Gift books for the holidays

It's that time of year again to think about gift-buying, and what makes a better present than a carefully chosen book?

Here are a few by independent Northwest publishers that might make thoughtful presents:

For travelers:

c "The Most Beautiful Villages and Towns of the Pacific Northwest" ($40) showcases quaint Main Streets, architectural attractions and beautiful scenery. Of course, Ashland is in the book, as is Jacksonville. Author Joan Tapper teamed with photographer Nik Wheeler for a book that will provide weekend to weeklong trip ideas.

c "Book Lust To Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers" by Nancy Pearl ($16.95) matches up book picks with 120 destinations around the globe.

c "United States of Americana: Backyard Chickens, Burlesque Beauties, & Handmade Bitters: A Field Guide to the New American Roots Movement" by Kurt Reighley ($14.99) could appeal to travelers, antique lovers, foodies, history buffs or anyone else interested in the good, simple things in life.

For the chef:

c "Pacific Feast: A Cook's Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine"($21.95) is for anyone who's ever wanted to find food straight from nature. Whether it's for mushrooms or juniper berries, naturalist and wilderness guide Jennifer Hahn shows people how to forage responsibly and then turn their finds into delicious meals.

c For the person who loves wine and food, "Chef in the Vineyard: Fresh & Simple Recipes from Great Wine Estates" by John Sarich ($32.95) promises more than 40 wine-friendly recipes from 10 Pacific Coast wineries. The book features six Washington wineries, three from California, and only one from Oregon, so it might not be the perfect gift pick for a person devoted to Oregon wines.

For whomever:

c The variety of shapes and colors displayed by things on Earth — from rocks to bacteria to birds — is on full display in "Natural History: The Ultimate Visual Guide to Everything on Earth" ($50). The recipient of this book could be an animal-lover, photographer, artist or anybody else, whether kid or adult, who still has a sense of wonder.

c "More Show Me How: Everything We Couldn't Fit in the First Book" ($24.99) by a team of writers is winning mostly rave reviews from readers, although one cautions that the book "needs to come with lawyer contact numbers in case readers actually try the things shown in the book."

While some how-to suggestions are outlandish, others make good sense, readers say. Tips include how to get out of a bar fight, booby trap a bathroom, forge an antiquity, deal with a unibrow, pick up a newborn, survive an avalanche, decorate a cake and apply lipstick using breast cleavage.

Readers say "More Show Me How" makes a great gift, conversation piece at parties or book to just read alone. One reader said he had the book in his bathroom, but had to remove it after guests starting staying in there too long. The book is written for adults in a dry, witty style.

c For creative types — or people who need a dose of creativity — "Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes" by Keri Smith ($13.95) is an interactive guide that shows people how to use mistakes to create something unexpected. A kid version of the same concept comes in "Beautiful Oops!" by Barney Saltzberg ($11.95) for children ages 3 and up. The book has pop-ups, tears, holes and smudges.

c "Indie Craft" by Jo Waterhouse ($19.95) is another book to get people's creative juices flowing. See how crafters are using traditional methods to create work that is contemporary, ironic and funny.

c For adventurous children, try "Danger!" ($19.99). DK Publishing promises that the book is filled with "peril, risk, and suspense... and it's all true! The most dangerous mathematical formula in history, a fast-food restaurant that serves up a deadly menu, the toxic terrors that live on unwashed hands."

Reach reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or

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