Gift Books for Everyone on Your List
It's no secret that you'll find a bunch of bibliomaniacs here at Shelf Awareness. Even if this weren't true, we'd still have to point out that books are pretty much the perfect gift. They're always the right size. A book will never make you look anything but svelte and smart. And there's a book for every type of person on the planet. But before you dip into the 20 possible presents below, let's indulge our particular affection for books about books.
Bookstore Cats (Glitterati Editions, $20) will make you a believer if you ever doubted the charm of our feline friends who hold court in independent bookshops across the U.S. and Canada. A jacketed hardcover with classic book ribbon, this edition features glorious photos of cats hard at work--greeting patrons, providing cuddle assistance when necessary, and showing their individual shops to the best advantage--as well as plenty of feline poetry, fiction and facts.
The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures (Chronicle Books, $35), with more than 200 images from the priceless archive, will add a dash of bookish class to any bibliophile's coffee table. But this volume is much more than just a pretty face. An intelligent history of both the library and the card catalog system, it accomplishes a goal set forth in the introduction, to "extend the sense of ownership and pride in our national treasures to all Americans."
Finally, 15 writers celebrate the unusual magic to be found within the walls of a bookstore in Browse: The World in Bookshops (Pushkin Press, $22). Each essay addresses a shop that holds special meaning for the author. And with such a varied list of authors--including Andrey Kurkov, Ali Smith and Juan Gabriel Vásquez--it's only natural that the pieces included will inspire, ignite and delight. --Stefanie Hargreaves, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers
From old cookbooks, Mental Floss gathered "ten tips for cooking turkey the 18th- and 19th-century way that might seem a little strange today."
Annie Proulx "gave one of the best speeches in recent memory" at this year's National Book Awards ceremony, Vulture said.
Biography & Memoir
Istanbul: Memories and the City
by Orhan Pamuk, trans. by Maureen Freely
This edition of Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely, is a deluxe, updated version of the original published in 2005. Packed with more than 400 black-and-white photographs and drawings, it is a bittersweet, melancholic ode to the city's glorious past, when it was known as Constantinople, the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Istanbul is no longer the capital but it is still the economic, cultural and historical center of Turkey, an enticing blend of East and West, straddling the Bosphorus strait, which separates Europe and Asia.
Dense and fascinating, Istanbul is an emotional and multi-layered history of the city and the author's family. Pamuk (The Red-Haired Woman) wistfully sees himself in Istanbul's chaotic streets, colorful markets, neglected gardens, decrepit palaces and intricately decorated mosques, in the "accidental grace" of the city. With intimate storytelling and stark photography, Pamuk evokes the lost grandeur and magical energy of the city, its rich past and its complicated present. --Shahina Piyarali, writer and reviewer
Discover: A deluxe, updated history of Istanbul complete with gorgeous photography and illustrations.
hardcover, 624p., 9781524732233
Paris Fashion: A Cultural History
by Valerie Steele
Paris fashion: the phrase conjures up glittering runways traversed by sleek models clad in the latest couture designs. But how did Paris become the world capital of fashion, and what factors have contributed to its long reign? Fashion critic and historian Valerie Steele first released Paris Fashion, an analysis of the city's fashion culture, in 1988. This updated third edition brings the history into the 21st century and incorporates recent fashion scholarship on Paris, along with lavish photos, paintings and full-color fashion plates from different eras.
Meticulously researched but accessible, Steele's text traces the evolution of Paris as a haute couture center, drawing on history, art, economics and social forces and artistic trends. From Louis XIV to Coco Chanel, from the mystique of la Parisienne to Paris's place in global fashion today, Steele's book is an eye-catching look at the city that remains the peak of chic. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams
Discover: Valerie Steele's updated Paris Fashion is a gorgeously illustrated, thoughtful and accessible history of the city's couture culture.
hardcover, 344p., 9781635570892
North: Finding Place in Alaska
by Julie Decker, editor
Part of the global North, home to many diverse indigenous cultures and with a rich history, Alaska is complicated and changing. In North, Anchorage Museum director Julie Decker gathers thoughtful essays and full-color photos to showcase Alaska's stunning natural beauty. She also highlights its handicrafts and material culture, the psychological effects of building a life there and the implications of change--both climatic and cultural.
