Imagine giving your loved on an exotic beer tour, an intimate glimpse at designing the ideal house or the perfect garden. Contemplate the ability to share an endless supply of the most perfect cake imaginable, a political genius or a chat with the stars of sport.

For most of us, none of these things are an actual possibility: time and money are real world restrictions on giving the gifts we'd really like to give. There is, of course, a more reasonable alternative. An alternative that most of us take at least a few times during the holiday season: they're easy to wrap, even the most extravagant ones are actually quite reasonable and the interface has been honed to perfection over numerous centuries.

I'm talking, of course, about the book. With topics so diverse and publication styles so varied, it's difficult to imagine a gift with more possibilities for personalization. And there's something entirely intimate about the carefully chosen book that's given as a gift. It can say so much: that you care enough about the person your giving it to to understand their tastes and desires. Their dreams.

You can't eat a book. Can't use it to pay rent or taxes. Physically, you don't need books. By this definition, books become a luxury item. In leaner times, people buy fewer books for themselves, making them the ideal gift giving item: their appearance under the tree special and welcome.

The January Magazine Holiday Gift Guide has been rolling out for several weeks now and -- knowing us -- it will keeping rolling until the last possible moment. (So many books! So little time!)

Though our links most often lead to Amazon, this is because, in addition to all the things they do with varying degrees of success, the online bookseller does a great job of cataloging information! Once on the Amazon site, print that page or make a note, then carry it to your favorite retailer. (A local, neighborhood independent is the perfect choice. If you know them by name, so much the better. And if you don’t, take the chance to say “hey”.)

This holiday season, stay warm, inside and out, and make sure you create the opportunity to spend some time entranced by a wonderful book.

Enjoy the season! | December 2011

The January Magazine 2011 Holiday Gift Guide is here.