Getting to this way too late----
The Statue of Liberty: A Translatlantic Story by Edward Berenson - near and dear
Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate - Debbie Stier says this is the one, and I believe her. My copy came yesterday. Here are Gordon Neufeld's courses.
Beat This! by Ann Hodgman - it's been updated!
Norton Annotated Christmas Carol - fabulous!
Norton Annotated Brothers Grimm - fabulous!
Norton Annotated Anything - fabulous no doubt!
Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman - getting it for Christmas
The Bible and Its Influence - Wonderful, worked extremely well in my class. Here's an excerpt on the Book of Genesis, which pairs beautifully with this excerpt from a Paula Reimer article about the Greek gods.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version - this is the edition my pastor told me to get. I'm on page 547.
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman - boring but indispensable
The Procrastination Equation by Piers Steel - yesssssss! Plan to re-read soon. (Here's an old post on projects & procrastination & Piers Steel.)
1491 and 1493 by Charles C. Mann - haven't read either book, but Ed says they're great
A Short History of England by Simon Jenkins - our friend Herb is reading it twice
Bloomberg Best Books of 2012
The Great Recession: Market Failure or Monetary Disorder? by Robert Hetzel - wonderful, and reasonably readable by nonspecialists
Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield - one of the funniest books I've ever read
The Secret Diary of Adrien Mole, Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend - the other funniest book I've ever read
Nobody wants grammar books for Christmas, so that list can wait.
On the other hand, if you're homeschooling or teaching, and really do need a grammar book for Christmas, then Grammar for Teachers by John Seely is a highly compressed, clear, and useful distillation of Quirk and Greenbaum. There's a Workbook, too, and sample pages posted on Seely's website. Any decoder of English grammar who characterizes adverbs as awkward customers is A-OK with me.
Also, I recently finished reading Greenbaum and Nelson's An Introduction to English Grammar and liked it very much; the short chapter on style is excellent. However, if you're as new to formal grammar as I was, and you want a companion book to Seely's, I think Mark Lester's English Grammar and Usage Second Edition might be the choice. I've just discovered it myself, and haven't read it yet, but I've moved it up to the top of my list, bumping Huddleston and Pullum to number 2. Lester is a specialist in ESL, which means the book is keenly aware of the particular confusions and mistakes non-native speakers make.
Thank God for non-native speakers. The rest of us can free-ride on their books and classes.
Lester provides numerous "constituent tests," too. I like constituent tests.