Culture Scan

At the intersection of real estate, media, and pop culture.

8 Perfect Housewarming Books

You have the best of intentions of choosing thoughtful, practical gifts. So why do all your clients get the same cheesy keyring with your contact information printed on it? In this world of overconsumption, who wants to clutter up their brand new house with useless tchotchkes?

And, in a world increasingly dominated by Kindles and iPads, there’s some downright homey about a real book on a shelf.

The first items I pack when moving are my books. In fact, before I’m even sure I’m going to move, I first try to purge and donate as many books as I can, knowing I’m going to have to pack the rest. And they certainly aren’t the first things to be unpacked when I’m setting up in a new space. What does that give me? A long timespan living with empty bookcases. What could be more satisfying than sliding a new book that reflects my ambitions for my new home onto those empty shelves?

Consider the books on this list—paired with some hard-to-shop-for personality types—as a jumping-off point for finding the perfect literary closing gift for your clients.

And when you find the perfect book, be sure to leave a handwritten note congratulating the new homeowners (including your phone number or e-mail address) on the front flyleaf. Then, when they start looking through their bookcases for donations before their next move, they’ll remember your thoughtfulness, and know just how to reach you.

Perfect for artists wondering how to decorate their new, empty loft space:

The Art of Living (Random House, 2009, $65)
Accompanied by stunning photography from Barbel Miebach, Claudia Steinberg writes about how famous artists decorate their homes.

Perfect for young couples who just bought their first little fixer-upper:

Sugarhouse: Turning the Neighborhood Crack House Into Our Home Sweet Home (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012, $14.95)
Matthew Batt’s memoir about finding, purchasing and fixing a sort-of, maybe-someday perfect house in Salt Lake City with his wife was one of my must-reads for the summer.

Perfect for parents of reluctant movers ages 5-10:

Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move (Simon & Schuster, 1995, $17.99)
Judith Viorst, adored by parents and kids alike for her Alexander book series (beginning with the lyrical Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) tackles the pain of moving from a frustrated boy’s perspective in this award-winning childrens’ book.

Perfect for urbanites who are A-OK with their tiny galley kitchen:

Takeout Menus (Knock Knock, $20)
This handy organizer touts itself as the “modern-day recipe box” and contains not only space for menus, but helpful labels for categorizing and rating them.

Perfect for perfectionists on tenterhooks:

Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home (Crown Publishing, 2006, $45)
Martha takes readers room by room to point out all of the items they hadn’t thought about before, and explains how they’ve been cleaning/maintaining/using them wrong this whole time.

Perfect for DIY scrapbookers excited to explore the meaning of home:

Crafting a Meaningful Home (STC Craft, 2010, $24.95)
Author Meg Mateo Ilasco tells the stories of designers who came up with and executed extraordinary but affordable projects to celebrate their families and their homes, followed by tutorials for those who wish to follow their leads.

Perfect for husbands and dads who’ve just acquired a semi-finished basement:

The Man Cave Book (Harper Perennial, 2011, $14.99)
Jeff Wilser and Michael H. Yost explore and display the many different types of man caves, offering advice on how to create a testosterone-friendly space of one’s own.

Perfect for elegant, confident socialites:

The Hostess Diary (Chronicle Books, 2006, $16.95)
This is less of a how-to and more of a neat and pretty method for remembering which dish went over so well at that last brunch, and what to keep in mind for next time.

Happy shopping, and do take a moment to share your favorite housewarming books in the comment section below.


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