Quirk Book has an enjoyable series of “little black books” for men. These 150 page books are small enough to carry in a pocket, and are both fun and to-the-point. All would make especially appropriate gifts for family, friends, co-workers, graduates, fathers, or fathers-to-be… including for Fathers Day! Each book offers a wide variety of useful information that most men will be called upon to know at some point in their manly lives.
Stuff Every Man Should Know, by Brett Cohen, is divided into several sections that run the gamut of the male experience, from high to low. Classic Guy Stuff includes things like how to jump-start a car, tie a tie, and hold a baby. Personal Appearance outlines everything from wardrobe essentials, how to sew a button, or do proper push-ups and crunches. Good Humor offers a series of jokes for a number of occasions, while Business and Pleasure includes tips on horse and golf betting, how to negotiate, ask for a raise, and giving a toast. And finally, Love and Relationships runs from How to Pick up a Woman, to How to Propose, and I appreciated that both of which, as it turns out, have to do with communicating simply, honestly, and considerately.
Stuff Every Husband Should Know, by Eric San Juan, focuses on marriage and fatherhood. It would make an ideal gift for an engaged, newly-wed, or young, married man. Sections regard issues for one’s wife, home, and family. Once again, they suggest acting considerately, while providing honest and simple directions to many of life’s basics. Yet, many are clever and offer a bit of humor along the way. For example, How to Drive Together in Peace includes the tidbit, “She controls the climate. You’re a man. You’ll deal with it.” Similarly, Stuff You Should Learn How to Say, suggests that happy marriages are built on generous use of the following: “You look beautiful;” “I was wrong;” “I love you;” “You’re right;” “Dinner was delicious;” “I shouldn’t have done that, I’m sorry;” and, “Would you like a back rub?” Other sections include tips on everything from how to unclog a drain, on how to not fight over money, and Vacations to Make Everyone Happy. It all sounds like good advice to me! Plus, if your parents didn’t teach you how to have a good marriage, or weren’t a great example of it, then Stuff Every Husband Should Know can be an invaluable resource. I know I can use all the help I can get!
Recipes Every Man Should Know, by Susan Russo and Brett Cohen, begins with a series of man-proof recipes that run from the manly, to the romantic, to the famiy friendly. Sections include Hearty Breakfast Classics, Sandwiches, Burgers & Snacks, Meat & Potato Dinners, Beer, Bacon & Bar Food, and Chocolate, Cheesecake & More. Many tasty and easy-to-prepare recipes are included within, from a range of home-made pizzas, to camping recipes, to delicious recipes for every cut of meat and fish. These are genuinely practical recipes that even as casual viewer of Food Network, I can prepare and enjoy. Recipes Every Man Should Know would make for an excellent gift, and with recipes this delicious, it will definitely be appreciated (the shrimp fettuccine is fantastic!).
But what if the man in your life doesn’t need any manly advice? But could use some thoughtful entertainment instead? Here are a couple more great choices from Quirk.
The pop-culture philosophy of Geek Wisdom, edited by Stephen H. Segal, includes a famous quote on each page from nerdy sources, with a paragraph of musings on its context, meaning, and impact. It’s a brilliant concept that leads to (what I personally found to be) surprisingly profound observations on life and living. Quotes run from “With great power comes great responsibility,” to “There is no spoon,” to “Don’t Panic,” to “My God — it’s full of stars!” An extra footnote at the bottom of each page includes a fascinating factoid about each quote; did you know that last quote only appears in the novel version of “2001: A Space Odyssey?” I really enjoyed musing over the musings in Geek Wisdom.
Broetry, by Brian McGackin, is a funny and engaging book of poetry, also from Quirk Books. Unpretentious, the poems take on contemporary manly topics, from the perils of Craigslist, an “Ode to Taylor Swift,” and both Star Trek and Star Wars. The poems are often funny, clever, and generally express sympathy for what your English professor referred to as “the human condition.” The poems are divided up by headings which reflect the range of concerns common to young men/”bros” everywhere: High School to Hangovers, Sophomoronic, Girls, Girls, Graduation, Extreme Poverty Is The New Poverty, and Twenty-Five to Life. As such, it would make an excellent gift for any unsure young men in your life, especially those who majored somewhere in the liberal arts. Given its light touch, easy readability, and delightful commentary on contemporary living, Broetry may be the only poetry book I’ve actually read cover-to-cover, but I also appreciated that it helped me feel like I’m not the only one still trying to figure out life.
Quirk also offers truly frame-quality prints in a series of books, each with 100 carefully-selected, iconic pop art images for your workplace, dorm, or home. The quality is top-notch, and the images are strikingly bold, often with a touch of whimsy or ironic humor.
DC Comics Posters, features 100 ready-to-frame comic book covers, old and new, by Robert Schnakenberg, who includes commentary on the back of each poster, along with a few related cover images. Many have a Lichtenstein style pop art sensibility, such as the many proto-feminist images of Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and various romance comics. A favorite of mine is the one where Lois Lane, gifted super strength — for one issue at least — flies away with a surprised Superman in her capable arms. Just in time for a blockbuster Batman movie out this summer, featuring Catwoman, you will find iconic images of both of those characters. The book includes the epic Dark Knight Returns cover, along with other iconic covers, such as the Death of Superman issue. There are several posters of Green Lantern, too. And with just-announced mega-films of the Justice League coming (a la the Avengers) — with a Wonder Woman movie on its way, too — I think that the DC Comics Posters will remain as enjoyable and hip as it is bold and visually dynamic.
Similarly, Gig Posters Volume 2, by Clay Hayes, takes 101 of the best posters from gigposters.com, and compiles them in a stunning visual array, that would complement home or office spaces! In this case, each genuinely frame-ready poster is offered by a different designer, with a mini portfolio and interview on the back. You can look up all of your favorite bands, from the past 20 years or so, or just pull the most visually arresting. Some are simply lovely illustrations with lush colors, like the art nouveau-inspired Kings of Leon poster of an old truck, or the Black Keys’ neo-surrealist poster of a Southern belle waiting impatiently on a sunken boat, encircled by alligators. Others take a retro illustrative look, like Death Cab for Cutie cat-and-birds combo, or Norah Jones’ cute, Peanuts-inspired poster, while still more are stark, but with a touch of whimsy, like Her Space Holiday’s thoughtful, visual description of their name.