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Holiday gifts for book junkies

Kindle, schmindle. No, really, we love all the new e-book readers (and wish someone would stuff one in our stocking). But real books are a reader's best friend. Here are some of the best literary gifts of the season.

Dog 1001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die (Barron's, $35): You may never make it all the way through this list of absolutely gorgeous natural sights, but you'll have fun trying. And it's not all about remote, hard-to-reach places like the Musandam Fjords in Oman; there are plenty of sites in the U.S.A. just begging to be explored.

Dogjoy: The Happiest Dogs in the Universe, by Editors of Bark (Rodale, $16.99): Only the truly soulless can resist the grinning canines in this charming photo book.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Stieg Larsson (Vintage and Knopf, $14.95 and $25.95, respectively): The Swedish writer died in 2004, but his thrillers -- dark, mesmerizing, insightful -- about a disgraced journalist and his tattooed, computer hacker sidekick have captivated the world and dominated the bestseller lists.

Grateful Dead Scrapbook, by Ben Fong-Torres (Chronicle, $40): Why not make a Dead Head happy with this handsome scrapbook full of removable reproductions of artwork and memorabilia? There's also an hour-long audio CD of interviews with the band.

I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar, by Sharon Eliza Nichols (St. Martin's Griffin, $9.99): Know anybody who will not put up with missing commas, sloppy spelling or erratic apostrophes (besides my editor)? He or she will cackle with superior glee at this collection of pictures -- inspired by the Facebook group -- that indicate some writers and sign makers need to go back to fifth grade and pay attention this time.

Grammar Walking Through Walls, by Philip Smith (Washington Square, $15): Now out in paperback, Miami artist Smith's entertaining memoir tells the story of his dad, a designer once known as the Bead King, who gradually left his business behind to become a psychic healer.

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures, by Malcolm Gladwell (Little Brown, $27.99): The author of the bestsellers The Tipping Point and Blink examines a wide array of topics (disasters, financial scandals, racial profiling) in these terrific essays originally published in The New Yorker.

Zombies Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel (Knopf, $27): This meaty historical novel, which won this year's prestigious Man Booker Prize, traces the life of Thomas Cromwell, advisor to Henry VIII (never a safe proposition).

Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead, edited by John Skipp (Black Dog & Leventhal, $19.95): This fat anthology features stories about zombies from Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, George Saunders, Poppy Z. Brite, Max Brooks, Ray Bradbury and others. Guaranteed to keep you awake if you're waiting up for Santa.


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