There's one big reason that books keeping topping all the lists of things that people actually purchase on the Internet: they're easy to ship. More, the book you see on the shelf in Des Moines, Iowa is going to be exactly the same as the one you see if you're visiting Raleigh, North Carolina. If you happen to pop into a bookstore in Burlington, Ontario, or Northamptonshire in England, that same book might have a slightly different look and some of the words might sport a slightly different spelling, but, at its essence, it'll still be the very same book.

This is why books consistently top gift lists, as well. I can purchase a book in the comfort of my home and have it shipped to my best friend's home on the other side of the country or across the world. If I choose to purchase the book at my local bookseller's, I can even package the book with my own little hands along with a box of cookies and a card and I'll know that, no matter what happens to the cookies, that book will probably arrive just as I sent it.

So, in a nutshell, books ship well. On a shrinking planet, this is a pretty good reason all by itself. But, of course, there are more. Even people who don't customarily read very much like getting books as a gift. They like them for their shelves and they like them for their coffee tables. A shining new book is like a badge: "I know you think I don't read much, but my niece in Klamath Falls thinks I do."

Reading is not even requisite in all cases. Since there are books published on virtually every topic imaginable, there is a book out there for every potential reader you can imagine. While there is absolutely no possibility that we can even tell you about a small percentage of all of the books available, here are a few that the January staff have read, enjoyed and feel they can recommend for the current season of holiday book sharing. | December 2000