Christmas means time for a new book or two

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 16, 2012

The time for buying Christmas presents is upon us — for some people panic is setting in. How to get it all done? Where to go? What to buy?

A book is always a good bet. You can wander around the book store — always a good time, or you can start out with a few suggestions.

Literary Bookpost recommends these books as top 10 Christmas gifts:

1. Recycled Robots, by Robert Malone. Children’s book with crafts: From R2-D2 to WALL-E, robots are a source of endless fascination. Now comes an irresistible kit that shows how to make 10 different robots out of the most ordinary things from around the house. The kit includes a battery-operated motor and two windup walkers, plus templates, dowels, beads, wire, mounting squares and more.

2. It’s Time For Christmas Duck & Goose (large boardbook), by Tad Hills. Children’s book: The feathered friends are getting ready for Christmas. The only problem? Goose is more interested in skating, sledding and making snow angels than in helping Duck decorate their Christmas tree. Full color.

3. Houses of the Presidents: Childhood Homes, Family Dwellings, Private Escapes, and Grand Estates, by Hugh Howard. This book offers a unique tour of the houses and day-to-day lives of America’s presidents, from George Washington’s time to the present. Author Hugh Howard weaves together personal, presidential and architectural histories to shed light on the way our chief executives lived. Original photography by Roger Straus III brings the houses and furnishings beautifully to life. From Jefferson’s Monticello to Reagan’s Rancho del Cielo, with fascinating and surprising stops between and beyond, “Houses of the Presidents” presents a fascinating alternative history of the American presidency.

4. Dancers Among Us: A Celebration of Joy in the Everyday, by Jordan Matter. The mystery of the body in motion. The surprise of seeing what seems impossible. And the pure, joyful optimism of it all. “Dancers Among Us” presents one thrilling photograph after another of dancers leaping, spinning, lifting, kicking — but in the midst of daily life: on the beach, at a construction site, in a library, a restaurant, a park. With each image the reader feels buoyed up, eager to see the next bit of magic. Photographer Jordan Matter started his “Dancers Among Us” project by asking a member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company to dance for him in a place where dance is unexpected. So, dressed in a commuter’s suit and tie, the dancer flew across a Times Square subway platform. And in that image Matter found what he’d been searching for: a way to express the feeling of being fully alive in the moment, unself-conscious, present. Organized around themes of work, play, love, exploration, dreaming and more, “Dancers Among Us” celebrates life in a way that’s fresh, surprising, original, universal. There’s no Photoshopping here, no trampolines, no gimmicks, no tricks. Just a photographer, his vision, and the serendipity of what happens when the shutter clicks.

5. Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust, by Ina Garten. Beloved Food Network star and New York Times-bestselling author Garten is back with her most exciting book yet, with simple tried-and-true recipes and tips

6. Safari: A Photicular Book, by Dan Kainen. A magical journey where readers encounter eight animals that come alive. Using an innovative lenticular-based technology, precision sliding lenses, and original four-color video imagery, each image is like a 3-D movie on the page, delivering a rich and fluid visual experience.

7. The Racketeer, by John Grisham. It is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered. Judge Fogletree just became number five. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies — Judge Fogletree and his young secretary. And only one man knows the story.

8. Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver. Dellarobia Turnbow got pregnant in high school; now, 11 years into her unhappy marriage, she’s ready for a big change, and she thinks she’s found it with a randy young telephone lineman. But on her way to a rendezvous, she is waylaid by the sight of a forest ablaze with millions of butterflies. Their usual migratory route has been disrupted, and what looks to be a stunningly beautiful view is really an ominous sign, for the Appalachian winter could prove to be the demise of the species. The phenomenon draws the whole world to Dellarobia’s doorstep — scientists, the media, hordes of tourists — and gives her new and galvanizing insight into her poverty-stricken life on the sheep farm of her disapproving in-laws.

9. The Art Forger, by Barbara Shapiro. In 1990, 13 works of art worth today more than $500 million were stolen from a museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.

10. The Last Man, by Vince Flynn. In this latest pulse-pounding thriller by No. 1 New York Times-bestselling phenomenon Flynn, Mitch Rapp heads to Afghanistan to track down a missing CIA agent. With Afghanistan crumbling around him, Rapp must be as ruthless as his enemies and as deceitful as people in his own government if he has any hopes of completing his mission.