Let’s face it, a lot of people don’t read nonfiction books. They think they’re boring. Or that they’re important but not the kind of books you can just sit down and really enjoy for hours at a time. These nonfiction books will have you laughing as much as learning and make the perfect gifts this holiday season. Buy a second copy for yourself while you’re at it so that you and your loved ones can discuss these books that will certainly not end up re-gifted.
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How to Fight Presidents
Author Daniel O’Brien
Subtitle: Defending Yourself Against the Badasses who Ran this Country
Daniel O’Brien is a premier comedy writer slash presidential historian. His book How to Fight Presidents discusses the physical strengths and weaknesses of every president up to Obama. You’ll learn all about bad-asses like Andrew Jackson who could probably take you in a fight before he even learned to walk and weaklings like Zachary Taylor who was defeated by a bowl of cherries.
This is not your standard history book. It’s laugh out loud funny but still full of great stories and information you never learned in history class. This one is a must for the political know it all in your family.
Sex in the Sea
Author Marah J. Hardt
Subtitle: Our Intimate Connection with Sex-Changing Fish, Romantic Lobsters, Kinky Squid, and Other Salty Erotica of the Deep
Sex in the Sea is written by Marah J. Hardt who has a PhD in marine science and works as a coral reef ecologist. She knows her stuff when it comes to all things aquatic. She has chosen to focus this book all on the strange, disgusting, and baffling mating rituals of many different sea creatures. You’ll learn all about which organisms have wild orgies, which are monogamous, which have fluid genders, and which are into some super kinky weirdness.
This book is perfect for the animal lover who even loves animals when they’re not so cute.
Buy it here: Sex in the Sea
Stranger than Fiction
Author Chuck Palahniuk
From the author of Fight Club comes a nonfiction book of short stories that will in equal measures tantalize, resonate, and disgust. He takes you on journeys that are beautiful and unusual little slices of life. You will feel connected to your fellow man one minute and completely confused and enraged the next. Many of these stories are actually quite unbelievable but that’s the wonder of being stranger than fiction.
Perfect for the teenager you have no idea how to connect to.
Buy it here: Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories
A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities
Author Jan Bondeson
Subtitle: A Compendium of the Odd, the Bizarre, and the Unexpected
A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities takes various “freak show” abnormalities, old wives tales, and folk stories and analyzes them in both a historical and scientific lens. Bondeson discusses such specimens and the Fiji Mermaid, the bearded lady, and the woman who gave birth to rabbits but also delves into storied issues such as spontaneous combustion and (my personal favorite) maternal imprinting. You could sit down and read this book chapter to chapter or skip around and find what interests you the most. Whichever you decide there is a section for every interest.
Perfect for that friend with such varied taste she just can’t be nailed down.
Shock Value: A Tasteful Book About Bad Taste
Author John Waters
Film buffs will know John Waters as the director of such trash classics as Pink Flamingos and Polyester but he is also quite skilled as a writer. I could honestly recommend any of his books but for a gift this one is perfect. It’s a large paperback with lots of great photos and looks great as a coffee table book but is also completely readable as a Hollywood memoir.
Waters describes his rise to esoteric fame, giving credit to every acquaintance he’s ever encountered and the sheer amount of luck he’s had along the way. His writing is both funny and touching as well as enlightening to how one actually makes it in film-making.
This gift will win the favor of any b movie lover or eccentric art junkie.
Buy it here: Shock Value: A Tasteful Book About Bad Taste
The Year of Living Biblically
Author A. J. Jacobs
Subtitle: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible
A. J. Jacobs is a journalist who likes to submit himself (and his poor family) to long term social experiments. In The Year of Living Biblically he strives to follow every single rule that is put forth in the bible. This includes the 10 Commandments but also the hundreds of lesser followed rules such as not mixing fabrics, avoiding menstruating women, and stoning adulterers.
He consults with Christians, Jews, Snake Handlers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many many others in order to attempt to live as god purportedly desired. His journey is definitely funny but he also learns some interesting lessons along the way.
This one is written so as to not be too controversial but maybe give it to a reformed Christian instead of a Holy Roller.
Anything by Randall Munroe
Randall Munroe is the author of the comic strip xkcd as well as three very giftable books about math, science, and nonsense. His books, What If?, Thing Explainer, and How To all answer every day questions with absurd but accurate answers. For example in What If he answers questions like what if everyone truly only had one soul mate? and how fast can you hit a speed bump and live? In Thing Explainer he breaks down blueprints for everyday and not so everyday items in ways that any idiot can understand. And in How To he answers questions like how to throw a pool party or emergency land a plane under very bizarre and specific circumstances.
Munroe’s writing is hysterically funny and is always accompanied by his characteristic stick figures. He’s a NASA scientist not an artist after all.
All three are great gifts for the biggest nerds you know.
Buy them here:
Hopefully now you have your gift list complete and everyone will be so impressed by you that they’ll crown you king or queen of whatever holiday you choose to celebrate! Happy present season everyone!