The essays (several written by Decker) are meticulously researched and broad in scope. They explore the myths and stereotypes of Alaskan life and culture alongside the more nuanced, often harsher realities of both. Priscilla Naungagiaq Hensley Holthouse, an Inupiaq writer, sums up what it means to be a northerner: "in turn, brutal and beautiful, like the land itself."
Sumptuously illustrated, North features the best of Alaskan indigenous crafts as well as art made by natives and visitors, always with a deep sense of the land's past and its future. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams
Discover: A gorgeously illustrated collection of essays on the rich, complicated realities of life and culture in Alaska.
Anchorage Museum/Univ. of Washington Press,
paperback, 304p., 9780295741840
Business & Economics
The Kinfolk Entrepreneur: Ideas for Meaningful Work
by Nathan Williams
Using slick design and trendy photography, Danish lifestyle magazine (and book publisher) Kinfolk focuses on dashing trailblazers around the world. The Kinfolk Entrepreneur peeks into the lives of 40 young creatives across 16 countries who have launched their own businesses. They represent the professional occupations of architects, publishers, gallerists and especially designers--but also a few outliers, including a New York City confectioner and Stockholm perfumer. The latter, heavily tattooed Ben Gorham, gave up a pro basketball career in Sweden to sniff out fragrances and design luxury goods. The entrepreneurs are introduced with short bios and business histories, but the meat of their stories is in the photo spreads of their offices, studios, shops--and their photogenic selves. This is classy eye candy for those who want to cut their own path. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.
Discover: Kinfolk looks inside the lives and work of a global mix of young maverick professionals.
hardcover, 368p., 9781579657581
Essays & Criticism
Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes
by Edith Hamilton
Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes is one of the seminal compendiums of classical Greek and Roman stories of the 20th century. And it has long been used as a textbook in schools. Now a 75th-anniversary edition features a new design as well as colored plates by illustrator Jim Tierney. Throughout Mythology, Hamilton condenses various texts into fluid stories about the ancient heroes and gods of the Mediterranean. Beautifully laid out, the book is a perfect gift for lovers of mythology who aren't interested in digging into the ancient texts themselves (teenagers are a perfect fit, since the writing level is a little complex for younger readers). --Noah Cruickshank, adult engagement manager, the Field Museum, Chicago, Ill.
Discover: This reissue of Edith Hamilton's classic Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes is a gorgeous compendium of Greco-Roman stories.
Black Dog & Leventhal,
hardcover, 384p., 9780316438520
The Annotated African American Folktales
by Henry Louis Gates Jr., Maria Tatar, editors
In her rich introduction, Maria Tatar explains that the Annotated African American Folktales "aims to capture stories from times past... as collective forms of cultural expression." She acknowledges the scribes, journalists, authors and storytellers who transformed early performances--which many repudiated because of their associations with slavery--into written word, allowing them to live on as part of the country's literary canon. This collection offers history, literary and sociology buffs a robust assortment of tales, myths and legends that entertain, instruct and inspire, from early African stories, such as the Anansi legends, through Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus tales to Caribbean and Latin American folklore. This beautiful anthology, complete with full-color illustrations and supplemental text as fascinating as the stories themselves, is a colossal gem for any reader. --Jen Forbus, freelancer
Discover: Tales, myths and legends that define the African American cultural legacy are packaged with brilliant illustrations and thoughtful annotations in this monumental anthology.
hardcover, 752p., 9780871407535
Science Is Beautiful: Disease and Medicine: Under the Microscope
by Colin Salter
Who knew that deadly diseases, viruses and bacteria found in humans and animals--along with medications used to treat foreign invaders--could look so striking when ultra-magnified? Colin Salter (Science Is Beautiful: The Human Body Under the Microscope) presents more than 125 stunning microphotographs and short, informative text passages that capture the defense mechanisms of compromised immune systems and counteractive antidotes. Light and electron micrographs are enhanced with additional color to study--in fascinating, dazzling detail--the complexity of diseases and infections including hepatitis, cancer, Parkinson's, Ebola, candida and gonorrhea. Testosterone, cortisone and vitamin E, along with medicines like Viagra and aspirin, are also examined. Salter illuminates the nuances of diseases and medicine "from a safe distance," making this beautiful book appealing to inquisitive scientists, students, artists and photographers. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines
Discover: A fascinating, riveting glimpse into diseases, viruses, bacteria and medicines that affect the body.
