Beautiful Gift Books 2012


Here are a few of the staggering array of beautiful books gracing the shelves of our store this season -- perfect for gift-giving. Books make great gifts and beautiful books, well, why live without them?! Come on in for all kinds of astounding art, science, history, children's, and literature books that are overflowing our shelves this holiday season. See you in the store!

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Staff Pick Logo
Joseph Cornell's Manual of Marvels: How Joseph Cornell Reinvented a French Agricultural Manual to Create an American Masterpiece Cover Image
ISBN: 9780500516492
Availability: Special Order - Please call to confirm availability
Published: Thames & Hudson - November 5th, 2012

Joseph Cornell was a mid-century surrealist artist best known for his mixed media shadow boxes and collages. He was a bit of an eccentric and worked out of the basement of the house he shared with his mother and brother in Utopia Parkway, NY. Cornell was always on the lookout for books and bits of ephemera to incorporate into his art and had amassed quite a collection by the time of his death in 1972. It was at this time that the Journal d'Agriculture Practique was stumbled upon in his belongings. This unassuming book could have been easily overlooked, but what lay inside were hidden works of art. Cornell spent years slowly transforming select pages of the text, carefully cutting out shapes or images to allow glimpses of pages beneath to peer through. He crossed out passages and added text to create puns. Turn a random page and you will discover a collage that could range from whimsical to macabre. This box set contains a facsimile of the book that includes colored images, tipped in work, and origami. There is also a collection of essays that are a companion to the facsimile and an interactive CD that allows you to leaf through every page and examine images close-up -- almost as though you were holding it your lap. -- Cheryl Ryan

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The Anatomy of Type: A Graphic Guide to 100 Typefaces Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062203120
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Design - November 13th, 2012

Much like Simon Garfield's Just My Type, Stephen Coles' The Anatomy of Type is a surprisingly accessible book that will appeal to anyone with even a passing interest in typography. Each two-page spread is dedicated to a single typeface, and, true to its title, the book offers a close-up mapping of the quirks and peculiarities of strokes, apertures, and terminals that make up what we read. Divided into type families such as Humanist Serif, Gothic Sans, and Script, and with a clear and precise introduction (to type in general, and each typeface in particular), this is an easy-to-use guide that rewards both light browsing and intensive study, and makes a great companion to the massive Encyclopaedia of Typefaces. As a gift, it serves as equal parts information and inspiration for graphic artists, designers, and anyone with an appreciation for the subtleties of lettering. -- John Peck

Staff Pick Logo
Monumental Venice Cover Image
ISBN: 9780865653016
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Vendome Press - October 1st, 2012

Okay, so I am planning to go back to Venice this February for Carnivale, first time back since 1978! And, being a bookish sort, I have been reading the new translation by Stephen Sartarelli of Venetian Gabriel d'Annunzio's prose poem Notturno, published by Yale. But what has really grabbed my eye? Monumental Venice, with photography by Jacques Boulay, published by Vendome Press. Panoramic views of Venice landmarks and places, piazzas and vistas, famous and obscure -- all presented in lush full-page spreads. The 12x18-inch format makes for beautiful, wide, two-page views of canals and long shots of the coastlines, allowing you to drop right into the landscape. It is a truly immersive book, an impressive gift, and ideal for the coffee table, or the soon-to-be traveller. -- John Evans

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On This Earth, A Shadow Falls Cover Image
ISBN: 9781419705076
Availability: Special Order - Please call to confirm availability
Published: Harry N. Abrams - September 1st, 2012

In 2001, Nick Brandt began a photographic project that would culminate in a trilogy of books documenting the spectacular wildlife of East Africa. Depicting elephants, giraffes, lions, and gorillas, as well as the savannas they inhabit, he created two books: On This Earth (2005) and A Shadow Falls (2009). On This Earth, A Shadow Falls (2012) curates the 90 best images from Brandt's first two books. Bound in cloth, and with an introduction by Jane Goodall, these 15x13 black and white photographs are an apt tribute to these magnificent animals. -- Mia Wigmore

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The Monkey King: 72 Transformations of the Mythical Hero Cover Image
By Vincent Zhao (Editor)
ISBN: 9781608871179
Availability: Special Order - Please call to confirm availability
Published: Insight Editions - October 30th, 2012

I've always felt like I've had a connection to the Monkey King, that irascible figure from Eastern mythology. Not least of all because I was born in the Year of the Monkey, but because he is an embodiment of how to properly approach life. He is fearless in all things, he challenged Heaven itself (and they kicked him out because of it, but that's another story). So when I saw this book arrive in the store, I'm sure my eyes were as big as they could be without eclipsing my entire head. The Monkey King is said to have 72 transformations that make him invincible, and inside this book are 72 artists who spin their own take on how they believe the Monkey King to be. Each artist brings his or her unique flair to this legendary creature, both in their style, and how they decide to depict him. As different as they each are from each other -- from outlaw woman on the run, to fierce warrior general, to playful charlatan -- the essence of the Monkey King shines through. His variety and appeal is broad enough that maybe we all have a bit of the Monkey King in us. But him and I are still best buds, sorry. -- Joey Puente

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The Tale of the Heike Cover Image
By Royall Tyler (Translator)
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780670025138
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Viking Books - October 25th, 2012

My interest in this classic Japanese epic began after reading Masuji Ibuse's wonderful Waves, a fictional retelling of one small episode from The Tale of the Heike. For weeks, I searched for an up-to-date version of the Heike, but struck out. About a month ago I watched The Hidden Fortress and Yojimbo, and was reminded of my search for the Heike, and dreamed the same night about finding it. The next morning at work, this new, definitive translation by Royall Tyler arrived. The Tale of the Heike is, along with The Tale of Genji, the definitive Japanese historical epic. It is topically related with England's War of the Roses but spiritually akin to Homer's Iliad. The tale tells of the fall of the brutal tyrant, Taira no Kiyomori, at the hands of the Minamoto clan. The epic alternates between poetry (including the poignant "death songs" of important samurai heroes), song, and stirring narrative prose. This would be the best gift of the season for anyone interested in Japanese culture, samurai, or historical narratives. -- Cameron Carlson

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Nutshell Library (Caldecott Collection) Cover Image
By Maurice Sendak, Maurice Sendak (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780060255008
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - click to see which location!
Published: HarperCollins - October 10th, 1962

No child's library is complete without the inclusion of author and illustrator Maurice Sendak. This four-volume "nutshell library" includes Alligators All Around (an alphabet book), Chicken Soup With Rice (a book of rhymes for each month), One Was Johnny (a counting book), and Pierre (a cautionary tale -- and possibly my favorite of the bunch). Bonus: the diminutive size of the box set means it makes for an excellent stocking stuffer. So don't by shy -- spread a little Sendak cheer this holiday season. Fun fact: Carole King collaborated with Sendak for a children's TV special back in the '70s, and performed songs to each of the aforementioned books. It's worth checking out. If you're like me, you'll have "Chicken Soup with Rice" on repeat inside your head for the remainder of the day...I can think of worse afflictions. -- Joanna Coelho