12 Smart Book Ideas for Everyone in Your Life

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Books make the perfect gift: they're durable, transportable, and they promise some (hopefully) quality alone time. But what do you get the aunt who loves mystery novels if you're not familiar with the genre? Or the nephew who devours travelogues and goes backpacking around the world? Look no further—we've got them covered, plus 10 other very specific categories.

1. FOR THE VINTAGE COOKBOOK LOVER: LEAVE ME ALONE WITH THE RECIPES: THE LIFE, ART, AND COOKBOOK OF CIPE PINELES, EDITED BY SARAH RICH,‎ WENDY MACNAUGHTON, DEBBIE MILLMAN, AND MARIA POPOVA; $27

Book cover for Leave Me Alone With the Recipes
Amazon

Author Sarah Rich and illustrator Wendy MacNaughton fell in love with the work of Cipe Pineles, the first female art director at Condé Nast, after discovering her recipes at a San Francisco antiquarian book fair. Filled with vibrantly colored illustrations, Leave Me Alone With the Recipes shows the joyful spirit and homespun flair that made Pineles’s work so influential. Alongside the recipes, the book includes contributions from luminaries in the worlds of food and illustration, including artist Maira Kalman and Maria Popova of Brain Pickings renown.

Find It: Amazon

2. FOR ANYONE HAVING SURGERY THIS YEAR: THE BUTCHERING ART: JOSEPH LISTER’S QUEST TO TRANSFORM THE GRISLY WORLD OF VICTORIAN MEDICINE BY LINDSEY FITZHARRIS; $27

Cover of The Butchering Art
Amazon

Back in the bad old days of medicine, a consistently blood-soaked apron was a sign of pride. Surgeons rarely washed them—or their hands, or their operating tools. Joseph Lister, the somewhat reluctant hero of Lindsey Fitzharris's new book The Butchering Art, was the genius who convinced the medical world that germs were not only real but a major cause of mortality in their hospitals. With an eye for vivid details and the colorful characters of 19th century medicine, Fitzharris has crafted a book that will make you thank Lister for his foresight—and make you glad you weren't alive back then.

Find It: Amazon

3. FOR THE GENEALOGY OBSESSIVE: IT’S ALL RELATIVE: ADVENTURES UP AND DOWN THE WORLD’S FAMILY TREE BY A.J. JACOBS; $27

Cover of Its All Relative
Simon & Schuster

What constitutes a "family"? In his latest book, A.J. Jacobs (famed for lifestyle experiments like trying to live an entire year in accordance with the Bible) delves into the world of genetics and genealogy to try and orchestrate the world's largest family reunion. With his trademark humor and insight, he ends up exploring the interconnectedness of all of humankind.

Find It: Amazon

4. FOR THE SOCIALLY AWARE YOUNG ADULT: THE HATE U GIVE BY ANGIE THOMAS; $18

Cover of The Hate U Give
Amazon

Already caught between the conflicting worlds of the poor neighborhood where she lives and her fancy prep school, 16-year-old Starr Carter finds herself in the middle of a tragedy when her childhood best friend is shot and killed by a police officer. As his death becomes a national flashpoint, it becomes clear that she may be the only person alive who can explain what really happened that night. Angie Thomas's writing has earned praise for being gut-wrenching, searing, and deftly crafted; Publishers Weekly called the book "heartbreakingly topical."

Find It: Amazon

5. FOR FANS OF PRESIDENTIAL HISTORY THAT READS LIKE A NOVEL: THE WARS OF THE ROOSEVELTS: THE RUTHLESS RISE OF AMERICA'S GREATEST POLITICAL FAMILY BY WILLIAM J. MANN; $35

You might think you know the Roosevelts, but historian William J. Mann looks beyond the well-worn stories to expose the bitter rivalries that drove its most famous members' quest for power. Along the way, he examines the Roosevelts who were kept away from the limelight, and the secrets they hold—all told in dramatic style.

