No matter how many iPads, Kindles or smartphones are found under the tree on Christmas morning, a book is always welcome, a still center in what can be an over-amped day of celebration. Who could resist the urge to pocket a few Christmas cookies, pour a mug of coffee or cocoa, and find a corner to sit and crack open a new book? The following are suggestions for books of interest to gardeners or those who love the world outside.

For the practical gift giver, there is “The New Organic Grower, Third Edition: A Master’s Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener,” a 30th anniversary edition of Eliot Coleman’s 1989 classic text with photographs by Coleman’s wife and co-farmer Barbara Damrosch, who is also a well-known garden writer. The pair, whose Four Seasons Farm is in Harborside, Maine, have led the organic movement in the U.S. and, since its original publication in 1989, “The New Organic Grower” has been one of the most important farming books available. This new edition showcases the new tools and techniques that Coleman has been developing over the last 35 years, and it also includes information on new tools he’s invented and a section by Damrosch on incorporating flowers on a small farm. Whether your favorite gardener is a beginner or has years of growing experience, this is a valuable addition to the agricultural library.

For those interested in garden history and design, there’s “The History of Landscape Design in 100 Gardens,” by Linda A. Chisholm, published by Oregon’s inestimable Timber Press. More than just a history of landscape design, Chisholm’s book touches on art and science, exploration and colonization, famous people and famous places as illustrated by the natural and cultivated spaces surrounding homes, settlements and cities over the past millenniums. From Hadrian’s Villa, the centuries-old moss garden of Kyoto, and San Diego’s mission-inspired Balboa Park to George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Prince Charles’ organic farm, gardens are regarded from both a historical and a design perspective, explaining why particular garden styles prevailed at particular times. The color photographs will ward off winter blues (at least temporarily) and inspire spring planning.

Many are familiar with the work of Mainer Susan Hand Shetterly who, in addition to writing nine books, was a contributor to the Maine Times for many years and has also written for Down East and Yankee magazines. While her newest release, “Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge,” isn’t actually about gardening, for many coastal Maine dwellers seaweed is a part of their garden, harvested from beaches and used as fertilizer, and observed on walks along the shore or on coastal rocks. In her journal, Shetterly says, “My book is about seaweed species, the wild lives they feed and shelter, the harvesters who cut seaweeds, and the aquaculturists who grow them. It explores the work of scientists who protect habitats that are essential to the well-being of the oceans, and those who struggle to provide jobs for coastal people.” While much of the book focuses on efforts to protect seaweed and its ecosystem, there are also visits with those who make their living along the shore and recipes for laverbread and cooking Irish moss with milk and vanilla to make blancmange, making it a well-balanced, thoughtful and enjoyable read.

In addition to seaweed, gardeners have an ongoing relationship with insects, largely an adversarial one. For them, the antidote to this antipathy might be “Innumerable Insects: The Story of the Most Diverse and Myriad Animals on Earth” by Michael S. Engel, a look at the world’s most numerous inhabitants through stunning images from the American Museum of Natural History’s Rare Book Collection. Engel, a University of Kansas biology professor, covers insect diversity, evolution, ecology, and physiology, among other topics, while including intriguing vignettes about early entomologists, but the true stars of this tome are the gorgeous illustrations. It’s especially poignant to contrast this beautiful book with the recent New York Times article by Brooke Jarvis entitled “The Insect Apocalypse Is Here,” about recent studies that detail the decline in insect populations worldwide. Not just confined to bees and butterflies, all insects, the vital pollinators and recyclers of ecosystems and the base of food webs everywhere, have diminished to an alarming degree. We may feel they are too much with us — the ticks and slugs, the mosquitoes and fire ants — but whereas climate change and the overall degradation of global habitat are bad news for biodiversity in general, insects have the particular challenges posed by herbicides and pesticides, along with the effects of losing meadows, forests and ditches to the encroachment of humans. Anything that increases our awareness of the miracles that surround us, including bugs, is a good thing, and “Innumerable Insects” serves to remind us of the beauty of the smallest creatures.

My two final suggestions, both fiction, are set in the Low Country of the Carolinas. “Where the Crawdads Sing,” by Delia Owens, while part mystery, part coming-of-age story and part love story, is for the most part a celebration of the coastal marshes and swamps where its isolated protagonist lives alone among herons and gulls, abandoned by her family and most of the community whose fringes she inhabits. Author Owens co-authored several nonfiction books on wildlife, but this is her first work of fiction and, while not perfect, I can only say that in my opinion its portrayal and integration of the natural world into the story line is almost as compelling as one of my favorite all-time books, “Cold Mountain.” It may not be much of a mystery, but it’s irresistible nature writing.

“The King of Bees,” by Lester L. Laminack, with illustrations by Jim LaMarche, is set in coastal South Carolina on a marshland farm where Henry helps his aunt care for her bee hives. The illustrations are gorgeous and the story, while informative about bees and ecology, is sweetly told and has none of those didactic notes I eschew in children’s books. Like “Where the Crawdads Sing,” this book draws you in and immerses you in a warm and gentle Southern atmosphere while gently introducing young readers to the life and habits of bees.