Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, December 2, 2011

Gotham: Not Fade Away by Rebecca Alexander

From My Shelf

Art & Photography Books Catch the Eye

As the year goes by, we set aside our favorite art and photography books to include in our holiday gift round-up. And every year, the selection gets bigger, until now the books spread over five feet of shelves and weigh, oh, about a ton. But this is the season when these big stunners get their due.

Out of this largesse, we've selected 20 books to highlight, but we had to leave out many other worthy titles, like The Szyk Haggadah (Abrams). Arthur Szyk (1884-1951) was known as a political illustrator, although I remember his illustrations from an old collection of Hans Christian Andersen. His Haggadah--created in Lodz, Poland, on the eve of Nazi occupation--is filled with calligraphy, exotic birds and lions, dreamy-eyed scholars, ancient stonemasons and 1930s workers.

We are often drawn to photography books of the natural world. Firefly has published The Natural World Close-Up, where Giles Sparrow has compiled more than 300 photographs using high magnification. Seal fur, magnified x 75, looks like sword-shaped grass; a stalactite core is a rose-colored agate; a conifer needle at x 1,030 is a honeycomb.

A different natural world is presented in Global Remains: Abandoned Architecture and Objects from Seven Continents by Michael Clinton (Glitterati). There is a particular beauty in ruins, and Clinton has found it in such places as an air force base in Tucson, graffitied buildings in Shanghai, rusting doorways in Budapest, an old Texaco sign in Santa Fe.

Michael Pollan's Food Rules: An Eater's Manual (Penguin) has been turned into an even more delightful gift book with illustrations by Maira Kalman. When Pollan says: "Place a bouquet of flowers on the table and everything will taste twice as good," the painting of a woman at an orange table with pink flowers and fresh bread and butter underscores his dictum perfectly.

There are more reviews below for fabulous books that deserve to be wrapped with extravagant bows. --Marilyn Dahl

Hyperion: Vampires of Manhattan by Melissa de la Cruz

Shadow Mountain: Tale of Light and Shadow by Jacob Gowans

Riverhead: How We Got To Now by Steven Johnson

Book Candy

Bookish Interior Design: Dr. Who Bookcase, Library Hammock

The TARDIS Bookcase "was built by U.K. model-maker msmuse101--with the help of her Dad--over the last few months, and it really looks great," wrote Technabob, while confessing: "You know me. Just slap a TARDIS on pretty much anything, and I think it's cool. But this particular TARDIS is one of my favorite builds in a while."

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A "library hammock" was featured by the Centered Librarian blog.

Chizine: The Door In the Mountain and Floating Boy & The Girl Who Couldn't Fly

Great Reads

Further Reading: Nature

The Birding Life: A Passion for Birds at Home and Afield (Clarkson Potter) by Larry Sheehan et al. has such lush, interesting photos that it might seem like a book about birding designed by Martha Stewart, except that the authors--Larry Sheehan and his wife, Carol Sheehan--are avid and lifelong ornithology enthusiasts.

From beautiful spots for birdwatching to beautiful spots filled with bird art and accoutrements, this book has something for everyone who loves birds. Many aspects of "the birding life" are covered, whether it's standing knee-deep in water with binoculars or sitting quietly in a room decorated with stunning ornithological engravings.

Other ways to look at birds include:

Audubon's Birds of America (Baby Elephant Folio Edition) is not cheap, at $185, but considering that it's a collection of all 43 of John James Audubon's original folio paintings in reproduction, with a foreword by birding expert Roger Tory Peterson, it's a good value. An interesting note: Audubon did not place his drawings in taxonomic order, as this edition does, which changes the experience but in no way diminishes the superb artistry and knowledge that went into each image.

Feathered Dinosaurs: The Origin of Birds by John Long, illustrated by Peter Schouten, might look like a really cool children's book at first. However, the Oxford University Press volume is a collaboration between a noted paleontologist (Long) and nature illustrator that provides substantive history of what scientists now know to be multiple species of dinosaurs who had feathers, many of which probably evolved into the birds that we can see today. A wholly different look at "feathered friends."

