It’s just exactly what you’d expect from Martha and company – traditional recipes presented in fresh ways, exquisite photographs, impeccable directions. The Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook has something for every taste, from simple to extravagant. Recipes cover the gamut of holiday food from breakfast to supper, drinks and hors d’oeuvres to desserts and cookies. A series of themed menus (Italian, Vegetarian, Swedish, Southern Open-House) simplify party planning and tips and techniques are scattered throughout. You’ll find plenty of ideas for the holiday season and beyond.

Once all the presents are bought and candies and cookies have been made, it’ll be time to relax with a good holiday book to keep you in the spirit.

The Christmas Train – David Baldacci

Tom Langdon is a former war reporter who now writes feature articles for various magazines. Banned from flying on airplanes, Langdon is forced to take a cross-country train from Washington, D.C., to L.A., where his girlfriend is waiting to spend Christmas with him. To Tom’s shock, the former love of his life, Eleanor, is also aboard the train. Sparks fly between them, bringing up old feelings along with the unresolved issues from their relationship. Tom realizes this might be his second chance with Eleanor, but a series of unexpected events may derail his plans.

A Christmas Memory – Truman Capote

A Christmas Memory is the classic memoir of Truman Capote’s childhood in rural Alabama. Until he was ten years old, Capote lived with distant relatives. This book is an autobiographical story of those years and his frank and fond memories of one of his cousins, Miss Sook Faulk.

A Redbird Christmas – Fannie Flagg

Lured by a brochure his doctor gives him after informing him that his emphysema has left him with scarcely a year to live, 52-year-old Oswald T. Campbell abandons wintry Chicago for Lost River, Ala., where he believes he’ll be spending his last Christmas. Befriended by Frances Cleverdon, this quirky story takes a heartwarming turn when Frances and Oswald become involved in the life of Patsy Casey, an abandoned young girl with a crippled leg. As Christmas approaches, the townspeople and neighboring communities rally round shy, sweet Patsy. Flagg is a gifted storyteller who knows how to tug at readers’ heartstrings, winding up her satisfying holiday tale with the requisite Christmas miracle.

Christmas at Fontaine’s – William Kotzwinkle

Tis the night before Christmas and all through Fontaine’s department store something mysterious and magical is happening. For into the lives of the department store Santa, the harried employees and the worried owner has come a mysterious presence, a silver streak, hiding in the darkened stockrooms and empty stairwells, appearing for an instant – now in the Toy Department, now in an unfinished window display – turning the chaos of a department store on Christmas Eve into a wonderland of miracles.

Tidings – William Wharton

This intimate family novel by takes place during a few days around Christmas. At an old mill in rural France, philosophy teacher Will, wife Lor, and four nearly grown children reunite for the holidays. The scene and the season are so lovingly detailed that the novel’s atmosphere is almost palpable, yet each family member brings to the festivities some personal trouble that he or she will try to resolve. As they struggle to make this a Christmas to remember, the people and their celebration come alive in an unusual, entertaining, heartwarming evocation of the magic, warmth, and underlying strains of family Christmas.

The Great Santa Search – Jeff Guinn

When TV producer Bobbo Butler tries to save his ailing TV station, FUN-TV, with an American Idol-inspired talent contest intended to find the real Santa, the man himself throws his hat into the ring. Guinn’s clever premise draws on the historical roots of the commercialization of Christmas, and his Santa, who narrates, is sanguine when faced with the prospect of facing off against street corner Santas.

Need some tips on searching the library catalog? Take a look at this video, produced and narrated by Bill, for a great overview of a basic search You’ll never have to wonder if the book your looking for is at the library again!

Working on Christmas cards and can’t remember Aunt Minnie’s address? Try the Reference USA database!

Go to the library’s homepage at On the left hand side of the screen you will find a list of options. Choose “Do Research Online”, then click on Reference USA (the fourth database listed). Then choose the “Residential” search.

Reference USA’s residential information is compiled from more than 3,900 White Page telephone directories. Each listing appears in the database exactly as it appears in the phone book. You can search by name, city and state.

With any luck using Reference USA will help relieve some of your holiday stress!

We all know about the importance of adopting animals from the Humane Society; many of us may have a beloved pet at home right now that we rescued. Many of these animals have been abused or abandoned yet somehow they learn to trust and love again and they’re saved. But did you stop to think about the person that adopted them? They’re saved too, by unconditional love. Saved by Karin Winegar shows us, over and over, that not just the animals are saved – the lives of their human caretakers are changed too.

