No matter what you celebrate this time of year, chances are you're going to need to buy a gift for someone, and that's where our "Bitch in a Box" series comes in! Between now and the end of the month, we (Bitch HQ staff and interns) will be taking turns writing themed gift guides designed to please even the scroogiest feminists on your shopping list. Below, my picks for the book lovers in your life, all of which are as lovely to look at as they are to read.
For the comix enthusiast:
Make Me a Woman, by Vanessa Davis (Drawn and Quarterly). A large hardcover filled with a mixture of sketchbook vignettes, autobiographical stories about love, family, and uncertainty, and full-color drawings of ladies busting dance moves, Make Me a Woman is, like Davis's debut collection Spaniel Rage, a fully enjoyable nonlinear read. Bonus points for the adorable tube-sock drawings on the endpapers.
Picture This, by Lynda Barry (Drawn and Quarterly). A follow-up to Barry's What It Is, a workbook of creative inspiration for writers and would-be writers, Picture This uses a very similar (and equally enchanting) format to focus on drawing. With cephalopods, nearsighted monkeys, and, of course, Marlys, along for the ride, Barry poses questions like "What makes kids draw?" and "What makes adults scared to draw?" alongside simple doodling, collaging, and painting exercises.
For the foodie: Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life, by Kim Severson (Riverhead Press). New York Times food writer Severson's life wasn't always so tasty. In this heady, emotionally accessible memoir, she recalls how the wisdom and small lessons of female chefs and fellow food scribes like Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl, Edna Chase, and Marcella Hazan, as well as Severson's own mother, helped her combat a history of alcoholism and depression and feel finally whole.
Candy Construction: Edible Crafts, by Sharon Bowers (Storey Press). For those whose sweet tooth is in direct proportion to their aesthetic sensibility comes a delightfully over-the-top how-to for creating a wealth of treats that are almost too cute to consume. There are recipes for sugar-wafer castles, Swedish Fish–and–fruit leather sushi, a Rice Krispie Treat pirate ship, and, for the truly ambitious (or just really sugar-addled), an entire construction site made from hard-candy rocks, frosting "mortar," and gumdrop-and-licorice workers.
For the dog and/or photography buff: Show Dogs: A Photographic Breed Guide, by Kate Lacey (Evil Twin Publications). This book is as simple as it is gorgeously put together: Lacey, hired by Life magazine in 2005 to photograph American Kennel Club breeds at New York's Westminster Dog Show (the Oscars of the show-dog circuit), photographed terriers, mastiffs, retrievers, poodles, and more against brightly colored seamless backdrops. Though dog shows are all about "conformation" — the official term that denotes how well each dog demonstrates its breed's standards — these portraits cut through the snooty stuff to offer nothing but personality.
For the artist/crafter: Revolutionary Women: A Book of Stencils, ed. by Queen of the Neighborhood (PM Press). This volume may be small, but it's packing some serious radical power, offering profiles of 30 female activists, anarchists, and radical thinkers, from Harriet Tubman and Emma Goldman to Phoolan Devi and Assata Shakur. Alongside each woman's brief biography is a drawing ready-made for copying and stenciling — onto a t-shirt for a niece or a friend, perhaps, or onto a sidewalk so others can join you in commemorating these bold, visionary women. Sew Charming: 40 Simple Sewing and Hand-Printing Projects for Home and Family, by Cath Derksema and Kirsten Junior (Potter Craft). The women of Australian design studio Sew Charming want you to know how easy it is to use hand- and screen-printing to make your sewing projects that much more personal. Their templates and patterns for clothes and home goods, as well as great tips on creating motifs and choosing the right fabrics for printing, are wildly inspiring—and the book's casual, inviting photography is too.
Add your own suggestions for readable gifts in the comments below! And if you're looking for more literary gifting inspiration, longtime Bitch contributor Anna Clark has put together an amazing guide called Choose Books, which you can download as a PDF at her blog, Isak.