Art Forms in Nature by Ernst Haeckel has nothing in particular to do with birds or birding, but Haeckel's fin de siecle explorations of congruency and detail in all sorts of natural life (birds, shells, leaves and much more) is a near-fantastical counterpoint to the restraint of Audubon or the mixed media in the Sheehans' book. Haeckel's "Biogenetic Law" (ontogeny replicates phylogeny) is captured here in its visual truth. --Bethanne Patrick

AuthorBuzz: Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers

Literary Lists

More Gift Books; Wine Books; Cookbooks; 10 Lost Novels

Authors are readers, too, and USA Today polled several to compile its interactive bookshelf "Christmas gift books linger in writers' memories," in which scribes ranging from David McCullough to James Patterson to Snooki recall "the best book they ever got for Christmas."

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Another interactive holiday option for readers is the Guardian's "children's books advent calendar," which allows kids of all ages to "swot up on Harry with our Potter quiz or decorate the Christmas tree with Simon's cat! Learn to draw a penguin or listen to clips from your favorite authors... come back each day for a festive surprise."

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The Miami Herald says "wine books are great for holiday gifting."

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The Guardian suggested "the best cookbooks by both foodies and celebrity chefs," noting that cookbooks "divide into two categories, reference and lifestyle: to the first, you will turn when you're in the mood for a quiche, any quiche, or you want to know what to do with brisket; to the second, when you wish to be the sort of person who cooks that sort of thing."
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Flavorwire showcased 10 lost novels the world found again, a "list of lost and found novels, and if you've ever had a literary relative, get ready to go hunting in your attics for your own treasure chests."

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Nile Rodgers, author of Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny, chose his top 10 music books for the Guardian, noting that "the books I love are also about people's lives--all of the titles I've chosen offer real insights into the personalities behind the music."

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Conn Iggulden, author of The Dangerous Book for Boys, shared his choices for "top 10 books about tiny people" in the Guardian, observing: "Perhaps because we've all been small, books about tiny people are perennial favorites."

Quercus: The Lewis Man by Peter May

Book Review

Nature & Environment

Beneath Cold Seas: The Underwater Wilderness of the Pacific Northwest

by David Hall
Start with the frontispiece photograph of a Blue Rockfish gazing at a mango orange peony of a Lion's Mane Jelly--no, start with that same jellyfish on the cover of Beneath Cold Seas, a bright UFO gliding below the gray surface of a Pacific Northwest sea--and you can tell you're in for a stunning photography book. Using state-of-the-art equipment, innovative techniques and electronic strobes, David Hall shows us an underwater world surprising to those who think color and diversity belong to the tropics.

Purple and tangerine sea stars prey on mussels amid dark aqua sea urchins; a Mosshead Warbonnet peeks out from a kelp bed; a semi-camouflaged Red Irish Lord nestles over a Sulfur sponge; a harbor seal scratches its back underwater; an adult wolf eel looks like a cranky gray monster; migrating sockeye are seen at dusk against a sunset sky; pale Plumose anemones are as graceful as a ballet; opalescent nudibranchs resemble fireworks.

David Hall has created a dazzling book filled with dazzling sea creatures, showing us an astonishing marine domain. --Marilyn Dahl, book review editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A stunning, wildly colorful marine world beneath the gray surface of Pacific Northwest waters.

Greystone Books/University of Washington Press, $45, hardcover, 9780295991160

Gotham: Dr. Mutter's Marvels by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

The Majesty of the Horse: An Illustrated History

by Tamsin Pickeral; photography by Astrid Harrisson

The Majesty of the Horse is one of the finest equine photography books around. Starting with the Asiatic Wild Horse, a stocky, round-nosed breed roaming southwest Mongolia, Tamsin Pickeral provides the history for more than 80 breeds, and while the descriptions are informative, Astrid Harrisson's photographs are absolutely splendid. The Akhal Teke of Turkmenistan looks carved out of peach marble; the tiny, rare Caspian (Iran) is a sepia Dürer drawing; the majestic black Friesian (Holland) is covered by a Lady Godiva rippling mane; the Ariègeois pony (France) has a copper-flecked ebony mane to match its eyes; the Knabstrup (Denmark) is Dalmation-spotted; the russet-colored Don (Russia) is photographed against snowy white birches; the Rocky Mountain Horse (U.S.) peeks coquettishly through a platinum mane.

