By Alex McCormack

Sometimes the best gifts are the ones that are least expected, though usually for a gift to be appreciated it also has to be useful or specifically desired by the recipient. Gag gifts manage to transcend these constraints; though they are usually unexpected, they have little utility outside of their novelty. You could say that a gag gift is greater than the some of its parts, and that their value is essentially sentimental. They serve to strengthen friendship by providing a shared memory, and adding another layer to the relationship. Of course, it helps if the recipient has the requisite amount of sense of humor, however reluctant it may be.

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Gag gifts typically include a variety of products, ranging from funny t-shirts, to ironically shaped household objects, to prank products such as whoopee cushions. One other viable possibility is gag book titles, which by virtue of their preposterous or unlikely covers can provide an amusing living room conversation piece or bookshelf Easter egg – as well as a potentially amusing read-through. Think bathroom books for the bathroom, gag cookbooks for the kitchen, a ridiculous conspiracy theory tome for the study, or an ostentatious romance novel for the bedroom! There are quite a few possibilities for finding the perfect gag book title, either as a present, or simply as an amusing purchase.

It’s actually quite surprising how many unlikely titles make it through publishing and onto the virtual shelves of your favorite online bookstore. Take the fully intentional humor guide How to Poo at Work as an example, or the fully intentional landmark conspiracy theory treatise We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle. By contrast, some literary works are ambiguously self-aware, such as the Do-It-Yourself Coffins: For Pets and People woodwork manual, or the knitting handbook entitled Knitting With Dog Hair: Better A Sweater From A Dog You Know and Love Than From A Sheep You’ll Never Meet.

Certain popular mainstream books can also be considered for possible ironic gifts. Recent bestseller 50 Shades of Grey has been maligned by many in the bondage community for being not only amateurish in its writing, but also for sending a harmful message about the nature of consent within such relationships. Other widely popular books can also be highly controversial. Religious books like the The Bible and The Quran are widely read, but also widely criticized. They can serve as an ironic gift to a recently declared atheist.

Gag book gifts need not be limited to items with printed text. Trick books designed with a secret storage compartment have always been popular. I also managed to find a joke book containing 132 pages completely devoid of text. Gag coloring books are also a great text-free option, with numerous adult-themed ones available, along with head-scratch inducing Gangsta Rap Coloring Book and The Christian Conservative Coloring Book

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