Every holiday season our staff of voracious readers finds those books that we believe will make truly loved and cherished gifts. We then collect these gems into this Holiday Gazette to help you find the perfect something for your special someone. If you want something more special, consider our Maiden Voyage Program, in which a first edition of a novel arrives in the mail every two months for a year. If you still aren’t completely certain that you can find the perfect book, we also offer gift certificates in any amount you choose. Gift wrapping is always free and we will ship your gift books to any destination world wide. We look forward to serving you this holiday season.
Twenty-five years after Maus I was first published, this beautiful volume revisits Spiegelman’s profound depiction of his parents’ survival of the Holocaust. Filled with interviews, sketches, notebooks, primary source material, as well as a hyperlinked DVD featuring the full text of Maus along with audio recordings and much more, METAMAUS is an extensive and moving document. By engaging three questions: Why the Holocaust? Why Mice? Why Comics?, Spiegelman illuminates how the accomplishment of Maus resulted from both his formal innovation and his insistent engagement with the most harrowing and uncomfortable complexities of his subject. —Casey O.
Whether your winter is cold and dark, bright and frosty, mountainous and adventurous, warm and homey, or quiet and meditative, there’s something attractive about the season. Adam Gopnik’s tone betrays his childlike fascination with winter as he takes us from sacred Dickensian holidays to intense hockey games to give us an atmospheric survey of the shortest, dimmest days in the northern hemisphere. Whether you’re a snowbird or a ski bum, Gopnik writes a wonderland you’ll enjoy. —Dave
Carol Field’s The Italian Baker is a gem of a book. There is nothing I like more than good rustic Italian bread, and this, short of travelling to Italy, is the way to find it. What one discovers in the course of reading and perusing this book is that there are over one thousand varieties of Italian bread—all regionally unique— and don’t you dare confuse them. Field covers it all, from breads to cookies and everything in between. This is a must-have baking book. I was bowled over.—Greg
Simonini is a fervent gourmand with a splintered psyche, a penchant for deceit, and a hatred of just about everyone. After much devious plotting, he is on the cusp of a forgery so incendiary that it may alter the course of history. In putting his diabolical plan into action he becomes something of an odious Zelig, affecting famous events and interacting with all manner of actual historical personages. Eco has again succeeded in delivering a compulsively readable story deeply rooted in actual events. —Jamil
Wowsa! For the first time ever, all 3,022 paintings from the Louvre’s permanent collection are brought together in one staggeringly beautiful book. Expertly assembled and magnificently detailed, The Louvre: All the Paintings provides lavish, full-color reproductions, comprehensive background information on each piece and its artist, illuminating extended essays on 400 highly celebrated works, and immersive DVD-ROM software allowing you to virtually explore the Louvre’s labyrinthine passageways. Here is a book you can be dreamily lost in for days. Just look at Mona Lisa’s smile; she’s practically daring you to do it. What a mind-boggle. —Matthew
There are many Hemingway biographies out there, but this one stands above the rest. Hemingway’s Boat focuses less on the author’s infamously disagreeable behavior, which has been exhaustively chronicled elsewhere, and more on his relationships, his love of fishing, and his sense of adventure on the ocean. It offers a fresh perspective that reveals the person, rather than the legend. Pilar, Hemingway’s 1934 custom fishing boat, is the actual vehicle that the author uses to guide the narrative. Hendrickson has created an amazingly detailed and thorough investigation of Hemingway’s life with Pilar. The upbeat, straightforward, and enjoyable narrative will leave you feeling like you’ve sailed with Ernest Hemingway. —Hilary
Karoo is a beguiling mystery to her art school friends in Prague. She’s been known to run off for weeks without notice, returning only to nurse vague excuses and bruises, her sketch pads are inhabited by the most curious horned and winged creatures, and she has the uncanny ability to make wishes come true. Raised by a creature named Brimstone, Karoo has no clue who her real family is, where she came from, or that she might have a pivotal part to play in an ancient battle between good and evil. Readers of The Golden Compass will devour this gorgeous urban fantasy! —Leighanne
