These are good book days, as we used to say in the bookstore biz. Snow falling on leaves and sidewalks, here is refuge from the weather. Here, you can contemplate and explore. You can find things you didn’t even know existed.
Remember bookstores? There are still some eccentric survivors–piles of books in disarray, dusty shelves and dozing cats. Such places exist, and not just in memory. There are also larger, brighter places, with organized sections and colorful displays. (I used to work in such a bookstore, Rizzoli Books, in Water tower Place. Now, that was a bookstore! )
Yes, there are still bookstores! This time of year, they are even more inviting, all decked out for the holiday season. They are filled with appealing offerings, including The Hunger Games trilogy, Dan Brown’s Inferno, and The Circle by Dave Eggers.
Although these titles are also available in digital form, some people still prefer a printed book. For now, there is a choice.
And then, there are some books that are really not made for e-readers. They are made to be appreciated and experienced. I’m talking about those large format kinds of books otherwise known as art books, gift books or “coffee table books.”
These can be artist monographs, architecture, design, fashion, photography and travel books–they are kind of picture books for grown-ups. I’ll include graphic novels in this category, too. These are all real works of art, objects of beauty in themselves.
Here are some of the latest releases, reviewed in the New York Times. Instead of suggesting specific titles, let me offer these possibilities–
African beads, Art Deco design, artist monographs
baseball, botanical prints, Buddhas
cats, constellations, contemporary architecture
Depression-era photographs, Disney animation, dogs
fashion, fashion illustration, Ferraris, films of the 60’s and 70’s, formica
Himalayas, Hubble photographs
land art, Life Magazine photographs
Marvel Comics, Mexican jewelry
National Geographic photographers
railroads, recycled chic, rock album covers
Scandinavian design, street art, Surrealism
Venetian glass, villas in Ibiza, VOGUE covers, volcanoes
watches, waterfalls, weather, WWII
yachts and sailboats, Yoko Ono
Yes, I suppose these kinds of books could be considered luxuries, even indulgences. Maybe that’s why many people think of them as gifts. Publishers know this, as well, and many of these titles are released just in time for the holiday season.
Can one live without them? In considering basic needs, the art book is not a necessity. It is not food, or blankets. But it does make life worth living. It enriches our lives. It can be a resource for an architect or a designer, a reference for an artist or a photographer, an inspiration for anyone. It is a doorway for a dreamer to open again and again.
An art book makes a beautiful and thoughtful gift. There’s sure to be something for just about everyone on your list–maybe even you?
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