Tag Archives: gift guide

Reading in the Tub

16 Mar

Stephanie Reading in the Bath

I received this bath caddy as a gift and have been using it almost every night. Reading in the tub has been a great way to unwind and squeeze a bit more literature into my life.

A few months before that, I was quoted on Twitter about my bathtub rituals, so it was quite an appropriate gift.

 

Gift Guide: 5 Unique Gifts for the Mad Ones

29 Nov

Happy Black Friday?! The writers associated with the Beat Generation generally avoided vapid commercialism, but if you have a friend, family member, or colleague who is into Beat literature — or if you’re looking to spoil yourself — you may want to bless them with a gift that values their literary interest this holiday season. But what do you get for the Beat reader who has a bookshelf full of dog-eared novels and biographies?

If your friends are “the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved” — you know, people who religiously read Jack Kerouac — they’ll appreciate these unique literary-inspired gifts.

Then, again, as Kerouac said: “Offer them what they secretly want and they of course immediately become panic-stricken.”

1. A cappuccino cup from Caffe Reggio.

CappuccinoCupMediumImage via Caffe Reggio

Caffe Reggio one of the coffeehouses the Beats hung out at in Greenwich Village.

2. Teavana Global Treasures Tea Gift Set.

teaImage via JC Gourmet Gifts

“‘Now you understand the Oriental passion for tea,'” said Japhy. “‘Remember that book I told you about; the first sip is joy, the second is gladness, the third is serenity, the fourth is madness, the fifth is ecstasy.'” ~Jack Kerouac

3. Chronicle Books Bedside Dream Journal.

Bedside_Dream_JournalImage via Chronicle

“All human beings are also dream beings.” ~Jack Kerouac

4. On the Road key ring from Penguin.

pc_keyring_ontheroadImage via Penguin

Get your kicks on Route 66 with this On the Road key ring from Penguin.

5. Cinnamon Apple Pie Candle from SweetShoppeCandles.

pieImage via Etsy

“I ate apple pie and ice cream—it was getting better as I got deeper into Iowa, the pie bigger, the ice cream richer.” ~Jack Kerouac

You can get more ideas on my Gifts for the Mad Ones Pinterest page and from my blog post last year Gift Guide for the Beat Reader.

And you know what these all pair well with? You guessed it! A copy of Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” which is available in paperback through Lulu and Amazon and in ebook through Lulu.

 

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Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!

Gift Guide for the Beat Reader

14 Dec

The writers associated with the Beat Generation were anti-Consumerism, and I have a hard time believing they’d want anyone to buy beatnik merch. They would want you to buy and read their literature instead. However, if you have friends who love Beat literature, you may be hesitant to buy them On the Road because chances are they probably already have dog-eared paperbacks of both the standard novel and the scroll version. Here are a couple of alternative Beat-inspired gifts.

Amram

Musician and author David Amram did jazz-poetry performances with Kerouac and other poets. He also wrote the scores to films such as Splendor in the Grass and The Manchurian Candidate and has jammed with a wide variety of musicians. David Amram: The First 80 Years chronicles his genius talent. (You can watch a video of me reading with Amram here.)

logo

Another gift-worthy film is Ginsberg’s Karma, a “documentary about the legendary poet Allen Ginsberg and his mythical journey to India in the early 1960s that transformed his perspective on life and his work.” The film was edited, produced, and directed by Ram Devineni, and features poet Bob Holman. I saw this film at the PEN World Voice Literary Film Feast a few years ago and was inspired to get involved in some of their subsequent projects.

billykoumantzelis

Billy Koumantzelis was a friend of Kerouac’s back in their hometown of Lowell and served as a pallbearer at his funeral. I picked up this CD when I was at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac in 2011. It’s full of stories about Kerouac hanging out at bars, getting into fights, and appearing on The William Buckley Show and makes a great gift for someone who wants to hear stories from someone who knew Kerouac. (I got to meet Koumantzelis last week, and he is a true gentleman. I’ll be sharing stories from that soon.)

corso2

Allen Ginsberg had a portrait of poet Walt Whitman hanging in his apartment. This framed portrait of Gregory Corso is a great tribute to a poet who loved the Classics.

