ABC’s Gift Ideas: Fiction, Film/TV, Foreign Languages

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people. And since we’re a bookstore, these posts will be alphabetical by subject. 🙂

Today you’ll find gift ideas for Fiction, Film/TV and Foreign Languages as picked out by section buyers Renate, Simone, Ester and Tom. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg – come to either one of our stores to browse many, many more titles in any of these subjects.

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here (scroll down a bit pas 2013), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.

Fiction

The Kraus Project – Jonathan Franzen

A hundred years ago, the Viennese satirist Karl Kraus was among the most penetrating and farsighted writers in Europe. In his self-published magazine, Die Fackel, Kraus brilliantly attacked the popular media’s manipulation of reality, the dehumanizing machinery of technology and consumer capitalism, and the jingoistic rhetoric of a fading empire. But even though he had a fervent following, which included Franz Kafka and Walter Benjamin, he remained something of a lonely prophet, and few people today are familiar with his work. Luckily, Jonathan Franzen is one of them.

In The Kraus Project, Franzen, whose “calm, passionate critical authority” has been praised in The New York Times Book Review, not only presents his definitive new translations of Kraus but annotates them spectacularly, with supplementary notes from the Kraus scholar Paul Reitter and the Austrian author Daniel Kehlmann.

Ebook available here.

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love – and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

Ebook available here.

In Praise of Messy Lives – Katie Roiphe

This powerful collection of essays ranges from pop culture to politics, from Hillary Clinton to Susan Sontag, from Facebook to Mad Men, from Joan Didion to David Foster Wallace to—most strikingly—the author’s own life. For fans of the essays of John Jeremiah Sullivan and Jonathan Lethem.

Ebook available here.

Dear Life – Alice Munro

Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Alice Munro’s peerless ability to give us the essence of a life in often brief but always spacious and timeless stories is once again everywhere apparent in this brilliant new collection. In story after story, she illumines the moment a life is forever altered by a chance encounter or an action not taken, or by a simple twist of fate that turns a person out of his or her accustomed path and into a new way of being or thinking. A poet, finding herself in alien territory at her first literary party, is rescued by a seasoned newspaper columnist, and is soon hurtling across the continent, young child in tow, toward a hoped-for but completely unplanned meeting. A young soldier, returning to his fiancée from the Second World War, steps off the train before his stop and onto the farm of another woman, beginning a life on the move. A wealthy young woman having an affair with the married lawyer hired by her father to handle his estate comes up with a surprising way to deal with the blackmailer who finds them out.

Ebook available here.

The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri

Read ABC customer Natalie Gerritsen’s You Review of The Lowland here.

Growing up in Calcutta, born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other. But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead of them. It is the 1960s, and Udayan – charismatic and impulsive – finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty: he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother’s political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America. But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family’s home, he comes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind – including those seared in the heart of his brother’s wife.

Ebook available here.

The Circle – Dave Eggers

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

Ebook available here.

Salinger – David Shields & Shane Salerno

For more than fifty years, the ever elusive author of The Catcher in the Rye has been the subject of a relentless stream of newspaper and magazine articles as well as several biographies. Yet all of these attempts have been hampered by a fundamental lack of access and by the persistent recycling of inaccurate information. Salinger remains, astonishingly, an enigma. The complex and contradictory human being behind the myth has never been revealed.  Until now.

Based on eight years of exhaustive research and exclusive interviews with more than 200 people – and published in coordination with the international theatrical release of a major documentary film from the Weinstein Company – Salinger is a global cultural event: the definitive biography of one of the most beloved and mysterious figures of the twentieth century.

The Complete Short Stories: Volume One, 1944-1953 + The Complete Short Stories: Volume Two, 1954 – 1988 – Roald Dahl

Simone: Finally the complete short stories are back in print! Published in October, in two volumes, this is a must-have for Dahl fans.

Roald Dahl is one of the world’s most popular writers, equally at home writing for both children and adults.

