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2021's Perfectly Giftable Books for Everyone on Your List

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • November 22, 2021

The holidays are upon us and, from Hannukah to housewarming to Christmas, it's time to start stocking up on gifts. Here are fifteen of the year's best gift books for everyone on your list.

The Culinary Explorer

These books will thrill your foodie friends, along with those who love traveling to delicious destinations.

From those ever-curious, ever-quirky minds behind Atlas Obscura comes Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide, an unputdownable volume that marries our endless appetite for travel with our insatiable interest in food.

Growing up, James Beard Award-winning writer Alexander Lobrano's idea of fine dining was Howard Johnson's. In his debut memoir, My Place at the Table, he traces his path to becoming one of Paris's most influential food critics. It's a touching and funny coming-of-age story—plus a guide to the best restaurants in Paris.

British food writer and human rights campaigner Yasmin Khan explores the cross-section between food and human connection in Ripe Figs: Recipes and Stories From Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus, a dazzling collection of recipes and stories celebrating the idea of a world without borders.

The Nature Lover

Here are some ideas for your friends and family who love nothing better than communing with nature in beautiful, wild places.

Subpar Parks: America's Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors by Amber Share offers beautiful illustrations of popular parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon accompanied by anecdotes and visiting tips as well as the baffling, yet hilarious, one-star reviews that the rare disappointed visitor has left online.

And for the crafty nature lover, America the Beautiful Cross Stitch contains thirty patterns for America's most picturesque national parks and monuments.

For those fascinated by wildlife, consider Camouflage: 100 Masters of Disguise from the Animal Kingdom, a stunning collection of photographs of creatures—from an octopus to an arctic fox to a giraffe—demonstrating their cunning ability to hide in plain sight.

The Artist

From fine art to graffiti to cultural artifacts, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Here are a range of options for the artistically inclined.

How have art museums changed in the past century? Where are they headed in the future? In The Art Museum in Modern Times, renowned museum director Charles Saumarez Smith explores the forces behind the answers to these questions.

From 1980 to 1985, graffiti artist and activist Keith Haring created more than 5,000 chalk drawings on the walls of the New York City subways. Keith Haring: 31 Subway Drawings, out December 7 and available for preorder, showcases a selection of his elusive, iconic art.

African Artists: From 1882 to Now showcases hundreds of modern and contemporary artists representing the diverse continent. The glorious paintings, sculptures, installations, and photographs in this compilation reflect the remarkable and profound work coming out of Africa.

The Adventurer

Lots of us are itching to get out these days and these guides will help intrepid voyagers satisfy their wanderlust.

From Rob Taylor, the creator of the 2TravelDads Blog comes The Road Trip Survival Guide, perfect for both experienced and novice road-trippers. With five practical sections—Planning, Packing, Food, Safety, and Itineraries—this book covers every aspect of the adventure.

Whether you're looking for a way to unplug from the busy work week, take the family on a quick getaway, or add to a vacation itinerary, 1000 Perfect Weekends: Great Getaways Around the Globe, will help plan the ultimate escape.

And for those would-be voyagers who are looking for ways to see the world without ruining it, sustainability expert Holly Tuppen lays out some illuminating strategies for embarking on low-carbon, positive-impact adventures in Sustainable Travel.

The Questioner

These books will satisfy a range of inquisitive investigators, whether their explorations are born out of the practical, the absurd, or the cultural.

Perfect for the young adult living on their own for the first time, Dad, How Do I? started as a YouTube channel that went viral. Having grown up without the guidance of his own father, author Rob Kenney shares advice and DIY information for successful living.

From Randall Munroe, the creator of the wildly popular webcomic, What If? offers carefully researched and sharply humorous answers to a variety of absurd hypothetical questions like: Could you build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns?

And last, but not least, for the bookishly curious types (like us!), try Between the Lines: Stories from the Underground. Documentarian Uli Beutter Cohen has spent nearly a decade on the New York City subway getting to know its most imaginative and creative riders, specifically, those reading books. Here she shares what she uncovered about who we are and where we're going.

Hopefully a few of these books will find their way onto your gift-shopping lists this season and maybe even on your wish lists!

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Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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