The Useful Books Gift Guide

The Useful Books Gift Guide

Looking for the perfect gift for the person who has everything? Give her a new skill via a useful book.

Top Ten Secrets for Perfect Baby & Child Portraits by Clay Blackmore

I learned a ton about photography from bloggers during our Pro Photography Tips editorial series recently, but I still don't either a) own a DSLR or b) consider myself a very good photographer. I would love to get better at taking pictures in 2013. Clay Blackmore's Top Ten Secrets combines practical tips (use a cat toy to tickle your baby's nose for a laughing shot) with pages and pages of examples showing how to work with various props and where to stand to get a great angle.

Baby photography

$16.95 physical/$3.99 ebook at Barnes & Noble. (prices may adjust)


THE PLAN: Eliminate the Surprising “Healthy” Foods That Are Making You Fat — and Lose Weight Fast by Lyn-Genet Recitas

Ever wonder why some people can eat super healthy and still gain weight? While calories in/calories out is always important, everyone's body is different. Recitas examines different individual trigger foods that could be hanging up your weight-loss plans. (I'm assuming this is a gift for you, because as Julie Ross Godar pointed out, it would be sorta mean to give it to someone else!)

The Plan

$14.56 physical at Barnes & Noble. (prices may adjust)


Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail by Danica McKellar

Remember Winnie from The Wonder Years? She has a math degree and is an internationally recognized math advocate -- especially for girls. This is her first book for middle-school kids -- she has a few more covering geometry, algebra and more. I ordered this one already for my third grader because she's already saying "Math is hard."

Math doesn't suck

$16.95 physical at indie bookstore Rainy Day Books (prices may adjust)


Knitting for Kids by Paula Hammerskog & Eva Wincet

Whether you're a vet or a newbie, you can use this book. There is a pictoral guide to teach you how to knit in the back, and the instructions for everything from an easy beanie to a super-fancy christening gown include sizes, materials, gauges, measurements, etc., as well as the all-important picture of an actual child modeling the piece so you can see what the heck it's supposed to look like when it's finished.

Knitting for kids

$14.95 physical/$9.99 ebook at Amazon. (prices may adjust)


The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread Cliches: What they Mean and Where they Came From by Nigel Fountain

I wonder about the origins of cliches all the time since as a writer I have to try so hard to avoid them. Think outside the box and give this handy book as a gift this holiday.


$14.99 physical/$9.99 ebook at Amazon. (prices may adjust)

Rita Arens authors Surrender, Dorothy and is the editor of the award-winning parenting anthology Sleep is for the Weak. She is the senior editor for


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