Gift Ideas for this Christmas: Current Affairs, Fun and Humor, Nutrition, and Film

Let us be your personal shoppers!

ABC’s booksellers don’t just sell books: as well as being voracious readers, almost everyone you’ll meet at the cash desk at ABC is personally responsible for buying the books for one or more sections in the store. That means you’ll always find someone who can put exactly the right book in your hands when you need it. We asked our buyers for their tips for the best gifts for Christmas, and they came up with some crackers: a sackful of ideas to suit every taste and budget. There are new books, classic books, magazines, games, puzzles, and even cuddly toys. Here are just a few of their ideas. Follow the links to find more ideas on:

Current Affairs
Fun and Humor

Or, to see all of our gift ideas for 2011, see the other posts!

Current Affairs

The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World – Daniel Yergin
The Quest continues the riveting story Daniel Yergin began twenty years ago with his No.1 international bestseller The Prize, revealing the on-going quest to meet the world’s energy needs – and the power and riches that come with it. A master story teller as well as our most expert analyst, Yergin proves that energy is truly the engine of global political and economic change.  The Quest presents an extraordinary range of characters and dramatic stories to illustrate the principles that will shape our energy security system for the decades to come. It is essential reading.

The Better Angels of Our Nature – Steven Pinker
Faced with the ceaseless stream of news about war, crime, and terrorism, one could easily think this is the most violent age ever seen. Yet as bestselling author Pinker shows in this startling and engaging new work, just the opposite is true: violence has been diminishing for millennia and this may be the most peaceful time in mankind’s existence.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game – Michael Lewis
In a narrative full of fabulous characters and brilliant excursions into the unexpected, Michael Lewis follows the low-budget Oakland Athletic’s visionary manager and a strange brotherhood of amateur baseball theorists. This ABC Evergreen title is now a major motion picture starring Brad Pitt.

The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes It Hard to Be Happy – Michael Foley
In a wry take on how contemporary culture is antithetical to happiness, Michael Foley paints a philosophical but hugely entertaining portrait of the cultural landscape–and comes up smiling.  The good news is that the great thinkers from history have proposed the same strategies for happiness and fulfillment–the bad news is that these turn out to be the very things most discouraged by contemporary culture. This knotty dilemma is the subject of Michael Foley’s accessible investigation into how the desirable states of well-being and satisfaction are constantly undermined by modern life.

Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World – Jane Mcgonigal
More than 174 million Americans are gamers, and the average young person in the U.S. will spend 10,000 hours gaming by the age of 21. According to world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal, the reason for this mass exodus to virtual worlds is that videogames are increasingly fulfilling genuine human needs. In this groundbreaking exploration of the power and future of gaming, McGonigal reveals how we can use the lessons of game design to fix what is wrong with the real world. Drawing on positive psychology, cognitive science, and sociology, Reality Is Broken uncovers how game designers have hit on core truths about what makes us happy and utilized these discoveries to astonishing effect in virtual environments. Videogames consistently provide the exhilarating rewards, stimulating challenges, and epic victories that are so often lacking in the real world. But why, McGonigal asks, should we use the power of games for escapist entertainment alone?

The Information : a History, a Theory, a Flood – James Gleick
The author of the bestsellers Chaos and Genius presents his crowning work: a revelatory chronicle that shows how information has become the modern era’s defining quality–the blood, the fuel, the vital principle of our world.

23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism – Ha-Joon Chang
Ha-Joon Chang dispels the myths and prejudices that have come to dominate our understanding of how the world works. He succeeds in both setting the historical record straight (‘the washing machine has changed the world more than the internet’; ‘the US does not have the highest living standard in the world’; ‘people in poor countries are more entrepreneurial than people in rich countries’) and persuading us of the consequences of his analysis (‘making rich people richer doesn’t make the rest of us richer’; ‘companies should not be run in the interest of their owners’; ‘financial markets need to become less, not more, efficient’). As Chang shows above all else, all economic choices are political ones, and it is time we started to be honest about them.

Why the West Rules – for Now : the Patterns of History and what They Reveal about the Future – Ian Morris
Why does the West rule? In this magnum opus, eminent Stanford polymath Ian Morris answers this provocative question, drawing on 50,000 years of history, archeology, and the methods of social science, to make sense of when, how, and why the paths of development differed in the East and West — and what this portends for the 21st century.

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s really True Richard Dawkins
The world’s most famous evolutionary biologist uses his unrivaled explanatory powers to share the magic of science with readers of all ages. This is an entertaining and illuminating illustrated guide to the secrets of our world – and the universe beyond.

Foreign Affairs Magazine
Published 6 times a year since 1922, Foreign Affairs magazine’s mission has always been to promote the understanding of US foreign policy and the role of the US in the world.

Fun & Humor

Alledaags – Toby Morris
Alledaags is a unique collection of illustrations recording a year in the life of an ex-pat in Amsterdam.
In January 2009 Toby Morris began a daily sketchbook diary documenting his life and his observations of his adopted city. Alledaags collects 333 of the drawings and covers everything from canal boats, hair gel and the madness of Queen’s Day to Vondelpark picnics, Zwarte Piet and blunt Dutch service.

Giant Microbes
Give your nasty little brother a big pimple or a bed bug.  And give your geeky friend a cuddly piece of Martian life or a veneral disease! Giant microbes are stuffed animals that look like tiny microbes — only a million times actual size! They’re humorous, educational, and fun! Each of the Giant microbes comes with an image and information about the real microbe it represents. They make amusing gifts for anyone with a sense of humor.

