The holiday shopping season has begun, with stores all hoping we will all do our bit to help turn the economy around.

In our family, much of our shopping is done in book stores. We all enjoy a good read, and after the holiday dinner and opening presents, the evening often morphs into everyone dipping into their new books and sharing interesting quotes, much like passing around a box of chocolates. So here are some books to consider for the readers in your family.

"The Gardener's Bedside Reader" (Voyageur Press, 2008. K. Cornell, ed.) has something in it for every gardener. Some fine garden philosophers are in there, including Michael Pollan, Diane Ackerman and Anna Pavord. Tales include a discourse on the 64-dollar tomato, slug boots and an orchid thief.

This book is not just for reading, either. The artwork is fascinating. Vintage images from seed packages and old catalogs are interspersed with stunning modern color photographs. Not just for reading nor merely for the bedside table, this could be a fine book for the coffee table.

"National Parks and the Woman's Voice: A History" (University of New Mexico Press, 2006, by P. W. Kaufman) is not a feminist tome. It is an examination of the National Park Service and how the role of parks and park rangers has undergone profound changes since the early days.

Originally, parks were just there and park rangers were former cavalrymen with the primary goals of preventing poaching and forest fires. Now parks are interpreted and rangers serve as cordial and chivalrous protectors. Park employees have always been predominantly male, but since the beginning at least a few women were there, working side by side with men within the male-defined, military-rooted culture. Women have been park explorers, archeologists, scientists, historians, resource managers, landscape architects and curators.

Kaufman chronicles the profound changes the organization has undergone over time. A good read for someone who enjoys history, national parks, or a look at how a corporate culture is formed.

For the crafty person on your gift list, here's a great book re-released this year: "Making Herbal Dream Pillows" (Storey Publishing, 1998, by J. Long). The book features easy to follow directions, 17 marvelous recipes, a thoroughly modern resource directory (with websites) and delightful illustrations by D. Fehlau. Recipes feature commonly available herbs, including many that can be easily grown in Tucson yards, like lavender, rosemary, thyme, calendula, mint and lemon verbena. Storey Publishing's mission is to "serve our customers by publishing practical information that encourages personal independence in harmony with the environment." I'd say they nailed it with this wonderful little book.

For young children on your list, "Plant Secrets" (Charlesbridge Press, 2009, by E. Goodman) is an enjoyable book with charming illustrations by P.L. Tildes. Kids love secrets, and many kids love to learn facts they can they can then surprise the adults in their life with. This book satisfies those urges without becoming either overly technical or talking down to kids. A few pages in the back include useful information for the adult reading to a small child, for someone home schooling, or for the really curious child who always asks "why?"

More great books next week!

It doesn't have to cost much to turn your yard into a pleasing space to relax in. For a personal consultation, or for more information on a five-week landscaping class that starts in February, contact Jacqueline Soule at 292-0504. Please leave a voice message.

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