Most of the stories in Saved begin with sadness – irresponsible people that treat animals as disposable, leaving suffering and pain in their wake. But each story ends on an upbeat note because of the animals that don’t give up and the people who give them a second chance. You’ll meet Chance and Hope, two beautiful Great Pyrenees dogs who were found starving in a ditch, each with a shattered rear leg. Today theses gentle giants bring joy to the residents of a long-term care home in Minnesota. Walt Kuchler finds peace from painful memories when riding the mare he rescued from certain death. A program in Maricopa County, Arizona pairs jail inmates with rescued animals, teaching them responsibility and job skills (many find work as veterinary assistants or on local farms after being released) There’s the story of Cassidy, a stray cat that had been shot twice. At the last minute, veterinary technician Randi Golub spoke up and said she would take him. Today, Cassidy is a certified Pet Partner and regularly visits assisted living homes, bringing purrs and love to lonely residents.

These stories come from all over the country and involve all manner of animals – dogs, cats, horses, birds. The common thread in every story is that love, when given a chance, can heal any hurt.

If the name Sherman Alexie sounds familiar, you’ve probably seen his name attached to the 2007 national book award winner for his young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. This was such a fantastic book I was prompted to read one of his adult novels. Flight by Sherman Alexie did not disappoint. It was in fact even more thought provoking than True Diary.

Michael, aka Zits, is a delinquent foster youth filled with anger – mostly at his father for abandoning him the day he was born. As Zits is about to open fire upon innocent people in a bank, he blacks out only to awaken in the form of a white (Zits is half Indian) FBI agent during the civil rights era. After passing out again Zits wakes several more times in different periods as various people. He finds himself as an Indian child in 1876, an Indian tracker in the Old West, a modern day pilot, and as his own father. Each conflict subtly revolves around a time travel pursuit for the meaning of life. It would seem that looking for the answer to this type of complex question would require lengthy writing and heavy thought processes. Not so. Short and simple, only 180 pages, yet compelling. Fabulous journey with… a great ending.

Still looking for the perfect gift? Try making something handmade – it doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming, it simply needs to come from the heart.

You’ll find lots of inspiration in Stitches in Time by Alicia Paulson. Alicia gently encourages you to keep memories alive and part of everyday life through your own handcrafts. For instance, after going to see The Nutcracker ballet with her niece, she created a Clara doll (seen on the cover of the book) Other ideas include taking a child’s artwork and creating a stuffed toy (such as the adorable Molly the horse), making a pillow using family photos or creating a baby’s mobile using cards given at the baby shower. Alicia encourages you to take her ideas and projects and inject your own special touches; for instance, she shows several versions of the Clara doll and suggests that you create your own doll to look like a favorite book character or family member.

Alicia celebrates the domestic and the homemade, urging you to look for alternatives to manufactured perfection. Basic sewing and embroidery skills are all that’s required and clear and detailed instructions are included. The writing in this book is fun too – Alicia writes with a warm and personal voice and you’ll soon feel like she’s a close friend.

Be sure to check Alicia’s popular blog at Posie Gets Cozy where you can follow her ongoing stories of her family and crafts.

Follow along with Will Shortz, renowned New York Times crossword puzzle editor, as he introduces you to the fascinating world of crossword puzzle solving. Appealing to people from all walks of life, crossword puzzles are more than a casual pastime to avid fans. This witty and charming documentary, built around the ultimate competition in the United States, follows several people as they prepare for and compete in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament held every March.

Along the way, Wordplay looks at how crossword puzzles are designed, how the New York Times crossword becomes progressively harder Monday through Sunday and stops to talk to crossword puzzle fanatics such as Jon Stewart, Rick Burns, Bob Dole and Bill Clinton. Will Shortz himself emerges as the star – smart but modest and approachable, he oversees the tournament with a sense of humor.

You don’t have to be a crossword puzzle fan yourself to enjoy with film; everyone will quickly get caught up in the drama of the competition and fascinated by the people who love crosswords. And you’ll find yourself rooting for your favorite through the tense final. You might even decide to pick up a pencil and try a puzzle yourself!

One of the great Italian comfort foods gets a fresh outlook in The New Lasagna Cookbook. Not only will you find the classics – vegetarian, bolognese, sausage and pepper – you’ll find lots of new and innovative flavors such as butternut squash, artichoke and spinach, cajun turkey, Middle Eastern and seafood. There’s a lasagna for every mood and every season.

Sanchez starts with the essentials – cheeses, noodles (both homemade and store bought) and sauces. Next are recipes for lasagna starters – crostini, cheese spreads, garlic bread – and salads and dressings to accompany the meal. This is followed by the heart of the book – lasagna recipes and variations. She finishes with desserts – frangipane cake, date nut biscotti, lemon tarts – to put the perfect finishing touch on your meal.

Simple, delicious recipes, creative and interesting flavors – this cookbook is sure to become a family favorite!