FYI - I'm linking to Amazon but I'm not on the program where I get proceeds if you buy from that link; it's just the easiest option. Please consider supporting your local book store.
- The Lego Ideas Book by Daniel Lipkowitz
200 pages of ideas (not instructions just inspiration) in beautiful large full color to inspire your favorite builder. While this seems an obvious for a child, I know several grown adults who have some fun diversions with legos.
- Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois
The first of these cookbooks (Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day) changed my life. I love to bake bread but work full time. I really do make bread throughout the week now. (It's easy, you make the dough and refrigerate it between the first and second rise, pull it out, give it a second rise, and deliciousness follows.) I love that these books give you all sorts of geeky technical details (what type of flour with how much glutens/proteins requires more/less water) that let me learn why a recipe works or what went wrong. And it is amazingly versatile bread. The first book is my most used book in my kitchen. I pulled this third book from the library the day we received it and fell in love immediately. With flatbread you skip the second rise and get to yumminess faster. I made pizzas for two. We each got our own pizza (important since I'm allergic to tomatoes and rather a downer to eat pizza with) and I followed the simple directions to make marinara and pesto sauces. Incredible. In later days the dough became breadsticks to go with soup. If someone you know cooks or bakes, then you can't go wrong with this book. It's on my wish list and if I don't get it, I'll probably buy it.
- Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living by Rachel Kaplan and K. Rudy Blume
DIY, homesteading, gardening, all of these things are becoming more popular as our economy continues to sink and more people are concerned about the environment, chemicals in their food, and a sustainable lifestyle. This book is a great overview of a range of skills. I already knit, crochet, bake, and garden (poorly). I'd love to have some chickens and figure out canning. Maybe in 2012.
- The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Fiction taste varies so much that I hesitate to suggest anything. However Zafon is the best author that I've discovered in the last five years. Spanish Magical Realism is my favorite genre. This, his first book translated into English, is an amazing story of literature, hauntings, mystery, and love. I can not recommend it enough.
- A blank book
Know a kid who loves to draw? Get him a nice, artist quality sketch book. Someone like me who journals? A pretty journal. (But not me this year, I'm stocked up for several years.) A forgetful type? One of those little books that fits in a pocket and comes with a pen. (This is all presuming they don't have a smart phone.) Your religious aunt/friend/neighbor will appreciate a prayer journal. Even if they are swimming in tech, there is still a sense of magic about a really beautiful, well constructed blank book with quality paper. It just itches to be filled with poetry, sketches, collages, thoughts, ramblings, and all the other detritus we leave for those who follow us.