What makes a good gift book? The unexpected, the updated, the unbelievable. Indelible images, provocative subjects — even familiar words. With all that in mind, here are some gift suggestions for the book-lovers in your circle.
Everglades: America’s Wetland. Mac Stone. University Press of Florida. $45. Every now and then, here in the land of concrete and cafecitos, we need a reminder of the great natural beauty that’s nearby (and all too often taken for granted). Mac Stone, a biologist with the National Audubon Society, offers breathtaking and intimate views of the River of Grass in this book, which features more than 200 of his photographs and a few essays to help us remember the jewel to the west.
Bettie Page: Queen of Curves. Petra Mason. Photographs by Bunny Yeager. Rizzoli. $50. Sun, sand and sexuality: Model Bettie Page and photographer Bunny Yeager were a match made in pinup heaven. Historian Petra Mason celebrates the unforgettable collaboration between the famous brunette with the bangs and Yeager, who died earlier this year. All of the 250 photographs were shot in Miami.
The Life & Love of Dogs. Edited by Lewis Blackwell. Abrams. $50. “In moments of joy/all of us wish we possessed/a tail we could wag.” Poet W.H. Auden — who is cited within — would really have wanted to wag if he had lived long enough to see the mesmerizing and joyous photos of dogs in this gorgeous volume. (Don’t feel left out if you prefer critters of the feline persuasion — Blackwell published The Life & Love of Cats two years ago.)
The Andy Warhol Diaries. Edited by Pat Hackett. Twelve. $34. Everything old is new again with the updated 25th anniversary edition of the ultimate pop culture artifact, which comes with a new introduction by Hackett — one of Warhol’s closest confidantes — and new photographs. But what makes these journal entries sing is the outsize personality of the artist himself. Example: He writes that Jackie Onassis “thinks she’s so grand she doesn’t even owe it to the public to have another great marriage to somebody big.” How can you resist?
The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft. Edited by Leslie S. Klinger. Liveright. $39.95. A whole new generation is discovering the horror master Lovecraft, and this detailed, annotated version of his works makes a great gift for old or new fans. The book comes with an introduction by comic book legend Alan Moore and is edited by Leslie S. Klinger, also responsible for the terrific volumes The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes and The New Annotated Dracula.
Puffin in Bloom collection. Rifle Paper Co. $64. You don’t have to be a 10-year-old girl to fall in love with this four-book reissue from the stationery brand. Each volume in the series — Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, Johanna Spyri’s Heidi — comes with striking floral covers designed by lead artist Anna Bond and matching bookmarks. Forget the kids; I want these myself. www.riflepaperco.com.
Altman. Kathryn Reed Altman and Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan. Introduction by Martin Scorsese. Abrams. $40. This rich visual autobiography, curated by Robert Altman’s widow Kathryn Reed Altman and film critic Vallan, is a must for fans of the beloved director, famous for such works as Nashville, M*A*S*H, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Player, Gosford Park and Short Cuts. With interviews, critical analysis, contributions from such luminaries as Lily Tomlin, Julian Fellowes and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and tons of photographs and ephemera, the book is a fitting tribute to one of cinema’s great iconoclasts.
Ocean. Dain Blair and Aaron Taylor. Immaginare. $60. If you live in South Florida, chances are you love the ocean. Why else would you live here? It’s not the traffic or the mosquitoes or the hurricanes. In any case, photographers Blair and Taylor leave few shorelines unexplored in this stunning book of images from all over the world. Dive in.
Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014. Edited by Daniel Handler. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Mariner. 393 pages. You know the drill: Every year, a team of high school students sorts through literary magazines, graphic novels, chapbooks and other such publications and culls a collection that simply shouldn’t be missed. Fiction, nonfiction and all genres in between are fair game. This year’s volume — edited by Daniel Handler, who takes over for founder Dave Eggers — includes work by Adam Johnson, Anders Nilsen, Amos Oz and Zadie Smith.