YouCantGoHomeAgain

Jack Kerouac was inspired by author Thomas Wolfe. Bundle up Look Homeward, Angel and You Can‘t Go Home Again for the Kerouac fan.

the-visitation

Kerouac wrote about the Grotto in Lowell, which is a beautiful and peaceful space to visit. Artist Jonathan Collins, whom I met at one of my readings, did a series based on the Grotto, which would make a lovely gift.

Larry-Closs_Beatitude_Anthony-Freda-194x300

Another person I met at a reading was Larry Closs, author of the book Beatitude.
 I stayed up late one night reading this heartbreaking-but-hopeful book of love, friendship, and the power of literature. You can read the synopsis here.

museum-sign

I haven’t finished my California road trip posts yet (so many posts, so little time!), but it will include my visit to The Beat Museum in San Francisco. I was greeted by none other than proprietor Jerry Cimino himself, whose stellar work in preserving Beat history I’ve been following for many years. He took some time out to chat with me and show me the plethora of rare and first-edition Beat books. Even if your budget isn’t big enough for a first edition, you can still get archival lit mags, which make a really cool gift.

Sea

Another place soon to be featured on my California road trip is City Lights Bookstore. In addition to rare and signed copies of books, you can also get some exclusive works here. At Sea is an “Exquisite handmade letterpress edition of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s new poem” for poet Pablo Neruda.

Of course there are tons of biographies, walking tour books, graphic novels, films, and so forth that would also make great gifts, but if you’re looking for something a bit more off the beaten path (heh), these might be the gifts you’re looking for.

Gift Guide for the Greek Lover

6 Dec

Whether you’re giving a Greek American a taste of their homeland when they can’t make it back for the holidays or satiating a Hellenophile’s interest in Greek culture, there are countless foods, books, beauty products, and jewelry that will suit your needs.  Plus, select a gift made in Greece and you’ll also be supporting the struggling Greek economy.  Here’s just a small selection of Greek gift ideas, some made in the States, some in Greece, and others elsewhere, but all unique and lovely.

Gifts for the Greek food lover:::

 

Kokkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors by Janet Fletcher

 

How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking by Michael Psilakis

A selection of delicious dressings and marinades from Sophia’s Gourmet Foods

A selection of three different flavors of honey from Odysea Shop

Traditional Greek preserves (rose petal and pergamot) by Monastiri

Kalamata olive oil

Ouzo candies

Pavlidis Dark Chocolate

Pastelli with honey

Bonus tip! – Gifts appear so much nicer when they come as a set.  You may want to give a cookbook with some Greek spices.  A duo or trio of a certain type of product (such as honey or olive oil) is a great way for the recipient to try out a few flavors.  Or, you may want to give a gift basket of assorted Greek candies.

 

Gifts for someone who loves Greek literature:::

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antigonick by Sophocles, translated by Anne Carson, illustrations by Bianca Stone

The Greek Poets: Homer to Present by Peter Constantine

 

The Odyssey: A Pop-up Book by Sam Ita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holidays on Ice by David Sederis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bossypants by Tina Fey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

Subscription to Greek America Magazine

Bonus tip! – Trying pairing the book with a book light, a notebook and pen, a bookmark with a quote by a Greek philosopher, or a coffee mug (maybe even with a bag of Greek coffee).

 

Gifts to make someone feel like a beautiful and pampered Greek goddess:::

Beauty products from Korres.  I would especially recommend Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial. You can read my review here.

Olive oil body lotion by Olivia

Jewelry by Konstantino

Bonus tip! – Include a lovely handwritten letter.  A bottle of Greek wine (here’s my review of the Greek American wine Pindar) or some fine Greek chocolates (here’s my review of the Greek American chocolatier Chocolate Moderne) would also make someone feel loved and pampered.

 

As the Greek proverb says, “A gift, though small, is welcome.”

Gift Guide for Writers

5 Dec

Please don’t buy me a book for Christmas.  Instead buy my book, Burning Furiously Beautiful, in large quantities and give it out as gifts.

Burnside published my Gift Guide for Writers.  Enjoy!

Holiday Gift Guide for Art Lovers

3 Dec

 

Well, I suppose it’s that time again.  Time to start thinking about what to give everyone for Christmas.  That’s what every commercial and store window is not at all subtly hinting at anyway.

Burnside published my gift guide for art lovers.  The guide shows how you can support independent artists through your purchases.

