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gimme gimme

Published Dec. 9, 2006

Holiday gift ideas for people who love literature, art and travel.

travel enthusiast | The gift list is endless for people who like to travel on planes, trains and automobiles. Guide books, language tapes, money belts, luggage, journals, cameras and all sorts of electronic gizmos can make travel easier. Sometimes, though, a gift speaks to why we travel, rather than how. Times food and travel editor Janet K. Keeler unwraps gift ideas for people who love to think about their last journey almost as much as they want to go on the next.

World in the round

A globe lets experienced travelers show off where they've been and inspires novices to daydream about where they want to go. There are many types from which to choose, including antique, illuminated and talking. Look for them at department and book stores. On the Internet, check out the nearly 1,000 globes for auction at or the many styles at You can spend as little as $25 and as much as $1,000.

A year of memories

It's nice to be reminded every month about special places visited while on vacation. Or the places you dream about going. The guidebook publisher Lonely Planet has a good selection of wall and desk calendars. Look for them, and others, at Borders and Barnes & Noble. Most are less than $15.

The better to see wild life

Binoculars are one of those items that you always wish you'd brought but most likely forgot. Outdoors stores, such as Bill Jackson stock a variety; 9501 U.S. 19 N, Pinellas Park, (727) 576-4169. Magellan's has a powerful hand-held version, the MiniScout 7-power, for $34.85. Go online at or call toll-free 1-800-962-4943.

Acting globally

Consider a donation in your globetrotter's name to a charity such as World Vision or UNICEF. An amount as small as $25 can make a big impact by purchasing health supplies and such items as a backpack and school supplies for a child in the United States. Get more information at or

For those digital moments

Gift certificates to a local processor or an online digital photo service, such as, or, can make getting prints easier. A photo album is a lovely companion gift.

Eating at the right places

Most guidebooks have dining information, but for travelers whose main reason for getting there is eating, nothing will do but the slim, maroon Zagat books. The guides are updated annually for the most part and the 2007 America's Top Restaurants is a must for any gourmand who travels a lot domestically. Buy it at bookstores or online at for about $15.

To stuff in stockings

Luggage tags, not a green yarn bow, may be the only way to distinguish your suitcase on the carousel now that every other one is black with wheels. We like ours with a sense of humor. Tags that say "You won't look good in my clothes" and "Not worth taking" are among the offerings from Luggage & Gifts. Tyrone Square Mall, St. Petersburg, (727) 341-1067, and Westfield Countryside Mall, Clearwater, (727) 669-7079. They are $4.25 each.

On my list

If it's noon here, what time is it in London? (5 p.m.) I'd like to commemorate my favorite trips and places with four identical wall clocks and engraved city name plates mounted underneath, like you see in an old-time newsroom. My clocks would show the times in San Francisco, Woodstock, Vt., London and Bombay. For anyone buying for me, the matching black-and-white clocks can be found at discount stores or online, and trophy shops will make the place plates for about $6 each. I won't ask for anything else. Until next year.

art aficionado | Let's face it: Few people can wrap up an Old Master painting for a holiday gift. But art doesn't have to be expensive or elite; we can give it regardless of our budgets. Here are some suggestions from Times art critic Lennie Bennett that are more about creativity than budget.

Originality counts

Bay area galleries sell original paintings and sculptures in many price ranges. Also look for limited edition prints or photographs. For friends celebrating Hanukkah, I would take this mixed assemblage piece, titled Shalom, framed and matted, by Juan Cukier, $60 at Florida Craftsmen, 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, (727) 821-7391, as a gift for the host. Remember that having the art framed will add to its cost.

Pepper, the final frontier

My entertaining friends would love this pepper grinder, shaped like the Jetsons' spaceship, from the Tampa Museum of Art. It would make a funky, conversational ice-breaker at their next party. $175 at the museum gift shop, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. (813) 274-8130.

Art on the bag

For a traveling art lover, I choose cosmetics bags from the Museum of Fine Arts store, made from bits of past exhibition banners, each one-of-a-kind and only $18. Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, (727) 896-2667.

