Books gift guide

Last updated 05:00 19/12/2009

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Stuck for Christmas gift ideas? Here are some for the readers in your life.

Guinness World Records 2010 (Guinness World Records, RRP $54.99)
We all know someone who seems to absorb weird and wonderful facts so here's the perfect book for all the those sponges of knowledge.

This latest Guinness offering is the book of the decade version, and includes new content and features that recognise the record-breaking achievements of the noughties.

Apart from all the usual longest, tallest, widest, oldest, smallest and smelliest photographs and records, you'll also get access to special downloadable extras and new sections on some of the very special records, including the notable firsts, such as Sir Ed's ascent of Everest and Dolly the sheep being the first cloned animal.

Other new sections include the unbreakables: records that remain unbroken. These include Aussie cricketing legend Sir Donald Bradman's Test batting average, a record set 61 years ago.

Cowshed Christmas by Gavin Bishop and Joy Cowley (Random House, RRP $24.99)
This is a fantastic Kiwi Christmas picture book for your favourite littlie. Gavin Bishop and Joy Cowley will be familiar names to lots of our future readers, and to their mums, dads and teachers, too.

Gavin Bishop has won the NZ Children's Book of the Year award three times and been awarded the Margaret Mahy Medal for Services to Children's Literature, while Joy Cowley has made her name writing for both children and adults and was made a Distinguished Companion of NZ Order of Merit for services to children's literature.

These two heavyweights of children's literature have come together to produce a lovely little book with all the very much Kiwi farmyard animals getting a very special Christmas surprise.

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Monty Python Live! edited by Eric Idle (Simon & Schuster, RRP $45)

It's been 30 years since we were lucky enough to have a new Monty Python book by all the surviving Python crew so this one is is well worth having for the discerning Python fan.

The book covers the live stage show that toured in the 1970s and 80s, including the Hollywood Bowl show.

There are oral histories and essays from the members of this infamous and possibly insane troupe, reprinted scripts from some of the classics (such as the dead parrot sketch) and stacks of photos, Terry Jones' reminiscing on an almost blank page titled what I remember and the official programme from the Hollywood Bowl show.

Some of the content will be familiar to fans but there are plenty of new stories and photos to make it good value for money.

It's worth reading just for Eric Idle's foreword (in this case labelled foreplay) alone: I was surprised and a little aroused recently to witness an evening of Monty Python performed entirely by women. All of whom had finer breasts than us.

Alex Cross's Trial by James Patterson and Richard DilLallo (Random House, RRP $38.99)
James Patterson has produced another page-turner with this latest book in the Alex Cross series.

However, don't be put off if you haven't read any of the earlier Cross books because, like all of Patterson's books, it's an easy read that works perfectly well as a stand-alone story.

The story is actually a story within a story, with the reader being taken on a trip back in time.

African-American detective Alex Cross decides to write a book he has been thinking about for years. The book is based on the story, told to him by his grandmother, of Cross' great uncle Abraham and the terrible events that took place in the south with the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan and reports of lynchings.

Young lawyer Ben Corbett is asked, by President Roosevelt no less, to return to his home town to investigate just what is going on.

What unfolds is a brutal but compelling story. You'll be hooked from the first page.

Zephyrs and Zodiacs by Tim Chadwick (HarperCollins, RRP $29.99)

We really do have a passion for Zephyrs and Zodiacs in New Zealand and I doubt there are many of us who haven't either owned one or had parents who owned one (my dad and brother were both big fans of these classy machines).

There are clubs honouring these cars all around the country and enthusiasts get together to admire, drive and compare their cars.

The book is packed with photos and profiles of cars from one end of the country to the other, both historic and current.

The cars are amazing, whether they are of the beautiful and rare Zodiac Mk III Estate in all its gleaming purple glory or a blurry 1964 traffic stop. I'm sure there's someone in your family who would love to find this wee book under the tree.

- The Southland Times

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