The polls are in. According to the American Booksellers Associations annual pre-holiday survey of consumers conducted by the Gallup Organization, a majority of Americans _ 51 percent _ are hoping to receive a book as a gift for the holiday season. But which book do they want? Here are some suggestions for those hard-to-please readers on your holiday list.
TEXT BY MARGO HAMMOND AND GINA VIVINETTO
ILLUSTRATIONS BY DON ADDIS
THE GREEN THUMB
THE GARDEN PACK, by Sue Phillips and Charles Ensor, illustrations by Ian Sidaway (Viking, $24.95).
Remember The Art Pack, the multidimensional art book that everyone snatched up a few holidays ago? This year's adult pop-up book is The Garden Pack, "the only three-dimensional planning kit that allows you to create different designs for your ideal garden." Complete with self-standing brick walls, hedges, fences, trees, shrubs, climbers and ground cover and a fold-out base board with a printed grid so you can design by scale, the kit even includes a pH tester to see if your garden has acid or alkaline soil.
THE SELF-TAUGHT GARDENER: Lessons from a Country Garden,
by Sydney Eddison (Viking, $24.95).
"Gardeners really do not need another book or computer program," says Eddison. "They need a gardening friend who is a step or two ahead of them. Think of me as that friend." So it's not surprising that her book offers plenty of practical advice to the beginning gardener.
THE CURIOUSLY QUIRKY
THIRTEEN: A Journey into the Number,
by Jonathan Cott (Doubleday, $15.95).
All you ever needed to know about the number 13 (there's even a Friday the 13th Club whose members meet on that date to break mirrors, walk under ladders and eat 13 at a table for lunch).
MAPMAKER'S DREAM, by James Cowan (Shambhala Publications, $18).
In this historical fiction, Fra Maura, a monk living in Venice in the 16th century begins to draw a perfect map that will represent all of Creation. As his mappa mundi grows to include interior landscapes as well as the exterior, we begin to see how much an invisible geography affects the way we think about place.
MR. WILSON'S CABINET OF WONDER: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology,
by Lawrence Weschler (Vintage, $12).
Now in paperback, Weschler's rumination on Los Angeles' bizarre Museum of Jurassic Technology is a mind-boggling reminder of how thin the line is that separates illusion and reality.
THE FICTION FANATIC
By Graham Swift (Knopf, $23).
Winner of the Booker Prize.
BEFORE WOMEN HAD WINGS,
by Connie May Fowler (Putnam, $22.95).
Winner of the Southern Critics Circle Award for Fiction
SHIP FEVER AND OTHER STORIES,
by Andrea Barrett (Norton, $22.95).
Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.
THE VENETIAN'S WIFE: A Strangely Sensual Tale of a Renaissance Explorer, a Computer and a Metamorphosis,
written and illustrated by Nick Bantock (Chronicle, $22.95).
The author of the popular Griffin & Sabine trilogy has traded snail mail for e-mail. This time, however, the correspondents are not potential lovers. One is a very much alive San Francisco art conservator named Sara Wolfe. The other is a ghost. Who that ghost is and what he wants is part of this travel through time and space.
IMPRESSIONS OF ARABIA: Architecture and Frescoes of the Asir Region,
by Thierry Mauger (Flammarion, $50).
Mauger, an ethnophotographer, offers dazzling images from a region in southwest Saudi Arabia where houses are decorated with frescoes of geometric patterns and riotous colors. Asir, with its dense woodlands and cool mountains, is one of the least known and accessible places on the globe.
WOMEN IN THE MATERIAL WORLD,
by Faith D'Aluisio and Peter Menzel (Sierra Club Books, $35).
A team of female photojournalists, interviewers and translators circled the globe to talk to women about their lives and photograph them in their environment. The result is an intimate look at the often hidden world of women's lives.
photographs by Anton Corbijn (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $45).