Each magnificent horse is photographed in close-ups--graceful lines, limpid eyes--or in full-size action: running in the misty Camargue, for example, or prancing through an Indian forest. You may think you have enough horse books, but think again. You need this book. --Marilyn Dahl, book review editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A gorgeous photographic collection of more than 80 horse breeds, some common, some endangered, all magnificent.

Barron's, $35, hardcover, 9780764164163

Other Press: Diary of the Fall by Michel Laub

Violent Earth

by Robert Dinwiddie , Simon Lamb , Ross Reynolds

Our planet's beauty is bounded by danger. Thousands of miles beneath our feet, tectonic plates shift and clash to spawn earthquakes and tsunamis, while Earth's molten core awaits the opportunity to leak magma up to the surface through volcanoes. Meanwhile, in our atmosphere, the highs and lows of pressure systems create hurricanes, tornadoes and other severe weather.

Violent Earth is a comprehensive and current reference book, produced in association with the Smithsonian Institution, combining scientific fact, real world examples and breathtaking photography. Its engrossing coverage of the origins and effects of volcanoes, earthquakes, mudslides, tsunamis and severe weather is perfect for the older teen or adult earth scientist, with an up-to-date timeline of notable disasters up to this year's Japanese tsunami. Bundle this gift with a disaster preparedness manual for extra effect! --Jaclyn Fulwood, graduate assistant, University of Oklahoma Libraries

Discover: The power, beauty and destructive capacity of volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and more.

DK Publishing, $40, hardcover, 9780756686857

Sourcebooks: The End of Innocence by Allegra Jordan

Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees

by Nancy R. Hugo

Nancy Ross Hugo and photographer Robert Llewellyn have put together a tree book unlike any other, meant to teach us not simply to identify a tree and move on, but to discover natural, cyclical phenomena such as the blooming of the sassafras or the acorns plumping out. Trees are wild beings, every bit as worthy of close observation as birds. These miracles of nature do not readily yield their secrets, but careful observation will reap bountiful aesthetic and environmental rewards.

Llewelyn, an inspired and creative photographer, has shot incredibly sharp images, using a white background to emphasize details such as the intricacy of the pinecone or the unfurling of a beech leaf and marvel at nature's wise adaptations. Seeing Trees is a perfect book for naturalists, environmentalists or anyone who has ever taken a walk and looked around. --Valerie Ryan, Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.

Discover: Inventive photography and illuminating text reveal the beauty of leaves, twigs, bark, flowers and fruits.

Timber Press, $29.95, hardcover, 9781604692198

Nests: Fifty Nests and the Birds that Built Them

by Sharon Beals , illus. by Laurie Wigham

Nests are more than homes: they are historical artifacts, objects of scientific analysis, and examples of nature's beauty--and all these modes are captured brilliantly by San Francisco-based photographer Sharon Beals, whose discovery of the collection at the California Academy of Sciences will excite bird lovers and inspire environmentalists and conservationists. Twigs, leaves, spider web and cocoon silk, plant down, mud, manmade materials like rope and yarn, feathers and fur, moss and lichen, are woven and spun intricately into baskets to protect the young, then placed in trees, burrows, shrubs, even human dwellings. Some of them are as mystifying as pieces of art, while others serve a practical purpose as decoys to lure would-be predators away from broods. Beals's artistic commentary serves as a lament for man's folly against nature almost as much as it does a document of some of nature's master architects. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

Discover: An intricate, illuminating window into the natural artistry of avian architecture.

