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Last-Minute Gift Ideas

Have you finished your holiday shopping? Have you started? Here's ideas for everyone on your list.

Do you have all your holiday shopping done? Have you (like me) not started yet? Rather than mail-order something that probably won’t arrive in time anyway, why not shop locally? Our county’s have great selections, can order anything for you quickly, and may even offer free gift-wrapping.

As a librarian, what did you expect me to suggest?

Books really are a wonderful gift, and one you can give repeatedly, as long as you don’t give the same book. As the saying goes, “a book is a present you can open again and again.”

It usually doesn’t take much hunting to find something appropriate if you know the person’s interests. But in case you need some ideas, here are a few.

Since everybody eats, a cookbook catering to a person’s tastes can really hit the spot. Rachel Ray’s Look + Cook: 100 Can’t-Miss Main Courses in Pictures is not only attractive but accessible. Ray is known for presenting tasty dishes that are easy to prepare, and she includes an entire section of 30-minute meals, so you’ll still have time to read after dinner. 

If you’re shopping for a guy, you can’t go wrong with Eat Like a Man: The Only Cookbook a Man Will Ever Need by Ryan D’Agostino. Unless, of course, that man is a vegetarian, because this tome is very heavy on meat recipes. But before you give a man a cookbook, I suggest you learn something about his culinary preferences.

Books are always a great present for children. A book of Mother Goose rhymes should be in every nursery. My two-month-old niece will be receiving board books with brightly colored photos of babies, and a plastic “bath book.” My five-year-old nephew has mastered Green Eggs and Ham, so he’s receiving the set of Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel, which are ideal for beginning readers. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg is a perennial Christmas favorite, especially for train lovers. Hershel and the Hanukah Goblins by Eric Kimmel has fabulous illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman. Your local library staff can offer customized suggestions that will thrill a child of any age on the morning they open their presents.

Rather than suggest other specific titles, I suggest you head over to your local independent book store and browse until you find the perfect volume for everyone on your list. And if you’re looking for bargains, stop by the ’s used book sale. We’ve been keeping it stocked with a number of very gently used “gift-quality” books at insanely low prices, and all proceeds benefit the library. 

And that means more presents for everyone.

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Sylvia Barry December 20, 2011 at 10:46 PM
What a great idea and thank you for suggestions of the different books as gifts. Another great place for inexpensive books and gift baskets is the Book Place, a none-profit organization run by the Friends of Marin County Free Library; where the proceeds go to support Marin Libraries. http://sananselmofairfax.patch.com/blog_posts/the-book-place-the-little-book-store-that-can
Friends of Marin Library December 21, 2011 at 04:21 PM
Thanks, Sylvia! The Book Place will be open on Christmas Eve until 4--we still have a few gift baskets left, and there are lots of beautiful books in great condition. We're happy to help but it is a browsers' paradise, so plan to spend a little time--we'll find something for you--OR, a gift certificate to introduce the recipient to a wealth of great used books. Come on down- 1608 Grant Avenue, parking in back.

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