Let's Get Gifting!
Yes, it's that time of year, when thoughts turn to presents and your to-do list no longer fits on a sticky note. Never fear, books are here! Be the holiday hero and buy gifts at your local independent bookstore, where there's a title for everyone, passionate booksellers ready to assist and no one will judge you if the final receipt includes a few things for yourself. We've got 15 titles reviewed below to get you started. But first, three that beg a bit of extra attention.
The Global Economy as You've Never Seen It: 99 Ingenious Infographics That Put It All Together (The Experiment, $35) is gloriously big, both in format and scope. Fit for coffee-table display, it's so much more, breaking down the national and global economy with clever, colorful and illuminating infographics--something we all could use in today's world of vague headlines and often contradictory economic news.
Author Nathan Williams shines the spotlight on those who often work behind the scenes in The Eye: How the World's Most Influential Creative Directors Develop Their Vision (Artisan, $45). Asking "what defines a creative director? Who are these trailblazers and dilettantes and how do they develop their vision?" the book features more than 90 influencers from worlds of fashion, entertainment and publishing. Black-and-white photographs accompany the prose, making for insightful and visually stunning portraits that will appeal to creative individuals in search of inspiration and sage advice.
In Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany (Chronicle, $24.95), artist Jane Mount embraces all things bookish in an absolutely charming volume that will delight book lovers of all stripes. "The goal of this book is to triple the size of your To Be Read pile," Mount writes in the introduction. Gorgeous illustrations, thematically linked and annotated book stacks, literary quizzes, recommendations from writers, editors, booksellers, librarians and more--lots more--guarantee Mount will meet her goal and then some. --Stefanie Hargreaves, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers
Rediscover: Banana Yoshimoto
Banana Yoshimoto, pen name of Japanese writer Mahoko Yoshimoto, is one of Japan's most popular authors. Banana was born in 1964 to a literary family. While pursuing a literature degree at Nihon University's Art College, she picked the pseudonym Banana to reflect her love of banana flowers and to remain androgynous. Her debut novel, Kitchen (1988), received widespread acclaim (it has since been printed more than 60 times in Japan alone). It was not published in English until 1993, after which Banana found fast fame in the United States. Her 12 novels and seven essay collections have sold more than six million copies.
The majority of Banana's books have not been translated into English, and many that have are now out of print. On September 18, Grove Press tallied three Banana reprints: Lizard ($16, 9780802124395), Amita (9780802124135) and N.P. (9780802124425). Lizard contains six short stories that blend traditional and popular Japanese culture into tales of young men and women struggling among modernity. In Amita, a woman with memory loss must cope with the recent death of her celebrity sister. N.P. also begins with a death--the suicide of a famous writer, who leaves behind a story, written in English, that he has forbidden being published in Japan. Perhaps, like her namesake, Banana is best enjoyed in bunches. --Tobias Mutter
Tintin: The Art of Hergé
by Michel Daubert, Hergé Museum
Tintin first burst onto the scene in 1929 as a serialized comic strip in Le Petit Vingtième, the children's supplement of Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle, and it became one of the most popular comics of the 20th century. The genius behind Tintin's creation was Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, better known as Hergé. His pioneering use of ligne claire ("clear line"), a drawing style that employs no cross-hatching, inspired the bold architectural design of the Musée Hergé, which is dedicated to his life and art.
Tintin: The Art of Hergé is a remarkable sampling of published and unpublished pieces culled from the museum's extensive collection. These pieces provide insight and perspective on Hergé's prolific career, highlighting the depths and sophistication of his artistry. Hergé "was a self-taught man forced to grapple with his own creation" that "began with a simple idea, which swelled, little by little, to become a great river." Nearly a century later, Tintin continues to influence artists and attract fans. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant
Discover: This beautiful gallery on paper celebrates the life and works of the popular Belgian cartoonist Hergé.
paperback, 480p., 9781419732751
Biography & Memoir
Writers: Their Lives and Works
Looking for a gift for an English major? Brushing up to be a Jeopardy! contestant? DK's Writers: Their Lives and Works should help one ace the "Notable Writers Throughout History" category. The reference guide is divided into six chapters, covering authors in chronological order. The first chapter is "Pre-19th Century"--Dante Alighieri, William Shakespeare, Voltaire, et al.--and the final one is "Writing Today," featuring Toni Morrison, John Updike and Cormac McCarthy, among others.