Find It: Amazon

6. FOR THE INTREPID TRAVELER: ATLAS OBSCURA: AN EXPLORER'S GUIDE TO THE WORLD'S HIDDEN WONDERS, BY JOSHIA FOER, DYLAN THURAS, AND ELLA MORTON; $35

The book cover for Atlas Obscura's book
Amazon.com

An amusement park in a salt mine? Check. A tree so big it has its own pub? Check. A giant hole that's been spouting flames for 40 years? Check. This guidebook is a compendium of the world's strangest and most wonderful places, and it's guaranteed to inspire some serious wanderlust, especially in more adventurous travelers. For the complete experience, you can also get an awesome wall calendar featuring destinations from the book designed as vintage travel posters; there's a page-a-day desk calendar and explorers' journal too.

Find it: Amazon

7. FOR YOUR FRIEND WHO LOVES WEIRD HISTORY: THE PUBLIC DOMAIN REVIEW SELECTED ESSAYS; $20

The Public Domain Review is one of the premier online destination for fans of curious history. If you know someone who enjoys stories about weird medieval medicine treaties, ancient automata, deranged 18th century scientists, and other odd subjects well off the beaten historical path, look no further than this book of essays (the site's fourth).

Find It: The Public Domain Review

8. FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE A GOOD MYSTERY: THE BIG BOOK OF ROGUES AND VILLAINS, EDITED BY OTTO PENZLER; $25

Cover of the Big Book of Rogues and Villains
Amazon

At the heart of every good mystery is a (usually dastardly) perpetrator, whether it's a Count Dracula or a Jimmy Valentine. With this anthology, Edgar Award winner Otto Penzler has combed through 150 years of literary history to find 72 stories featuring the most famous and entertaining antiheroes authors have ever been able to dream up.

Find It: Amazon

9. FOR PEOPLE WHO KNOW WHAT THE BORSCHT BELT IS: JEWISH COMEDY: A SERIOUS HISTORY BY JEREMY DAUBER; $28.95

Jews and humor go together like challah and Manischewitz (after all, as my bubbie says, if you don't laugh, you'll cry). In this "serious history," Columbia professor Jeremy Dauber considers the origins of Jewish humor in Biblical times through its life on Twitter today; how it's reflected—and even influenced—Jewish history; the production of major archetypes like the Jewish mother; and the prominence of Jewish comedians like Sarah Silverman and Larry David. You don't have to be Jewish to love it, but it may help you understand the in-jokes.

Find It: Amazon

10. FOR YOUR FRIEND WHO LOVES DARK SHORT STORIES: HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES, BY CARMEN MARIA MACHADO; $16

Book cover for Her Body and Other Parties
Amazon

A story told in the form of Law & Order episode summaries. A strange plague that makes girls go invisible, as narrated by a mall worker. A recollection of romantic encounters with the last of humanity’s survivors. In this collection, Carmen Maria Machado fuses urban legends, dystopian tropes, and heavy helpings of sexuality to create a new kind of magical realism strangely appropriate to our era. The images will haunt you long after you put the book down, if you let them.

Find It: Amazon

11. FOR THE PERSON WHO LOVES BIG-DEAL LITERARY NOVELS AND ALSO ABRAHAM LINCOLN: LINCOLN IN THE BARDO, BY GEORGE SAUNDERS; $18

A meditation on sorrow and the Civil War populated by a rag-tag group of ghosts, Lincoln in the Bardo starts with the real-life death of 11-year-old Willie Lincoln, Abraham's son. In the book, Willie has entered the Bardo—a Tibetan Buddhist term for a transitional limbo—where there's a fierce struggle underway for his soul.

