TODAY   |  December 11, 2011

For holidays, books still make great gifts

Gadgets are all the rage, but books of all sizes, shapes and subject matter still make great holiday gifts. Book critic John Searles runs down his list of best titles to give this year.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

LESTER HOLT, co-host: This morning on TODAY'S HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE , the season's best page turners. Whether for the animal lover or the fashionista, our favorite book critic and best-selling author John Searles combed the shelves to find the best books for everyone on your list this year.

Mr. JOHN SEARLES (Book Critic): Books make great gifts for the holidays. So we've got a fantastic lineup. I want to start with one of my favorites, perfect for the person with a sweet tooth in your life. It's called " Cakespy ." This has these kooky, delicious recipes for things like birthday cake french toast, smoreos and lots of other delicious treats. I'm here with the gorgeous and talented Molly Sims who's going to tell us about her favorite holiday book, "Rules of Civility ." Why do love this book.

Ms. MOLLY SIMS: "Rules of Civility ." It's so good. It's from Amor Towles . It's one of the best books I've read in a really long time. It's very " Gatsby ," Fitzgerald. And Tinker Grey is the main character.


Ms. SIMS: He's like a mix between like a Robert Pattinson and like a Leonardo DiCaprio , and he's just fabulous.

Mr. SEARLES: You've sold me. Can I have your copy?

Ms. SIMS: Hey! "Rules of Civility ," you have to get it. All the women in your life will love it. I'm not giving him my copy.

Mr. SEARLES: She's not giving me her copy, she loves it that much. I'm outside Louboutin boutique in Manhattan where fashionistas flock from far and wide for some of the most beautiful shoes around. The perfect book for the fashionista on your list this holiday is " Christian Louboutin ." It's chock full of photos of fancy, fabulous shoes and the book is almost as expensive as the shoes themselves. But I'm telling you the fashionistas in your life will love it. For the person who loves celebrities in your life I have two very different celebrity memoirs. The first is Mindy Kaling 's "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" We all know Mindy from " The Office ."

Mr. SEARLES: But this is not about that show. It's about her life, her female friendships, her family, her early years in New York City as a comedian. It's funny and it's fast. Let me tell you if you're reading this in more than a week she says something's wrong with you. The other book is Diane Keaton 's " Then Again ." This is one of the most personal, intimate celebrity memoirs I've ever encountered. And what makes it so unusual is that Diane not only tells her story but her mother's. Her mother kept 85 journals over the course of her life. And Diane taps into these to tell the story of her and her mom over the years. So anyone who loves " Annie Hall "...

Mr. SEARLES: ...this book will make you love her more. I'm with one of my favorite British men, Lee Child. I'm a fan of his books and he has a new book called " The Affair ."

Mr. LEE CHILD (Author, "The Affair"): Uh-huh .

Mr. SEARLES: Tell me about " The Affair ."

Mr. CHILD: I felt this was the time, 16th book, you go right back to the beginning of the series, before the beginning of the series, in fact, to explain how Jack Richard turned into the guy that he is.

Mr. SEARLES: You've got secrets, you've got a beautiful woman.

Mr. CHILD: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Mr. SEARLES: You've got dead bodies.

Mr. CHILD: Yeah, and the title, " The Affair " gives a clue to some of the action.

Mr. SEARLES: Tell me about the "The Night Strangers."

Mr. CHRIS BOHJALIAN (Author, "The Night Strangers"): Thirty-nine passengers die in the warm August water of Lake Champlain .


Mr. BOHJALIAN: But my fictional captain lives, Chip Linton . And "The Night Strangers" chronicles the ghosts, metaphoric and literal, that dog him in the aftermath.

Mr. SEARLES: Sounds spooky.

Mr. BOHJALIAN: If you look a good ghost story this channels a lot of the icons of the genre. The big old creepy haunted house, the locked door in the basement, the scary children, the family in jeopardy. And if you want to know how to survive a plane crash, in the prologue.

Mr. SEARLES: For the pet lover in your life we have two great stocking stuffers. The first is "Love At First Bark" by Julie Klam , heartwarming essays by one woman who rescues troubled dogs. And the second, "I'm Not The Biggest B in This Relationship ," I think you all know what the " B " stands for. These are the funny essays with an introduction by Chelsea Handler .

HOLT: Good collection of books.

TOM LLAMAS, anchor: Yes.

JENNA WOLFE, co-host: This Mindy Kaling book, I'm telling you, it's a must read. Loved it.

HOLT: For me -- for me it's between that and the shoes, here.


WOLFE: This one. Of course it is.

JANICE HUFF reporting: No, I -- no, I want the shoe book. Yeah.

WOLFE: Oh, the boy.

HOLT: Yeah, this is the, that's the one to have, all right.