12 Smart Book Ideas for Everyone in Your Life

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iStock

Books make the perfect gift: they're durable, transportable, and they promise some (hopefully) quality alone time. But what do you get the aunt who loves mystery novels if you're not familiar with the genre? Or the nephew who devours travelogues and goes backpacking around the world? Look no further—we've got them covered, plus 10 other very specific categories.

1. FOR THE VINTAGE COOKBOOK LOVER: LEAVE ME ALONE WITH THE RECIPES: THE LIFE, ART, AND COOKBOOK OF CIPE PINELES, EDITED BY SARAH RICH,‎ WENDY MACNAUGHTON, DEBBIE MILLMAN, AND MARIA POPOVA; $27

Book cover for Leave Me Alone With the Recipes
Amazon

Author Sarah Rich and illustrator Wendy MacNaughton fell in love with the work of Cipe Pineles, the first female art director at Condé Nast, after discovering her recipes at a San Francisco antiquarian book fair. Filled with vibrantly colored illustrations, Leave Me Alone With the Recipes shows the joyful spirit and homespun flair that made Pineles’s work so influential. Alongside the recipes, the book includes contributions from luminaries in the worlds of food and illustration, including artist Maira Kalman and Maria Popova of Brain Pickings renown.

Find It: Amazon

2. FOR ANYONE HAVING SURGERY THIS YEAR: THE BUTCHERING ART: JOSEPH LISTER’S QUEST TO TRANSFORM THE GRISLY WORLD OF VICTORIAN MEDICINE BY LINDSEY FITZHARRIS; $27

Cover of The Butchering Art
Amazon

Back in the bad old days of medicine, a consistently blood-soaked apron was a sign of pride. Surgeons rarely washed them—or their hands, or their operating tools. Joseph Lister, the somewhat reluctant hero of Lindsey Fitzharris's new book The Butchering Art, was the genius who convinced the medical world that germs were not only real but a major cause of mortality in their hospitals. With an eye for vivid details and the colorful characters of 19th century medicine, Fitzharris has crafted a book that will make you thank Lister for his foresight—and make you glad you weren't alive back then.

Find It: Amazon

3. FOR THE GENEALOGY OBSESSIVE: IT’S ALL RELATIVE: ADVENTURES UP AND DOWN THE WORLD’S FAMILY TREE BY A.J. JACOBS; $27

Cover of Its All Relative
Simon & Schuster

What constitutes a "family"? In his latest book, A.J. Jacobs (famed for lifestyle experiments like trying to live an entire year in accordance with the Bible) delves into the world of genetics and genealogy to try and orchestrate the world's largest family reunion. With his trademark humor and insight, he ends up exploring the interconnectedness of all of humankind.

Find It: Amazon

4. FOR THE SOCIALLY AWARE YOUNG ADULT: THE HATE U GIVE BY ANGIE THOMAS; $18

Cover of The Hate U Give
Amazon

Already caught between the conflicting worlds of the poor neighborhood where she lives and her fancy prep school, 16-year-old Starr Carter finds herself in the middle of a tragedy when her childhood best friend is shot and killed by a police officer. As his death becomes a national flashpoint, it becomes clear that she may be the only person alive who can explain what really happened that night. Angie Thomas's writing has earned praise for being gut-wrenching, searing, and deftly crafted; Publishers Weekly called the book "heartbreakingly topical."

Find It: Amazon

5. FOR FANS OF PRESIDENTIAL HISTORY THAT READS LIKE A NOVEL: THE WARS OF THE ROOSEVELTS: THE RUTHLESS RISE OF AMERICA'S GREATEST POLITICAL FAMILY BY WILLIAM J. MANN; $35

You might think you know the Roosevelts, but historian William J. Mann looks beyond the well-worn stories to expose the bitter rivalries that drove its most famous members' quest for power. Along the way, he examines the Roosevelts who were kept away from the limelight, and the secrets they hold—all told in dramatic style.