This is Don DeLillo’s one and only collection of short stories, dating from 1979 through 2011. In some ways, it’s too bad DeLillo hasn’t written more short stories because it’s a form that he is very adept at—to no surprise. There is a precision of language in each story—an ambiguity—and I was unsettled by them in subtle ways. These stories are the perfect introduction to DeLillo for the uninitiated, and for those who are fans, they are a confirmation of his place among the best of contemporary American writers. This is a book that can be savored over time and returned to again and again. —Greg
Most known for his biographies of Stalin and works on Russian history, Simon Sebag Montefiore turns his eye to the city of Jerusalem—Judean hilltown-turned-cradle of the Abrahamic religions, crossroads and meeting place, Holy City and place of worldly ferment. With superb narrative writing, Montefiore makes thousands of years—every epic rise, fall, and rise again, from King David to the 1967 Six-Day War—come compellingly alive. As it is a biography, this book gives a great sense of life and all that is encompassed in the lives of so many who have been part of its history over time. —Rick
This oh-so-clever rhyming picture book from debut author and illustrator Shaskan is a splendid read aloud! Follow the quintessential brown and white pup; naughty or nice, skinny or fat as he unzips himself and becomes—a cat! Watch the tubby feline as he hisses or purrs, in trouble for something he did or didn’t do as he unmasks himself and becomes—a truly unexpected treat! Youngsters will delight in the silly rhymes, the goofy possible guesses, and the fun illustrations. —Holly
Does everyone have a predetermined destiny so infinitesimally multi-faceted that every tiny decision or action refracts our life trajectory to an entirely different outcome? In 1Q84 Murakami plays with this idea like a cat with a ball of string, teasing threads of characters loose and watching their fates flop to and fro as the ball is batted. The central plot line is intriguing and compelling, but it is the subtly off-kilter scenery along the way that truly makes this a journey worth taking. —Jamil
Ferguson writes an accessible, if partial, historical account of Western Civilization. He presumes that there are six “killer apps” that explain the West’s historical superiority on the Global stage. They are: Competition, Science, Property rights, Medicine, Consumer Society, and Work Ethic. I read Civilization as a contemporary attempt to reimagine Kenneth Clark’s similarly titled documentary series Civilisation. Regardless of personal opinion, Ferguson’s Civilization provides the gift of debate just in time for this holiday season. —Alex
A roast conjures images of holidays and special celebrations. So yes, this cookbook is perfect for the season at hand. But to relegate it to the shelves only to pull it out for those momentous occasions would be a shame. Along with lavish dishes like Sear-Roasted Chateaubriand with Béarnaise Sauce are impressive yet simple ones like Roasted Asparagus Bundles Wrapped in Bacon. The well organized recipes include method, roasting time, plan ahead time, and a wine pairing. Her exhaustive notes on the why and how of roasting, shopping tips and necessary equipment make this an indispensable volume for the novice and expert alike. —Pamela
Derek Hayes has compiled a number of atlases of interest to people in this part of the world. None matches his newest in terms of pieces and parts of interest to people who enjoy looking at maps, particularly maps and mappings of places they live and work in today. This new atlas is a perfect coffee table gift—one that will reward repeated perusing. The changing, evolving shapes of Seattle, Portland, and many other places in the Northwest are given generous display. Maps, birds-eye views, period advertisements, the occasional present-day photo—all give dimension and perspective that is a delight to behold. —Rick
Susan Bright, New York authority on contemporary photography and former assistant curator of photography at the National Portrait Gallery in London, surveys the development of photography as an artistic medium in this attractive anthology. The likes of Japanese urban photographer Naoya Hatakeyama and controversial American documenter Nan Goldin lend their own insights into art photography as it pertains to methods, subject, reception, and everything. This is a vivid collection of beautiful images with a rare glimpse behind the scenes from the minds behind the lens. —Dave
Bolaño once again gives us poetry and prose locked in a beautiful and cutthroat arm-wrestling match, the everyday details suddenly catapulting towards the otherworldly. Among other destinations and journeys in these three long poems, we are offered a bedside seat to love and its suspenseful misunderstandings, we get into a van with the Neochileans (a touring band traveling over countries and continents in an instant), and we get to see what a sweet little three-year-old Georges Perec was. Laura Healy’s superb translation gives English readers another welcome opportunity to hear Bolaño’s voice, scorching in its precision, equal parts intimacy and apocalypse. —Casey O.