One of pop culture's most celebrated photographers, Corbijn changed the face of portrait photography with his grainy, melancholy shots of famous people. He captures the essence of icons, behind the glamour and fame, using stark black and white film and a hand-held camera. Star Trak features shots of Jodie Foster, Kurt Cobain, Martin Scorsese and dozens of other contemporary rock stars, Hollywood figures, and supermodels.
MEN BEFORE 10 A.M.,
photographs by Veronique Vial (Beyond Words Publishing, $24.95).
After realizing she got her best results photographing men when she woke her subjects before 10 a.m., Vial set out on a project to capture the elusive male species at its most vulnerable time, before, she says, they had a chance to "put their masks on." Her photos reveal famous men like Harry Dean Stanton, Kiefer Sutherland, and Julian Sands in ways they've never been seen before _ with cups of coffee and sleepy eyes or still in bed.
photographs by David LaChapelle (Simon & Schuster, $50).
Known for his bawdy humor and colorful, energetic compositions, LaChapelle stages celebrity portraits such as Faye Dunaway instigating a riot at the Academy Awards from the roof of her white limousine. The MTV generation will recognize his portrait of Drew Barrymmore using a butcher knife to slice a wedding cake and his "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" spoof of pop stars Madonna and Courtney Love.
THE X FACTOR: The Unauthorized Biography of X-Files Superstar David Duchovny,
by Chris Nickson (Avon, $5.99).
Here's the life story of the first FBI sex symbol (Efrem Zimbalist Jr. didn't even come close): David Duchovny, better known to X-File fans as Mulder.
TRUST NO ONE: The Official Third Season Guide to the X Files,
by Brian Lowry (HarperPrism, $15).
If we are to trust no one, why should we trust a book that claims to be "official"?
THE UNOFFICIAL X-FILES COMPANION II: The All New X-Philes' Guide to Even More Conspiracies, Mysteries, and Strange Events Behind the Show,
by N.E. Genge (Avon, $14).
The truth is in here.
THE COMPLEAT ANGLER or the Contemplative Man's Recreation,
by Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton (Modern Library, $16.95).
First published in 1653, Walton's guidebook on fishing is the most reprinted book in the English language except for the Bible and Pilgrim's Progress. This volume draws from the text of the fifth edition, which includes a section written by Walton's adopted son Charles Cotton, and etchings and woodcut illustrations from two 19th-century editions. In the introduction, Howell Raines, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author of Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis, explains the book's popularity: "The Compleat Angler is about how to dream, and that is why we love it."
FISHING DOGS: A Guide to the History, Talents and Training of the Baildale, the Flounderhounder, the Angler Dog and Sundry Other Breeds of Aquatic Dogs,
by Raymond Coppinger (Ten Speed Press, $12.95).
This send-up can only be appreciated by someone who is able to tell the difference between a smallmouth and a largemouth bass. "You get up one morning, completely unsuspecting, and find somebody has discovered a new dog," writes Coppinger, "And once you start looking for them, fishing dog breeds start bobbing up all over. This book is the first attempt to put these discoveries in phylogenetic order."
A DIFFERENT ANGLE: Fly Fishing Stories Told by Women,
edited by Holly Morris (Berkley, $12).
Here are 17 fish tales by the likes of E. Annie Proulx, Pam Houston, Lorian Hemingway and fly-casting champion Joan Salvato Wulff. Who says real women don't fish?
by Charles Jardine (DK Publishing, $16.95).
This pocket-size guide includes where to find the fish, the best weather conditions for catching them and what flies to use. There's room to record the size of even the fish that get away. But best of all it is set in a leather cover with a Velcro snap. For a unique how-to book on fly tying, check out The Art of Fly Tying: An Angler's Complete Handbook and Kit, by Steve Probasco (Becker & Mayer, $25). The book comes complete with all the materials needed to tie a woolly bugger, a peacock soft hackle or a dragonfly nymph.
edited by Todd Gold (Avon, $22).