Find It: Amazon

6. FOR THE INTREPID TRAVELER: ATLAS OBSCURA: AN EXPLORER'S GUIDE TO THE WORLD'S HIDDEN WONDERS, BY JOSHIA FOER, DYLAN THURAS, AND ELLA MORTON; $35

The book cover for Atlas Obscura's book
Amazon.com

An amusement park in a salt mine? Check. A tree so big it has its own pub? Check. A giant hole that's been spouting flames for 40 years? Check. This guidebook is a compendium of the world's strangest and most wonderful places, and it's guaranteed to inspire some serious wanderlust, especially in more adventurous travelers. For the complete experience, you can also get an awesome wall calendar featuring destinations from the book designed as vintage travel posters; there's a page-a-day desk calendar and explorers' journal too.

Find it: Amazon

7. FOR YOUR FRIEND WHO LOVES WEIRD HISTORY: THE PUBLIC DOMAIN REVIEW SELECTED ESSAYS; $20

The Public Domain Review is one of the premier online destination for fans of curious history. If you know someone who enjoys stories about weird medieval medicine treaties, ancient automata, deranged 18th century scientists, and other odd subjects well off the beaten historical path, look no further than this book of essays (the site's fourth).

Find It: The Public Domain Review

8. FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE A GOOD MYSTERY: THE BIG BOOK OF ROGUES AND VILLAINS, EDITED BY OTTO PENZLER; $25

Cover of the Big Book of Rogues and Villains
Amazon

At the heart of every good mystery is a (usually dastardly) perpetrator, whether it's a Count Dracula or a Jimmy Valentine. With this anthology, Edgar Award winner Otto Penzler has combed through 150 years of literary history to find 72 stories featuring the most famous and entertaining antiheroes authors have ever been able to dream up.

Find It: Amazon

9. FOR PEOPLE WHO KNOW WHAT THE BORSCHT BELT IS: JEWISH COMEDY: A SERIOUS HISTORY BY JEREMY DAUBER; $28.95

Jews and humor go together like challah and Manischewitz (after all, as my bubbie says, if you don't laugh, you'll cry). In this "serious history," Columbia professor Jeremy Dauber considers the origins of Jewish humor in Biblical times through its life on Twitter today; how it's reflected—and even influenced—Jewish history; the production of major archetypes like the Jewish mother; and the prominence of Jewish comedians like Sarah Silverman and Larry David. You don't have to be Jewish to love it, but it may help you understand the in-jokes.

Find It: Amazon

10. FOR YOUR FRIEND WHO LOVES DARK SHORT STORIES: HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES, BY CARMEN MARIA MACHADO; $16

Book cover for Her Body and Other Parties
Amazon

A story told in the form of Law & Order episode summaries. A strange plague that makes girls go invisible, as narrated by a mall worker. A recollection of romantic encounters with the last of humanity’s survivors. In this collection, Carmen Maria Machado fuses urban legends, dystopian tropes, and heavy helpings of sexuality to create a new kind of magical realism strangely appropriate to our era. The images will haunt you long after you put the book down, if you let them.

Find It: Amazon

11. FOR THE PERSON WHO LOVES BIG-DEAL LITERARY NOVELS AND ALSO ABRAHAM LINCOLN: LINCOLN IN THE BARDO, BY GEORGE SAUNDERS; $18

A meditation on sorrow and the Civil War populated by a rag-tag group of ghosts, Lincoln in the Bardo starts with the real-life death of 11-year-old Willie Lincoln, Abraham's son. In the book, Willie has entered the Bardo—a Tibetan Buddhist term for a transitional limbo—where there's a fierce struggle underway for his soul.

Find It: Amazon

12. FOR THE GENERALIST: A BOOK-OF-THE-MONTH SUBSCRIPTION; $45 FOR THREE MONTHS

A book of the month club subscription box with gift trappings nearby
Book of the Month Club

Can’t decide what to get, but feeling generous? Give your friend who loves to read a new hardcover book of their choice every month. Literary fans who are short on time will love having someone else do the legwork to find the best new novels; plus, there’s early access to new releases. Prices vary depending on the length of the subscription, and there’s a deal right now where you can get a month free when you give a subscription as a gift.

