“Encyclopedia of Electronic Components, Vol. 1,” by Charles Platt; $25,

This book is an education. We thought it would be just a long list of parts and what they’re called, but it is an explanation of the major pieces used in making electronic equipment. For instance, we’ve all heard of diodes, but the book explains eight kinds, what they do and what they’re used for. It even explains what to do if something goes wrong.

Do you know your Transient Voltage Suppressor from you Schottky Diode? What if somebody asks you? What about your Unijunction Transistor compared with your Bipolar Transistor? The book even shows you how to wire them into a circuit (so you don’t get Bipolar Disorder). This is the best book we’ve ever seen for learning about basic practical electronics. Get a copy for the budding genius in your family.

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