What Comic Relief has given to the homeless is no joke. Through its 800 number _ (800) 528-1000 _ the non-profit organization has raised $35-million to help America's homeless. Now to celebrate its 10th anniversary, Comic Relief has compiled routines from 20 of the performers who have donated their time to its annual tele-event. All proceeds (and a portion of the publisher's profits) from this "mother of all comedy books" will go directly to the charity.
FOREVER, EMMA: Best Loved Writing From America's Favorite Humorist,
by Erma Bombeck (Andrews and McMeel, $22.95).
When Erma Bombeck died this year, she left behind more than 4,500 columns, 12 best-selling books and a lot of fans who will never forget her. Here is a collection of some of her most beloved columns.
LEADING WITH MY CHIN,
by Jay Leno (HarperCollins, $22).
The Tonight Show host tells the story of his life, including when he first discovered that his face was a topic of controversy. He was sitting with one of his agents at a network casting meeting. "We really like Jay," a casting guy said, as if he were not there, "but we feel his face could be frightening to children."
THE ALPHABET OF MODERN ANNOYANCES,
by Neil Steinberg (Doubleday, $19.95).
From A to Z, a Chicago Sun-Times reporter lists all those things that drive us nuts, from Advertising to Zealots. J, of course, is for Journalism. "Not only does the public hate the media, and the media hate the public, but the media also hate each other, out of envy, or malice, or just for the fun of it."
THE ART OF THE NEW YORKER 1925-1995,
by Lee Lorenz (Knopf, $25).
This year the New Yorker, which began as "an illustrated satirical weekly reflecting metropolitan life," celebrates its 70th birthday. Its promised satire has always been best reflected in its art, and especially its cartoons, which are given ample space in this new paperback edition.
THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
10 YEARS OF DOLCE AND GABBANA
(Abbeville Press, $67.50).
Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are one of international fashion's most innovative and exciting teams, blending a Sicilian sense of tradition with contemporary, gender-bending iconoclasm. This pictorial history, featuring pages of Linda Evangelista, Madonna and Isabella Rosselini (who penned the book's introduction), highlights D&G's quirky style.
CHRISTIAN LACROIX: THE DIARY OF A COLLECTION,
by Patrick Mauries (Simon & Schuster, $50).
This is a behind-the-scenes peek at a fashion designer creating a couture collection. Lacroix, known for his 1987 pouf dress and other playful, circus-inspired designs, shares his entire creative process from a piece's inspiration to its incarnation on a Paris runway. Filled with Lacroix's own sketches, Polaroids and handwritten notes, this diary provides unprecedented access to the mind of a compelling artist.
THE LOOK OF THE CENTURY
by Michael Tambini (DK Publishing, $39.95).
More than a fashion book, The Look of The Century celebrates the designs that surround us, examining the major movements of the 20th century, including art deco, modernism, and postmodernism. Each spread is devoted to a specific object _ jukeboxes, motorcycles, furniture _ and shows the chronological development of that object. The encyclopedic book includes a section about 20th century advertising and packaging, as well as a gigantic A to Z of designers of every kind.
THE CAT CONNOISSEUR
THE MEDITERRANEAN CAT,
by Hans Silvester (Chronicle Books, $29.95).
There's nothing cats love more than sun (except perhaps fish), so it's not surprising that some of the happiest are the half-wild, half-domesticated cats living in fishing villages on islands in Greece. Hans Silvester's images show them arching, pouncing, preening, eating fish and, of course, sleeping against a dazzling background of sun-drenched, whitewashed walls. Among much competition, this is the year's best cat book.
by Norton, the Cat Who Went to Paris, with Peter Gethers & Norman Stiles (Ballantine, $10).
Historical Cats, a compendium of famous cats, goes a long way in proving that behind every great man and woman, there has been _ what else? _ a cat. Each cat, including Marie Antoinette's cat ("Let them eat dry food"), Jerry Garcia's cat ("What a long, strange nap it's been") and FDR's cat ("We have nothing to fear but the dog next door"), are accompanied by William Bramhall's witty illustrations.
