You finished your holiday shopping and pretty much everyone is covered. There’s the record for your music-obsessed little brother, the watercolor set for your cousin, the budding artist, and an artisanal vinegar collection for the best chef in your family: mom.
But what about the book lover in your life? It can be hard to pick the perfect volume, especially when they’ve read (and re-read) all the classics and current best sellers. To make your shopping easier, we’ve picked five books for the lit nerd who’s read it all.
The Bold Saboteurs, by Chandler Brossard
Considered by many to be the first Beat novel, this gritty tale about a young thief losing his grasp on reality is a surreal and highly original work of art. Coming from a broken home, Yogi (real name George Brown) learns to fend for himself, able to live like a prince when he lands an especially big score. When Yogi is caught and locked up in jail, he experiences his most vivid schizophrenic delusion yet. This time, he fears that the line between his sanity and insanity will become permanently blurred.
Close to the Knives, by David Wojnarowicz
The life of artist and activist David Wojnarowicz was all at once brief, eventful, and tragic. In this provocative memoir, he reveals himself as not only a remarkable artist, but also a controversial iconoclast who always seemed to be at war with a homophobic establishment and the world itself. Told in a collection of searing essays, Wojnarowicz’s words mesmerize, horrify, and delight. If your intended recipient lives in New York City, make sure you gift this book before the major exhibition of his work hits the Whitney Museum in fall 2016.
This Sporting Life, by David Storey
Although the first novel from Man Booker Prize-winner David Storey is iconic in England, it has yet to reach the same level of fame in the United States. As a rugby player, Art finds money, friends, and countless women in the aggressive sport, and he has never felt more alive, though he knows it could kill him. But when his lust for violence begins to fade, he struggles with the courage to leave the game behind. In this seminal work on rugby culture, Storey captures the lives and experiences of the overlooked working class.
A Mother’s Kisses, by Bruce Jay Friedman
While his friends pack their bags for colleges across the country, 17-year-old Joseph mopes around the apartment obsessively checking his mailbox. It seems he is ready for college, but college is not ready for him. Fearing for his sanity, Joseph’s wildly inappropriate Jewish mother takes matters into her own hands in a sidesplitting series of misadventures. From the original father of black comedy, this timeless and uproarious coming-of-age comedy appeals to fans of Larry David.
Go, by John Clellon Holmes
For ultimate fans of Beat Generation writers, this novel introduces readers to Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Neal Cassady before they became literary icons. First published in 1952, five years before On the Road, Holmes takes us through the dive bars, all-night diners, and squalid apartments that shaped a literary era. Told from the point of view of Paul Hobbes, Holmes’ alter ego, the novel follows Paul as he tries to reconcile the recklessness that connects him to his friends, and the orthodoxy that alienates him.