Expand your horizons and learn to truly appreciate the complexity of Japan’s rice-brewed beverage with Sake Confidential: A Beyond-the-Basics Guide to Understanding, Tasting, Selection, and Enjoyment. This 184 page handbook, penned by John Gauntner, the “Sake Guy” and the only non-Japanese certified Master of Sake Tasting, details the inner workings of the sake industry, the brewer’s art, and practical advice useful for selecting and enjoying a bottle for yourself. It’s also indexed with suggested brands, label photos, and packed with interesting anecdotes detailing the drink’s surrounding culture.
Grab a copy at Amazon – $10
All humans eat roughly three times a day, occasionally at a restaurant. And if you ever wondered what sort of fare world famous chefs go for on their off time, give Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs’ Favorite Restaurants a read. This 976 page guide builds off the original and covers 3,000 favorite eateries of over 600 leading chefs, from humble neighborhood joints to late night hangouts and high-end restaurants. The picks are scattered around the globe and accompanied by comments from the chef, reviews, key information, plus detailed maps for hunting them down.
Pick one up on Amazon – $18
The form factor of Chromecast and the like is spectacularly convenient, but try to do anything other than streaming movies and you’ll hit a brick wall. While that’s understandable given their price points, Intel’s Compute Stick instead offers a full-fledged — if basic — computer running Windows 8.1 (or Linux) on a tiny, power-efficient stick. Plug it into a television or computer via HDMI browse the web, run productivity software, play games, and stream content from your other devices, Netflix, or Hulu. It’s also equipped with a quad-core Intel Atom processor, 8GB to 32GB of storage, and 1GB to 2GB of RAM.
Learn more at Intel – $90 to $150
Gallivanting about and taking in the world’s best sights needn’t rapidly deplete your life savings. Matt Kepnes — aka Nomadic Matt — dispels conventional beliefs that travel is prohibitively expensive with How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Revised: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter, a 336 page guide that focuses on making a globetrotter out of you on the cheap. Whether your trip lasts two weeks or two years, this paperback is packed with firsthand-derived tips to stretch your dollar in finding interesting activities, accommodations, food, and transportation, including flights. And besides on-road expenses, it also guides you through the planning process and sets your expectations by region, covering places of interest in Central & South America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and most of Asia.
Grab a copy on Amazon – $12
Confronted with seemingly limitless whiskey options, keeping track — not to mention simply settling on your next bottle purchase — can be a nightmare without proper guidance. Good thing The North American Whiskey Guide from Behind the Bar handled the daunting task of reviewing over 250 different whiskeys. Written by the general manager of San Diego’s The Aero Club Bar and packed with blind taste tests by top bartenders, this handy tome will tell you what to try, with which cigar to pair it, and with what to mix if you enjoy the occasional cocktail.
Grab a copy at Amazon – $16
Whether you’ve actually got the construction of a couple of tree houses under your belt or are just a dreamer, Tree Houses: Fairy Tale Castles in the Air is for you. This 300 page study tours 50 of the best tree houses around the world, spanning different styles, costs — some made from scraps while others rival traditional homes in price — and builders, including short biographies of the craftsmen known. And not unlike the retreats it features, Tree Houses invites you to cozy up on a couch with a cup of something warm, climb in, and escape from reality, if only for a short while.
Grab a copy at Amazon – $47
Finally, a concise tome of recipe excellence for residents of Colorado and Washington state (sorry other 48, but your time is coming). Herb, affectionately compiled by the guys from The Stoner’s Cookbook, is a crowdfunded book chock full of cannabis-based recipes originating from their website. Reaching 120 million people per month, Stoner’s has combined their readers love of mind-altering botanicals and the munchies obtained thereby into recipes that satisfy both desires simultaneously. Inside Herb you’ll find 200+ pages of mouth-watering dishes that all feature something that might look like oregano. Recipes are replete with detailed extraction methods, beautiful photography, science behind cannabis, and much more. You won’t find these dishes at Chez Henri, but you may have thought up some of them while munching at Taco Bell.
Find it at InkShares – $15+
Nathan Sawaya is undoubtedly the world’s most famous LEGO artist, and if you’re wondering why, a Google search (or a copy of his new book) will quickly clarify. The Art of the Brick: A Life in LEGO takes a behind-the-scenes look at Sawaya’s stunning, often surreal pieces across 248 pages, accompanied by anecdotes, stories and the inspirations fuelling his transforming of our favorite toy into incredible works of art.
Preorder at Amazon – $24 [via]
Eyeing the Chromecast but haven’t yet picked one up? Amazon may sway you with their Fire TV Stick, a drop dead simple way to watch Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, stream media from your computer, or rent TV shows or movies amongst the hundreds of thousands on Amazon. This compact stick plugs straight to an HDMI port to take over your TV and doesn’t disappoint in quality thanks to support for 1080p HD video and Dolby Digital 7.1 sound. It also outclasses its competitors performance-wise, boasts 8GB of on-board storage, and doubles as a casual gaming rig with support for the Fire Game Controller and over 200 games.
Preorder at Amazon – $39 (or $19 for Prime members over the next 2 days)
It’s a bird, it’s a plane… it’s a box. Okay, so an interactive box for your TV is not necessarily breaking news. But the Nexus player might just breathe some fresh air into a category seemingly bereft of new ideas. This all-in-one entertainment package is powered by a hefty 1.8GHZ Quad Core Intel Atom processor and boasts 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage space, and runs a multitude of apps, games and more in one sleek, streamlined console. A voice activated remote offers hands-free search for your favorite shows at the push of a button and doubles as input for casual or multiplayer games. If you happen to take your gaming seriously, the Nexus Player also supports a gamepad that’s engineered for finer control of all your favorite Android games. Remember TiVo? Well this is the great-great-grandbaby, allowing you to choose from personalized recommendations on your home screen. Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, and Chromebook devices can all stream media to your TV via the Player, though Android devices also support content syncing so that your movie can follow you from bathroom to kitchen to your tablet in bed.
Read more at Google – $109