Okay, so the holidays are coming and they are coming fast! We are passionate, informed, helpful, expert booksellers one and all, ready to recommend the best books for whosoever you want to buy books for. As you of all people know, books make great gifts and we have great books. Our Topselling Books of 2011 are on display to help you remember what books you loved this year (or didn't get to yet), along with hosts of beautiful new gift books such as those reviewed below. Signed books, fine books, holiday cards, calendars, great writing, and beautiful art books and cookbooks are lining our shelves. Come on in, and have fun picking out presents for your loved ones and supporting one of the businesses that makes your community whole.
We wish you a great holiday season and wonderful reading!
John & all Dieselfolk
Pilgrimage by Annie Leibovitz is not Whoopi Goldberg in a tub of milk! The photographs in Pilgrimage are unstaged and depict images that are meaningful to Leibovitz, most of which are American and convey a deep sense of cultural identity. Subjects include Emily Dickinson's house, Beth Alcott's homemade rag dolls, Eleanor Roosevelt's desk, Sigmund Freud's couch and bookshelves filled with volumes of The Study of the Psychology of Sex, Elvis's birthplace and Graceland, and Niagara Falls. The images are interspersed with anecdotes and histories of the photographs and Leibovitz's own journal of the pilgrimage, making this a wonderful gift for U.S. history buffs, artists, photographers, bibliophiles, coffee table owners... -- Mia Wigmore
Phaidon spent 10 years researching and assembling this 1,000-page overview of art. The Art Museum is intended as a virtual collection, with over 2,500 works from the beginning of recorded history until the present presented in beautiful high-resolution images. This is the final word on comprehensive art books and would make an extraordinary gift for a life-long collector or a budding art history enthusiast. The Art Museum's tremendously curated selection from an international team of academics and experts is lovingly presented in extremely well-made material, and arranged according to category, location, and style, mimicking an imaginary museum. The perfect gift! -- Cameron Carlson
Miles Davis' Kind of Blue is the album most common to the widest array of music collections. This new book of Diebenkorn's deserves to be the art book equivalent, in the widest array of personal libraries. Though profoundly Californian in its history, style, and subject matter, like the paintings themselves the book probes so deeply that it hits a near-universal ground. This is a beautiful book accompanying the exhibit of the same name and is an instant documentary treasure. (Currently at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the exhibit comes to the Orange County Museum of Art from February 26 to May 27 of 2012.)
Diebenkorn's influence, not just on Northern and Southern Californian but also national and international artists, is inestimable. Perhaps the crowning achievement of his astonishing life's work, The Ocean Park Series embodies the 20th century in a way shared only by Picasso and perhaps (as Peter Schjeldahl asserts) Willem de Kooning.
Exquisitely presented with cloth covers and a dropped in reproduction of Ocean Park #43 on the front, it includes reproductions of the paintings on wood, cigar boxes, and canvas which are in the exhibit, along with richly informative and thoughtful essays by Sarah C. Bancroft, Susan Landauer, and Peter Levitt. My favorite art book of the year: get it while you can. -- John Evans
With so many beautiful cookbooks available it would be tempting to make a purchase based on looks alone. The Food52 Cookbook could be easily overlooked amidst the rainbow of book spines, but its innocuous cover belies the contents. These recipes are the tried and true winning entries of a year-long contest created by Food52.com, an online community comprised of home cooks. The book is divided by seasons and broken down into weeks which makes it easy to find a recipe that correlates with what is fresh and readily available. You'll never be at a loss when wanting to try something new, and each recipe is accompanied by helpful tips and charming, informative commentary. From cocktails to dessert and everything in between, it's in here. Call me practical, but this is a gift that the recipient will actually use and appreciate. Who knows, you might even get invited to dinner! -- Cheryl Ryan
Was there ever a more perfect gift book for the optometrists, opticians, or nerdy fashion lovers in your life than this? Having once been an optician myself, I was enthralled to see that someone had finally written a book, not only about the history of spectacles (now termed "eyewear"), but also about the rise of the cult brands, and the very people who made certain brands or styles famous. Such as Peter Fonda with his Ray-Bans in the movie Easy Rider; or, think about if there had been no Beatles: would we ever have had that phase of those round metal specs that John Lennon made famous? Even Winston Churchill is one to have been identified by his glasses. Author Neil Handley explains how these genius medical devices have become a "must have" fashion statement and accessory. Fans of Christian Dior, Ray-Ban, Neostyle, and Carrera will enjoy perusing this hip coffee table or optician's office fashion book over and over again. -- Linda Grana
I could waste a thousand words telling you why I love Kate Beaton's hilarious literary, historical, and nonsense comics. Instead I'll just stick to saying: I love them. SO MUCH. And then I will turn this over to Kate herself, with some of my favorite examples of her work, all featured in the attractively bound and wonderfully browsable new collection released by Drawn and Quarterly. Because how can you resist Dude Watchin' With the Brontes? The Case of the Two Watsons and Another Case of Watsons? Jules Verne and Edgar Allen Poe, Bros? Or 15th Century Peasant Romance Comics? They are the best. Click on those five links and tell me they aren't worth 5,000 words (as I believe the exchange rate goes) or more. With your savings, you can then do as I have done, and give this book to all your friends. -- Anna Kaufman
This is an elegant gift for the die-hard, salts-huffing, Darcy-tattoo-touting Jane Austen fan. Persuasion is probably the most interesting candidate for an annotated edition because it is her last work, sent to press after her death, the original manuscript long lost. The running commentary on each page, in footnotes and pictures, enhances the reading of Austen's most personal and intricate novel, providing background, definitions, and explanations that clarify otherwise lost allusions and antiquated context. Robert Morrison guides the reader through the text like the best possible English teachers, lending a new dimension to an already great work of fiction. Aesthetically, the volume is both a deluxe hardback and a coffee table book, with beautiful color illustrations and heavy pages, perfect for all the Janeites on your list. -- Sus Long
Incredibly, The Phantom Tollbooth has just celebrated its 50th year in print. Three generation of readers have been hooked from the moment young Milo climbs into a tiny electric car, passes through the tollbooth, and enters the realm of Dictionopolis. We meet characters like Fairly Macabre, the not-so-wicked Which, and Tock the watchdog that ticks -- and the puns and wordplay come fast and furious. This new celebratory edition has homages in the back from Michael Chabon, Philip Pullman, Suzanne Collins, Mo Willems, Jeanne Birdsall, and a host of others. Birdsall (The Penderwicks) swears she was the first kid (in 1961) to read it and that after that everyone just copied her. Chabon describes multiple generations in his own family of helpless, hardcore, inveterate punsters, and how he knew that Juster truly understood him. Pullman compares the book to Carroll's Alice in stature. Collins (The Hunger Games) credits reading it as the seminal moment in her journey as a storyteller. Willems' inspired silliness is fitting tribute to Juster's imagination. This is the edition to share with children, and for adults who want the behind the scenes story of its creation, the annotated edition is a feast. -- Margaret Simpson