Birding from a Tractor Seat, by Charles T. Flugum (Order from the author at Box 30038, St. Paul, Minn. 55175; $8.95). This privately published collection of essays by a lifelong bird watcher is an unexpected gem and a fine complement to the Dillard book. Flugum misses nothing as he works his farm, and he writes about everything with love and understanding.
Ansel Adams: Images 1923-1974, by Ansel Adams (New York Graphic Society, $65 until Dec. 31, $75 thereafter). The only "gift book" on this list, but an extraordinary book by any reckoning. Adams is generally recognized as our leading nature photographer; this is the record of his half-century's work. The mountain photograph spread across the endpapers took my breath away, and so did the others inside. Through his lens, Adams possesses the world he photographs.
For the book industry, incidentally, the next three weeks are the busiest and most critical of the year. Books are a major item in last-minute pre-Christmas buying, and how many titles are sold goes a long way toward determining the industry's annual profit and loss figures. If impulse leads you to any of the titles on this list, you won't go wrong, and no doubt an industry in serious financial straits will be grateful.