Here are a few additional ideas:

  • a beautiful coffee-table art book
  • a subscription to an arts magazine, such as Juxtapoz, Art in America, The Thing, or ArtForum
  • a membership pass to their favorite local art museum
  • a biography of an interesting art figure or a nonfiction account of artists’ lives. For example, Martin Gayford’s The Yellow House tells the story of Gaugin’s and van Gogh’s time sharing a house in France and Sue Roe’s The Private Lives of the Impressionists explores the lives of artists who were ridiculed at the time but whose works now hang in museums around the world.
  • if the art lover is also an artist, consider notebooks, portfolios for their work, classes, studio space, and art supplies

If money were no object, what piece of art would you like to own?  I’d love to own work by Ray Caesar, Robert Frank, Franz Kline, and Adam Wallacavage.

Road Trip Writing: On the Road and “Human Snowball”

26 Jul

Many summers ago, a couple of poets and I dragged some rickety chairs outside of the Bowery Poetry Club and sat in a circle, chatting about our writing, our day jobs, and life, as people passed by, sometimes stopping to talk to us. One of the girls in the group worked at a publishing house, like I did, and she offered to send us some of the books everyone in her office was buzzing about. About a week later, the package arrived, and I excitedly opened it. It’s been too many years to recall all that was in it, but I do remember it contained a book by Philipppa Gregory, which I in turn gave to another coworker because I have little patience for historical novels about the Tudor period—although I later saw her The Other Boleyn Girl on an airplane and enjoyed it—and Found.

Found started as a magazine that showcased notes, lists, drawings, and other miscellanea that readers found and sent in to the editors. In April 2004, they compiled the best of the best from the magazine and published the book Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World. Having the book upped my coolness factor among the skinny hipster set I was hanging with at the time, and I began dating one of the guys. When Found’s founder, Davy Rothbart, published a short story collection called The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas, in 2005, I gave it to the guy I was dating.

I never read the book myself, but recently I read one of Rothbart’s short stories in the summer 2012 issue of The Paris Review, and it made me wonder if Rothbart might be my generation’s Jack Kerouac. While Rothbart lacks Kerouac’s poetry, they share an ear for dialogue, a captivating retelling of riding in buses and cars, an obsession with music, and an awkwardness with girls. In the short nonfiction story “Human Snowball,” Rothbart takes a Greyhound from Detroit to Buffalo to see a girl who isn’t quite his girlfriend yet or maybe ever and ends up in a carful of eccentric characters, including an ancient black man and a Neal Cassady-esque car thief. It may not have the sensory details that On the Road has, but “Human Snowball” captures characters with such honest and real details and dialogue that you feel like you know them. They’re beat characters. A little rough-around-the-edges, but sensitive and full of life.

In a bit of a Kerouac connection, actor Steve Buscemi, who stars in the film adaptation of On the Road, optioned the rights for Rothbart’s The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas. Rothbart himself is a chronic roadtripper. He’s traveled the country and toured with the punk rock band Rise Against, creating the documentary How We Survive for the dvd Generation Lost as well as the documetnary Another Station: Another Mile.

Your Home Can Smell Like Big Sur

9 Jul

Busy poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who is still active at ninety-three years old, moved out to San Francisco and founded City Lights in 1953.  More than just the independent bookstore of Beat pilgrimages, City Lights is a book publisher, and in 1956, Ferlinghetti was arrested on obscenity charges because he had published and sold Allen Ginsberg’s Howl.  He was later found not guilty of a crime.

The year after Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti made the papers, Jack Kerouac finally found fame with On the Road.  The fame was overwhelming, though.  Talk-show hosts invited the naturally shy author on their show.  Wanderlust kids, winos, and dogged readers showed up unannounced at his home.  Fame took a toll on his mind, body, soul.

Ferlinghetti had a cabin, a refuge, out in the wilderness of Big Sur.  He could escape the hustle and bustle of San Francisco for respite along the coast of central California.  After the fame wore him down, Kerouac escaped there too, living for a brief time in Ferlinghetti’s cabin in the woods.  The result of this experience is the 1962 novel Big Sur.