TEST YOUR CAT'S CREATIVE INTELLIGENCE
by Burton Silver and Heather Busch (Ten Speed Press, $12.95).
From the people who brought us the infamous Why Cats Paint (in association with the Museum of Non-Primate Art), here is a wire-bound book that includes 18 cards to test your cat's CQ (Creative Quotient). There's even a Tail Position Chart to assess your cat's mood. Of course, if this book doesn't help there's always Listening to Catnip: Stories from a Catanalyst's Couch by Dr. Sigmund F. Winnicat with Camille Smith (Carroll & Graf, $12)
THE DEBT TO PLEASURE: A Novel,
by John Lancaster (Henry Holt, $20).
Written by the deputy editor of the London Review of Books who recently completed a stint as a restaurant reviewer for the London Observer, this is the epicurean novel of the year, a wickedly delicious combination of erudition and sensuality.
COOKING FOR JACK,
by Tommy Baratta with Marylou Baratta (Pocket Books $20).
When Jack Nicholson wanted to lose the 25 pounds he gained to portray Jimmy Hoffa, he turned to Tommy and Marylou Baratta, the brother and sister team who co-own Marylou's, a restaurant in Greenwich Village in New York. Tommy Baratta came up with more than 100 recipes that keep Jack lean and mean without giving up his love of eating.
THE PHYSIOLOGY OF TASTE or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy,
by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, translated by M.F.K. Fisher (Counterpoint, $45).
The French don't eat to live; they live to eat. Originally appearing in France in 1825, this encyclopedic tribute to the art of eating by a French lawyer is the epicurean's bible. Brillant-Savarin spent 30 years gathering material about food before writing his masterpiece, which he published anonymously at his own expense. This English version of the book, translated by the late M.F. K. Fisher, was originally published by Arion Press of San Francisco as a deluxe limited edition.
MR. (OR MRS.) FIX-IT
NEW FIX-IT-YOURSELF MANUAL
(Reader's Digest, $35).
A little knowledge may be a dangerous thing, but who can resist when this manual, which includes more than 3,000 photographs, illustrations and charts, makes it look so easy?
HOME IMPROVEMENT 1-2-3
(Home Depot, $34.95).
For homeowners who have already sunk their life savings in this store, what's another $34.95? How-to advice on everything from tiling to hanging wallpaper that even Sally and Ted Forth could follow.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE,
by Jeff Taylor (Chronicle, $25).
Taylor, a carpenter for 20 years, believes in the spirituality of tools. With humor and a natural storytelling style, he ruminates on his experiences with a knife, a chisel, a drywall trowel and an awl. On hammers: "Barbarians use any old hammer, of course; it's a free country."
JUST FOR KIDS
THE BEST TOYS, BOOKS, VIDEOS & SOFTWARE FOR KIDS 1997,
by Joanne Oppenheim and Stephanie Oppenheim (Prima Publishing, $13).
This mother and daughter recommend books for kids in a variety of categories, from alphabet books to great read-alouds. Each age group has a list of 10 "blue chip" classics, including Phoebe Dunn's Baby Animal Friends for baby, Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon for the toddler, Brown's The Runaway Bunny for the preschooler and Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are for young school-age kids.
BRING HOME THE MAGIC OF THE NUTCRACKER
(Reader's Digest, $17.99).
A hardcover book of the classic story is packaged with a card game, an ornament, a jigsaw puzzle and a board game. If you're looking for a more authentic version of the 1916 German classic, try The Nutcracker, by E.T.A. Hoffmann (Stewart Tabori & Chang, $24.95), translated by Aliana Brodmann and illustrated with intricate watercolors by Gennady Spirin.
THE BEST CHILDREN'S BOOKS IN THE WORLD: A Treasury of Illustrated Stories,
edited by Byron Preiss (Abrams).
