Every product is carefully selected by our editors. If you buy from a link, we may earn a commission.

Staff Picks 2017: John Zientek, Style Writer

Books, music, a cave bear skeleton and more.


Editor’s Note: As a collective, the Gear Patrol staff is a wealth of knowledge about products — everyone is an expert in his or her own right. Of course, every story we publish is a testament to that. In our personal lives, we pursue our product passion too. This series is our way of showcasing and sharing our insights on products we inpidually endorse and love and own. Our hope is that you enjoy it all — and perhaps discover something new as you meet our staff over the next few weeks.

In my life, things come and go. I’ve bought, sold and traded more guitars than I can remember. I’ve built bicycles, had bicycles stolen. I’ve found, altered and recycled clothing. I appreciate great products, but I don’t idolize them. They’re just things. As such, my favorites offer something that you can take anywhere. Even if you don’t have the physical things, you’ll have the songs, stories, perspectives and memories.

‘See You at Breakfast?’ by Guillermo Fadanelli

This is the first English translation of Guillermo Fadanelli’s work, a quick yet visceral 15-chapter novella. Fadanelli is an award-winning Mexican author who published nine novels and seven short stories in Spanish before See You At Breakfast. This is dark and poignant — a must read.

Buy Now: $10

‘Schütz: Requiem musikalische exquien motetten’ by Ensemble Vocal Akadêmia, Ensemble La Fenice & Françoise Lasserre

Heinrich Schütz was able to blend the poly-choral styles of the Gabrielis in Venice with German-language settings of masses. He composed for smaller groups of musicians after the Thirty Years’ War decimated the population and drained resources. His music is practical, smart and, most importantly, powerful. Just check out this version of “Saul, Saul was verfolgst du mich?”

Buy Now: $11

‘Does It Matter?: Essays on Man’s Relation to Materiality’ by Alan Watts

Though published in 1972, this short collection of musings on materiality, capitalism and money is still very relevant today. It’s a conversational reality check that everyone could benefit from reading at least once.

Buy Now: $12

‘Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté’

The follow-up to In the Heart of the Moon, this album features legendary Malian musician Ali Farka Touré alongside Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté. It’s an incredibly beautiful and personal album that was recorded over three days at Livingston Studios in London.

Buy Now: $15

Four Barrel Coffee Single Origin Subscription

Four Barrel makes some of the best coffee available and with this subscription, you can get a fresh bag of single origin coffee every week delivered to your home or office. Good coffee is well worth the price, and Four Barrel’s subscription service doesn’t disappoint.

Buy Now: $17/week

‘Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees’ (Expanded Edition) by Lawrence Weschler

This is a fascinating book on Los Angeles–based artist Robert Irwin, as told through 30 years of conversations and vignettes. It should be required reading for creatives, artists and iconoclasts.

Buy Now: $27

‘Old & In the Way’

What happens when you get David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Vassar Clements, John Kahn and Jerry Garcia together? Incredible bluegrass. This 1975 recording is a gem, and if you find a copy on vinyl or CD, make snatch it up quickly. It can be hard to find.

Buy Now: $30

‘Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy’ by Diana Kennedy

An English-language tome of Oaxacan cooking, a Bible of regional specialties, an eye-opening survey of a deeply complex food. Oaxaca’s culture is very diverse and its cooking reflects that. This book is a treasure for anyone interested in hyper-regional cuisines.

Buy Now: $43

Colossal ‘Dino’ Beef Ribs by Louie Mueller Barbecue

The beef ribs at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Texas, are transcendent. The combination of meat, smoke and time is truly worth traveling for. But if you can’t make it down to Second Street in Taylor, you can order them to be delivered — vacuum sealed and packed on ice to preserve flavor and moisture.

Buy Now: $199

The Grail

Prehistoric Cave Bear Skeleton

This fully articulated skeleton of a male Cave Bear would be a great addition to any living space. Its hulking, prehistoric figure is a compelling reminder of the passing of time and the impermanence of life.

Buy Now: $49,000

All Our Staff Picks In One Place

All the gear we can’t live without. Read the Story

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Buying Guides