As the holiday season approaches, we thought you might appreciate some gift suggestions with a twist, appropriate for those on your list who aren't satisfied with the same old, same old.

Everyone has a friend like this-- If you show up with a broken arm, they tell you about their crushed vertebrae. Your flu pales in comparison to their bout of Dengue fever. Tear a nail? Listen to them talk about their leprosy.

For this friend, we have the perfect gift recommendation: The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases. This volume, written by a huge roster of speculative fiction writers including Neil Gaiman and Cory Doctorow, gives a comprehensive explanation of diseases such as

  • Monochromitis, or the "stark, raving abhorrence of color, often accompanied by an intense longing for the way things used to be."
  • Wife blindness, starts with the failure to remember anniversaries, reaches crisis stage of "Spousal nudity oblivion."
  • Poetic Lassitude, in which the victims "are often found wandering the countryside and mountain fastnesses staring at tiny flowers."
  • Reverse Pinocchio Syndrome, the final stage of which results in a hole clean through one's head.

The maladies described are so outlandish that even your most hypochrondiacal friend will have a hard time finding a topper. Although think of the pleasure they'll get out of trying.


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