Each author is showcased with a portrait or picture, a bio summarizing his or her early life and career, and the inspirations that sparked the author's most famous works. There's interesting trivia along the way, like Haruki Murakami claiming his improvisational writing is shaped by jazz--he never knows what the next page will bring. Writers could use more profiles of female writers of color, but it offers a crash course in some of the most important figures in literary history. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd
Discover: This literary reference guide profiles some of the most eminent writers in history.
hardcover, 360p., 9781465474773
Underground Worlds: A Guide to Subterranean Places
by David Farley
In Underground Worlds, David Farley explores buried places across the globe. "The motivations behind creating subterranean worlds are as diverse as the cultures they come from," writes Farley in the introduction--and indeed, the sites on display here are a reflection of that statement.
Broken into five sections, these geographical locations span the ancient (Istanbul's Basilica Cistern, one of the largest Roman relics on the planet), very old (Biete Amanuel, one of 11 underground churches in Ethiopia) and modern (the Lowline, an underground park in New York City). There are more than 50 places featured here, and they include tunnels and caves, temples and restaurants, hideouts and museums. Each is accompanied by a short essay and full-color photography and is interesting in its own right. Together, they are an invitation to revel in feats of modern and ancient engineering and architecture. Underground Worlds is a reminder to consider what lives beneath the ground as we travel the earth--be it in person or in books. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm
Discover: An armchair traveler's fascinating guide to subterranean places around the world highlights underground tunnels, caves, museums, restaurants, temples and more.
Black Dog & Leventhal,
hardcover, 240p., 9780316514026
Writers and Their Cats
by Alison Nastasi
It's almost a literary cliché: the writer bent over a typewriter or scribbling madly at a desk, with a cat or two curled up nearby. Many writers have paid homage to cats in poetry (T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats) and prose (the multiplying litters of mysteries featuring feline detectives). Journalist Alison Nastasi (Artists and Their Cats), herself a cat lover, has collected photos and stories of 45 cat-fancying writers in the aptly named Writers and Their Cats.
Arranged in alphabetical order by author's first name, Nastasi's brief essays detail the affection these writers have for their feline companions, each with an accompanying photo. The selection includes several well-known cat lovers (Ernest Hemingway earns the title of "unrivalled cat dad"), as well as more contemporary authors like Marlon James. Full of charming anecdotes and feline whimsy, this collection is catnip for lit nerds. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams
Discover: Alison Nastasi's second collection celebrates the bonds of affection between writers and their cats.
hardcover, 112p., 9781452164571
Reference & Writing
The Third QI Book of General Ignorance
by James Harkin, John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, Andrew Hunter Murray
From the minds behind the British quiz show QI (for Quite Interesting), The Third QI Book of General Ignorance is a hilarious tome of trivia. With factoids about pyramids, corrections of erroneous quotes and deft explanations about the history of hovercrafts, the book jovially rectifies the reader's assumptions about how the world works. Chapters are framed by a question ("How many sphincters do you have?" for example), followed by a page and a half of explanation that often presents facts on half a dozen other topics as well. The whole book maintains a fun, loose feeling, as if one is skimming through Wikipedia with friends (and with a few drinks). Fans of trivia will love learning what they've gotten wrong over the years (no need to have consulted its prequels to enjoy this one fully), as will anyone who's interested in learning more strange, arcane things about the world. --Noah Cruickshank, adult engagement manager, the Field Museum, Chicago, Ill.
Discover: A trivia book pairing fun with facts, The Third QI Book of General Ignorance is a perfect stocking stuffer for those who like to spout the most outrageous information they can find.
Faber & Faber,
hardcover, 320p., 9780571308989
Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of '80s and '90s Teen Fiction
by Gabrielle Moss
Bustle features editor Gabrielle Moss (Glop: Non-Toxic, Expensive Ideas That Will Make You Look Ridiculous and Feel Pretentious) gleefully explores a literary juggernaut of the '80s and '90s: the YA paperback series.
Moss takes readers back to the pastel covers, triple-digit volume numbers and gonzo plot devices from the days of gen-X and millennial youth. With ample cover images to jog the memory, Moss reminisces about romance series like Wildfire; the female friendships of various "club" seriesl and the spine-tingling thrillers and chillers that brought readers sexy vampires years before Twilight came along. Heavyweights Sweet Valley and the Baby-Sitters Club figure prominently, but Moss features a wide array of staples and curiosities alike.
