Whether they're into Naomi Campbell or the rodeo, here are 41 of the year's most giftable coffee-table books:
Whether they’re into Naomi Campbell or the rodeo.
Chinatown Pretty: Fashion and Wisdom from Chinatown’s Most Stylish Seniors $25 now 24% off $19 Photo: retailer Seniors often have the best style, whether intentionally or not, which is more or less the premise of this book that collects portraits of sartorially daring poh pohs (a.k.a. grandmothers) across six different Chinatown neighborhoods, including San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, and Vancouver. But it’s about more than just fashion: It’s also a celebration of Chinese American and immigrant culture.
$19 at Amazon Buy In Bibi’s Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean $35 now 9% off $32 Photo: retailer What nonnas are to Italian cooking, bibis are to the cuisines of Somalia, Eritrea, Madagascar, and the five other countries whose shores are lapped by the waves of the Indian Ocean and fussed over in this gorgeous travelogue-cum-cookbook. Plus, Somali-born chef and entrepreneur Hawa Hassan and activist food writer Julia Turshen are the women leading this thoughtful journey through the food of Eastern Africa recipe by recipe, story by story.
$32 at Amazon Buy Naomi. Updated Edition $150 now 14% off $129 Photo: retailer If you’ve ever thought, I’d really like a giant book of Naomi Campbell photos, then this is definitely your speed. The oversize tome gathers the best of the ’90s supermodel’s portfolio — like Naomi dancing as Josephine Baker for Italian Vogue and racing against a cheetah for Harper’s Bazaar — and includes text written by Campbell herself. headtopics.com
$129 at Amazon Buy Walter Chandoha. Dogs. Photographs 1941–1991 $50 now 20% off $40 Photo: retailer Last year, we wrote about Walter Chandoha’s Cats, and this year, it’s all about his dogs. Dubbed the 20th century’s greatest pet photographer, Chandoha put away a collection of his favorite pet photos before he died in 2019 — and Dogs features luscious, Technicolor portraits of over 60 different breeds taken over the course of his 70-year career.
$40 at Amazon Buy Hand Dryers $15 now 33% off $10 Photo: retailer In 1917, Marcel Duchamp’s presentation of a urinal as a “ready-made” piece of sculpture shocked the art world. A century later, Samuel Ryde has followed in the artist’s footsteps by photographing more than 250 hand dryers — some that “ooze nightclub sex appeal,” others a “clinical sleekness” — for this unexpected (and surprisingly moving?) tribute to another utilitarian bathroom appliance. And who better to ease us into the images than Sir James Dyson, the founder of the vacuum company, who pens the introduction.
$10 at Amazon Buy The Best of Nest: Celebrating the Extraordinary Interiors from Nest Magazine by Todd Oldham and Joe Holtzman $100 now 27% off $73 Photo: retailer Nest, the kooky shelter magazine, was only around for seven years, but its influence on the design world has been outsize. Sixteen years later, its founder Joe Holtzman and contributor Todd Oldham have reunited to create a book about the magazine, which our own Wendy Goodman calls “both like a time capsule and entirely fresh.”
$73 at Amazon Buy Art=Discovering Infinite Connections in Art History from The Metropolitan Musuem of Art $75 now 28% off $54 Photo: retailer For the person who lined up to go to the Met after it reopened this summer, here’s a book celebrating the museum’s 150th anniversary, as well as the 20th anniversary of its Heilbrunn Timeline of Art, an online resource with essays and images that any casual or serious art-history fan would appreciate. This book pulls from the most viewed images in the Heilbrunn Timeline to collect over 800 works from the museum’s collection, which are then organized by keywords and themes, rather than chronologically. As a result, you’ll find unexpected connections between works like a Vermeer painting, a gown by Charles James, and an ancient Egyptian statue. headtopics.com
$54 at Amazon Buy Dead Style: A Long Strange Trip Into the Magical World of Tie-Dye $25 now 28% off $18 Photo: retailer If you bought a tie-dyed sweatsuit this year, then this is the coffee-table book for you. Written by GQ “style-in-the-wild correspondent” Mordechai “Mister Mort” Rubinstein, this “lookbook for current Deadhead culture,” tracks the influence of the Grateful Dead and hippie style on contemporary fashion (and why we’re still seeing tie-dye everywhere).
$18 at Amazon Buy American Gardens $50 now 32% off $34 Photo: retailer A complement to the BBC series of the same name, hosted by horticulturist Monty Don, this book features lush photographs of public and private gardens across the country. That includes historical places like the gardens originally cultivated by slaves on Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate, public spaces like Central Park in New York City and Millennium Park in Chicago, and even the rarely photographed home gardens of Bob Hope and Frank Lloyd Wright.