Find It: Book of the Month

Save 25% on Ranger Station’s Woodsy Candles and Colognes

by Shane Roberts

Ranger Station makes some of the most incredible, fragrant, woods-inspired candles and perfumes you’ll ever smell, and you can take advantage of the best discount they’ve ever offered today to stock up. Use promo code SKIMRANGER to save 25% site wide.

Ranger Station's natural soy double wick candles are so fragrant you don’t even need to light them to change the smell of a room. When you finally get through their 40+ hour burn time, the jar is actually a very nice tumbler.

More recently, Ranger Station brought their olfactory expertise to perfume with the same amazing results. Their Oak Moss, available as both a candle and a cologne, is a fan favorite.

Everything Ranger Station makes is extremely giftable, especially when paired with their lighters and awesome but totally unnecessary wick trimmers.

Use promo code SKIMRANGER to save 25% site wide.

The Ranger Station Story from Ranger Station on Vimeo.

12 Items Every Taco Lover Needs

Amazon
Amazon

October 4 is National Taco Day. Let’s tacobout some products you can buy to show your love for this most excellent of foods every day of the year.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. TRICERATACO HOLDER; $22

Two dinosaur shaped taco holders with tacos in them.
Amazon

Yes, you could buy some more standard stainless steel taco holders, but why not get these punny and whimsical stands instead? They’re made of BPA-free plastic and are dishwasher safe. If carnivorous dinos are more your speed, try the TACOsaurus Rex.

Find it: Amazon

2. SHORT SLEEVE TACO SHIRT; $16 - $25

Subtly show your taco appreciation with this button up shirt, which is equipped with a tiny taco print and is made of 100 percent cotton. (They recommend buying a size up from your usual size.)

Find it: Amazon

3. TACO WAIST PACK; $11

A fanny pack with tacos on it.
Amazon

Don’t call it a fanny pack: This taco-adorned waist pack has three compartments and an adjustable strap that will accommodate taco bellies up to 46 inches.

Find it: Amazon

4. TACOS: RECIPES AND PROVOCATIONS; $21

This book, written by New York City chef Alex Stupack, is filled with essays, gorgeous photographs, and, of course, recipes. Learn how to make tortillas from scratch, whip up delicious salsas, and top it all off with fillings that are anything but basic. The book promises to “change the way you make—and think about—tacos forever.”

Find it: Amazon

5. TACO HAT; $20

A hat that looks like a taco.
Amazon

Perfect for Taco Tuesday or Halloween (or both!), this hat measures 8 inches by 18 inches.

Find it: Amazon

6. TACOS VINTAGE TEE; $20

This retro shirt comes in men’s and women’s cuts and five different colors.

Find it: Amazon

7. TACO CAT BED; $48

A cat in a bed that looks like a taco.
Amazon

This adorable, cozy taco bed is perfect for your feline friend. Made of padded fleece and microfiber yarn, it has wire in the trim to help it hold its shape and comes with catnip-stuffed pepper toys.

Find it: Amazon

8. TACO DOG COLLAR; $20

A dog collar with tacos on it.
Amazon

This dog collar is both durable and stylish: Made of polyester with a plastic buckle, it’s adorned with a mustachioed taco.

Find it: Amazon

9. KIDROBOT TACO PILLOW; $30

A cute taco pillow with a happy face on it.
Amazon

This friendly-faced pillow will look great on your bed or couch. If photorealism is what you’re looking for in your taco, consider this one.

Find it: Amazon

10. TACO SOCKS; $12

These crew length cotton socks are adorned with avocados, peppers, limes, hot sauce, and tacos. On the bottom, they say “If you can read this” and “bring me some tacos.”

Find it: Amazon

11. TACO POOL FLOAT; $11

A pool float shaped like a taco with a face on it.
Amazon

At 5 feet long, this vinyl taco float is made for lounging in the pool. It comes with a patch kit for easy repairs.

Find it: Amazon

12. TACO KITCHEN TOWEL; $15

Made of microfiber fabric, this tea towel—which measures 16 by 24 inches—is both cute and functional: Made of microfiber terrycloth, it’s ultra absorbent, and the dyes won’t fade.

Find it: Amazon

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