Simon’s Cat 3 – In Kitten Chaos – Simon Tofield
Like all great cartoon creations, from Peanuts to Asterix, from Garfield to Tintin, Simon’s Cat has continued to evolve by introducing new characters and developing new storylines. After the runaway success of the original book, Simon Tofield returned last year with the further adventures of his feline ‘beyond the fence.’ Now we welcome a cuddly new addition to the family in the form of Simon’s Kitten. It’s an adorable new chapter which is sure to delight Simon’s millions of fans.

Go the F**k to Sleep – Adam Mansbach & Ricardo Cortes
Brilliant! What (almost) every parent thinks but doesn’t want to say out loud! Buy one for everyone with a baby or a toddler! Check out the YouTube video of Samuel Jackson’s pitch perfect reading of the book – or buy the audio book of him reading it!
Go the F**k to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don’t always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland. Profane, affectionate, and radically honest, California Book Award-winning author Adam Mansbach’s verses perfectly capture the familiar–and unspoken–tribulations of putting your little angel down for the night. Brilliant.

The Complete Far Side – Gary Larson
This New York Times bestseller celebrates Gary Larson’s twisted, irreverent genius. A masterpiece of comic brilliance, it contains every “Far Side” cartoon ever syndicated-more than 4,000 in all–presented in (more or less) chronological order by year of publication, and with more than 1,100 that have never previously appeared in any book.

The Complete Cavin and Hobbes – Bill Watterson
Calvin and Hobbes is unquestionably one of the most popular comic strips of all time. The imaginative world of a boy and his real-only-to-him tiger was first syndicated in 1985 and appeared in more than 2,400 newspapers when Bill Watterson retired on January 1, 1996. Composed of three hardcover, four-color volumes in a sturdy slipcase, this edition includes all Calvin and Hobbes cartoons that ever appeared in syndication. This is the treasure that all Calvin and Hobbes fans will seek.

Dilbert 2.0 – Scott Adams
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Scott Adams’s Dilbert, the touchstone of office humor, this special slipcased collection–weighing in at more than 10 pounds with 600 pages and featuring almost 4,000 strips–is divided into five different epochs personally selected by the author. Also included is a piracy-protected disc that contains every Dilbert comic strip to date and that can be updated as new cartoons are released.


The Kind Diet – Alicia Silverstone
In The Kind Diet, actress, activist, and committed conservationist Alicia Silverstone shares the insights that encouraged her to swear off meat and dairy forever, and outlines the spectacular benefits of adopting a plant-based diet, from effortless weight loss to clear skin, off-the-chart energy, and smooth digestion.
The Kind Diet introduces irresistibly delicious food that satisfies on every level—it even includes amazing desserts to keep the most stubborn sweet tooth happy. Alicia also addresses the nutritional concerns faced by many who are new to a plant-based diet, and shows how to cover every nutritional base, from protein to calcium and beyond.
Whether your goal is to drop a few pounds, boost your energy and metabolism, or simply save the world, Alicia provides the encouragement, the information, and the tools you need to make the transition to a plant-based diet deliciously empowering.

Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future – David Wolfe
Superfoods comprise a specific set of edible, incredibly nutritious plants that cannot be entirely classified as foods or medicines, because they combine positive aspects of both. This book outlines the discovery that superfoods are an essential part of a balanced diet and allow us to get more nutrition with less eating.

The Beauty Detox Solution: Eat Your Way to Radiant Skin, Renewed Energy and the Body You’ve Always Wanted – Kimberly Snyder
Nutritionist and beauty expert helps dozens of A-list celebrities get red-carpet ready—and now you’re getting the star treatment. Kim used to struggle with coarse hair, breakouts and stubborn belly fat, until she traveled the world, learning age-old beauty secrets. She discovered that what you eat is the ultimate beauty product, and she’s developed a powerful program that rids the body of toxins so you can look and feel your very best.

Eating Well Magazine
What’s for dinner? Is it healthy? Is it easy? If you ask these questions, EatingWell is for you. The magazine “Where Good Taste Meets Good Health,” EatingWell delivers the information and inspiration its 350,000 paid subscribers need to make healthy eating a way of life with great, easy recipes (most take 45 minutes or less), the latest nutrition science, gorgeous photos and crisp, evocative prose. Has it arrived recently? Check here!


Harry Potter: Page to Screen
Revealing the secrets, techniques, and over-the-top artistry that brought J.K. Rowling’s acclaimed novels to cinematic life, this deluxe, 500-plus page compendium features exclusive stories from cast and crew, never-before-seen photographs and concept illustrations, and rare memorabilia.

The Art of Pixar: 25th Anniversary – John Lasseter and Amid Amidi
A gorgeous, expansive book featuring the complete colour scripts and a selection of the best of the art from all twelve Pixar films.

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die celebrates the great and groundbreaking, classic and cult, must-see movies of all time and offers a treasure trove of incisive, witty and revealing insights into the world of film. This newly revised and updated edition of 1001 Movies is illustrated with hundreds of stunning film stills, portraits and poster art, bringing together the most significant movies from all genres, from action to Western, through animation, comedy, documentary, musical, noir, romance, thriller, short and sci-fi. The selection includes movies from over 30 countries and spans more than a century of extraordinary cinema. Whether your passion is rom-com or art house, The Blue Angel or Blue Velvet, 1001 Movies is the book for you.

Empire Magazine
The world’s biggest and best film magazine. ‘Nuff said.

Leonard Maltins 2012 Movie Guide
For more than forty years, generations of movie lovers have relied upon Leonard Maltin to help them decide what to watch. Comprehensive, trustworthy, and the most established guide on the market, Leonard Maltin’s 2012 Movie Guide includes: more than 10,000 DVD and 14,000 video listings; an updated index of leading performers and an index of leading directors; old and new theatrical and video releases rated **** to BOMB; reviews of little-known sleepers, foreign films, rarities, and camp classics; and all-new personal recommendations for movie lovers.