books

With one week until Christmas, you may be sweating the eventual trip to the jam-packed mall to do battle with the masses over the ugly sweaters and iPod knockoffs that remain. I have done this, and found myself waiting in enormous lines to buy pitiful crap that the recipient must then pretend he likes.

Don’t do it.

Let me give you a few options for your buddy, your boyfriend or yourself. Options that are recommended by those who own them, with attractively low prices. The best part is, via Amazon.com you can order these up with two-day or overnight shipping.

Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar

Iron gym pull-up barI just ordered one of these for myself — the recommendations are awesome. This device fits in most doorways (and doesn’t require bolts or screws) and enables you to do pull-ups whenever you feel like it. You can also use it on the floor to make push-ups easier, and even to hold your feet for sit-ups. The Iron Gym folks also say it lets you do dips, but the range of motion for those dips is so limited you’d be better off using a sturdy bench.

But for pull-ups most Amazon users swear by it.

With this you’ll be able to do virtually the entire no-weights workout at home, giving you a workout option anytime you have a spare 20 minutes.

Kenneth Cole Reaction Men’s Wool Pea Coat

Kenneth Cole pea coatIf you’re going to buy him an article of clothing, you can’t go wrong with a basic pea coat. They’re great for any occasion that isn’t formal, they work with button-downs, t-shirts or sweaters, jeans or slacks, and best of all they keep you warm.

The Kenneth Cole name won’t do you wrong here. It’s 80% wool, which means it’s warm, and it comes in black or charcoal. Just remember that pea coats tend to run a bit large in size, because they’re meant to be overcoats. They also require dry cleaning, but as long as you don’t spill on it or perspire heavily without a shirt on under it, you should only really need to have it cleaned once a year, before you put it away for the warmer months.

You’ll feel like the guy from the Old Spice commercials — except you’ll smell better (as long as you stay off the Old Spice).

Garmin nüvi 260W 4.3-Inch Widescreen Portable GPS Navigator

Garmin nuviPersonally I don’t use a GPS — any directions I need I get with my iPhone and Google Maps. But most of my friends love their GPSes, so who am I to stand in the way of that?

This Garmin is the most popular GPS at Amazon (here’s the whole list), and after 493 reviews has an incredible four-and-a-half-star rating. What about the features? Glad you asked. It has a 4.3-inch screen with 2D and 3D map modes, turn-by-turn voice guidance that reads street names, a rechargeable battery, and a touchscreen with a JPEG picture viewer, world travel clock, currency and measurement converter, calculator and more. You can use it in the car or on foot. It comes preloaded with North American maps, and more features are optional via an SD card slot.

If you or someone you know is directionally challenged, stop driving in circles or pulling off at every other gas station. This small investment can pay off in saved time alone.

A word to the wise though: don’t leave a GPS (or even the suction-cup mount) visible in your unattended car. Thieves love them as much as my friends do.

Rules of the Game

Rules of the GameNeil Strauss’ original book about his experiences as a pickup artist, The Game, is an all-time bestseller on Amazon. For that reason you may not want to give that book as a gift: chances are your friend/boyfriend/husband has already read it.

Instead, if the guy you’re giving the book to is unattached, get him the sequel by Strauss, Rules of the Game. Where The Game was a story about “Style’s” experiences, Rules is a handbook for meeting women and convincing them to go out with you. It includes word-for-word routines and steps you through the whole process, from openers to getting her home.

Keep in mind that Strauss “works” mostly in the world of nightclubs, which requires a different touch than, say, a supermarket or art gallery. You won’t want to breathlessly recite the “two girls fighting” opener to a girl you see at the bookstore, and not every guy is cut out to dress up like a rock star (for example, I give you Jon Gosselin). However, there are some useful tips you can use in your daily life, and the book is full of stories from Strauss’ life among the party culture of LA.

However, if the guy you’re buying for does happen to have a wife or girlfriend, a better choice might be The Book of Basketball. Bill Simmons is such a good writer he almost makes me care about basketball, plus every minute I spend reading him is a minute I’m not reading Rick Reilly or Mitch Albom. Or if he’s not into sports, get him something by Chuck Klosterman — dude is funny.

I hope this has helped. If so, now you’re golden until his birthday. No, a beer bong is not appropriate then, either.

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