Find It: Amazon

12. FOR THE GENERALIST: A BOOK-OF-THE-MONTH SUBSCRIPTION; $45 FOR THREE MONTHS

A book of the month club subscription box with gift trappings nearby
Book of the Month Club

Can’t decide what to get, but feeling generous? Give your friend who loves to read a new hardcover book of their choice every month. Literary fans who are short on time will love having someone else do the legwork to find the best new novels; plus, there’s early access to new releases. Prices vary depending on the length of the subscription, and there’s a deal right now where you can get a month free when you give a subscription as a gift.

Find It: Book of the Month

Stanley's Insulated Coffee Mugs Ensure Your Drink Remains Hot (or Iced) All Day Long

Stanley's Master Unbreakable Trigger-Action Mug (left) and Go Tumbler (right).
Stanley's Master Unbreakable Trigger-Action Mug (left) and Go Tumbler (right).
Stanley

Having a designated workspace in your home office is necessary for maintaining focus throughout the day, but if you really want to stay razor-sharp, you'll need a dependable cup of coffee by your side. With Stanley's line of insulated mugs, you can keep your coffee—hot or iced—at the ideal temperature all throughout the workday, so you won't have to soldier through another sip of a lukewarm disappointment.

The line is highlighted by Stanley's 24-ounce Go Tumbler ($26), which has a splash-proof lid that can help prevent unfortunate spills wherever you happen to be working. Made with stainless steel and double-wall vacuum insulation, this tumbler is built to keep your coffee hot for up to six hours or cold for up to 40 hours.

The Classic Trigger Action Travel Mug from Stanley.
The Classic Trigger Action Travel Mug
Stanley

The Classic Trigger-Action Mug ($23) has a push-button lid that’s easy to open. Like the Go Tumbler, it has double-wall vacuum insulation that keeps beverages hot for up to seven hours or ice-cold for up to 30 hours.

Stanley also offers the Master Unbreakable Trigger-Action Mug ($50), which boasts similar insulation and is made with the thickest stainless steel currently on the market, according to the company. All three models are safe to go in the dishwasher, so you'll have one less thing in your kitchen to worry about.

Now that you have the perfect mug, make sure you’re filling it with a great cup of coffee. Here are 11 tips on how to brew better coffee at home.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

10 Lotions and Balms Perfect for Your Chapped Hands

These lotions and balms can help revitalize your dry, cracked hands.
These lotions and balms can help revitalize your dry, cracked hands.
Duke Cannon/Dr. PawPaw/Bliss/Amazon

Chapped, cracked hands are one of those little annoyances that can turn into a big headache after dealing with them for a few days, but after a long winter, and with all the hand-washing everyone is doing due to coronavirus concerns, it’s nearly unavoidable. To give your skin a sigh of relief, we’ve rounded up our favorite lotions, creams, and balms that will heal your raw palms and have your knuckles feeling soft and smooth in no time. Check them out below.

1. WOW ALOE VERA MOISTURIZING BODY LOTION; $12


BUYWOW/Amazon

With all-natural ingredients that work for every skin type, this aloe vera body lotion is particularly useful for putting some life back into your hands. This lotion is fast-absorbing, quickly creating a barrier between your skin and the outside elements. And since it's not greasy, you won’t have to wait for your hands to dry (or wash them all over again) before you can get your day started.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Dr. PAWPAW MULTIPURPOSE BALM; $8-$20 (Sizes vary)

Dr. PawPaw hand cream.
Dr. PawPaw/Amazon

Your hands will feel like they’ve entered a tropical oasis after applying this soothing balm. Made from papaya (or pawpaw), a fruit that’s known for its natural healing properties, this balm also contains aloe vera and olive oil to give dry skin a natural glow. And it’s not just for helping your palms and knuckles—this balm can also be used on your lips, nails, and cuticles, and as a tool to tame flyaways or stray brows. It’s the multipurpose secret weapon that’s a must-have for any bathroom cabinet.

