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Perfect Present

Local booksellers suggest hot titles for everyone on your holiday shopping list.


Now that the turkey is history and Santa has hit the malls, it's time to think about your gift list. To help, we have checked with several Ventura County bookstores to find out what they expect to be popular or appreciated this year.

At Borders Books & Music in Thousand Oaks, Sue Zussman suggested "The Beatles Anthology" (Chronicle Books; $60), especially for those who grew up with the band's music.

Another choice, for those of any age, is "Peanuts, A Golden Celebration" by Charles M. Schulz (Harper-Collins; $45).

Zussman also recommended the recent "Life: Our Century in Pictures for Young People" (Little Brown; $25.95.) These are not the sort of books people buy for themselves, she said.

If you know someone who devours romance or religious novels or is a mystery buff, this is the time of year when new releases come out. Readers hooked on the "Left Behind" religious series may reach for "The Mark," the latest by Tim LeHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins (Tyndale House; $23.99).

For mystery readers, Jane Becher, co-owner of Mysteries to Die For in Thousand Oaks, offered three new titles: Ian Rankin's "Set in Darkness" (St. Martin Press; $24.95), Peter Robinson's "Cold is the Grave" (Morrow/Avon; $24), and Bruce Alexander's "The Color of Death" (Putnam; $24.95).

Michael Connelly fans can pick up special gift certificates for "A Darkness More than Night" (Little Brown; $25.95), which is redeemable in January, when Connelly will appear at the store for a book signing, Becher said.


Over at Ventura's Barnes & Noble, Phyllis McBeth is excited about "Little Ellie Claus" by James Manos Jr. (Pocket Books; $15.95). Manos is an Emmy Award-winning author who wrote for the television series "The Sopranos." His first novel is about a girl who is left on the steps of an orphanage and adopted by Santa Claus.

"I think this is going to be a Christmas classic," McBeth said. "It's like the 'Gift of the Magi,' and it's nondenominational, so you can give it to anybody."

Michele Kantor at the Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble suggested "And the Fans Roared" by Joe Garner and narrated by Bob Costa (Source Books; $49.95). It's the sequel to last year's "And the Crowd Goes Wild" by Garner and Costa. The sequel includes two CDs of actual broadcasts aired during momentous sports events, running the gamut from the Olympics to football. You can get both books and CDs in a packaged set for $94.99.

Speaking of CDs, most of the books mentioned have audio versions--easier on the eyes and soothing to the ears. If not, you can always go the extra mile and tape your own version. A friend surprised her husband last year by reading aloud from favorite books into a tape recorder and creating a tape for him to play on his work commute.

Since this is the 100th anniversary of Frank Baum's classic "The Wizard of Oz," Kantor enthused about "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: A Commemorative Pop-up" (Little Simon; $24.95). Although displayed in the children's department, this pop-up appeals to all ages, she said. It even comes with a pair of Emerald City eyeglasses.

Jazz lovers can overdose on "Jazz--An Illustrated History of American Music" by Ken Burns and Geoffrey C. Ward (Knopf; $65). Another coffee-table book for moviegoers is "Vanity Fair's Hollywood," edited by Graydon Carter and David Friend, with text by Christopher Hitchen (Vanity Fair; $65).

Fans of the television series "The Antique Roadshow" will be able to delve into the book "Hidden Treasures" by Leigh and Leslie Keno (Warner Books; 29.95).

Going for the nontraditional gift-buying site, you could wander through downtown Ventura's Calico Cat, where maps from the 19th century and the original Raggedy Ann series by Johnny Gruelle can be found among art books, rare first editions and used books long out of print.

Prices vary according to the book's condition and how many subsequent issues of it were published.

In Ojai, you can find the indoor-outdoor Bart's Corner. The used bookstore, known for some shelves facing the street for sidewalk browsing, offers gift certificates as well as rare first editions.

Assistant Manager Jack Randolph listed first editions of Mark Twain's "Life on the Mississippi" for $7.50 and Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Tarzan of the Apes" for $8.50 as well as selections by John Steinbeck and Jack London.

If you are on a tight budget, don't overlook bargains at used bookstores inside local libraries. You also may discover specialty books at museums and discounted items in warehouse bookstores.

Finally, your online bookseller is just a mouse click away. Happy shopping!


* Today, 10:30 a.m. Thanksgiving-theme story time. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 160 W. Westlake Blvd., 446-2820.

* Today, 10:30 a.m. Matt Witten will discuss and sign "Strange Bedfellows" at Mysteries to Die For, 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 374-0084.

* Today, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Hands-on Family Science & Art Day. Wear messy clothes. Parking lot of Adventures for Kids, 3457 Telegraph Road, Ventura, 650-9688.

* Tuesday, 4:30 p.m. People and Places group focuses on folklore of West Africa. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 160 W. Westlake Blvd., 446-2820.

* Tuesday, 7 p.m. Monthly poetry workshop conducted by Pepperdine University professor Michael Collings. Borders Books & Music, 125 S. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8159.

Information about book signings, writers groups and publishing events can be e-mailed to or faxed to 647-5649.

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