Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Off the Radar Gift Ideas

Some guys - bless 'em - know exactly what they want and can articulate it when it comes to books. I was not one of those guys, and that inability to express my general interests ended up in some, er, interesting book selections when I was a teen. I suppose that year I got a book on identifying rocks and gems came from the haphazard collection of stones I had picked up while camping, but that was an earnest mistake; to this day I have no idea what to make of my getting Jonathan Livingston Seagull when I was 13.

So what follows are a short collection of books that I have found nifty recently that, if not perfect gift selections for some guy you know, may at least provide potential book ideas for that mumbly, mopey dude over there hoping no one asks him what he's into.

Lonely Planet’s Instant Expert:

A Visual Guide to the Skills You’ve Always Wanted
By Nigel Holmes
Lonely Planet 2014

I can’t speak to the idea that I have ever wanted to be an expert in half of the skills listed inside this book, but the teen know-it-all inside me loves this visual compendium of high-end trivia and how-to guides. Just a random page test can yield startling results: how cheese chemically can be as addictive as opiates; what the little pictographs on clothing tags mean in terms of how to wash items (especially when the print is so tiny you can’t read it); things you need to know to be a dog walker… or a gondolier; even how to be a blogger! It’s a rather tongue-in-cheek approach to becoming a jack of all trades but makes an informative jumping off point for conversations about possible careers, or just a jumping off point for conversations in general!

please click for full effect!

Read This If You Want To Take Great Photographs
By Henry Carrol
Laurence King Publishing  2014

For the budding photo student looking for quick inspiration, or as an accompaniment to a new camera this holiday season, this breezy read walks the reader through the fundamentals of photography with simple explanations and tons of examples from famous photographers. Broken down into fivesections – Composition, Exposure, Light, Lenses, and Seeing – each covers various concepts for great photos on the left side with an example on the right side of each spread. These can easily be viewed as challenges or assignments or just nice pictures to admire. It only makes sense to teach a visual medium through visuals, and this book does a great job of it.  
click to enbiggen

The Art of Tinkering
By Karen Wilkinson & Mike Petrich
Weldon Owen 2013

Born out of the SF Exploratorium and maker culture, this introduction to Makers at the intersection of art, science and technology offers up page after page of ideas for, well, tinkering. Utilizing common household items along with some basic tools and purchased electronics, The Art of Tinkering is a perfect introduction for the younger teen maker; older teens will be equally inspired by some of the more complicated examples of the projects shown. A solid foundation in the art of exploring what you can do with a little bit of messing around, and another in the long list of books I wish I’d had as a teen.

can you read tiny type? me neither. click to enlarge

Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga
Volume 1
DC Comics 2014

Batman circa 1966 + manga = a delightful new (old) take on the Caped Crusader! Before he got all dark and broody (thank you, Frank Miller) in the mid-60 DC Comics decided to return Batman to his scientific detective roots when introducing him to a Japanese audience. The serialization of the six chapters included here feel a lot like old radio dramas but there was great care in Kuwata's clean lines and the plotting dynamic without feeling over-the-top. Presented in manga style (backwards from Western reading, back to front, right to left) and with its kanji sound effects in place (translations provided) this could be a great new experience for a budding comics aficionado or the Batman fan who thinks they've seen it all -- this is the first time they've been collected and translated into English.

nice and big. click and blow things up!

I'd be curious to hear of any other off-the-beaten-path suggestions for guys this holiday season. Not for me, you know, but this friend of mine. Yeah, a friend of mine...

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