Stacks of need-to-reads line my shelves, and still, if all I got under the tree this year was more books, I'd be as happy as a sunbathing elf with a piña colada.
Of course, publishers always push to get new titles into the stores early in the month before the holiday rush. So whether or not your friends and family read books with the sort of obsessiveness I do, there's a December release to fit every size, shape and interest. (And there's nothing easier to wrap than a book.)
Mixed Mania: Recipes for Delicious Mixed Media Creations
Debbi Crane and Cheryl Prater
Interweave Press, $22.95/paperback
Mixed Mania is a craft cookbook for the DIYer. With how-tos for all kinds of projects, including collage, painting, bookbinding, doll making and decoupage, this creative primer will keep your favorite hoarder of paper, paint, markers, yarn and bits of stuff to be used "someday") busy through the new year.
Simon & Schuster, $21/hardcover
After four novels, Carrie Fisher is finally hitting the shelves with a memoir. Wishful Drinking is adapted from her one-woman stage show and will make good reading for reality TV fans, as well as for boys who fantasized about Princess Leia and grew into men fantasizing about Princess Leia. From surviving a Hollywood childhood to becoming the Star Wars girl with braided buns to the years beyond, Fisher shares the ups and downs of an outrageous life.
A Devil to Play: One Man's Quest to Master the Orchestra's Most Difficult Instrument
For anyone who's ever wanted to do something but thought they might be too old, try A Devil to Play. As London-based journalist Jasper Rees closes in on his 40th birthday, he lays down his pen and picks up a French horn. This tale of perseverance will not only entertain, but perhaps encourage your giftee to try something new.
Every Living Thing: Man's Obsessive Quest to Catalog Life, from Nanobacteria to New Monkeys
According to Dr. Rob Dunn, man and your typical scientist, in particular likes to "claim victory over life." In Every Living Thing, Dunn follows the history of human discovery through portraits of individual scientists' work, and argues that discoveries we can't yet imagine still await. Give this book to the thinkers on your list who proclaim they've figured out the "next big thing."
Persistence of Memory
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $15.99/hardcover
Release date: Dec. 9
Vampires are all the rage. For tweens who have already read Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series more times than they can count, try award-winning author Amelia Atwater-Rhodes' Persistence of Memory, the latest in her Den of Shadows series. A schizophrenic 16-year-old girl has a violent alter ego who a friend insists is actually a vampire. When your life's in danger, passing AP chemistry just doesn't seem quite so pressing.
No Limits: The Will to Succeed
Michael Phelps with Alan Abrahamson
Free Press, $26/hardcover
Release date: Dec. 9
For those in your life who couldn't talk about anything but the Olympics and Michael Phelps this past summer, pick up No Limits: The Will to Succeed. Phelps' inspirational memoir puts readers as close to the man and his pool as possible without actually getting wet.
The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet
Simon & Schuster, $26/hardcover
Release date: Dec. 30
Yes, we know this comes out after the big holidays. But for fans of Jane Austen, historical fiction or Colleen McCullough, you might just want to give them a gift card or IOU. A sequel of sorts to Austen's Pride and Prejudice, The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet tells the story of Elizabeth and Jane's sister Mary, 20 years after the end of the classic novel. This is McCullough's 19th book in a 30-plus-year writing career that includes such highly acclaimed novels as The Thorn Birds and the seven-part Masters of Rome series. Seriously, tell your beloved it's worth waiting for.