hardcover, 192p., 9781849944410
Nature & Environment
What We See in the Stars: An Illustrated Tour of the Night Sky
by Kelsey Oseid
Kelsey Oseid rekindles the magic of stargazing in this beautifully drawn edition that mixes scientific fact with the Greek and Roman mythology. In What We See in the Stars, Oseid gives readers an abbreviated tour of the night sky, from the stars that make up the 88 known constellations to planets, solar systems and the lesser-known celestial phenomena that lie in deep space. She covers Ptolemy's original 48 constellations in detail and offers an overview of the Milky Way, including the reasons why Pluto is no longer considered a planet. What makes this book so compelling is the storytelling; it's a yin-and-yang of reason and emotional longing that reflects the role human perception has had and continues to play in mapping the night sky. Handpainted illustrations in sparkly blue-and-silver packaging add to the book's charms and enhance the storytelling, to making it equally appealing to both children and adults.
"After all, it's our own stories we've been reading in the stars all along." --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant
Discover: Kelsey Oseid mixes the science of the night sky and mythology that defines how we see the stars.
Ten Speed Press,
hardcover, 160p., 9780399579530
The Naturalist's Notebook: An Observation Guide and 5-Year Calendar Journal for Tracking Changes in the Natural World Around You
by Bernd Heinrich, Nathaniel T. Wheelwright
How often do you literally stop and smell the roses? According to The Naturalist's Notebook, probably not often enough. With this as your guide, you'll develop the resources to be in tune with nature year after year.
Co-authors Nathaniel T. Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich encourage mindfulness, curiosity and respect for Mother Nature as ways to explore your natural surroundings. Once you learn to be observant, you can recognize nature's rhythm every year. Have daffodils been blooming? When do birds begin their migration south? By recording noteworthy events over time, you learn how to make sense of your observations and use them to develop new knowledge, including recognizing environmental changes. Bernd Heinrich's lovely illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to Wheelwright's thoughtful guidance. Journal entries encourage naturalists to take note of significant natural events, allowing for a five-year retrospective that documents nature in all of its glory. --Frank Brasile, selection librarian, writer, editor
Discover: This delightful resource for connecting with nature will please children and adults alike.
hardcover, 208p., 9781612128894
A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Wild Gatherings
by Matt Sewell
"We as humans are romantic poets at heart," says illustrator Matt Sewell. In the introduction to A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Wild Gatherings, he muses on the urge to name what we see in nature, and the elaborate labels we choose as collective nouns. Consider, for example, a skein of geese and a fever of stingrays. For each entry in this handsome volume, Sewell's enchanting artwork brings the animal kingdom to life in a way that is just as quirky as the names they bear. And for the grammar geek, he explores a bit of the etymology and context as well. About a business of ferrets, he writes, "The broadly used term 'business' is actually a mistranslation of 'busyness.' As anyone can attest, ferrets are much more busy... than they are businesslike." For the nature lover, the word nerd and the eccentric who has everything, A Charm of Goldfinches is an offbeat treat. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness
Discover: Matt Sewell's illustrated guide to the fauna of the world focuses on creatures with idiosyncratic English collective nouns.
Ten Speed Press,
hardcover, 144p., 9780399579394
Reference & Writing
This Is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information
by Kyle Cassidy
Kyle Cassidy (War Paint: Tattoo Culture & the Armed Forces) proved in a 2014 Slate photo essay that the tweed-armored, bun-headed, shushing librarian stereotype bears little resemblance to the passionate professionals working in today's field of information science. He now offers an expanded look at the faces and voices of modern librarians.
This new compilation features more than 200 portraits of librarians and archivists of every age and skin color--with hair ranging from grey to rainbow-dyed, and the occasional tattoo or piercing--accompanied by their explanations of what they do and why the field remains vibrant and vital. Cassidy also includes his own essays on a few standout stories, including one library's smash hit American Girl doll-lending program. Celebrity contributors such as George R.R. Martin and Cory Doctorow add their thoughts on the wonder and necessity of libraries. Give Cassidy's encore to library lovers--or anyone in need of convincing. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services manager, Main Branch, Dayton Metro Library
Discover: An expansion of the Slate essay by the same name, Cassidy's compilation of photos, interview excerpts and essays makes a passionate case for libraries.
