Skip to main content


December 21, 2016

Laurie Lico Albanese: You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

Posted by emily

Laurie Lico Albanese has a hot tip for delinquent gift-givers who are still struggling to figure out what to get their loved ones for the holidays: judge a book by its title. In her Holiday Blog, the author of BLUE SUBURBIA: Almost a Memoir shares a hilarious guide for the present perplexed, and explains why the holiday season (and every season) is a great time to give a little feminist enlightenment to the women in your life. Her upcoming book, STOLEN BEAUTY, will be in stores February 7th.

Everybody knows that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

On the other hand, a good title can tell you a lot about a book. A title, by its very nature, is a portal to the worlds, words and ideas inside. I’ve been drawn to some of my favorite books by the titles alone --- THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, HOW NOT TO ACT OLD, GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN and THE SOUND AND THE FURY come to mind. My daughter, a language arts teacher, can reel off a full list of books with awesome titles that she’s loved: ANGUS, THONGS AND FULL FRONTAL SNOGGING, THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS and FREAKONOMICS among them.

A well-chosen book tells the recipient that you understand something essential about what they want and how they view the world. During the holidays, when time is tight, expectations are high and parties are plentiful, picking a book by its title can be a helpful shortcut for calorie-free gift giving.    

Here’s a helpful guide to get you started:

* Instead of a bottle of cheer, try ARE YOU THERE VODKA? IT’S ME CHELSEA by Chelsea Handler

* Instead of fruitcake, go for humor (and funny little chickadees), with Sloane Tanen’s BITTER WITH BAGGAGE SEEKS SAME

* Instead of dinner and theater tickets, gift the far more affordable HAMILTON: The Revolution by Lin Manuel-Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

* Rather than a weekend in Paris, gift Susan Conley’s novel, PARIS WAS THE PLACE

* Skip the candy, and wrap up Laura Esquivel’s delicious LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE

* Instead of moonshine and tobacco, go with HILLBILLY ELEGY by J.D. Vance

* Forgo perfume and gift Georgia Clark’s satirical beauty-myth novel, THE REGULARS

* Bypass the belt, tie or cufflinks and gift the men in your life THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F*CK by Mark Manson

I’m giving Rebecca Solnit’s MEN EXPLAIN THINGS TO ME to several women on my shopping list this year. Solnit is an activist, historian and a Harper’s contributing editor. Her slim volume is filled with on-point insight into the relations between the sexes. The holidays are stressful, especially for those of us who have to cook, shop, primp, beautify, celebrate and too often get up and do it all over again the next morning --- this time, with a hangover.

When I gift Solinit’s book, I’m telling the recipient, Go ahead! Sleep in, sleep it off, and don’t let the other people (read men) in your life make you feel bad about it. Until “mansplaining” is a thing of the past, we can all use a little feminist enlightenment under our tree.