A Man in Full
by Tom Wolfe
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
742 pages, 1998
ISBN: 0-374-27032-5

It will be the most talked-about book this Christmas: hands down. It pretty much looks as though the release was timed that way, as well. Our reviewers liked the book, there are others who have not but -- whatever the case -- if the person you're buying for is a heavy reader, A Man in Full will be a good choice: at 743 pages, it is heavy. And it's a lot of reading. If nothing else, priced per pound, A Man in Full is a pretty good deal.

My Favorite Plant: Writers and Gardeners on the Plants They Love
Edited by Jamaica Kincaid
Published by Farbar, Straus and Giroux
330 pages, 1998
ISBN 0-374-28193-9

A delightful little book with collected writings by well-known gardeners who write and writers who garden -- past and present -- including D.H. Lawrence; Henri Cole; Colette; Ken Druse; Philip Levine and other noted scribes and greenthumbs. The collected poems and personal essays on the joy of growing things will find a special place on your greenthumb's bookshelf.

The Sensualist
by Barbara Hodgson
Published by Chronicle Books
304 pages, 1998
ISBN 081181906X

In some circles, The Sensualist has been the most talked-about book of 1998. It heralds the coming of age of the novel a la Nick Bantock (whom, in fact, Hodgson has worked with) because it is a real book, bound in a real way and looking just like a real novel: complete with story, plot, et al. However, The Sensualist has the amazing addition of four-color art -- some of it die-cut and fold out -- throughout the book. The result truly is a sensual experience: a novel worth reading for its own sake, but with the added bonus of a visual adventure. Reading hasn't been this much fun since first grade!