Sassy and educational, Moss's survey will have nostalgic hearts aflutter. Paperback Crush will make the perfect keepsake for anyone who learned to read in school but became a reader thanks to Jessica Wakefield or Kristy Thomas. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services manager, main branch, Dayton Metro Library
Discover: Bustle editor Gabrielle Moss takes a funny, educational tour of the paperback series voraciously devoured by teens of the '80s and '90s.
paperback, 256p., 9781683690788
The Book of Extraordinary Deaths: True Accounts of Ill-Fated Lives
by Cecilia Ruiz
Illustrator Cecilia Ruiz navigates readers through a graveyard of bizarrely ironic and often darkly humorous demises in The Book of Extraordinary Deaths. Presented in chronological order from the seventh century B.C. to the present, the lights are extinguished from the famous and infamous alike, all in noteworthy fashion. Karma makes a flashy appearance in more than one of the peculiar obituaries, while other unfortunates have less dramatic but no less unusual fates. Dancing to death, braining by eagle, drowning in hot molasses and losing in a cockfight are among the unfortunate ends Ruiz highlights, with correlating illustrations that would make Edward Gorey and Charles Addams proud. Mystery and crime readers are sure to enjoy this engrossing and morbidly entertaining collection. Those who revel in quirky trivia will also find this assemblage of outrageous epitaphs a real scream. --Jen Forbus, freelancer
Discover: Weird and wild deaths throughout history chronicled and enhanced with provocative art for those who appreciate Fate's oddities.
Blue Rider Press,
hardcover, 80p., 9780399184048
Art & Photography
The Writer's Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands
by Huw Lewis-Jones, editor
In The Writer's Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands, historian Huw Lewis-Jones offers a collection of essays by authors, illustrators and designers as they ruminate on processes of reading, writing and creating, as well as the link between map and story. They consider maps in two and three dimensions, sketches, stories and outlines that live only in the writer's mind, and argue that creating maps, like creating stories, is essentially an act of compression, a set of choices about what to leave out.
Contributors include Robert Macfarlane, David Mitchell, Lev Grossman, Joanne Harris, Philip Pullman and the graphic artists for the Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings movies. Literary references in this gorgeously designed, detailed coffee-table book begin with Kerouac, Tolkien, Twain and Thoreau, and visit Treasure Island, The Wind in the Willows and so many more. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia
Discover: This delightful, engrossing exploration is for every reader who's ever admired a book or a map, let alone both.
University of Chicago Press,
hardcover, 256p., 9780226596631
Windsor Castle: A Thousand Years of a Royal Palace
by Steven Brindle, editor
British history buffs and devotees of the royal family will enjoy this opportunity to place the queen's beloved weekend home in its historical and architectural context. Windsor Castle: A Thousand Years of a Royal Palace is a splendid collection of 600 photographs, drawings, commissioned oil paintings of kings and queens, watercolors and 3D reconstructions that bring the enchanting royal residence to life. From William the Conqueror, who built the castle in the 11th century, to the kings and queens who raised their families there, Windsor Castle provides a sense of continuity to the royal family, the queen's subjects across the United Kingdom and her admirers around the globe.
Queen Victoria proposed to Prince Albert at Windsor Castle; King Edward VIII delivered his abdication speech there; and, more recently, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex held their fairytale wedding at the St. George's Chapel inside. As permanent and indestructible as England itself, the 1,000-year-old Windsor Castle continues to adapt as a new generation of princes and princesses adopt the queen's weekend residence as their home away from home. --Shahina Piyarali, writer and reviewer
Discover: A marvelous, richly illustrated historical overview of Windsor Castle and the kings and queens of the House of Windsor.
Royal Collection Trust,
hardcover, 560p., 9781909741249
The Lost Words
by Robert MacFarlane, illus. by Jackie Morris
Art, verse and nature are combined with entertaining elegance in The Lost Words. Word collector Robert Macfarlane and illustrator Jackie Morris team up to bridge a gap created by a new Oxford Junior Dictionary edition that drops words such as otter, willow and dandelion to make way for blog, broadband and voice-mail.
The Lost Words is a challenge to the loss of natural world language and an educational tribute to vocabulary and the environment. Each of 20 words graces three open-faced sections, moving from letters "hidden" within a single element of nature (i.e., ferns), transitioning to a descriptive acrostic verse and full-page image of the subject (an adder), finishing with a stunning confluence of the two (adder snake and ferns in the surroundings they share). This large, quality hardcover allows words and watercolor to shine and results in a work that can be left open at any page to stunning affect. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review
Discover: A visual and linguistic tribute to words falling from use as technological terms supplant those describing the natural world.
hardcover, 128p., 9781487005382
Craft the Rainbow: 40 Colorful Paper Projects from the House That Lars Built
by Brittany Watson Jepsen
American designer, crafter, blogger and Instagram sensation Brittany Watson Jepsen shares her imaginative design work and passion for color by assembling lively and original artistic projects that rely on the creative power of paper. Step-by-step, detailed instructions accompany beautifully presented and photographed designs organized by hues, along with 16 crafts that use all colors of the rainbow. Personal stories, quotes and sections on paper styles and folding techniques, tools and supplies, color theory and color stories, and templates for various projects are also included. Some projects are simple: Drinking Straw Party Crowns and quirky Cupcake Liner Shoe Clips. Others are more ambitious and time-consuming: a Dala Horse Piñata and a Boucherouite Tissue Paper Rug. Both seasoned crafters and newcomers will find oodles of colorful inspiration. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines
Discover: A noted designer who has become an Instagram sensation shares a clever array of paper craft projects that burst with color.
