Disclosure: I received these products free to facilitate this post. All opinions remain my own.
For some reason, it’s the men on my Christmas shopping lists whose gifts I struggle the most to choose. The books included in this post could very easily suit a woman on your shopping list, but in my case I’ve chosen them for the fellas! For one thing, I can pretty much guarantee that neither my brother, husband nor father will spy this post and ruin their Christmas surprises. Hopefully I can help you generate a few thoughtful ideas for the “man who has everything” on your list.
5 Books That Make Great Gifts for Guys
1. For the gardener who wants to kick it up a notch:
My Papa has a green thumb. When I was growing up, he had a vegetable patch in our yard. Now living in a big home with a very small backyard, he is the proud cultivator of a plot at his local community garden.
My father-in-law here in Québec lives on acreage and is already an expert gardener, and my husband and I hope to follow in his footsteps on our own land in our retirement. (So yes, I also chose this book because I wanted to read it before giving it away.)
So for my Dad (and, let’s face it, me), I chose an ambitious title: “Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less).”My Dad is approaching his own retirement at the end of this year, and will have more time to devote to his little plot of land:
Perhaps he would like to build a chicken coop and keep backyard chickens? In parts of the Lower Mainland where they live, it is legal to keep chickens in your backyard, which I think is awesome!
On top of all of the tips for maximizing your space for cultivating fruits and vegetables, this book covers the basics of animal husbandry and even beekeeping. The community garden where my Papa has his plot also has beehives!
Since my mother is the one tasked with finding a use for the abundant harvest that is possible almost year-round thanks to the temperate climate in southern BC, the recipes and food preservation guides in this book will be mighty useful. Now that Dad’s retiring, though, I suspect these tasks will also be delegated to him.
2. For the wannabe history buff
Remember the episode of The Simpsons when Homer gets in hot water with Marge because, for her birthday, he buys her a bowling ball that is, quite evidently for him? Oops! Well at least I can assess my choice of this title for my husband as 50% for him and 50% for me!
Now, there are definitely titles in the “Idiot’s Guide” series that I would caution against giving your spouse or loved one for Christmas. Titles such as “Surviving Divorce” or “Enhancing Your Social IQ” might send the wrong message. However, “The Idiot’s Guide to The Middle East Conflict” should really be required reading for anyone who listens to the news or reads a newspaper (as well as some world leaders).
I first purchased an edition of this book when I was trying my very best to read a non-fiction title on the Middle East: Robert Fisk’s “The Great War for Civilization.” I found myself completely ill-equipped by my meager high school history education (since I pursued a double major in language in University, I didn’t take any history then, either) to comprehend the author’s references. Having come of age post-9/11, I had become almost deaf to news stories that took place in the Middle East.
Well, I was enthralled with the book, and completely blown away by how much I didn’t know. My husband (then boyfriend) and I fought over who would get to keep my copy (since we lived on opposite ends of the country). We ended up buying a second one: that’s how important we found this reference book.
This latest edition is now once more out of date, published prior to the latest spate of “Homegrown Terrorists” facing Canadians. However, I am also horrendously out of date, and am devouring chapters on the Arab Spring and the conflict in Syria.
This book is accessible to readers (like myself) who simply are not good with dates or historical figures… or even names, but who consider it of the utmost importance to be well-informed about world events so as to take one-sided media coverage with a large grain of salt.
3. For the craft beer aficionado
My brother loves beer so much that he got married at a brewery and as gifts to the wedding party they gave out custom bottles of craft beer.
So, yup, the perfect coffee-table book for my baby bro would be the aptly-titled “The Beer Book.” Even the cover is like a giant coaster! Every time I visit my family in BC, my brother is getting my Dad to try some new flavour of beer. Both of them are also big fans of “U-Brew.” The smell of hops still reminds me of accompanying my Dad to the nearest “U-Brew” franchise to help him stir his batches of beer. (I hate beer, by the way.)
4. For the prepper
My husband is a firm believer in the zombie apocalypse. Well, in some kind of apocalypse. As far as he’s concerned, society will collapse in his lifetime and if it doesn’t, he will be a very sad panda. We’ve recently acquired the land on which he will construct his post-apocalyptic colony, and now I’m giving him his guidebook:
As you can imagine, each subtopic contained within “The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It” deserves an entire book, so don’t expect to pack just this book in your bugout bag when the apocalypse hits. This book provides a sampling of the kind of know-how and information you need to achieve self-sufficiency, including how to make your own bricks and tiles, how to generate your own electricity, how to make cheese, and such fascinating and critical tutorials as how to make wine from PARSNIPS!
The section on foraging for food will be particularly important before we get all set up for farming:
On a recent stroll through the woods, my husband assured me that he’d found an edible mushroom.
His Dad being the only one to taste it, we were assured the following day that it was not. If you’ve got an armchair prepper on your list (someone who loves the show “Doomsday Preppers”) and you’d like to see them translate that interest into practical skills, this book is a subtle hint!
5. For the happy-meat lover
As you may know, I’m a vegetarian. However, I’m a big proponent of what I call “happy meat.” I believe that it is completely natural for human beings to consume meat. My beef (pun intended) is with the way the vast majority of the meat we consume is raised. I don’t eat meat because I am opposed to factory farms. I have, over the years that I’ve known my husband, consumed small quantities of a variety of “happy meat,” since his Dad lives on a farm and raises a few animals for meat each year.
As part of the whole “preparation for the apocalypse” business, my husband has become more interested in learning how to prepare meat “from scratch.” Also, my father-in-law doesn’t provide conveniently pre-cut, shrink wrapped cuts of meat! That is why my husband definitely needs “The Meat Cookbook.”
What I like about this book is that it isn’t limited to how to cook store-bought slices. The book shows how to prepare the different cuts of an animal yourself.
Books are a thoughtful and practical gift for the guys (and gals) on your list with a thirst for knowledge (or beer… or gravy… or parsnip wine).
What books are you giving this year?