1.) Sarah Gorham's Study in Perfect: A perfectly prepared study in perfection.
2.) Angela Pelster's Limber: A re-introduction to the natural world.
It'd be pretty hard to gift this in the traditional sense, under the tree or in a stocking, but whatever, seriously, Radiolab.
Due to the weirdness of my job, which keeps me almost constantly busy, but busy mostly just cutting and pasting numbers from one screen to another, during the last year, I’ve listened to a lot of Radiolab. A friend of mine recently told me he wants to love this show as much as I do, but he can’t stand how much the hosts interject themselves into what would otherwise be reputable reportage. But that’s the stuff of it! I wanted to say, but didn’t, because this was only a half-formed thought in my head then: You see, those two guys—Abumrad & Krulwich—with their ping-pong repartee, are the schizophrenic essayist’s persona in action. They are the essayist on the page (or airwaves), and their reaching out to examine and contemplate the world only to come back to the personal, digging into science and philosophy and the stuff of others' lives and their own lives in order to ask and maybe answer questions about ourselves, never knowing where the most vital insight will be uncovered—all of that—that shit’s totally essay. Or maybe it’s just essayistic, but maybe that’s six one way half a dozen the other? In any case, I can't get enough.
Also: The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Boton, though it’s also neither new or really an essay, except in the broadest sense. Still, it’s great, and I’m a fan of its unabashed mission to improve lives, as suggested by its shelving designation—in bold letters on the upper left-hand corner of the back cover: SELF-HELP/PHILOSOPHY. The best essays, or at least my favorite, could be shelved similarly, under SELF-HELP/ESSAY.