Jimmy Carter, , with illus. by Amy Carter. . Simon & Schuster, $20 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-2491-8

This slim yet deeply textured memoir detailing former president Carter's Christmases as a boy in rural Georgia, as a naval officer, a politician and president serves as an excellent companion to his earlier, bestselling memoir, An Hour Before Daylight, but can also be read on its own as a tribute to family and a reminder that economy of gifts doesn't have to mean economy of generosity. Told in clear, honest language, these engaging vignettes range from endearing stories from his boyhood—using the tinfoil from his father's cigarette packs to make tinsel for the tree—as well as revealing ones—Carter's thoughts and feelings during the hostage crisis in the Middle East toward the end of his presidency. These are the humble and heartfelt experiences that shaped and reflect his character: stories of his close black friends in the pre–civil rights era, of one memorable holiday involving a truckload of grapefruit, of another at Camp David, of trying to spend some quiet moments alone with his family in Plains even with the Secret Service in tow. The message illustrated throughout could not be more timely—that gifts from the heart are the most important kind and should not be restricted to one's own family. (Nov.)

Forecast:Comforting and inspiring, this should have very big sales among readers of Carter's previous book and bring him new readers as well.