Chronicle, $29.95, hardcover, 9780811877589

The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure

by Jonathan P. Balcombe

The Exultant Ark is a romp through the sunnier side of the animal kingdom, packed with lively photographs of animals enjoying themselves--the sorts of things we don't see on grimly narrated nature documentaries about the bloody struggle for survival. On these big, colorful pages, scarlet macaws affectionately preen one another. A mother gorilla embraces its baby. Three furry fox kits tumble and play in the sun. A young elk turns its face into the falling snow, sticks out its tongue, and samples a snowflake.

But The Exultant Ark isn't just about pretty pictures. Biologist Jonathan Balcombe uses spirited descriptions and compelling arguments to implore humankind--particularly the scientific community--to consider our animal counterparts with greater empathy and respect. "Species and populations don't feel pains and pleasures; individuals do," Balcombe writes. "As surely as they each have a biology, each also has a biography." --Hannah Calkins, Unpunished Vice

Discover: A bold, colorful celebration of animals of every stripe (and wing, fin and paw print) taking pleasure in food, play, sex and companionship.

University of California Press, $34.95, hardcover, 9780520260245

Relics: Travels in Nature's Time Machine

by Piotr Naskrecki

Entomologist Piotr Naskrecki takes readers not just around the world--from the dense forests of New Guinea and Ghana's remote Atewa Plateau to a beach in New Jersey--but through time as well. The natural world still contains traces of distant epochs past, in the form of organisms and habitats that remain comparatively untouched by evolution. Naskrecki describes his pursuit of these incredible "relics" with an enthusiasm that matches his considerable expertise, and his photographs are so astonishingly vivid the subjects threaten to crawl off the page. The best moment of Relics occurs, somewhat surprisingly, on the Jersey shore, as Naskrecki witnesses the 440-millionth annual mass-spawning of horseshoe crabs. "As strange and distant as [they] may seem," he writes as the crabs drag themselves from the sea, "these majestic organisms remind me that we share the same evolutionary heritage." Revelatory moments like this show how our pre-human history is not as remote as it may seem. --Hannah Calkins, blogger at Unpunished Vice

Discover: Living creatures with exceptionally ancient evolutionary pedigrees are a fascinating portal to the prehistoric world.

University of Chicago Press, $45, Hardcover, 9780226568706

Deceptive Beauties: The World of Wild Orchids

by Christian Ziegler

For centuries, the allure of orchids has kept the botanically inclined under an intoxicating spell. In Deceptive Beauties, National Geographic photographer Christian Ziegler shares his knowledge and experience of these exotic, fragrant flowers, documenting searches for them in their natural habitats.

Ziegler's exquisite color photographs, taken on five continents, capture the visual intricacies of wild orchids, their delicate shapes and unique configurations. The pollination images reinforce the orchid's dazzling mystery and appeal, as does the commentary on the flower's evolutionary history. Discussion of the adapative qualities that enable orchids to survive and thrive in extremes of both heat and cold, from deserts to arctic air, is combined with a showcase of its beauty and bio-diversity, as Ziegler offers greater insight into why so many continue to fall under the seductive trap of this stunning flower. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: A well-balanced, informative book dramatically illustrating the visual beauty and intricacies of orchids in the wild.

University of Chicago Press, $45, hardcover, 9780226982977

Art & Photography

The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott: Unseen Images from the Legendary Antarctic Expedition

by David M. Wilson

Nearly a century after his death during the ill-fated Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole, Captain Robert Falcon Scott remains a figure of controversy. Though initially lionized, Scott was later criticized by historians for a lack of preparation and foresight. Now David M. Wilson (Edward Wilson's Nature Notebooks), the great-nephew of an expedition member, uses Scott's own recovered photographs to recount the deadly journey.

Scott, who had been trained in photography by the expedition's official cameraman, captured eerily beautiful images of the alien Antarctic panorama. Ponies struggle through crusted snow while small supply camps stand alone against the bright, frosty horizon. Wilson's accompanying text uses the words of Scott and his crew to recreate the choices and hardships that led them to their doom. More than an adventure story, The Lost Photographs is an artifact from the dawn of photography as art, suitable for historians and photography enthusiasts alike. --Jaclyn Fulwood, graduate assistant, University of Oklahoma Libraries

Discover: Starkly beautiful photographs from the final days of a deadly Antarctic expedition.