Ever wonder what kids' books look like in other countries? Here is a collection from 15 different nations, with original illustrations and text (and English translation). Kids can choose from a German folktale, a contemporary Brazilian legend or a retelling of an ancient Maori legend.
BOOKS TO GROW BY,
by Bob "Captain Kangaroo" Keeshan (Fairview Press, $14.95).
Not only does TV's Captain Kangaroo recommend books for children through age 8, but he provides guidelines for choosing books for different age ranges. For each book he indicates which value (imagination, self-discipline, trustworthiness, fairness, courage or generosity) he thinks it teaches.
THE TREE HUGGER
THE SMITHSONIAN GUIDES TO NATURAL AMERICA
(Random House, $19.95 each).
The Northern Plains is the latest geographic area to get the Smithsonian treatment. These guides are printed on slick coated paper with color photography, maps and detailed descriptions of the natural beauty of each area. Nine areas are already completed. When are they going to get to Florida?
THE COMPANY WE KEEP: America's Endangered Species,
by Douglas H. Chadwick and Joel Sartore (National Geographic Society, $27.50).
Here is the world of more than 950 American species protected by the controversial Endangered Species Act, from the grizzly bear to the Florida scrub jay. Also included is a look at three major ecosystems that are in trouble: the Pacific Northwest, the southwestern desert and southern Florida.
EYEWITNESS: LIVING EARTH,
by Miranda Smith (DK, $29.95).
This is the companion volume to the PBS series narrated by Martin Sheen, which aired this fall. Like the 13 episodes, the book immerses us in the world of animals and their natural environment. Videos of the series are also available for $12.95, including Weather, Volcano, Butterfly & Moth and Seashore.
NOSTALGIC BABY BOOMERS
GI JOE: The Story Behind the Legend,
by Don Levine and John Michlig (Chronicle Books, $60).
Just as boomers decide to buy only non-violent toys for their children, here comes a bit of nostalgia to test their resolve: a book that tells the story of the world's most popular toy soldier, GI Joe, accompanied by a full-size reproduction of the original 12-inch figure (a smaller GI Joe appeared in 1977). Levine, as director of research and development at Hasbro launched the world's first "action figure" in 1964.
THE ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE BOOK,
by Louis Chunovic (Bantam Books, $50).
Such boomer luminaries as filmmaker Steven Spielberg, actor Whoopi Goldberg, science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury and cartoonist Matt Groening have all been fans (Homer J. Simpson and Bartholomew J. Simpson are named after Robert J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose). So it's not surprising that Moose and Squirrel live on though Nick at Night, not to mention as a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloon, a statue on Sunset Boulevard and a logo on everything from bedding to cookie jars. Here is the story of how the dynamic duo were created by Jay Ward in 1959, complete with synopses from their 326 episodes. Natasha Fatale and Boris ("There's a little bad in everything good that happens") Badenov also make an appearance.
TALES FROM THE CRYPT,
by Digby Diehl (St. Martin's Press, $45).
First appearing in 1949, the Crypt Keeper was the popular host of a comic book series called Tales from the Crypt. Forced to go underground in 1954 when Congress declared war on horror comic books, the Crypt Keeper reappeared in 1989 when the TV series Tales from the Crypt debuted on HBO. Diehl tells his story and the story of EC, Bill Gaines' comic book empire (which also included that other baby boomer favorite, MAD magazine), in this lush coffee table edition.
GROWING UP WITH DICK AND JANE: Learning and Living the American Dream,
by Carole Kismaric and Marvin Heiferman (CollinsPublishers, $19.95).
With somewhat misty eyes, the authors follow the 40-year evolution of Dick and Jane, characters in the primer that taught generations of Americans to read. In addition to the original illustrations and photographs from the 1930s to the 1960s, a sampler of original Dick and Jane stories and cutout dolls of Dick and Jane are also included.