More Beautiful Gift Books 2015
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. As you of all people know, books make great gifts and we have great books. Our Top-selling Books of 2015 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, 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
Still standing as a startling challenge to the course Western cultural history has taken, William Blake's work is difficult, inspired, beautiful, and confrontative. As he wrote, "Opposition is friendship." Leo Damrosch's new book on Blake is an excellent, accessible work filled with color and black and white illustrations. For those unfamiliar with anything past The Songs of Innocence, it is a wonderful introduction to his more mature and complex work. For those familiar with the whole gamut, it is a wonderful refresher. Either way, the book is sure to propel you into the mysterious Blakean world of art and poetry. I especially enjoyed the balanced treatment of the artwork and the poetry and how to approach each when experiencing Blake's creations. Blake was a genius, still vitally relevant and prompting, and this is a great way to take a step toward him. -- John E.
If you were wondering how to accessorize with that Victorian grouse foot gathering dust in your jewelry box, look no further: Cheap Chic has been resurrected from the fashionable crypt of yesteryear. Initially intended as a go-to guide for NYC's on-a-budget art crowd, Cheap Chic's zine aesthetic and hopelessly kitsch photo captions are a real treat. You'll get more than a few laughs out of this fashion tome -- with a large focus on classics and building personal style, it turns out this is still a relevant guide for livening up your wardrobe. Personal favorite credo in the book: Fran Liebowitz describing her style as "Grouchy Simplicity." -- Katherine D.
I've been somewhat obsessed with Mexico the past year, so it is not too surprising that this book would fall into my hands at some point. Based on a 2010 exhibition at the Museo Valenciano de la Illustración y la Modernidad in Valencia, Spain, the broad selection of illustrative art (with over 300 prints) -- ranging from propaganda printers in support of the Mexican Revolution, to illustrations for children's books, socialist essays, and a variety of novels (literary & dime-store) -- is also a surprisingly focused introduction. What has dazzled me most about Mexican literature has been its willingness to dip and dabble in many streams at once -- a truly aesthetic cosmopolitanism, picking through the old, from near & far, while proudly inhabiting the present -- and I'm struck by how this is on display in these illustrations as well. By far, my favorite art book of the year. Some of the artists represented included Diego Rivera, Ramón Alva de la Canal, Jean Charlot, Miguel Covarrbuias, Dr. Atl, Carlos Mérida, Gabriel Fernández Ledesma, and Leopoldo Méndez. -- Brad J.
Seven little squiggles on the cover of this book represent one of the most recognizable cartoon characters in the whole world: Charlie Brown. This isn't a collection of Peanuts comic strips like so many previous books, but a look at the creative process of the man behind these beloved characters. Charles M. Schulz felt that the key to cartooning was to take out the extraneous details and leave in only what's necessary. This book shows us what he meant by that and how he accomplished it. Starting from its beginning sixty-five years ago, it explores the origins of the Peanuts comic-strip using rare and unpublished original art and developmental work. This is a book that those of us of a certain age who grew up with these characters will want to explore in detail from front to back and then start over again. -- Alan D.
This book of almost 200 portraits proves that it's hard to hop with a mask on. In this reprint of the 1959 classic, photographer Philip Halsman admits that thinking of the subjects who sat for him "B.J." (Before Jumpology) can make him sad. The portraits of legends and leaders of the time (mid-jump, of course) are as delightful as Halsman's affectionate study of his self-proclaimed "genius" practice of Jumpology. A great gift for the photographer/history buff/dancer/ clown on your list. This book is really a joy. -- Annie O.
"Inside each of us is a home ready to be built..." So begins Cabin Porn: An Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere. This squat tome of homemade shelters began as an online forum for friends to build their own houses. It features chapters like, "How To Craft an Off-Grid Bunkhouse" and "How To Live Underground." Because my soul longs for a yurt in the wilderness, I am thrilled we have this book. Disclaimer: it does not come with the courage or wherewithal to actually build one. -- Mia W.
Historium: Welcome to the Museum is a virtual exhibition of world cultures that offers a truly global outlook going beyond the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian worlds by encompassing southern African, Polynesian, and other cultures. It presents 160 beautifully illustrated objects as exhibits, arranged by geography and period, ranging from sculpture, pottery, jewelry and more. The book offers a visual and educational experience that just may plant the seed for a life-long interest in archaeology and history. It is like having a personal museum that is always open. -- Rod F.