We all know one. They refuse to watch anything not on the ABC or SBS, they roll their eyes at the very mention of Netflix and the word ‘popular’ is synonymous with ‘cultural desert’.
They are the intellectual snob we know and love (to tease gently when their attention is elsewhere – probably on the latest issue of The Economist).
And damn, they’re hard to buy for.
I’ve put together a list of suggested book gifts for your resident intellectual snob that they will love. It might even give them something interesting to talk to you about.
1. Seriously Curious: The Economist Explains
You can’t go wrong with a book put together by The Economist. The intellectual’s version of Woman’s Day, it’s a weekly magazine packed full of politics, global affairs and – of course – economics.
Seriously Curious: The Economist Explains (The Facts and Figures That Turn Your World Upside Down) is the perfect book gift for those who are “driven by more than just a desire to understand the way things are. They also want to understand the underlying mechanisms that explain how things got to be that way, so that they can anticipate, predict or explain future events.”
Written in entirely accessible language – though fairly dense – this cracker of a book addresses dozens of issues in separate chapters such as:
- Why polygamy makes civil wars more likely
- Why China has the world’s worst flight delays
- How wine glasses have got bigger over the years
- Why 5G might be both faster and slower than previous wireless technologies
2. 101 Marvellous Movies You May Have Missed, by David Stratton
Your stereotypical intellectual snob is unlikely to be interested in the latest Melissa McCarthy film. Attempts to engage them in a lively discussion about the merits of the off-the-wall humour of Thor: Ragnarok compared to previous Avengers blockbusters is likely to met with silent sips of cognac and a restless gaze.
That’s okay. David Stratton, self-professed lover of obscure political films, is here to save the day. For 28 years, Stratton was co-host with Margaret Pomeranz of SBS’s The Movie Show and ABC’s At the Movies. When it comes to movies, the man knows what he’s talking about.
101 Marvellous Movies You May Have Missed encompasses movies from 1980 onwards across all genres. It’s Stratton’s compilation of good movies that have “become forgotten, overlooked or neglected.”
It also represents an excellent index of Australian films which, while well worth watching, have been relegated to obscurity simply because they don’t have access to large distributors, big name stars and healthy marketing budgets.
3. The Undercover Economist, by Tim Harford
Don’t buy this book for a friend or family member who is an expert in economics. They will have already learned all this in Microeconomics 101.
The Undercover Economist is more for your friendly intellectual snob who tends towards art exhibitions, film noir and free trade coffee.
Tim Harford manages to make economics entertaining while explaining why a cup of coffee costs so much (it has nothing to do with the coffee itself) and why paying extra for free trade coffee is actually a marketing rort.
My favourite chapter is towards the end when Harford unpacks why poverty occurs in some countries more than others, and how it can be alleviated through tackling corruption. The bad news is that tackling corruption is extremely difficult.
The good news is that Harford went back and wrote a sequel: The Undercover Economist Strikes Back.
Disclosure: I received Seriously Curious and 101 Marvellous Movies from the publisher for the purpose of review.