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N in azaleas

What do you get...

...for the Sister-in-Law-Elect who is very self-contained?

My brother is marrying a lovely lady who loves to read meaningful fiction (as opposed to the escapist prose I adore); who hates being the center of attention; who reads an interesting receipe in a Cook's Illustrated, makes a list, buys the exact groceries, and makes the receipe; who has not much interest in jewelry; who watches America's Next Top Model but not Project Runway; who loves the White Stripes but not Classical; and hates having her picture taken. She's not a collector of Stuff as I am. I find her a bit of an enigma and, ergo, cannot come up with a good present idea to delight her.

For her bday, we took her to _Avenue Q_. I don't know what to get her for HannukaMas/Solstace/Winter.

Any ideas?


Cooks Illustrated subscription?
Cool cooking gadget?

What do you mean by "meaningful" fiction? Would high-quality historical fiction count?
"Meaningful fiction" = the kinds of things you would run across because:

1) You are an English lit major and have a new reading list.
2) You are in a Book club run by former English Lit majors
3) You are reading something that Oprah recommended.

If the well-written historical fiction has a strong theme and areas for mulitiple interpretations, I think she might enjoy it.

Come to think of it, she has enjoyed the Jasper Fforde novels.

Dickens. One of the comfortable, weighty hardcovers, with illustrations.
I was an English lit major. Shoot, I got a master's in it.

I hated Dickens.

I was going to suggest A.S. Byatt, Possession, if she hasn't read it.
You mentioned a subscription to a good cooking mag - just make sure it's one that compliments her cooking skill (like Gourmet) rather than one that suggests a developmental need (like Eating Light). Or a subscription to a magazine whose focus matches an interest... if she likes literature then perhaps something with essays and book reviews like Harper's Weekly (does that even still exist).

A "coupon" to buy her one book off the NYT best-seller each month for the next year.

Steal my M-I-L's idea: her xmas present each year for the whole family is to organize the "family book club" in which she buys and ships the book club book, schedules the book club, and arranges a conference call for the discussion. Would you have enough interested family members to do this for a group gift?

An invitation/coupon/gift cert for a "cook's dinner" - either someplace like Brennan's where you can eat dinner in full view of the kitchen so you can watch as they cook it, or at a place where they do cooking class followed by serving you as you sit and eat the meal you cook. Dunno whether something like this already exists in Houston but Jim at the Turquoise Grill told me the other day that he'd be willing to arrange something like that for a smallish group.
A good bottle of whatever is usually a welcome gift. Ask your brother about her tastes.
Saveur is better than Gourmet, IMHO.

Oh. Hey. White Stripes? How does she feel about earlier Britpop? I just read about an amazing box set called the Britbox that starts with the Smiths and goes through Echo and the Bunnymen, and the 90s stuff like Oasis and Blur and Pulp and Verve, and maybe she'd like that?

Or, the White Stripes owe a lot to the Velvet Undergroumd,t here's gotta be a VU box set out there, right?
I figured that rikibeth would ping on White Stripes. I, too, thought that perhaps some sort of alt/indie rock collection would be fun (though the problem is always figuring out what said person DOESN'T have.

I have a friend who really likes White Stripes. And he's also into prog. So I sent him The Black Parade last year (thanks to rikibeth). He was expecting emo-ness and was therefore skeptical. He loved it! I'd say that that album makes a good gift for someone interested in quality music.

A music subscription service might be good, too. I have considered getting one but can't justify the money. But I'd really appreciate a gift of something like that in order to see if it's something I'd use.
You could ask her what she might want.

How about a gift certificate to Amazon?
If she had an answer to "what do you want for the holidays", I would certainly take it into account. I did ask. She shrugs.
Whatsit, that Special Topics in Calamity Physics or whatever, in hardback. That's "meaningful".

If she read Maus back in the day, then Palestine by Joe Sacco, or Fax from Sarajevo by Joe Kubert.

A set of kitchen canisters.

Gift card to Amazon or Borders or Barnes & Noble.
N in azaleas

September 2009

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