hardcover, 192p., 9781419729003
Contact Warhol: Photography Without End
by Peggy Phelan , Richard Meyer
There are few modern artists whose work is as recognizable as that of Andy Warhol. But the 20th-century pop icon's art goes beyond Campbell's soup cans and psychedelic Marilyn Monroe portraits. Always a prolific photographer, Warhol took more than 130,000 pictures in the last decade of his life, but many remained unexposed until now.
In Contact Warhol, Stanford University faculty Peggy Phelan and Richard Meyer present previously unpublished contact sheets (photographic paper that contain the negatives from a roll of film) along with photographs that Warhol selected to be printed. Candid photos of celebrities and artists (Liza Minnelli, Jean-Michel Basquiat) are prominent; photos of Nancy Reagan in the White House are a surprise. Photos of debauchery at discos and gay friends in drag (or the nude) abound, trenchant essays and quotes from Warhol ("I have Social Disease. I have to go out every night") complete this portrait of a legendary artist. --Frank Brasile, librarian
Discover: Previously unpublished photos by Andy Warhol reveal the artist as a keen observer of the glamorous life.
The MIT Press,
hardcover, 232p., 9780262038997
The Book of the Horse: Horses in Art
by Angus Hyland , Caroline Roberts
For centuries, the bond between horses and humans has served as inspiration on many levels. Accomplished graphic artists and authors Angus Hyland and Caroline Roberts (The Book of the Cat) have paired notable quotes, proverbs, and horse and artist factoids with exceptional works of two-dimensional visual art. Marc Chagall's colorful Horsewoman on Red Horse gets a nod, as does Toulouse-Lautrec's dynamic painting The Jockey. More contemporary works, including Juan Lamarca's striking photographs of white horses, are featured, along with intricate, fun illustrations by Daniel Rohan Eason. It's said that riding on the back of a horse is "the nearest thing to flying that humans can experience." Perusing this elegant collection will allow the artistic appreciation of equine lovers to soar. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines
Discover: An elegant collection of art paired with prose that pays homage to the beauty, grace and spirit of equines.
paperback, 160p., 9781786272928
Artists and Their Books / Books and Their Artists
by Marcia Reed, Glenn Phillips
Fans of books-as-art will be enthralled by Artists and Their Books / Books and Their Artists, a massive coffee-table book that profiles 95 artists exploring the boundaries of what a book is. Each artist gets a two-page spread illustrating their art pieces, with photos and text describing the creative process and desired effect. "The book is far from dead," writes Getty Research Institute chief curator Marcia Reed. "Rather, it is a lively and contested concept that is frequently visualized or produced as a work of art, pointedly demonstrating its cultural significance."
Among the stunning, evocative and thoughtfully curated images are Mirella Bentivoglio's book of flattened Coca-Cola cans; Andrea Bower's wildly colorful assemblage of printed ephemera from every nonprofit labor rights organizations she could find in Los Angeles; and Keith Smith's frustrating yet calming "Book 91" with string running through holes in each page. This is a thought-provoking, imaginative and thrilling art book. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant
Discover: Nearly 100 artists explore the boundaries of what a book is.
Getty Research Institute,
hardcover, 200p., 9781606065730
Alex Prager: Silver Lake Drive
by Alex Prager
"I am trying to make the world a little more interesting to me and to inspire other people, to connect." This is how photographer and filmmaker Alex Prager describes the motivation behind her work in the Silver Lake Drive collection. This coffee-table gem includes more than 100 of her "Kodachrome, technicolor" images, including Face in the Crowd, work from her films and La Grande Sortie, her Paris Opera commission. Appropriately compared with the work of Alfred Hitchcock and Edward Hopper, Prager's photographs offer thought-provoking imagery in cinematic compositions, employing grand costumes for intriguing characters. The large, glossy pages invite viewers into the scenes while the essays and interviews spread throughout the book delve deeply into the ideas and art. Alex Prager: Silver Lake Drive is a treasure for any photography aficionado. --Jen Forbus, freelancer
Discover: A treasure trove of boldly captivating images encapsulate a decade of work from a groundbreaking photographer and filmmaker.
hardcover, 224p., 9781452171579