Gifts with class that lastMother's birthday? Nephew's graduation? Second cousin twice removed's wedding? If you need help selecting a gift for any occasion, you've come to the right place. What gift is always the right color, the right size, and the right price? Why, books, of course!If you are not aware that the hottest new television series is found on PBS, you are not in the know. Don't despair, my friend; Workman Publishing has just the book for you. Carol Prisant's Antiques Roadshow Primer (paperback, $19.95, 0761116249) will bring you up to speed on all that's essential in the world of antiques and collectibles. Included are sections that mention many of the show's more curious finds, quick tips for spotting a fabulous piece, common items mistakenly thought to be valuable, and a glossary. And should the Roadshow make a stop in your hometown, Antiques Roadshow Primer is the perfect gift to prepare packrats for their treasure hunts. Don't clean out the attic until you've read this book.
While antiques and collectibles go in and out of style, the concept of good manners is not beholden to seasons of change. With progress on both the social and technological fronts, however, there is always room for updates and improvement. Former White House staff coordinator Nancy Tuckerman and businesswoman Nancy Dunnan have updated and revised The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette (Doubleday, $32, 0385413424) to accommodate today's lifestyles, including correct protocol for cosmetic surgery and prenuptial agreements. Both authors have painstakingly rewritten this book considered by many to be the final answer to all etiquette questions in the spirit of its original author. While most consider etiquette books as engagement gifts, The Amy Vander- bilt Complete Book of Etiquette addresses an exhaustive number of issues and circumstances, making it an appropriate gift for any occasion or (even better) when there's no occasion at all.
Very often, the difference between a moment lost and a moment captured hinges on whether a camera hastily catches it. When a photograph evokes more senses than merely sight and more memories than the image itself represents, indeed, the photograph has extended its intent. Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs fit this definition and for the first time ever, all are bound into one volume in Moments: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photographs (Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, $29.98, 1579120784). The Pulitzer Prize for photography was first awarded in 1942, so this collection is a wonderful visual record of the postwar era, with subjects ranging from Babe Ruth's formal good-bye to famine in Rwanda. Highs, lows, sports, science Moments includes timelines and commentary to supplement larger features. Not all of the images are happy, not all of the images are sad; rather, the images are used to tell the story of the latter half of the 20th century. It's a messy job, but then again, so is history.
However, if your giftee is more the tailored, designed type, perhaps you should consider purchasing Designing with Plants (Timber Press, $34.95, 0881924377). A collaborative effort of designers Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury, the approach begins with basic elements to consider when designing your patch of earth: form, texture, and color are explained in detail, and photographic examples are included. From there, Oudolf and Kingsbury fill in the spaces, much like a child who has outlined a picture and is now ready to color it in. The authors explain how to combine the elements and customize with grasses, rhythm, and plant architecture. Don't despair, all you who dare to color outside the lines: there's even a section on breaking the rules. Also included are segments on mood reflection, year-round planting, and a directory. This book, while gorgeous enough to display, is very user-friendly for anyone interested in all that's green and flowery. If, as a rule, April showers bring May flowers, why not try and orchestrate the blooms?