Juniper Ridge now has a room spray called Big Sur.  According to their website, it smells of “wild ginger, burnt honey, salt, damp ground.”  The ingredients are plucked from the deserts and mountains of the West, and 10% of the $20 spray bottle goes back to protecting western wilderness.  They also have a Big Sur soap, essential oil, and sachet.  For $50 you can give the gift of Big Sur, which includes the items already mentioned, plus wild huckleberry jam (perhaps reminiscent of Neal Cassady, whom some have said is Huckleberry Finn incarnate).  The gift comes gift wrapped with real pine cones!  And, like the others, 10% of the profit goes to protecting wilderness.

The Books They Gave Me

16 Jan

I stumbled upon the tumblr site The Books They Gave Me via Literary Kicks and was immediately hooked.  I get a lot of books as gifts.  Sometimes it’s sweet.  But sometimes it can get annoying.  It’s kind of an obvious go-to gift for a writer/editor/reader, and I end up with stacks of strange books that leave me wondering what people must think of me for buying me such-and-such book.  That thought-behind-the-gift is why The Books They Gave Me is so brilliant.

I read through the posts and came across a book I edited before coming across this entry for Into the Wild.  I thought it was about me.  The indie rock and post-punk mix tutorial.  The bug-eyed sunglasses.  But I don’t have curly hair, and I wasn’t the one who gave the book.  I was the one who received the book.  I was going to visit my family in Greece, and I had a long plane ride, so a boy gave me this book to pass the time.  He inscribed the title page with a note and a heart.  When my friends who took me to the airport opened it up, they teased me about it.  I’d only gone out with the boy a few times, and I was secretive about my crushes.

He gave me many books, and when we broke up I didn’t know what to do with all the books with handwritten notes on the title pages.  If I kept them on my bookshelf, they would be a constant reminder that the last page of every love story ends with the words “the end.”  I wondered if I gave the books away to libraries or second-hand stores if someone might read the black ink inscriptions and find them the very reason to purchase the book, and if perhaps the new owner would make up his own story of us.  It seems romantic to find a book that isn’t just a book but a love letter.  In the end, I don’t know what I did with the books.  I’m certain I gave away some, and it’s possible I ripped the handwritten notes out of others before donating them.  Others might still be buried somewhere in my closet between other books I’ve received from people.

I hope one day I’ll find a book inscribed from one person to another and give them a second chance at love through the story I make up with my imagination.

Gift Guide: For the Swede or Lover of Swedish Culture

21 Dec

With Santa living in the Lapland (the Finnish side), give a gift from Scandinavia is a wonderful way to make Christmas festive!  Here are a couple ideas from Sweden or inspired by Sweden.  If anyone knows any authentic Sami vendors, please add them in the comments section.

 

 For the person who loves Swedish crime literature:::

 

The Millennium Trilogy Series (starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) by Stieg Larsson

 

 

 

 

 

The Inspector Van Veeteren Series (starting with The Mind’s Eye) by Hakan Nesser

 

 

 

 

 

The Kurt Wallander Series (starting with Faceless Killers) by Henning Mankell

 

 

 

 

 

The Princess of Burundi by Kjell Eriksson

 

 

 

 

 

 

Box 21 by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom

 

 

 

 

 

Red Wolf by Liza Marklund

 

 

 

 

Bonus tip! — If you can afford it, give the whole set!  If you’re not sure the person will like the book, you may want to give one of the books plus a gift card to their favorite bookstore.  You can also accompany the book with a coffee mug and Swedish coffee, a book lamp, or a cozy blanket from Swedish chain IKEA.

 

Gift ideas for the Swedish food lover:::

 

Swedish Breads and Pastries by Jan Hedh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet and Savory Swedish Baking by Leila Lindholm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hash by Torgny Lindgren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swedish coffee basket by Anderson Butik

Coffee and sweets gift box by Anderson Butik

Swedish pancake basket by Anderson Butik

Bonus tip! — Select a coffee and food product that naturally go together and give them as a pair.  The gift baskets make shopping and wrapping easier!

Gifts for the Swedish home:::

Swedish table prayer tile

Iron candle holder with hearts

Iron candle holder with wild horses

Swedish blessing

Algfamilj tea towel

Bonus tip! — A gift card to IKEA would go nicely with any of these.  A lovely handwritten message or something that is personal and has sentimental value is also nice to give with gifts for the home.

 

Gifts for people on the go:::

Carrie Swedish lace bicycle basket

A Volvo

Bonus tip! — A nice key chain would go well with either of these.

 

God Jul! Merry Christmas!