Columns > Published on December 12th, 2018

10 Books to Gift Your Enemies

So someone invited you to a Christmas party and you can't excuse yourself for some reason. Maybe you somehow ended up involved in a Secret Santa nightmare at work. Life is complicated and there are many reasons and situations why you'd end up having to buy a gift for someone you strongly dislike. Well, I created a list of books you can gift your enemies. The only thing you need to remember is to keep a straight face when doing so.

Here we go:

1. 'Fifty Shades of Grey' by E.L. James

The beauty of this one is that you can buy it in pristine condition for $1 in most used books stores. Hell, I've seen stores with piles of them in the back. I've also seen a dozen copies at Goodwill, all untouched. You know whoever receives this won't read it, but it gets you off the hook. It's a very famous book. You bought them a hardcover. You're good to go! Nicely done. Now go giggle in a dark corner, you monster.

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2. 'Infinite Jest' by David Foster Wallace

Okay, this is where we start getting specific. This one is for the hipster you detest. Imagine their face as they unwrap this book. The idea that you think they haven't read it. Fuck, this is probably the worst insult they'll received in 2018. Good work. When they're done unwrapping, smile and tell them you were going to get them a Bon Iver CD, but thought Bon Iver is so mainstream that they probably already own it.

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3. 'List of the Lost' by Morrissey

Honestly, can you think of a better way to scream "Fuck you!" without opening your mouth than gifting someone a book by Morrissey?

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4. 'Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff' by Sean Penn

This is versatile! Called the "worst novel in human history" by and...pretty much anyone else who read it for some unknown reason, this is packed with misogynist content, a bit of racism, and...well, just read the title again and imagine that grammar fan in your family reading in public. Oh, it's the little victories that count.

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5. 'Uncommon Type' by Tom Hanks

Yeah, another celebrity. This one, however, is not as versatile. This one is only perfect for that writer you hate who you know has been having wet dreams about getting published in The New Yorker. As they look down at their present, ask: "Did you know he had a short story in The New Yorker? I thought you'd dig it. Maybe you can take some pointers from him!"

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6. 'Mein Kampf' by Adolf Hitler

He or she loves Trump. You hate him or her...and Trump. Say it without uttering a word. Make sure you sustain eye contact and remember to bring up tear-gassing children at the border during dessert.

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7. 'Atlas Shrugged' by Ayn Rand

I dare you to find a better gift for a lawyer or banker you abhor. No, seriously. Remember to grin while you hand it to them and coughwhisper "Dieyoupig."

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8. 'Ulysses' by James Joyce

Give it to them and say "It's my favorite novel ever! I've read it five or six times. Next time we meet, I'm gonna ask you some questions about it." Then you can wink or shoot an imaginary gun at them like a cool person in a bad movie. The point is you know they will never get around to it, and they will start worrying about it if they know you're meeting again. Oh, bonus: they won't read it, so you can ask weird things next time you see them. "Weren't those talking horses incredibly out of place?" "What did you think about Miranda as a trans character?" "Did you catch the Hitler reference?"

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9. 'City on Fire' by Garth Risk Hallberg

Here's another one for struggling writers, especially if they are female, Latinx, or African American. This book fetched almost $2 million while thousands of superb voices get offered $10 and a PDF copy. Give this massive turd to them and have your phone ready to snap a pic of those sweet, sweet tears.

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10. A Book by Anyone Who Immediately Recommends His or Her Own Book on Facebook 

Write a post asking folks to recommend a book. It can be genre-specific or wide open. Don't worry, someone will recommend their own book. Find one that is self-published or published by a vanity press. Make sure it has an awful cover. Bonus points for a typo on the back cover copy. If the person identifies as a "hardcore horror" author, you're on the right track. If he or she has a bio stating he or she went to Miskatonic University or The School of Hard Knocks, it's almost guaranteed to be mediocre at best. Do some research. And remember: most trash people tend to write trash books, so anti-trans or racist memes on their page are a good indicator of an awful book. 


Okay, now sound off in the comments and tell me which book you'd buy someone you hate. Happy shopping! 

About the author

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of ZERO SAINTS, HUNGRY DARKNESS, and GUTMOUTH. His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, Marginalia, The Collagist, Heavy Feather Review, Crimespree, Out of the Gutter, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, HorrorTalk, Verbicide, and many other print and online venues. Y

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