Whoever said books make boring gifts has never been on the receiving end of our exquisite taste in literature.
From the devices to read them on to the titles that must make the cut, we’ve got them all sussed out for your add-to-cart pleasure for that family member or friend who appreciates the written word.
iPad Mini 2 (from S$548)
We were among the cynical few at first, but it all made sense the moment we held the baby iPad in our hands. Its size makes it perfect for one-handed reading during the commute. The Retina upgrade makes the text you devour easier on the eyes, while graphic novel readers will appreciate the significant level-up in pixels. In between reading sessions, surf the net and look for more books to buy.
In a world where reading is increasingly the preserve of ebook readers and tablets, what place is there for the physical book? Star Trek director J.J. Abrams and author Doug Dorst have answer that question with a book that can only really be experienced when you’re holding it in your hands. Ostensibly a novel called “Ship of Theseus,” S. features a second, intertwining narrative. This is told through marginalia and artefacts slipped between the pages; postcards, a map on a napkin, newspaper clippings and so forth. A unique celebration of the tactile experience of reading a book and proof that there’s life in the old tome yet.
Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End (S$12)
Perfect for the zombie fanatic, this first book in the Apocalypse Z trilogy introduces you to a man and his cat who find themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Follow them as they traipse around the wasteland, searching for meaning and other humans. You’d better not finish the book too quickly though; we want to save you the frustration of being unable to read a book in existence as the final book in the series has yet to be translated. Trust us, we’ve been there.
Kindle Paperwhite (S$150)
If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite is an excellent choice. It’s a smidge lighter than the iPad mini, and claims to have a battery life of a few weeks - handy for those who have the tendency to flake on the nightly plug-in. Most importantly, it allows users to keep volumes in a single lightweight, low-maintenance device. With a new built-in light and reduced glare in daylight, this e-reader might be the best digital equivalent of a book.
The Circle (S$30)
Ever wanted to find out what it’s like to work for a giant tech corporation? The Circle will give you some insight, and you might end up thanking your lucky stars that you’re stuck where you are. Mae Holland thought she’d hit the bigtime when she was hired to work for The Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, with its sprawling complex and creative perks (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). But it's not all it seems as her role at the company begins to grow, and all begins to fall apart ...
NIGHT FILM (S$30)
A young woman’s suicide sparks off an investigation by an obsessive journalist, in this twisty-turny thriller by Marisha Pessl that’s clearly indebted to the film noir genre. Another book that rewards reading in paper form rather than on your ebook reader, it’s stuffed with facsimile notes, photos and fake websites. For tech-heads, there’s an added reward – a companion iOS and Android app lets you scan tags in the book to unlock extra content, including mocked-up articles and film trailers.
More after the break...
KleverCase (from S$53)
Fool the people around you into thinking that your ebook reader/tablet is an actual book with these artfully designed cases. The traditionalist in you will love the fact that it’s handmade using classic bookbinding techniques and fits both Kindle and iPad models. Choose to clad your device in a classic tome like Sherlock Holmes or To Kill a Mockingbird. Don't get too carried away, thinking it's an actual book and fold the cover on its back.
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: HYRULE HISTORIA (S$58)
This encyclopedia of the Legend of Zelda series was first released in 2011 – in Japanese. English-speakers have had a long wait to get their hands on it – but it’s worth it. Packed with concept art, a detailed timeline that bravely attempts to make sense of the mutually-contradictory Zelda games, and a Skyward Sword manga, it’s perfect for Nintendo fans.
Preacher: Gone to Texas (S$24)
It might seem fitting to read a graphic novel about a preacher who sets out to find God around the time of Christmas. But it will start to look slightly blasphemous when you realise that God has forsaken the world and the preacher, newly minted with God-like powers, sets off on a journey alongside his ex-girlfriend and an Irish vampire to seek God. Rumoured to be AMC’s next television series after its success with The Walking Dead, now’s a good time to get into the thick of action. Did we mention that there’s a character named Assface?
JONY IVE: THE GENIUS BEHIND APPLE’S GREATEST PRODUCTS (S$28)
For the Apple fan who has everything, Leander Kahney's biography of the design guru behind the iMac and iPhone makes for an excellent companion piece to Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography. As well as profiling the man himself, it’s an interesting look at how design came to dominate Apple’s philosophy – to the point where Ive now calls the shots across software and hardware design at the company.
HISTORIC HESTON (S$308)
Let’s be honest: despite the weights, measures and cooking times, you’re not going to use this Heston Blumenthal tome as a cookbook – unless you have access to his vast array of culinary technology. But as a record of how he’s gone about using modern techniques to revive historic dishes – including his “meat fruit,” a sort of paté disguised as an orange – it’s a fascinating read. Plus, as an object in its own right, the book’s rather sumptuous – a weighty volume packed with food-porn photos and illustrations from Sandman cover artist Dave McKean. Sambocade, anyone?
Kobo Mini (S$125)
The cheapest ebook reader around, the Kobo Mini has a dinky 5in E Ink screen that'll fit perfectly in a pocket. And it has all the skills of its bigger cousins, with a touchscreen and Wi-Fi connectivity, plus access to an ebook store with over 3.5 million titles. And unlike Amazon's Kindles, it supports the EPUB format – so you can borrow ebooks from your local library.