As a kid, the absolute best gift I could receive was a book. I was a bookworm for sure, but early on I also recognized the power of a good reference book. I still have most of those books today, still in excellent condition, and I still reread them occasionally.
My uncle Art always surprised and delighted us with books. We used to visit him and his "library", which was a good sized bookcase full of interesting titles. He even owned a copy of an unabridged baseball encyclopedia, which listed the complete known statistics of every player ever to play in the major leagues. I spent hours looking up my favorite current players and reading about the legends of the game, following up on interesting details that caught my fancy.
What inspired this particular post is an old friend that I've recently picked up again, the Moon Flight Atlas. Written for pre-teens, it's full of wonderful pictures and diagrams describing a wide range of topics related to mankind's efforts to reach the moon and Mars beyond. It was published soon after Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and the enthusiasm and optimism towards the future of man in space is sad when viewed in hindsight. Still, this book and many others fired my imagination and interests in science, interests that continue to this day.
The inscription on the inside front cover reads: "To Ted, from Uncle Art - Christmas, 1969".
Thanks, Uncle Art. Thank you.