Membership and a meal

Special people I don't see enough of would probably appreciate a museum membership with a list of dates to meet for lunch then tour the collection together. Most memberships cost between $25 and $50 and include free admission and discounts at their shops.

DIY art project

A favorite gift for children is art supplies. For $20 or less, you can assemble a kit that will unleash their creativity. Shop at craft or art supply stores for colored pencils, a set of pastels or acrylic paint and a pad of good, heavy paper. Include a gift certificate for classes at an art center or an art book with big reproductions that will inspire. Give adults, who might be intimidated by paints, good graphite pencils and a nice journal to collect thoughts, quotes, photos and mementos.

On my list

Here's what I would love for Christmas: the exquisite Wish Box and Pendant, also from Florida Craftsmen, by award-winning artist Marty Whipple, who uses little found treasures for her jewelry and objects. (She has a cool line of cuff links for men, incidentally.) But I fell hard for this piece, an old watchmaker's box she has embellished. Inside are tiny corked vials, originally for holding watch parts, now filled with wisps of blank paper onto which family and friends can write messages. A small silver box shaped like a book, hung on a chain, contains another vial. It's $450 (gulp) but hey, that's what wishes are for.

book lover | The readers on your holiday shopping list will love unwrapping a new book. But which one? Times staff writer Colette Bancroft has bookmarked a few ideas.

Before Harry met Sally

Nora Ephron has written bestsellers like this year's I Feel Bad About My Neck and several hit movies. Crazy Salad, the 1975 collection of her columns for Esquire and other publications, was her first big splash, and it's still hilarious and smart (as well as a great time capsule). Modern Library, $12.95.

A little Dickens

If your favorite Charles Dickens fan has worn out a beloved copy of his best-known work, wrap up A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Books. This new edition has original drawings from the first edition of A Christmas Carol, four other stories and an introduction by an Oxford don. Oxford University Press, $25.

The full Nelson

Give them a gorgeous coffee table book or a meaningful piece of history? Make it both with Mandela: The Authorized Portrait. The South African leader's life is chronicled in more than 60 interviews, 250 images, facsimiles of documents and introductions by Desmond Tutu and Bill Clinton. PQ Publishers Ltd., $50.

Marking the territory

Fulfill a book geek's fond fantasy with elegant, custom-designed, personalized, archival-quality bookplates from, 250 for $90.

Cheese balls and cocktails

If you can't wangle an invitation to her holiday party, the next best thing is actor Amy Sedaris' I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. With its hipster vibe, retro art and chapter titles like "A Rich Uncle Comes to Visit," this book about throwing parties is so much fun you may not need to bother doing it yourself. Warner Books, $27.99.

Cigar City mystery

Crime fiction fans and Tampa history buffs alike will revel in Ace Atkins' darkly compelling novel White Shadow, based on a real 1955 mob murder in Ybor City. Berkley, $7.99 paperback.

The power of the page

Finally, a plastic role model for bibliophiles: The Deluxe Librarian Action Figure is a 5-inch figure based on real-life crusading Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl. She comes complete with library diorama (bookshelves, reference desk, computer) and Amazing Shushing Action! Order from, $13.95.

For every gamer on your list

Ever wish you (or your kid) could get paid for playing video games? Julian Dibbell's Play Money: Or How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot is a fascinating look into the intersection of the virtual world of online gaming and the real-money economy, a place where imaginary weapons sell for hundreds of dollars and thousands of low-wage laborers get paid to play Ultima Online. No lie, dude. Basic Books, $24.

Look it up

Most almanacs are written by committee, and read like it. Schott's Almanac 2007 is a reference book with a personal bent, compiled according to the wide-ranging interests of the charmingly eccentric Londoner Ben Schott. Bloomsbury, $25.95.

On my list

In another life, I wrote most of a dissertation on the hard-boiled novels of the great Raymond Chandler. To replace my lovingly tattered paperbacks of The Big Sleep and all the rest, I'd be delighted to unwrap Library of America's two-volume hardback collection of all Chandler's pulp stories and novels, plus a screenplay, letters and essays, intelligently edited by his biographer, Frank MacShane. $70.

Gifts of music:

There are boxed sets for all tastes. Check out our critics' picks on Page 5L