Sick of corporate Christmas? Try shopping local. Hair Balls presents a 12-part series highlighting ideas for holiday gifts made and sold in Texas.
We may not be Chicago or New York, but Houston is still home to a burgeoning literary community, with one of the best Creative Writing MFA programs in the country and a bevy of independent bookstores catering to certain genres. Hair Balls, bein' the learnéd folk that we are, can think of no better Giftmas gift than a thoughtfully chosen book.
Blue Willow Bookshop doesn't list this as a specialty, but lately they've been brining in cookbook authors and celebrity chefs both big-time and small-time, from Nigella Lawson to Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. They sell gift cards in their website with the ahhh-inducing phrase "A book is a present you can open again."
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Sedition Books is Houston's only anarchist lending library, which is kinda funny if you think about it, since anarchy kind of defies the free market ideal of owning your own business. Who gets to be the manager there? Who makes purchasing decisions? Anyway, we digress. Books are available for in-house consumption with no commitment, but if you want to check the books out, an annual membership fee of $5 is required. Perfect gift for the punk in your life. Sedition also sells the Slingshot Organizer a daily calendar filled with important dates in radical history, which makes a good gift.
A subscription to Gulf Coast, the University of Houston's popular national literary journal, costs $16 for a year, which equals over 400 pages of poetry and fiction delivered to your giftee's door, plus the support of an excellent organization based in Houston. Subscriptions to NanoFiction, Houston's lower-fi lit journal, are $12 a year or $100 for a lifetime.
Finally, there is Brazos Bookstore. In a year when mega-corporations closed down the labyrinthine and unique Bookstop to build this behemoth, Brazos Bookstore was still kicking ass in it's tiny corner near Rice University. "The Braz" focuses on local interests which means they have copies of Texas-based author Mary Karr's new memoir "Lit" up against books about Texas gardening and travel. They also publish an annual holiday reading guide that's good for perusal and future gift lists.