Adam Haslett: You Are Not a Stranger Here
Most of these stories are decent, but the collection is worth buying just for the first one, "Notes To My Biographer." Wow!
Toni Morrison: Beloved
One of my favorites.
Beverley Jackson: Splendid Slippers: A Thousand Years of an Erotic Tradition
Fascinating look at an extremely disturbing tradition. One of my great-grandmothers (on my mother's side) had bound feet. I saw a pair of handmade slippers for bound feet in an antique store in Nantucket, and had to have them--the most expensive shoes I own! Anyway, after that I bought this book. As for "erotic," a chapter called "sacrifice at the altar of beauty" explores some of the many notions of sexual attractiveness which require painful bodily alterations or embellishments.
Michael A. Dirr: Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia
I would love this book even if I lived in a studio apartment (maybe even more so). You always know exactly where Mr. Dirr stands: "... I have never recommended, at least when conscious, a poplar," or "[the oakleaf hydrangea] is one of the most handsome plants that landscape designers have at their disposal." For a picture of the latter, see my photo album.
Nicky Epstein: Knitting on the Edge : Ribs * Ruffles * Lace * Fringes * Floral * Points & Picots - The Essential Collection of 350 Decorative Borders
If this doesn't get those creative juices flowing...but why does the author reference a symbol for borders in which "both sides are the same or equally attractive" in the introductory notes, then not use the symbol once? (If she did, I missed it). A minor quibble, to be sure.