For a few days I'd been considering putting together the definitive Names Not Ashley gift guide. And then I realized two things: 1) there are already tons of gift guides on the internet, all of which are way better than anything I would create (including this one, this one, this one, and this one) and 2) I am terrible at coming up with gift guides. I could barely put together ideas for the few friends and family members on my own Christmas gift list...who am I to tell you what you should be buying for the loved ones in your life?
After this little introspective session, I realized that there was one gifting category in which I am a seasoned professional: the evaluating and giving of books. While I know many people have switched over to the wonderful world of Kindle, I think in many cases there's nothing better than giving a well-chosen book to those people in your life who still appreciate a good paperback.
This year, there is no tool for choosing books for yourself and your loved ones that I can recommend more highly than the NPR Books Concierge. NPR really outdid itself this year by building out a hyper-useful tool that allows you to sort through the best books of the year, immediately pinpointing the ones that fall into any given category of interest. Does your brother enjoy Mysteries and Thrillers? There's a nifty little filter for that - select the category, and watch as all the applicable books zoom to the top of your screen. You can then filter within that category for things like "staff picks" and "seriously good writing" - I mean it, if you haven't checked it out you are missing the boat!
While books are my #1 gift recommendation this year, if a brand spanking new book is just not going to cut it, I have one other gifting recommendation (for girls only): one of Urban Decay's NAKED eyeshadow palettes. (I know - can this post get any more random?) But bear with me here - at $52, it's at a great price point for a thoughtful gift, and honestly, it's the type of quality makeup item that the recipient will literally use for years.
So there you have it - the Names Not Ashley definitive gift guide. Was it everything you were hoping it would be?