Last Minute Gifts: Books, Trivia, and Other Ideas You'll Thank Us For

by / Dec. 14, 2017 7pm EST

The gift of a book flatters both the receiver and the giver, of course, and it’s also a visit to a local bookseller is also a great, last-minute way to check names off your end-of-year gift-giving list. In a single stop at one of the city’s fine bookshops—Talking Leaves, Rust Belt, Queen City Comics, West Side Books, Gutter Pop Comics, Second Reader, top name just a few independent retailers—you can pretty much find something for anyone.

Here are a few choices to consider, all by local authors, all published in the last year. Find a longer list at

For the lover of young poets:

My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry 

Edited by Noah Falck and Justin Karcher

BlazeVOX Books

This collection of poetry by Buffalo poets, ages 16 to 40, was released on December 1. The 54 artists cover the waterfront: slam poets, experimental poets, poets with national reputations, high school and college students published for the first time. It’s a terrific snapshot of the vibrant local scene, brought to us by BlazeVOX Books, whose founder and editor, Geoffrey Gatza, is no longer under 40 but himself a stalwart in that community, as are the collection’s editors, Falck and Karcher. It’s a volume that will lead its readers to other publications—books, chapbooks, journals—produced by young local writers. Help spread the word.

For the lover of dearly departed poets:

Torn From the Ear of Night

By Jimmie Margaret Gilliam, edited by Paula Paradise

White Pine Press

Earlier this year, White Pine Press published a posthumous collection of writings by the late Jimmie Margaret Gilliam, who passed away in 2015, edited by her friend Paula Paradise. Gilliam was co-editor of Earth’s Daughters, a seminal local journal, for 12 years; she taught literature at Erie Community College for 25 years and writing workshops in too many places and venues to name; her loving, guiding hand in Buffalo’s literary community can hardly be adequately described. She was also a wonderful poet, as this collection attests.

For the lover of absurdity and illustration on the road to social consciousness:

Color Me White

By Kevin Thurston, illustrated by Mickey Harmon

BlazeVOX Books

“These days we hardly need another book comprised of a straight white male’s thoughts,” write The Public’s Aaron Lowinger of this November release by local poet Thurston and artist Haermon, both frequent contributor’s to this paper, “but when that book is overtly self-conscious of this normativity—when that is in fact what the book is all about—it’s a delightful, if cringe-worthy ride. Each poem or entry in the book has a gorgeous original illustration by artist Mickey Harmon, a perfect whimsical, often humorous complement to the book’s wry tone.” It’s lovely, funny, and provocative. You should by a copy for someone.

For the lover of clever, offbeat, short nonfiction:

A New Bathtub for the White House

By Dick Hirsch

Stonecroft Publishing

Dick Hirsch ought to have a lot of stories to tell, and he ought to tell them well: The consummate newspaperman spent decades as a columnist for the Buffalo Courier Express and Buffalo Business First, as well as hosting weekly interview programs for WNED-TV. His latest, out in hardcover earlier this year, is a collection of more than 100 anecdotes and brief histories, all funny and elucidating, taken from Hirsch’s columns over the years. The title story has to do with the plumbing requirements of US President William Howard Taft.

For the lover of haiku:

Bonvibre Haiku

By Scott W. Williams

Cringeworthy Poets Collective Press

This is the fifth and latest chapbook by the professor emeritus of mathematics at the University at Buffalo. An artistic jack of all trades, Williams is also an organizer of the Second Stage Writers reading series at Grindhaus Cafe on Allen Street, showcase for a broad spectrum of local talents. Williams’s haiku are precise, beautiful, and the volume is the ideal size to stuff into a stocking.

For the lover of short stories studded with Buffalo references:

Funeral Platter

By Greg Ames

From his downstate digs, Buffalo native Greg Ames continues to mine his young adulthood in Buffalo for his fiction. His first was Buffalo Lockjaw; his latest, just out this fall, is a collection of short stories called Funeral Platter. The stories are nearly always funny even when the characters and situations make the reader cringe; indeed, Ames’s talent is framing even difficult stories with such absurdity and deprecation that one is compelled to laugh. He’s a fine writer with keen eye for character and narrative, and that’s enough reason to give someone this book. The bonus is the milieux through which his characters move: vintage 1990s Buffalo cultural community, from the bars and galleries to the apartments and people.

