Feel Bad about Giving an 800 Page Novel:
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

It's long, but it's so, so great. It's about interesting things, a terrorist attack and art smuggling ring among them, but it doesn't really matter what it's about. Tartt's full-spectrum style makes for a story so completely engrossing that the giftee won't mind lugging around so many pounds of book.

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For the Poet who also Occasionally Gets into Gun Battles:
Men in Miami Hotels, by Charlie Smith

Never before has a book with such brilliant attention to detail and depth of feeling had such a high body count and lurid descriptions of violence. My review in the Miami Herald.

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For the Baseball Fan who Occasionally Gets Lost in Thought During Conversation and a Slightly Sad Look Comes Over their Face and you Have to get their Attention:
Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere, by Lucas Mann

Sure, it's about baseball. Namely the lowly single-A Clinton LumberKings, who the author followed for a full season. But it's also about industrial decline, male bonding, desperation, depression, and a whole bunch else. Mann deserved the comparisons he received to Joan Didion. My review on the Daily Beast. 

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For the Person Who Hasn't Read Moby Dick:
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville

You've read Moby Dick right? You can get the public domain version from Barnes and Noble for like 9 bucks or whatever.

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For The Short Story Reader:
The Color Master, by Aimee Bender

An absolute master class in the short story. You'll be amazed that each story wasn't written by a different author. My review on the Daily Beast

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For the College Student Taking Their First Creative Writing Class:
Jesus' Son, by Denis Johnson.

Inscribe it with "Enjoy your new life!" and then sit back and watch their brain change.

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For the Person Who's Read Every Denis Johnson Novel:
Fat City, by Leonard Gardner

This 1969 book about small-time boxers is Denis Johnson's favorite novel, (and one of mine too, but who cares). You'll figure out why immediately. 

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For the Theater Goer:
The Song Of Spider-Man, by Glen Berger

Remember when America was gripped with make-fun-of-the-Spiderman-Musical fever? The author of this often farcical tell-all memoir was there for the whole thing; he co-wrote the production with Julie Taymor, who he doesn't recount in the most generous light. Bono and The Edge, who wrote the score, also make make appearances, bursting in like they do on South Park. My review in the Miami Herald. 

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For the Critic:
Waiting for the Barbarians, Daniel Mendelsohn

The man who took on Mad Men and won. (By which I mean made me realize that it was okay for me to stop watching Mad Men.) If it's a product of culture, then Mendelsohn can say something brilliant about it, and show you how the Greeks already probably did it better. My review on the Daily Beast. 

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For the Person Who Was Super Bummed When Levon Helm Died:
This Wheel's on Fire, by Levon Helm

Five pages into Levon Helm's memoir of his time in the best American band ever to be comprised mostly of Canadians and I wanted to cry. (I didn't though.) In addition to evoking his upbringing on an Arkansas farm (which I'm required by law to describe as "hardscrabble") and his musical odyssey, he also throws shade at Robbie Robertson, and The Last Waltz.  

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For the Capitalist/Anti-Capitalist:
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid
 
The anti-capitalist will take it as a lyric and ironic look at the lengths those in developing economies will go to achieve some version of the American Dream. The capitalist will take it as a guidebook. My review on the Daily Beast. 

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For the Philosophy Major:
The Facades, by Eric Lundgren

A dark and beguiling philosophical detective story, Part David Foster Wallace and part Raymond Chandler. Pretend you didn't catch the Wittgenstein allusions and let her find them on her own. She'll feel so smart. My review in Time Out New York. 

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The "Literally Nobody Could Possibly Dislike This Book" Book:
Where'd You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple. 

This book, written by a former writer for Arrested Development, came out a while ago, but it's so funny, dynamic, and inventive that I'm still recommending it. My review on the Daily Beast. 

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For Me:
The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner

I haven't been able to read this book yet but I hear it's really good. Buy it for me?

12/6/2016 11:24:55 pm

Celebrities prefer to get twitter followers anyways as a strategy to acquire status in a shorter span.

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