I read recently that, in North America, 80 per cent of book sales take place between October and December. Like a lot of figures to do with the selling of books, I'm not sure this one is totally credible. However, it does point out something that most of us didn't need a figure to tell us in the first place: as far as gifts go, books rock.

Books are, after all and for many reasons, the perfect gift. They're flat and easy to wrap. They ship well. Most important of all, there is no topic that you won't find a book on somewhere. Your brother loves Harley Davidson motorcycles? Your sister likes to quilt? Your other sister is determined to find out how to make the best martini on the eastern seaboard? And your nephew can seriously not get enough of anything to do with snails? Your gifting answers are easy to find: four books will just about cover it. Or a couple per topic if you're feeling generous and find the right titles.

The editors of January Magazine have carefully checked the stacks to come up with a list of books that we think are some of the best choices for gift-giving this holiday season.

Our dearest hope is that you visit your favorite independent bookstore and languish in the stacks, pouring over everything available -- perhaps with a couple of titles and author names included from our selections in hand.

The idea here isn't convincing you to buy these books, but rather to make sure you keep book buying near the top of the your to-do list: not just during the holidays, but all year.

We hope you enjoy this year's January Magazine holiday gift guide. We've certainly worked hard putting it together. But if you take only one thing away from it, our work will be justified: there is no better gift than a book, no matter where it's purchased.

Happy reading, through the holidays and always. | December 2005


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