A raw, honest, and unsparing requiem to the tragic devastation suffered by the people in Nanjing and other regions of China in the late 1930s, Ha Jin transports us back to a time when Japanese soldiers pillaged homes, made slaves of able-bodied men, and raped and murdered thousands of Chinese civilians. Minnie Vautrin, an American missionary, chooses to stay in Nanjing at the onset of the invasion, opening the doors of her school to thousands of Chinese refugees, and through her story the story of many other lives are hauntingly revealed and remembered. —Candra
Obsessed in a manner similar to Captain Ahab, Matt Kish sat in a three-by-six foot closet for a year and a half and made a painting every day for every page of Melville’s classic Moby-Dick. This book contains over five hundred mysterious, beautiful color paintings along with a quotation or two from each page of the novel. These abundant, fascinating paintings will certainly drive fans of the novel and art aficionados bonkers. —Jake
I’ve always loved pop-up books, and what better gift idea for children of all ages?—It’s like giving a book in 3-D. Out just in time for the holidays is this charming new rendition of the classic tale by Roald Dahl, featuring the unique illustrations of Quentin Blake. Wonka fans will delight as they read through the story and get to open a Wonka bar and find a golden ticket or help with the demise of all the naughty children. This pop-up book is simply scrumdelicious. —David
After flipping through this cookbook, I was delighted that I, a cooking novice, could follow the recipes prepared by Spain’s most famous chef, Ferran Adria, owner of El Bulli and one of the best chefs in the world. Adria offers up his recipes through big, clear, step-by-step photographs. Everything is laid out visually—the ingredients list, the instructions, the completed meal—that’s what is beautiful about this unique cookbook. No more asking, “How brown should sauteed garlic be?” or “Am I cutting this fish properly?” Culinary novices and experts alike will exult in recipes for osso buco and baked sea bass that are easier to master than ever before. —Hilary
Self-proclaimed as “a potter who writes,” Edmund de Waal, bestselling author of The Hare with Amber Eyes, has chosen an A to Z format in his new anthology to showcase some of the most imaginative pieces of clay art from around the world. From wine cups for the emperors’ palaces, and utilitarian and precise Bauhaus designs, to simple, stackable stoneware used by the Japanese working poor, this book contains examples of vessels from ascetic to flamboyant. The Pot Book is a wonderful gift for the artist, the historian, and the aesthete. —Hanna
Children’s book author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats’s life and art are celebrated in this book, published in honor of the 50th anniversary of The Snowy Day. His beloved Peter, in 1962 the first African American child main character in a picture-book by a major publisher, appeared because Keats thought “he should have been there all along,” yet Keats’s roots in a Jewish immigrant community in Brooklyn are not well known. Artwork and stories behind many of Keats’s books, a biography, timeline, and critical essay make this a beautiful, engaging package for adults and older children. —Karen
One hundred years is a very long time as literary tastes and conventions are measured, and while anyone can question the inclusion or exclusion of a particular poet or poem, Dove has succeeded in compiling a sound sampler of the span, variety, and evolution of American prosody published in the 1900s. Whether to be plucked at random, or tracked from front to back over the passing years, or—the best utility of an anthology—as a brief introduction to previously unknown artists, stimulating deeper immersion, this handsomely cloth-covered (in mid-20th century style) volume will please and profit. And Dove’s impassioned and illuminating introduction is worth the weight and the price of the book. —Peter
Inspired by an underwater experience thirty years ago, Mark Laita has created an entrancing collection of photographs that capture marine creatures reflected off the mirrored underside of the water’s surface. The subjects were photographed in purpose built tanks so as to effectively illuminate their vivid natural colors at close range, while voiding the medium into blackness. The result is an otherworldly journey—a tour into an unfamiliar space-like realm to view animals often seen only in their natural habitat. This is as much a work of natural beauty as it is of photographic genius. Dive in! —Jamie