For the lover of trivia:

You Gotta Know Buffalo Trivia Game

Trending Buffalo

Okay, not a book. But you can read it like one. The latest edition of Trending Buffalo’s trivia card game moves beyond sports to include Western New York history and culture; any local culture lover who pick ups a deck and starts reading won’t want to put it down. Bonus: The Public is an answer to one of the questions! You can order it at

12 Gift Ideas That You’ll Thank Us For

Don’t think, it’s too late for that; just buy these things. Don’t worry either, your hard earned holiday dollars will go (mostly) to local folks if you follow this list of 12 unique Christmas gift ideas.

Tickets to see David Byrne

Talking Heads founder David Byrne is pretty universally liked, so tickets to see his solo live show are a pretty safe option for at least someone on your list. If you’re reading this, it’s probably not too late to grab good seats—presale tickets go on sale Wednesday, December 13 and all other tickets go on sale Friday, December 15. Byrne comes to the UB Center for the Arts on Tuesday, March 6.

A custom mural by artist Vinnie Alejandro

Here’s a unique gift idea: a custom mural. Buffalo muralist Vinnie Alejandro can paint just about anything, so if you have an idea for a mural on the side of your business or on the wall of your house then he’s the man to paint it. Find him on Facebook at

This Community Beer Works Ugly Christmas Sweater

I mean, it’s not that ugly. In a festive shade of green this wintry sweater features tiny hops instead of Christmas trees and a nice flight of yellow frothy beer. Perfect for the beer lover in your life. While you’re at it, throw in a growler of their Alpaca Holiday Sweater Porter (6.3 ABV) in case of any spontaneous holiday parties.

Sponge Candy

Everyone likes chocolate. If they don’t they’re kinda weird; and why are you buying gifts for weird people, anyways? Your best bet is a box of sponge candy, which you can give to anyone and if they don’t like it, they can regift it. But they will like it, especially if you get it from locally owned Sweet Jenny’s, the chocolate and ice cream shop in Wiliamsville. They also have chocolates in all different molds, like a Star Wars BB-8 or Death Star shape.

An ornament for a book lover

Have a bookworm in your life but didn’t see anything on our extensive book gift list that they’d like? Get them this locally made, hand made book-themed ornament. Find it at ShopCraft, which is located inside of Thin Ice on Elmwood Avenue.

A handmade stationary set

Do you know how to make your own paper? Well Emma Lucille Percy does, and she’s made a bunch of it. The local artist makes really unique stationary that smells like lavender or is made with bits of recycled denim. Find it at

A five-play subscription to Irish Classical Theatre

In 2018 the Irish Classical Theatre has plays like The Constant Wife, Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, and the screwball comedy The Awful Truth lined up. If you buy a five-play subscription package right now, you’ll save about $35. Check that theater lover off your list with this one.

A Buffalo-branded dog collar

Dogs like gifts too. Now your pooch can rep their hometown with these Buffalo-branded dog collars. Find them at Elmwood Pet Supplies.

A Charles Burchfield print

An original Charles Burchfield can be hard on the wallet, so your next best bet is a print. Find a wide variety of Burchfield prints at, you guessed it, the Burchfield Penney Art Center. Our favorite is this print titled December Storm—very relatable.

These funky socks

Socks. You need socks, I need socks, everyone needs socks. These socks are at least kinda funny, and at most sorta offensive, but they’re memorable and practical because they’ll keep your feet warm too. Find them at Shoefly on Elmwood

This original screen-printed artwork

It’s original, it’s fun, it’s made by a local artist, and it’s cheap. What more could you possibly ask for? Nothing, is the answer. This art by artist Yames Moffitt, titled I Patch—and other similar pieces—can be found at Pine Apple Company in Allentown.

A bottle of One Foot Cock

We’ll put this here so you don’t have to partake in an awkward Google search. You can find One Foot Cock, the delicious and locally produced straight bourbon whiskey at the relatively new and beautiful Buffalo Distilling Company tasting room in Larkinville. Any whiskey lover on your list will be happy with a bottle of this 90 proof small batch bourbon.