If you still haven't decided on that perfect holiday gift and you know someone who loves dogs, cooking or jazz, we have some great picks for coffee table books to put under the tree or to stuff your stockings this season. Books and special projects director and deputy editor of Cosmopolitan magazine John Searles visited “Weekend Today” to share his favorite books that make great holiday gifts.
“The Worst Noel: Hellish Holiday Tales”
By Marian Keyes, Ann Patchett, Stanley Bing, Mike Albo, Cynthia Kaplan, Louis Bayard and more ...Once the holidays kick in most of us have at least one or two nightmare stories to tell — a collection of great writers go through some of the worst in this book. If you thought you had it bad this holiday season this book will definitely make you say “Hey, it could have been a lot worse.” One of the hellish tales chronicles a family traveling to spend Christmas in Vermont only to have a dead deer splattered all over the family car.
“50 Relatives Worse than Yours”
By Justin RaczDo you have an embarrassing relative you dread seeing during the holidays! This book may remind you of some of your own or make you realize maybe they aren't so bad. It profiles some quintessential, dreadfully embarrassing characters that make you squirm and crack up at the same time, like “Speedo Grandpa,” “Raging Alcoholic, Masquerading as a Wine Connoisseur,” “Gold Digger” a.k.a. “Pumpkin” and “Cheek Pincher.”
By Diane FriedmanThis book's a glimpse into some of our favorite living rooms over the past 50 years, like “I Love Lucy,” “Three's Company,” “Cosby Show,” and most recently “Sex and the City” and “Will and Grace.” The book gives the reader a behind-the-scenes look — showcasing how furniture, artwork and decorating created moods and helped build into the sitcom characters' personal styles. It also gives tips on how to build your own personal style.
“The B.B. King Treasures”
By B.B. King, Dick Waterman and Charles SawyerThis book takes you step-by-step through the legacy of B.B. King. It includes personal stories from B.B and his friends, photos, memorabilia and his family's history. It includes sharecropping records of his grandmother! Has tour schedules, posters, tickets, his first record cover and includes a 60-minute CD with two unreleased songs. A treasure for blues fans and anyone who loves music.
“Wicked: The Grimmerie — A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Broadway Musical”
By David Cote, Joan Marcus (photographer)Guests will do a double take — a book of spells on your coffee table? It's a keepsake designed to resemble the Grimmerie, an ancient book of spells that Elphaba uses in the Broadway musical “Wicked.” It offers fans of the musical a behind-the-curtains peek, profiles of the cast and creative team and inside stories, with full-color photographs throughout. It has an Ozian glossary, an illustrated family tree and a step-by-step look at how Elphaba gets green before each show.
“The Expert's Guide to Life at Home”By Samantha Ettus100 home tip experts give readers some insight on how to be a master of your own home. From properly folding fitted sheets, as taught by the world's leading computational origami expert; to hanging holiday lights, with guidance from the man who decorates the world-renowned Rockefeller Center Christmas tree; to carving a turkey, with instructions from Oprah's personal chef. Some famous contributors include our own “Today” show's Al Roker on how to have a family BBQ to Leeza Gibbons on how to make a scrapbook. Great gift for anyone who needs help at home or some neat ideas.
“The World's Greatest Wine Estates”
By Robert M. Parker Renowned wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. takes readers on a personal tour of the wineries that have impressed him most — 175 in all! Parker profiles wineries on their technique and quality and he includes his tasting notes on the best recent vintages. He includes visiting information for those who want to see the process up close. Each profile includes photographs of the vineyards and the people behind the wines, offering insider tips for ordinary wine-lovers who want to get their hands on extraordinary bottles. Great reference book and educational tool for amateurs and connoisseurs.
“Williams and Sonoma: Mastering Hors D'Oeuvres”
By Jan Weimer This book takes you step-by-step in learning how to make your favorite appetizers and also ones you didn't know existed. Great pictures guide you through the recipes. You start with spreads and dips, and then move to more difficult recipes. The book also informs you on serving styles — you serve some hors d'oeuvres based on how causal or formal you want your party to be. For causal parties, consider attractive bowls of dips and spreads with a variety of accompaniments including celery, bell pepper, chips and carrots. For larger events, go for the chicken skewers with peanut dipping sauce, stuffed veggies and mushroom pate. And it's good to mix it up with cold and hot items. Also check out the other books in the Williams and Sonoma series: “Mastering Pasta,” “Dumplings and Noodles,” “Soups and Stews” and “Beef and Veal.”
By Nikki Giovanni, Bryan Collier (illustrator)The personal story of Rosa Parks comes alive through amazing illustrations by Bryan Collier. Set on colored pages, the illustrations include a double-foldout page with the crowd of successful walkers facing a courthouse, representing the 1956 Supreme Court verdict against segregation on the buses. Great for kids.
“Christmas in New York Pop Up Book”
By Chuck FischerA pop-up book that captures the famous New York traditions — Radio City Music Hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Angel Tree, Rockefeller Center, The Nutcracker, Fifth Avenue and New Year's Eve in Times Square. Shows pop-up window displays on Fifth Ave. from 1934, 1997, 1888 and 1995.
“Knitting for Dogs”
By Kristi Porter A very cute manual on how to accessorize your dog. Tells you how to measure your dog and pick the best style — from dog princess sequined sweaters to sporty types. Also explains how to put it on. Very understandable even for those who are new dog owners or new knitters!
“Elements of Style”
By E.B. WhiteThe famous manual we all used through grade school and college as the grammar bible now has illustrations. Maira Kalman is the offbeat talented illustrator of twelve children's books, numerous covers for The New Yorker magazine and fabrics for fashion designers. Kalman was the only one the E.B White family trusted to illustrate the manual. Brings wit and life to the educational tool.
“Cosmo's Best Confessions Ever”
By the editors of Cosmopolitan magazineThis is a compilation of the hundreds of letters from men and women who have written to Cosmo to share their hilarious and humiliating confessions with the world. And the magazine's picked the best ones for you. It includes mortifying foot-in-mouth moments to date-from-hell disasters and surprise celebrity confessions. Great to read with friends for a good laugh.