Can we all agree that books are the best gifts? Good. Now get shopping. Here are some of our favorite gift books of the season to get you started.
For the nature lover
Wild Beautiful Places: Picture-Perfect Journeys Around the Globe (National Geographic, $40) and Greatest Landscapes: Stunning Photographs that Inspire and Astonish (National Geographic, $40). Just about every year, National Geographic publishes at least one stunning book of photography that reminds us of the beauty of our world. This year, we get two. You can’t go wrong with either.
Owls: A Guide to Every Species in the World. Marianne Taylor. (Harper Design, $50). Everybody loves owls, don’t they? Taylor’s comprehensive guide includes photographs and illustrations of all 225 known species and comes with a great bonus: Printed on the other side of the book jacket is a fold-out poster of a Great Gray Owl.
For the movie fanatic
The Godfather Notebook, Francis Ford Coppola (Regan Arts, $50). A reproduction of the director’s original notes on his iconic film and on the Mario Puzo novel that inspired it, this notebook is a must-have for that guy who lives to slip “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli” into every conversation. Coppola carried the original version of this notebook with him on location during the shooting of the movie and calls it a “multilayered road map” to the making of a great American film.
Young Frankenstein: The Story of the Making of the Film. Mel Brooks with Rebecca Keegan; forward by Judd Apatow (Black Dog & Leventhal, $29.99). Star Gene Wilder’s death earlier this year revived interest in this classic (and hilarious) Mel Brooks horror-movie spoof. “Of all my films, I am the proudest of this one,” Brooks writes in the introduction. Flip through the book, watch the movie again, and you’ll see why.
For the music lover
The Rolling Stones: All the Songs, The Story Behind Every Track. Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon. (Black Dog & Leventhal; $50). Last year Margotin and Guesdon tackled all the albums of Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan. Now they turn their attention to Mick and Keith and the boys, examining every song on every album and revealing insights and intriguing tidbits on each one. It’s a gas, gas, gas.
Barbra. Steve Schapiro and Lawrence Schiller. (Taschen, $69.99). Schapiro and Schiller covered the star’s first decade in Hollywood, and it’s all here in photos and essays in this oversized coffee-table book. And if you think the price is a bit steep, know that the art edition of 100 numbered copies, with a signed gelatin silver print, will cost you a whopping $1,800.
For the theater buff who won’t stop singing ‘My Shot’
Hamilton: The Illustrated Biography. Richard Sylla. (Sterling, $35). We all have — or are — that one friend who can’t stop dropping knowledge gleaned from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “Hamilton.” Here’s another way to learn about the ten-dollar founding father without a father: This gorgeous illustrated biography, written by noted Alexander Hamilton scholar Richard Sylla (who’s also the chairman of the Museum of American Finance). The book comes with a fold-out engraving of the Battle of Yorktown and a jacket that reveals an old-fashioned map of Manhattan when you flip it over. How lucky the recipient of this gift is to be alive right now.
For the book lover
Footnotes *From the World’s Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers. Bob Eckstein. (Clarkson Potter, $22). New Yorker cartoonist Eckstein had the world’s greatest assignment: Paint the world’s best-loved independent bookstores (or at least the 75 of them pictured here, including our own Books & Books in Coral Gables). The results, paired with stories from owners and patrons, are charming and a perfect keepsake for any reader who still loves browsing in person instead of online.
The Outsiders 50th Anniversary Edition. S.E. Hinton. (Penguin, $20). How old were you when you read Hinton’s tale of young outcasts, considered by many to be the first real young adult novel? The Tulsa, Oklahoma, author was just a teenager when she wrote “The Outsiders,” now celebrating its 50th anniversary. This new edition comes with letters and clippings from the publisher’s archive, as well as notes from cast members of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 film version. Even if you didn’t stay gold like Ponyboy, it brings a pleasant nostalgic rush.
For the young Harry Potter fan
J.K. Rowling’s Wizard World: A Pop-Up Gallery of Curiosities, James Diaz and Sergio Gómez Silván (Candlewick, $27.99) and Harry Potter: Winter at Hogwarts, A Magical Coloring Set (Candlewick, $15.99). This year brought a new Harry Potter book (the script “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”) and a new film set in the Potterverse (“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”). If that wasn’t enough for the Hogwarts fan in your life, consider these two stocking stuffers, one a pop-up book of scenes from the latest movie, the other a coloring set that includes a tiny, build-it-yourself Firebolt broom.