If you haven't finished your holiday shopping, check out some of these wonderful books: a little something for everybody.
In my opinion, the most impressive book this year is "The Graphic Canon, Volume 3: From 'Heart of Darkness' to Hemingway to 'Infinite Jest' " edited by Russ Kick. This completes the three-volume set that brings modern visual artists from all media together with the classic literature of Western civilization as they offer their graphic interpretation of each book in just a few pages. Many are comic strip-like, either in color or black and white. Some are abstract. Novels, short stories and poems are represented here, by such writers as Cormac McCarthy, Kurt Vonnegut, L. Frank Baum, Sylvia Plath, Hermann Hesse, Langston Hughes, Franz Kafka, James Joyce, William Faulkner, Gertrude Stein, Raymond Carver, Thomas Pynchon, Zore Neale Hurston, and many more and "reimagined" by visual artists such as Robert Crumb, Dame Darcy, Ted Rall, Peter Kuper and many more. Adult situations and language. Seven Stories Press, www.graphic
canon.com, $44.95 ($33.70 on the website), 512 pages, pb, 10.5 x 8.3 x 1.5 inches (4 pounds!). Vols. 1 and 2 are also available; a boxed set of all three costs $125 ($93.75 online).
"Buckeye Rebirth: Urban Meyer, an Inspired Team, and a New Era at Ohio State" by Bill Rabinowitz, sportswriter for The Columbus Dispatch. After the forced resignation of head coach Jim Tressel, the Ohio State Buckeyes faced severe sanctions. Could the team come back from such a blow? Their new coach, Urban Meyer, saw to it that they did, leading them to a perfect 12-0 record in 2012, his first year as head coach. How did he do it? Who is this guy? The book contains a section of color photos. Triumph Books, $24.95, 258 pages, hc.
"The Curious History of the Crossword: 100 Puzzles from Then and Now" by Ben Tausig. In December 1913, journalist Arthur Wynne created a diamond grid for the back of the New York World newspaper and called it a "Word-Cross." Thus, the first crossword puzzle was born, and we now celebrate its 100th anniversary by looking back at its evolution, its shape, the information in the clues, the jokes, and the "Breakfast Table Rule." Can you solve a puzzle your great-grandparents may have solved? Race Point Publishing, $17.99, 192 pages, pb, 7 x 9.2 inches.
Sports Illustrated Kids presents "The Top 10 of Everything in Sports," a very colorful book filled with action shots and Top 10 lists in 30 categories, such as unbelievable moments, controversial calls, and multi-sport athletes. Find out who's the fastest, strongest, biggest and smallest. What sports are covered? Just about anything you can think of: besides the usual, there's horse racing, boxing, golf, cricket, weightlifting, sumo wrestling, snowboarding, auto racing, cycling, speed skating, ... For all the sports fans in the family. Also a great coffee table book. Time Home Entertainment Inc., $11.99, 96 pages, hc, 11.1 x 11 inches (1.9 pounds).
"Physics: An Illustrated History of the Foundations of Science" is the latest in the Ponderables: 100 Breakthroughs that Changed History series. Previous titles include "Mathematics," "The Universe" and "The Elements." Physics deals with the basics of space, matter and energy and how they interact to create forces, motion, heat, light and everything else. The book is filled with beautiful full-color images. It also includes a 24-page foldout of historic and scientific facts and a fascinating timeline. The book explains how stuff works and how discoveries were made that changed how we look at the world. Don't be afraid of science! This is a marvelous series to have in your home. Shelter Harbor Press, $24.95, 144 pages, hc, 10.9 x 9.2 inches (2.7 pounds).
"Wisdom for Everyday Living: 365 Daily Devotions from America's Most Influential Christian Leaders" was compiled by Steve M. Woods. The pages are not dated, so the reader can pick any page at random or follow them in order. Each page begins with a Bible quotation followed by a reflection on the topic by one of 100 respected leaders of prominent Christian churches, colleges and organizations. Good for personal meditation or group Bible study. Health Communications Inc., $19.95, www.hcibooks.com, 368 pages, hc.
Looking for a touch of romance? Try "An English Bride in Scotland" by Lynsay Sands. Annabel has been at the abbey for 14 years and is ready to take her nun's vows when her mother shows up and tells her she has to help the family fulfill an old contract by marrying a Scottish laird. The young woman has led a sheltered life and is totally unprepared for marriage. Adventure, danger, passion. Avon Books, $7.99, 375 pages, pb.
"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck" by Jeff Kinney. The eighth in the series. Greg Heffley's lost his best friend Rowley to a girl, and Greg's looking for some new friends. But that isn't easy in middle school. Amulet Books, $13.95, 217 pages, hc.
SDLqThe World Almanac for Kids 2014" is one of those books you just can't put down. Colorful maps, facts about history, science and technology, careers, fashion, weather (in Ohio, the coldest temperature ever recorded was -39 on Feb. 10, 1899), animals, buildings, books, celebrities, sports, national parks, nations, the presidents and first ladies; special sections on African Americans, ancient world history, space, weights and measures; "Then and Now" (what happened 10, 50 and 100 years ago); puzzles and brain teasers to solve; and odd but useful information. (Did you know that the Jif peanut butter company awards a $25,000 college scholarship to a student who comes up with a new sandwich recipe using Jifproducts?) $13.99, 352 pages, pb.