Little, Brown, $35, hardcover, 9780316178501

In a Lonely Place

by Gregory Crewdson

Gregory Crewdson's photographs are illuminated moments pregnant with literary possibilities. A barefoot, lingerie-clad woman stands in the middle of a suburban street, hesitating between a waiting taxi and a warm, lighted home. Is she a modern Emma Bovary about to elope with her rakish lover or a prodigal teenager returning home? A nude woman lies pensively on a stained mattress in a tropical forest, while a dark-skinned man, partially clothed, sits nearby with his back to the viewer. Is this a reenactment of the Fall of Eden or an interracial post-coital scene from a Faulkner novel? A set of photographs taken at the desolate backlot of Italy's Cinecittà studio evokes the tone of The Twilight Zone, while the "Fireflies" series provides a bittersweet ending, as swooning orbs of light recall Piet Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie or bright notes in a jazz snippet--nostalgic yet still affirmative of the here and now. --Thuy Dinh, editor, Da Mau magazine

Discover: Dream-like photographs that induce mythical sojourns into the subconscious.

Abrams, $40, hardcover, 9781419701108

Victor Halfwit: A Winter's Tale

by Thomas Bernhard , trans. by Martin Chalmers , illus. by Sunandini Banerjee

It's a little difficult to imagine Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989) crafting a children's fable. After all, he was known as a purveyor of gloom, a pessimist and a misanthrope--imagine Samuel Beckett fashioning a children's tale about two kids waiting for a friend who never shows up. Nevertheless: a doctor is walking through the snowy woods at night and trips over Victor Halfwit, freezing to death. His wooden legs have broken. It seems he was trying to get through the woods at night in less than an hour to win a bet. Crazy? The doctor carries him to town where they meet the man, who has now lost his wager and must pay up.

Strange indeed. But Sunandini Banerjee's gorgeous illustrations--mysterious, dream-like collages on heavy stock paper--turn this simple tale into an eerie voyage into the Freudian subconscious. It's as if Germany's brooding Grimm Brothers accidentally collided with a "Fractured Fairy Tale" from Rocky and Bullwinkle. --Thomas Lavoie, former publisher

Discover: A stunningly illustrated surprise for Bernhard fans and a beautiful gift for the lover of exceptional book arts.

Seagull Books/University of Chicago, $25, hardcover, 9781906497644

Lights of Mankind: The Earth at Night as Seen from Space

by L. Douglas Keeney

NASA has an archive of more than one million photographs that have been taken by its astronauts from outer space, but it wasn't until 2003 that someone designed a camera that could compensate for the 17,000-miles-per-hour speed of orbiting spacecraft and the Earth's rotation to deliver crisper, clearer images of the planet. This improvement revealed the spectacular glory of our nighttime world--thanks to lights, lots of lights, enough to consume 17.1 billion megawatt hours of electricity a year.

L. Douglas Keeney led a team that sifted through thousands of photos to compile this collection, one dramatic photo after another of the illuminated patterns that magically create Earth's own circulatory system. Here we see the Nile snaking its way north, here New York City awash in light. (And what's the single brightest "spot" on earth? Las Vegas.)  Lights of Mankind is a spectacular picture book for parents to show children, for geographers and engineers or anyone who loves photos of Earth from space. --Thomas Lavoie, former publisher

Discover: A spectacular new perspective on our nighttime world, made possible for the first time.

Lyons Press, $32.50, hardcover, 9780762777556

The Conference of the Birds

by Peter Sis

Peter Sís is a stylistic illustrator whose detailed drawings have rendered both the fantasies of children's stories and adult yearnings for freedom. In The Conference of the Birds, the three-time Caldecott Honor Award winner takes inspiration from a 13th-century fable by Persian poet Farid Ud-Din Attar to create a visual feast of color and Escher-like images on textured paper.

