Books make the best gifts. Full stop.
Books are the most right because they are perfectly personalized and customized for anyone's unique and strange and beautiful taste. Perhaps you find yourself stuck when considering what you can buy for your hipster-doofus-intellectual snob-sweet-little-brother-music-lover-history-and-law-student? How about The History of Rock and Roll in Ten Songs, by Greil Marcus? Cool, that sounds great. He'll love it, even if he hides his smile behind his beard.
What about your little niece, just mastering and falling in love with reading - enjoying every new chapter book she can get her hands on? Well, my favorite book in second grade was a tie between The Little Match Girl and a picture-biography of Jackie Robinson, so what if you went with Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson? It's a beautiful story, gorgeously told - and every girl needs a good hero, and who better than the glamorous Josephine Baker? No one.
And what about your super-sophisticated, art-loving friend? You know the type - she knows everything, on the bleeding edge of all things beauty and fashion and literature and pop and art and relevant. You don't know what to get her because she has everything OR because she's above material things and free from 'want' - your love and affection and good sense of humor is all she wants for Christmas. Cool, well; regardless, the laws of Secret Santa must be abided. Maybe this powerful and beautiful meditation, How to be Happy by Eleanor Davis will delight and surprise her.
And your dear friend, embarking on a new business venture while getting married and upending everything she knows about the professional and personal world? Well, Delancey, of course. Thanks in advance!
More suggestions to come, but allow me to emphasize - books are the best. I can't wait to help you tick off all your loved ones on your list next year!
Also, if you want to spend house on a spectacular website with book recommendations, check out NPR's Best Books of 2014 app. I want to crawl into this website and live there, if that's meaningful to you in any way.
*all characters referred to in this post are totally fictional or maybe based on real people.