In the first of two volumes chronologically collecting all his published adult short stories, we see how Dahl began by using his experiences in the war to write fiction but quickly turned to his powerful and dark imagination to pen some of the most unsettling and disquieting tales ever written. Included are ‘Man from the South’, ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ and ‘The Sound Machine’.

In the second volume, we experience Dahl’s dark and powerful imagination in full flight in 28 stories written between 1954 and 1988 (including eight tales which are not available in any other printed edition).  Included are ‘Parson’s Pleasure’, ‘William and Mary’ and  ‘Royal Jelly’.

Ebook of volume one available here, and of volume two here.

The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty

Simone: This title has received quite a lot of interest recently, and we are certain many more readers will enjoy this book, written by the author of The Hypnotist’s Love Story.

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret – something so terrible it would destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others too. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive . . .

Ebook available here.

Expo 58 – Jonathan Coe

Simone: Many readers will have been looking forward to a new title by Coe, and this story, set in Brussels in 1958, will definitely not disappoint readers!

London, 1958: unassuming civil servant Thomas Foley is plucked from his desk at the Central Office of Information and sent on a six-month trip to Brussels. His task: to keep an eye on The Brittania, a brand new pub which will form the heart of the British presence at Expo 58 – the biggest World’s Fair of the century, and the first to be held since the Second World War.

As soon as he arrives at the site, Thomas feels that he has escaped a repressed, backward-looking country and fallen headlong into an era of modernity and optimism. He is equally bewitched by the surreal, gigantic Atomium, which stands at the heart of this brave new world, and by Anneke, the lovely Flemish hostess who meets him off his plane. But Thomas’s new-found sense of freedom comes at a price: the Cold War is at its height, the mischievous Belgians have placed the American and Soviet pavilions right next to each other – and why is he being followed everywhere by two mysterious emissaries of the British Secret Service?

Ebook available here.

Film/TV

Radio Times Guide to Films 2014

Whether you’re an avid film buff or just enjoy settling down to a movie every now and then, the Radio Times Guide to Films 2014 has something for you.

The Art of Pixar: 100 Collectible Postcards + The Art of Pixar, Volume II: 100 Collectible Postcards

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pixar Animation Studios with film and concept art from every Pixar feature-length and short film to date.

Infographic Guide to the Movies – Allegra Jones & Karen Krizanovich

More than just a book of words with graphs, Venn diagrams and charts included, this book is packed with over 100 original artworks and illustrations, at-a-glance facts to amaze and astound readers, graphics on every major movie genre, and every major movie market around the world.

Foreign Languages

Get Talking/Keep Talking Brazilian Portuguese: A Teach Yourself Audio Pack

Please note that this title will be published at the end of November.

Make new connections in a new language – Brazilian Portuguese.

In Get Talking/Keep Talking Brazilian Portuguese, 20 common scenarios plus culture and travel advice help you practice the most frequent words and expressions you need for your next trip abroad. You will learn the words and phrases you need for ordering food, booking a hotel, meeting friends, shopping, and more.

Hide This Italian Book

Designed for the young and hip, this best-selling language series is packed full of the language really spoken by locals; it’s not the Italian you learned in school. Learn the lingo on: Love, Sex, Extreme Sports, Video Games, Fashion, Body and Gross Bodily Functions, Internet, Text Messaging, Gossip, Entertainment, and Partying.

Also exposed in Hide This Book are hilarious language mishaps, social trends, and cultural idiosyncrasies. Icons indicate how ‘hot’ language is, so you know when an expression is totally offensive, completely inappropriate, but really worth knowing.

Living Language Hebrew – Amit Shaked Pasman

Please note that this title will be published at the end of November.

At the core of Hebrew, Essential Edition is the Living Language Method, based on linguistic science, proven techniques, and over 65 years of experience. Our method teaches you the whole language, so you can express yourself, not just recite memorized words or scripts.  Millions have learned with Living Language. Now it’s your turn.