The Conference story is a traditional quest tale where courage and determination overcome adversity, but it is the combination of Sís's complex geometrical landscapes with Middle Eastern influenced mazes, swirls and deep earth colors printed in full-page portfolio fashion that lift this book above the simplicity of its narrative. With tactile paper, elegant design, scrolling text and deftly detailed illustrations joined to a moving story, it reminds us how a well-made book transcends its parts to become itself a work of art. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: A beautifully illustrated fable whose simplicity belies its wisdom.

Penguin Press, $27.95, hardcover, 9781594203060

La Figa: Visions of Food and Form

by Tiberio Simone, photographed by Matt Freedman

Seattle catering chef Tiberio Simone thinks about food and sex a lot, often in tandem: A fennel salad has "a fresh flavor I can share and enjoy with the person I'm kissing," and he's used his mango salsa as a seduction tool. He also explores the sensual properties of food in a collaborative project with photographer Matt Freedman, draping naked models in fruits and vegetables. A woman's buttocks might be covered in strawberries, or a man's head, torso and arms decorated with purple potato slices. By turns arresting and playful, these pictures are accompanied by Simone's recollections of his Italian childhood and his meditations on adult pleasures, as well as several recipes. "If you pay attention, you'll see that beauty is everywhere," he advises. "In the produce section of the supermarket, and in the voluptuous person standing next to you in the checkout line." La Figa offers one lavish example after another of this philosophy of polymorphous pleasure. --Ron Hogan, founder of Beatrice.com

Discover: A search for beauty in the human form and fresh produce results in a (forgive the pun) tastefully sumptuous portfolio.

Book Publishers Network, $39.95, hardcover, 9781935359753

The Louvre: All the Paintings

by Erich Lessing , Vincent Pomarède

The Louvre holds many of the most celebrated and important paintings of all time, and they, along with every other piece in the permanent collection--a staggering total of 3,022 works in all--are presented in the spectacular The Louvre: All the Paintings, an "exhibition catalogue" to forever define the term. The inventory is divided into four schools--Italian, Northern, French and Spanish--then arranged chronologically by the artist's date of birth, making it easy to browse, find and enjoy lively descriptions of the artists and their work. You'll also find tidbits of little-known gossip by observant art historians scattered throughout: for instance, Leonardo Da Vinci's The Virgin on the Rocks was originally received with disfavor because of the artist's insistence on light-dark contrast instead of clear identification of the figures.

Warning: The Louvre: All The Paintings weighs 10.6 lbs. and has 784 pages. Let the power lifting begin! --Valerie Ryan, Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.

Discover: All 3,022 paintings in the world's most famous museum, now available for home viewing.

Black Dog & Leventhal, $75, hardcover, 9781579128869

Inuit Modern: Masterworks from the Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection

by Gerald McMaster, editor

Canada is the second largest nation in the world, but its vastness is often a surprise, even to "lower" Canadians who live close to the southern border against the United States. The area north of the arctic tree line is largely uninhabited... except, that is, for the diverse communities of the Inuit.

The bold and often intricate sculptures of self-taught Inuit artists, created predominately from available stone and animal fur, sinew and bone, began to build a national and international reputation in the 1950s. The Art Gallery of Ontario has one of the world's largest collections of Inuit art, and it's showcased in the comprehensive, full-color Inuit Modern. Photographs of more than 175 works by 75 artists, with a variety of short but informative essays by historians, curators and the artists themselves, provide a definitive representation of the modern and evolving creative world of a people whose history has been primarily one of survival in a cold and harsh climate. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: Intricate, dramatic modern art from Canada's Arctic cultures.

Douglas & McIntyre, $50, trade paper, 9781553657781

Royal Fabergé

by Caroline de Guitaut

Over the last two centuries, Britain's royal family has amassed a handsome collection of works by the legendary Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé. His name may be most closely associated with the Romanovs' famously ostentatious eggs, but Royal Fabergé demonstrates the full range of his creativity. Some of the works featured were purchased from Fabergé's London showroom; others were acquired from antiquities dealers after the Russian Revolution's dust had settled.