Buy it: Ulta, Amazon

3. DUKE CANNON BLOODY KNUCKLES HAND REPAIR BALM; $31 (Pack of 2)

Duke Cannon Bloody Knuckles balm.
Duke Cannon/Amazon

Even if you’re not throwing punches in the ring, you might feel like you’re in a boxing match with your raw and red hands. But Duke Cannon’s repair balm will reverse your skin damage and have you feeling like a champion once again. Best used for extensive chapping, this balm is unscented and completely free of fragrances, dyes, and other artificial ingredients.

Buy it: Amazon

4. 2-IN-1 BODY LOTION CANDLE; $29.00

Candle and skin lotion from UncommonGoods.
UncommonGoods

Not all lotions come in a tube. Try this amazing body lotion candle, which melts at a comfortable temperature so you can safely use the “wax” as a warm lotion on your skin. These 10-ounce candles are packed with coconut oil, botanical oils, and vitamins A, K, and E to instantly moisturize your hands. Scented with fresh figs, amber, and floral notes, this unique candle makes skincare feel like a spa experience.

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

5. L’OCCITANE SHEA BUTTER HAND CREAM; $29

L’occitane hand cream.
L’occitane/Amazon

Applying this hand cream is like easing yourself into soft, cozy slippers after a long day. Made with 20-percent shea butter, honey, almond extracts, and coconut oil, it has a creamy feel that instantly protects and nourishes your skin as it repairs. It’s also rich in fatty acids, doing double duty to prevent wrinkles along with any cracking.

Buy it: Amazon

6. O’KEEFE’S WORKING HANDS; $8

O’Keefe's Working Hands on Amazon.
O’Keefe's/Amazon

With nearly 18,000 4.5-star reviews on Amazon, this concentrated hand cream is a true miracle that instantly repairs any cracks or dryness on your skin. And it also works to prevent future damage, creating a barrier that locks moisture in and keeps dryness out. Even if the most you’re doing with your hands involves a keyboard, O’Keefe’s will still work around the clock to keep them looking—and feeling—their best.

Buy it: Amazon

7. PALMER’S COCONUT OIL HAND CREAM; $3

Palmer's Cocoa Oil on Amazon.
Palmer's/Amazon

This affordable hand cream works for 24 hours, so it can go for as long as you do. Made from shea and cocoa butter, with a boost of hydrating vitamin E, Palmer’s uses natural, raw ingredients to create “glove-like” protection to keep your skin feeling soft all day long. And its coconut oil is fair-trade certified, so you can feel even better every time you use it.

Buy it: Amazon

8. J.R. WATKINS ALOE & GREEN TEA HAND CREAM; $8

J.R. Watkins hand lotion on Amazon.
J.R. Watkins/Amazon

Aloe isn’t just for sunburns; it’s great for use on cracked hands, too. That’s why this hand cream from J.R. Watkins, enhanced with the healing power of aloe and green tea, is your best friend when it comes to dry skin. J.R. Watkins uses plant-based ingredients from ethical sources, making it a great choice for anyone with sensitive skin. And its products are recyclable, allowing you to go green while restoring your skin at the same time.

Buy it: Amazon

9. BLISS LEMON & SAGE BODY BUTTER; $10

Bliss hand lotion on Amazon.
Bliss/Amazon

PETA-certified and free of harsh chemicals, Bliss uses a special combination of natural plant-based emollients, humectants, and extracts for hydration that lasts all day. And its bright lemon and sage scent will make you feel more energized and refreshed—the perfect stand-in for a dehydrating cup of coffee.

Buy it: Amazon

10. AQUAPHOR HEALING OINTMENT; $9

Aquaphor hand ointment.
Aquaphor/Amazon

Aquaphor is an oldie but a goodie. A drug store favorite, this multipurpose ointment works to shield skin from the elements to restore it to its natural condition, and it can be used on everything from your hands to your lips to your feet. It can even help heal burns. Preservative- and fragrance-free, it’s the powerful little tube that will never let you down.

Buy it: Amazon

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

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