Black Dog & Leventhal,
hardcover, 240p., 9780316393980
The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated History
by Stephen Jones, editor
Horror movie buffs will find The Art of Horror Movies impossible to resist. This beautifully designed book is full of amazing, vibrant and varied artwork--more than 600 images. These include classic, iconic and rare horror movie poster art, as well as paintings and illustrations created for comic books, magazines and novelizations. Some of the most striking art comes from present-day digital artists who salute and reinvent vintage horror film art.
Stephen Jones and his contributors--film critics, journalists and historians--also offer a superb, concise and opinionated overview of a century's worth of horror on celluloid. Each chapter represents one decade of horror film output, both U.S. and international films. Sprinkled throughout are appreciations of some of the genre's MVPs: actors (such as Boris Karloff and Jamie Lee Curtis), producers, directors and studios. This art book is a treat for horror film enthusiasts, and overflows with vibrant images and fascinating film lore. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant
Discover: A beautifully illustrated and knowledgably written art book celebrating 100 years of horror films.
hardcover, 256p., 9781495064845
Art & Photography
This Book Is a Planetarium: And Other Extraordinary Pop-Up Contraptions
by Kelli Anderson
This Book Is a Planetarium--as well as a musical instrument, a decoder ring, a spiralgraph and more. With a smartphone or small LED light, the galaxy comes to your living room. Graphic designer Kelli Anderson exults in the science and the art in the everyday, here playing with the powers of paper. This short but engrossing large-format book is at once an art object and a collection of teaching tools. Each page pops up and moves, dynamically demonstrating lessons from physics, geometry and astronomy. Brief explanations in small print further expand the didactic element. While the text is written for adults, not children, a little grown-up assistance (and supervision of removable parts) could make this an educational toy for all ages. Sensory play involving touch and sound as well as sight is too often left to the kids, but This Book Is a Planetarium is a physical object and absorbing interactive experience for all curious and young-at-heart readers. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia
Discover: This is a work of art, teaching tool, pop-up toy and book that will delight playful lifetime learners.
hardcover, 5p., 9781452136219
by Vincent Sardon
The Stampographer is a different kind of coffee-table book. Vincent Sardon makes rubber stamps because "the stamp is never neutral"; it generally appears as a tool of bureaucracy, but here subverts authority to play with taboo. The book's endpapers are filled with repeating middle fingers, its pages with insults, erotic and violent images, the profane and the vulgar. In an interview (the volume's only text), Sardon denies any such political motive: "My work simply reflects the world, which seems to have been created by an absolute moron."
These are evocative images and complex references to art and history, showcasing Sardon's dark, satiric, antagonistic sense of humor. He considers his stamps "both tools and works of art," and sells them only to amateurs, not artists, from a private gallery in Paris. Readers not local to Paris are lucky to get a glimpse of his work in this unrivaled art book. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia
Discover: This iconoclastic French artist's work with rubber stamps is for fans of fart jokes, the f-bomb and political satire.
hardcover, 108p., 9781938221163
Sory Sanlé: Volta Photo 1965-1985
by Sory Sanlé
To capture the dreams and fantasies of the mostly young people of Burkina Faso's second largest city, Bobo-Dioulasso, self-taught photographer Sory Sanlé launched his portrait studio, Volta Photo, in 1960. This was just as his country, known as Upper Volta until 1984, became independent of the French. Sory Sanlé: Volta Photo 1965-1985 lays out a cross-section of his striking black-and-white portraits--several featuring men and women in Western-influenced 1960s bellbottoms, cigarettes dangling from their lips and sunglasses on their noses. Against Sanlé's hand-painted backdrops, some subjects rock their Bobo Yéyé record-cover look, some are a gunslinger fantasy. Boxers, sports car drivers, Djombolai dancers--whatever his paying customers wanted, Sanlé found a way to represent. Sanlé's talent, however, makes these portraits more art than flattery, more authentic than make-believe. They embody Burkinabes at the dawn of independence. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.
Discover: In sharp black-and-white portraits, Burkino Faso commercial photographer Sory Sanlé offers a portrait of his young country's exuberance and dreams.