Caroline de Guitaut, curator of decorative arts in the Royal Collection, describes this impressive hoard in loving detail, from floppy-eared pigs intricately carved from agate to diamond-studded, enameled cigarette cases (and, of course, the eggs). The book itself is no less lovely, its photos elegantly set in a Laura Ashley-like color palette. The paper is heavy and satiny, the kind you can't help but touch even after the page has been turned. It's a suitably luxurious tribute to an opulent subject. --Kelly Faircloth, freelance writer

Discover: A treat for Fabergé fans or anyone with an eye for the creative and gorgeous.

Royal Collection, $24.95, hardcover, 9781905686377

Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page

by Matt Kish

What is it about artists and Moby-Dick? From Rockwell Kent's classic prints and Barry Moser's elegant line drawings to Will Eisner's graphic novel, not to mention Frank Stella's multimedia undertaking and Jackson Pollock's Blue, Melville's novel has long cast a spell on artists. Matt Kish is the latest to come under it, big time.

Inspired by Zak Smith's illustrations for Gravity's Rainbow, Kish hid away in a closet studio for 18 months, illustrating selected lines from every page (552 of them) of the Signet edition! Primarily applying ink pen, marker, crayon and watercolor to the actual pages, he has produced beautifully imagistic and impressionistic illustrations, heirs to the surreal and dada, with a little "yellow submarine" thrown in. Here is a cornucopia of images: whales as floating teeth or a green snake, Ahab as a disembodied skull, Ishmael as a wooden buoy. The carefully selected found paper creates haunting images upon images.--Thomas Lavoie, former publisher

Discover: An awesome gift for the Moby-Dick lover, the burgeoning artist, the collector of beautiful book arts and the fan of sophisticated graphic novels.

Tin House, $39.95, trade paper, 9781935639138 ($69.95 hardcover with slipcase, 9781935639121)

Art and Soul: Stars Unite to Celebrate and Support the Arts

by Brian Smith, photographer; Robin Bronk, editor

What allowed Taye Diggs to find his identity, sustained Tony Bennett through a Depression-era childhood and represents love to Spike Lee? These are just three of the famous performers and filmmakers who speak to the life-altering power of art, their personal testimonies juxtaposed alongside photographic portraits by Brian Smith. Although Art & Soul is filled with celebrities, Smith's skill at portraiture is the real star attraction. He forgoes glamour and ornamentation in favor of frank, intimate shots that allow the subjects' personalities to shine. From Anne Hathaway's assertion that art is hope to Patricia Arquette's plea to support the arts for underprivileged children, Art and Soul is an affirmation of art's ability to inspire, heal and direct our lives, and is sure to delight everyone from portraiture connoisseur to philanthropist to coffee table book lover. --Jaclyn Fulwood, graduate assistant, University of Oklahoma Libraries

Discover: A celebration of the arts through a collection of intimate celebrity portraits.

Filipacchi Publishing, $40, hardcover, 9781936297467

Vampire Art Now

by Jasmine Becket-Griffith , Matthew David Beckett

The vampire is "one of the most powerful avatars of our fears and our dreams," Rachel Caine (author of the Morganville Vampires series) observes in her introduction, and Vampire Art Now is loaded with dozens of different takes on their archetypal resonance. From portraits of Hammer film icons Christopher Lee and Ingrid Pitt to near-cherubic Keane-eyed waifs with fangs poking out from their lips, from lesbian lovers to savage, snarling beasts, there's a vampire to suit everyone's taste (especially if your taste runs toward goth, high fantasy or blood-drenched gore). The artwork ranges from simple black-and-white drawings to lush paintings, polymer sculptures and digitally manipulated photographs, and each illustration is accompanied by a paragraph from the artist; some choose to discuss technique, while others focus on the backstories of characters they've clearly come to adore. Though not for the squeamish, Becket-Griffith and Becket's selections vividly demonstrate the genre's diversity. --Ron Hogan, founder of Beatrice.com

Discover: Whether you prefer to see the undead as elegant dandies or hungry beasts, there's bound to be a vampire here for you.

Harper Design, $29.99, hardcover, 9780062025715

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