Good Book Days

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

English gardens

fashion, fashion illustration, Ferraris,  films of the 60’s and 70’s, formica

green design

Himalayas, Hubble photographs

Impressionism, islands

Japanese prints


land art, Life Magazine photographs

Marvel Comics, Mexican jewelry

National Geographic photographers


Paris, posters


railroads, recycled chic, rock album covers

Scandinavian design, street art,  Surrealism


undersea life

Venetian glass, villas in Ibiza, VOGUE covers, volcanoes

watches, waterfalls, weather, WWII

X-ray photographs

yachts and sailboats, Yoko Ono

Zaha Hadid

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?



Like this? Why not subscribe? Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

If you have Gmail, don’t miss out. Check your “promotions” box. Move one of my posts from the “promotions” box to “primary” and you’ll never miss a post. Thanks for reading!


Leave a comment
  • A book, my favorite present. And WG, what an appetizing salmagundi of topics to choose from indeed!
    English gardens? I once did a research paper on that at DePaul for a young instructor by the name of Stanley Damberger. Just in case, he is a fan of your wonderful blog, with deep gratitude, let me say this to him now: "Sir, I still have "The Gardener's World" by Joseph Wood Krutch, which you so graciously trusted me with for my paper. It really came in handy. Thanks. And the Merriest of Christmases to you and to yours..

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Thanks for stopping by, AW. It's always good to hear from you. Now, about that book you borrowed....

    And, what's on your list this year?

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Here's a short list:
    (1) "The Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools" by Diane Ravitch

    (2) "The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America---And What We Can Do To Stop It" by Thom Hartmann

    (3) "The Bully Pulpit: Theodroe Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and the Golden Age of Journalism" by Doris Stearns Goodwin

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Now, that is a serious list. I have to ask--digital versions or in book form?

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    I can't liberate myself from the book. Even when I got a Kindle as a gift. Go figure.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Can you write notes on a Kindle? Or flag pages? Pew Research says college students still prefer actual textbooks---easier on the eyes!

  • In that you mention Rizzoli and then large format books, I thought that Rizzoli would survive at Water Tower, basically because that's what they offered, and leaving a Nook on the coffee table doesn't have the same effect. Also, unlike say at Barnes and Noble (the founder of that format I knew), I probably wouldn't have the guts to page through a Rizzoli book without the intent to buy it.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks for stopping by, Jack. Everyone was welcome at Rizzoli. Those were good book days, for sure.

    The Rizzoli story is...complicated. There was the Borders flagship store (now gone) across the street, a new lease at Water Tower Place, and Amazon.

    There is still a Rizzoli Bookstore in New York at 30 W. 57th St. (between 5th and 6th Avenues.) and they have a beautiful website,

  • I'd like to offer a perfect blizzard-day book, which helped get me through 2011's big snow: "Lost Horizon" by James Hilton. It's a great story any day, but especially with the sound effects of the blizzard outside, it was a winner I still remember. I was looking for similar ones yesterday, but enjoyed browsing my own shelves as much as what I found. Thanks for reminding me of a winter joy (I nearly typed "job," but definitely fixed it).

  • In reply to MargaretSerious:

    Thanks MargaretSerious--so glad you stopped by. I will definitely look for that book! Some of the possibilities listed came from my own shelves--can you guess which ones?

    Ha, ha, joy and job...there's a difference, alas.....

Leave a comment