Reel Art Press/Morton Hill,
hardcover, 80p., 9781909526525
The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow
by Jackie Morris
Jackie Morris has created mystical and ethereal watercolor illustrations filled with polar bears dancing with women, fairies riding on the backs of snowshoe hares, giant cats, hot air balloons, birds and musical instruments of all sorts in The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow. The accompanying evocative tales tell stories of love, longing and forgiveness, of kings and their courts, and of the beauty, ugliness and cruelty of the world. Yet they leave the reader smiling and daydreaming about what happens next to the young lovers, musicians and numerous animals as they share music, wisdom and life with one another. The detailed wintery fantasy illustrations were first created as Christmas cards for Help Musicians UK and the musical theme runs through both the painting and fairy tales, creating a delightful blend suitable for children and adults. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer
Discover: A wintery fantasy world of dancing polar bears, young lovers, musicians and related tales.
hardcover, 100p., 9781910862650
Duane Michals: Portraits
by Duane Michals
After photographing iconic artists for more than 50 years, Duane Michals presents a collection of his work, some accompanied by his musings, in Portraits. Michals searches for the surprise in personalities such as Carol Burnett, Peter O'Toole and Tilda Swinton, and implores viewers to stop looking at people but into them. His subjects are often captured as reflections in mirrors or windows, clouded by smoke, or--in the case of Stephen King--peering through a spider web because "oh what a wicked web King weaves." The most moving portrait is of Michals's father, staring straight at the camera but remaining unreadable. Throughout his life, the elder Michals promised to write his son a letter but died without doing so, leaving the photographer wondering "where he had hidden his love." --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd
Discover: Many of Duane Michals' portraits from the past 50 years show icons in an inimitable light.
Thames & Hudson,
hardcover, 176p., 9780500544877
by Frans Lanting
National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting takes readers Into Africa with pictures that go beyond being gorgeous. His expert eye and camera lens capture native wildlife in moments most people probably will never witness in real life. A chameleon strikes its prey--a grasshopper--with its body-length tongue, "which happens faster than the eye can see." A creepy-looking nocturnal lemur--called an aye-aye and known in Malagasy folklore as "a harbinger of death"--eats a coconut by "scooping out flesh with its bony fingers." The heartbreaking close-up of a zebra's green eye reflects the trophy hunters who killed it right before the picture was taken. Lanting's arresting photos, taken in locations including Madagascar, the Congo and Serengeti Plains, showcase the beauty, tragedy and circle of life. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd
Discover: National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting captures rarely seen moments in African wildlife.
Earth Aware Editions,
hardcover, 224p., 9781608878895
Firecrackers: Female Photographers Now
by Max Houghton, Fiona Rogers
In his foreword to Firecrackers, co-author Max Houghton explains that "how things are seen has a monumental effect on how they are then known or understood." But the perspective of men has long been photography's dominant view. Firecrackers displays the work of 33 phenomenally talented female photographers from around the globe, exploring the optical angle on their environments. From Australian-Singaporean Ying Ang's tension-filled Gold Coast series to Afghan-American Behnaz Babazadeh's politically charged Edible Burka collection and Belgian Bieke Depoorter's brave Ou Menya ("with you") project, contemporary women are creating meaningful art. Firecrackers presents their visual creations in stunning color, allowing all the style, technique and outlook to burst from the page. Art fans--especially photography buffs--will covet this powerful compilation of images and spend hours studying its pages. --Jen Forbus, freelancer
Discover: A mesmerizing collection of photography from 33 of the world's most talented female photographers will entice all art lovers.
Thames & Hudson,
hardcover, 240p., 9780500544747
Chip Kidd: Book Two: Work: 2007-2017
by Chip Kidd
Chip Kidd, graphic designer and associate art director at esteemed publisher Alfred A. Knopf, said in a recent Shelf Awareness interview, "I have been so lucky to work with such a diverse group of writers and cartoonists who come from so many unrelated backgrounds. I would say the common thread is that they're all great at what they do, and I just hope I can contribute in some small way to that."
He certainly has. He's justifiably famous for his book covers; Chip Kidd: Book Two showcases stunning dust jackets, along with movie posters, magazine covers, CD art, graphic novels and book illustrations. Particularly enjoyable are Kidd's notes about each composition--inspiration, research, process, and completion. This is the perfect gift for book lovers and artists. --Marilyn Dahl
Discover: Chip Kidd's art, particularly his iconic book covers, are well showcased in this second volume covering the most recent decade of his work.
hardcover, 320p., 9780847860081