Watch out, Franzen. Step aside, Delillo. What do you know about it, Eugenidies? Peter Orner has officially stomped all over past attempts at writing the next “Great American Novel.” Spanning four generations of a mid-western family’s history, written with a brilliant balance of humor, embarrassment, and affection, Love and Shame and Love is so spot on you’ll find yourself nodding your head in empathy with even the most minor characters. Not a single detail is overlooked in this subtle but epic family saga. Oh, did I mention it’s also a love story? Boo-yah! —Candra
There has always been interest in the work—musical and poetic—of Patti Smith, and that interest has taken a high turn with her recent National Book Award-winning memoir, Just Kids. Fans and followers also have Judy Linn’s book of photographs, Patti Smith 1969 – 1976. And now there are two new books, both directly of Patti Smith’s hand, both perfect for gift-giving: a terrific collection of her photographs from a touring museum exhibition, and a beautiful reprint of her vivid first memoir, Woolgathering. Originally handwritten and published twenty years ago, it’s a beautiful piece on childhood and creativity. —Rick
Marjane Satrapi burst on to the scene with Persepolis and attracted international attention and admiration. With her new graphic novel, The Sigh, she solidifies her place at the top. Told with a wink to both Psyche and Beauty, The Sigh is the story of Rose, the youngest daughter of a traveling merchant. When her father returns from a trip without a gift for her, Rose whispers a soft sigh of resignation, which sets her on a path filled with magic, love, grief, and redemption. A truly beautiful tale. —Leighanne
Aspiring artists of any age will find inspiration in this fantastic un-coloring book. A black page suggests drawing a skeleton with a white pencil or crayon, the opposite white page suggests the same using black. A school-bus yellow page with Van Gogh’s vase of sunflowers suggests coloring in the vase using as many yellows and oranges as are available. There are color experiments, ideas for how to make art like Jackson Pollock (without spattering the entire house), and words to learn like “ocher” and “plinth.” Pretend it’s for the kids in your life and then explore great art with (or without) them. —Holly
I can’t think of a better or more concise introduction to the greatest philosophers than Warburton’s book. In these short, smart, and witty essays, he introduces the reader to a world of ideas and thinkers ranging from Socrates and Plato, to Kant, Hume, Darwin, Freud, Rawls, and Singer (just to name a few of the great minds covered). It is a sampler platter of philosophy that will no doubt inspire readers to explore philosophers who suit their palate. Even if you read no further, at least you’ll be in the know at your next dinner party or symposium. —Greg
In Booker prize-winning novelist Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz, a young woman enjoying suburban Dublin’s economic boom happens into a relationship with a married man. He immediately becomes the center of her life, though his commitment to her is unclear, and his attention intermittent even as their lives begin to unravel. This novel asks interesting questions about the consequences of the evasion of intention and responsibility, whether in relationships (or in economic systems), noting that collateral damage occurs, regardless. Enright succeeds in bringing out uncomfortable truths about people who, on the surface seem caring and even innocent, yet in truth are more complicated. —Karen
This holiday season give the gift of timeless literature to the young readers or collectors on your list. Peter Pan, The Secret Garden, The Call of the Wild, and many more classic Puffin titles are now available in gorgeous, illustrated hardcovers. Pick out a single beloved title or join them all together in one collection to be enjoyed throughout the cold winter nights, into the spring, and well into the future. Share the tales you loved as a child and continue to pass on the gift of enduring literature with these classic works of art. —Casey S.