Holiday Gift Guide: Book Worm/Movie Buff Edition

My most used cookbook, hands down.
My most used cookbook, hands down.

Okay, I still don’t really like gift guides.

But I do like really useful, thoughtful gifts– both giving and receiving. Last week, I shared my 13 most beloved and practical things in my kitchen (all great gifts!). This week, let’s talk media.

I don’t own many books or movies. Frankly, I think they take up too much space. Because you can rent nearly every movie without even leaving your house, the only movies I own are ones I’ve watched dozens of times (and will continue to do so). Same goes for cookbooks– the majority I own are splattered with food, ripped around the edges because I use them so much. And as for regular ol’ books, I buy the ones I know I want to share with friends. Otherwise, I am strictly a borrower.

Here are the movies, books and one super-specific record I think are worth owning/gifting.

Christmas Vacation

The classic family Christmas tale.
The classic family Christmas tale.

I own a lot of Christmas movies, namely because I know I’ll watch them every year. I tend to think people are either in the Christmas Story camp (you’ll shoot your eye out) or the Christmas Vacation camp (little full, lotta sap). I’m in the latter, by a long shot. The lights, the tree, the squirrel, cousin Eddy… It’s just the best.

Love Actually

Raise your hand if you cry every time Emma Thompson opens that Joanie Mitchell CD...
Raise your hand if you cry every time Emma Thompson opens that Joanie Mitchell CD…

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who adore Love Actually and those who are fools!

Just out of curiosity, what’s your favorite storyline? Mine is a tie between Jamie and Aurelia & the Prime Minister and the adorable Natalie WHO IS NOT FAT AT ALL! Why do they call her fat? She is so beautiful! Ugh, that bugs me.

The porn star storyline should’ve just been edited out IMHO. Oh, and the entire Laura Linney story makes me want to shake her! She passed on Carl! What a dope. Okay, I’m done.

Home Alone

Back when Macaulay Culkin was still cute!
Back when Macaulay Culkin was still cute!

Guys, I’m eating junk and watching rubbish! You better come out and stop me! Getting left Home Alone in the way of Kevin McCallister is still my dream. Well, except for the bandits part.

Die Hard

Bruce Willis IS John McClane. 
Bruce Willis IS John McClane.

In addition to be an action movie with great one-liners, Die Hard is a Christmas movie, and it’s the one I find myself watching with my husband after I’ve subjected him to Love Actually.

 The Shop Around the Corner

This one will make your heart explode! In a good way. 
This one will make your heart explode! In a good way.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know there is a much more famous Jimmy Stewart Christmas movie. It just so happens that The Shop Around the Corner is one of my favorite movies in the land (which, by the way, was remade in the 90s as You’ve Got Mail… remember Meg Ryan’s short hair? The best!). One of those black and white movies that somehow manages to still feel fresh.

Four Weddings & a Funeral

Carrie's hats! Oversleeping! Duckface! I love this movie. 
Carrie’s hats! Oversleeping! Duckface! I love this movie.

There are a few movies I can’t not watch when they’re on TV and this is one of them. Hugh Grant is so charming, he totally makes up for the fact that Andi MacDowell is a terrible actress (with really great skin). Other movies in this irresistible category are Something’s Gotta Give and When Harry Met Sally.

Animal House

Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life. 
Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.

I’ve seen Animal House dozens of times and it never gets old! Ever. EVER! I want to go back to college.


If you don't like this movie, I'm unsure you can be entertained. 
If you don’t like this movie, I’m unsure you can be entertained.

Caddyshack is a classic on all levels… except I have to admit to disliking most of the things that involve the gopher. Who cares though. Chevy Chase is kinda hot in this movie and I wish Rodney Dangerfield was randomly seated at my table at the next wedding we attend.

Well Fed

My most used cookbook of 2014!
My most used cookbook of 2014!

I’ve made nearly every recipe in this paleo, Whole30-friendly cookbook. It’s healthy recipes, but for people who like/need to eat. Easy, great meals and Melissa’s writing and recipe style is a delight.

How to Cook Everything

Mark Bittman wasn't lying... he knows how to cook everything. 
Mark Bittman wasn’t lying… he knows how to cook everything.

What you see is what you get: Mark Bittman tells you how to cook everything. I use this at least twice a week. A great place to figure out the groundwork for any ingredient, the elaborate as you wish.

Mastering My Kitchen Mistakes

Dana and her cookbook are the bee's knees.
Dana and her cookbook are the bee’s knees.

Aren’t you tired of everyone’s perfect recipes and perfect cookbook and perfect everything? I am, and that’s why I like Dana’s cookbook. Even though she’s been the editor-in-chief at Food & Wine for 20 years, she never quite learned how to cook. This book chronicles her failures and successes in the kitchen in a smart, funny and relatable way. The recipes are useful, too. Stuff you’ll actually cook.

It’s no secret that I have a huge crush on this woman, and this cookbook perfectly showcases why she’s so awesome.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

This method will change your life.
This method will change your life.

Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg’s revolutionary cookbook make baking fancy, ridiculously good bread at home a cinch. No bread machine needed! I’ve made their stuff dozens of times and have never been disappointed. Literally, the method takes no time and barely any effort. Oh, and if you’re gluten-free, get their latest GF book.

Every Grain of Rice

Ugh, this book is so fabulous.
Ugh, this book is so fabulous.

Fuchsia Dunlop is a badass in the kitchen, specializing in Chinese food. Personally, making most Asian food at home freaks me out, but the recipes in Every Grain of Rice are actually pretty easy and well-explained. A great treat for someone looking to expand their culinary horizons.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes = Best book I've read in a loooong time. 
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes = Best book I’ve read in a loooong time.

Okay, a book about death might not seem like a great gift, buuuut…. I found this book to be incredibly informative, well-written, funny and enlightening. I’d love to get it as a gift, but maybe you can just use an Amazon gift card toward it and buy it for yourself after Christmas. And then share it with people you love. The subject is really important to talk about.

Me Talk Pretty One Day

David Sedaris' greatest work.
David Sedaris’ greatest work.

The book that made me fall in love with David Sedaris, who had a speech impediment as a kid, just like me! Funny, honest and at times, totally ridiculous.

The Most of Nora Ephron

I miss this woman. I didn't know her, but that doesn't matter.
I miss this woman. I didn’t know her, but that doesn’t matter.

Do you know any women? Great. Get them this book. They’ll love it.


Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

Sturgill Simpson is like George Jones, but alive and kickin.
Sturgill Simpson is like George Jones, but alive and kickin.

This is actually on my list this year: Sturgill Simpson’s latest on vinyl. I love classic country music, not today’s over-produced garbage. Simpson nails it! If you like George Jones and/or Merle Haggard, you will love this. And if you love me, you will get it for me for Christmas. On vinyl.

* * *

What are your must-own movies & books? There are so many more flicks want to add here, like Zoolander, Wet Hot American Summer, The Princess Bride (PS has anyone heard anything about Cary Elwes’ behind-the-scenes Princess Bride memoir, As You Wish?), Sideways… gah! I own about 20 movies, and they are all awesome.

PS Here’s last week’s practical kitchen gift guide.

PPS Images sourced from

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