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Shambhala Pocket Classics

Who would have thought that a stocking stuffer could bring enlightenment and peace within your personal world? Shambhala Pocket Classics are miniature editions of philosophical and sacred books, and serve as introductions to the paradigms concerned or as tiny spiritual tuneups. The series includes Meditations by J. Krishnamurti, Walden, Tao Teh Ching, Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha, The Book of Five Rings, The Pocket Dalai Lama, I Ching, and both Art of War by Sun Tzu, and Art of Peace by the founder of Akido, Morihei Ueshiba. Give one to each member of your family and have a polytheistic Christmas.

The Pop-Up Book of Phobias

The Pop-Up Book of Nightmares

Greenberg, Rubess, and Reinhart

The World of Edward Gorey

Clifford Ross and Karen Wilkin

A rare find is a great children's book that's also a knockout for adults. Both Pop-Up titles are just that. Writer Greenberg, illustrator Rubess, and paper engineer Reinhart have created twisted pop-up situations of drowning, infestation, dental visits, acrophobia, test-taking, and public nakedness. Riotously comic in concept and art, ingenious in design, they make amazing pass-around books for dark amusement. Speaking of which: Illustrator of Edwardian absurdity and misfortune Edward Gorey lives on in the posthumous paperback publication of The World of Edward Gorey, the first major book to delve into the life and views of the artist himself. Good if you want to glimpse what made him tick, bad if you want it to remain a mystery.

Vintage Audio from Sourcebooks

Publisher Sourcebooks has a great concept. It fuses entertaining, historical, and educational books with accompanying CDs of vintage audio. Poetry Speaks features more than 40 great poets reading their own works, including Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot, and Dorothy Parker. Drawing on notorious album cuts, unreleased performance tapes, and the court record, The Trials of Lenny Bruce chronicles the downfall of comedy's free-speech martyr, much of it at the hands of the SF District Attorney. The Classical Music Experience is designed for those "with little or no knowledge of classical music." In it, the novice is gently guided through 500 years of the genre by the non-intimidating narration of Kevin Kline. Jock dads and brothers will devour And the Crowd Goes Wild and And the Fans Roared as they listen to original all-time-great sports broadcast climaxes.

Sports Books

And if that hard-to-buy-for sport-o in your life also happens to be a reader, there are books available. The Gospel According to ESPN: Saints, Saviors, and Sinners is an illustrated coffee-table essay collection on sports as a secular religion. Original and enlightening, it examines the exaltation of athletes to divinity and the substitution of spectator sports for religious services. The Greatest Game Ever Played is a 500-page account of the 1913 U.S. Open between Harry Vardon and Francis Ouimet, and just might not be owned by that golfer on your list who already buys himself everything.

Video Hound Guides

Visible Ink Press publishes far and away the best and funniest reference guides for film buffs. With far too much information to pack into one book, The Video Hound series has been broken up into several thick, genre-specific tomes with thousands of honest yet sarcastic reviews, expert appreciations, and great photos. The truly exhaustive indexes cross-reference actors, writers, directors, composers, and more. Choose from Cult Flicks and Trash Picks, World Cinema, Sci-Fi Experience, War Movies, or Horror Show: 999 Hair-Raising, Hellish, and Humorous Movies. On the more scholarly side are the encyclopedias of St. James Film Directors and Women Filmmakers.

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