$34 at Amazon Buy Rainbow Revolution $40 now 20% off $32 Photo: retailer Celebrity photographer Magnus Hastings invites over 300 different members of the LGBTQIA+ community — including plenty of RuPaul’s Drag Race alumna — to pose for a portrait. But there’s a catch: Each of them must pose in an empty white box that they can use however they’d like. The ensuing photos, which are an exercise in creatively taking up space, are also accompanied by text from each individual, including Kathy Griffin, Boy George, and Alaska Thuderfuck.
$32 at Amazon Buy Grimes: Miss Information, a Coloring Book $20 Photo: retailer The latest from artist and musician Grimes — following the AI-designed lullaby she released just last month — is her first (and very on-brand) publication: an ethereal coloring book featuring more than 16 original digital drawings and AI-generated poetry. It’s designed for all ages, and can be colored with oil, paint, pencils, or crayons. headtopics.com
$20 at Amazon Buy Vital Voices: 100 Women Using Their Power to Empower $60 Photo: retailer Amid a year of crises, Vital Voices celebrates the power of 100 women across cultures, sectors, and generations — from the Me Too movement founder Tarana Burke to Syrian pediatrician Amani Ballour. For each leader, the book includes an illustration by award-winning illustrator Gayle Kabaker and a page of first-person narrative from the woman herself.
$60 at Assouline Buy Designing History: The Extraordinary Art & Style of the Obama White House $60 now 33% off $40 Photo: retailer In case you’d like to take a walk down Obama memory lane, the interior designer who redecorated the White House during his tenure — Michael S. Smith — has released a book that offers an insider’s look at the residence, from the Oval Office to Sasha and Malia’s bedrooms, and includes a foreword by the former First Lady herself.
$40 at Amazon Buy The Art of Ramona Quimby: Sixty-Five Years of Illustrations from Beverly Cleary’s Beloved Books $40 now 30% off $28 Photo: retailer Beverly Cleary first introduced Ramona Quimby to the world in 1955. Since then, the hugely popular chapter-book series has seen five different illustrators, all of whom interpreted the main character, Ramona, in their own idiosyncratic style. The Art of Ramona Quimby celebrates that artistic evolution through excerpts from the series, letters from Cleary to her illustrators, and essays that illuminate the series’s impact on kids, adults, teachers, and the world of children’s literature.
$28 at Amazon Buy Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence $35 now 54% off $16 Photo: retailer It takes an incredibly capable and talented cook to publish a massive ode to all things dessert in the vein of J. Kenji López-Alt’s The Food Lab. But no one is better suited for the gig than Claire Saffitz, formerly of Bon Appétit and the magazine’s cult-favorite show Gourmet Makes. This 367-page tome covers everything from classic birthday cake to laminated kouign-amann (a testament to Saffitz’s French pastry-school training) with eye-catching, magazine-quality photography. But the best part by far is the Recipe Matrix featuring each recipe organized according to difficulty and total time.
$16 at Amazon Buy Complex Presents: Sneaker of the Year: The Best Since ‘85 $35 now 29% off $25 Photo: retailer Sneakerheads, hypebeasts, and streetwear enthusiasts once lived on the outskirts of pop culture’s domain, but that’s all changed drastically within the last ten years. Now you can find celebrities online breaking down their sneaker collections and enthusiastically talking about their favorite sneakers — and Complex has been there every step of the way. This book breaks down the history of Jordans, Yeezys, and Nike Air Force Ones, and how sneakers went from a fringe hobby to a mainstream phenomenon.
$25 at Amazon Buy Shredders: Girls Who Skate $25 now 8% off $23 Photo: retailer Skateboarding has a reputation for being a boy’s club, but women have been shredding from the start, from Laura Thornhill Caswell, the first female skater to get her own signature model skateboard, to Lizzie Armanto. And this book isn’t just a celebration of the pros, but of all women, young and old, who are daring enough to throw their bodies onto the asphalt. (Plus, for those interested in picking up a new hobby, there are lots of tips on how to skateboard, too.)
$23 at Amazon Buy Anni & Josef Albers: Equal and Unequal $150 now 35% off $97 Photo: retailer An ideal gift for the artist couple on your list, this is the first book to combine the works of 20th-century painter Josef Albers and textile artist Anni Albers in one volume. The monograph chronicles their work and relationship from their early years at the Bauhaus in Germany, to their time at Black Mountain College in the United States, to an especially prolific time in Connecticut.
$97 at Amazon Buy $150 at Phaidon Buy High on Design: The New Cannabis Culture $60 now 15% off $51 Photo: retailer As more and more places legalize cannabis, a booming industry has emerged looking to outfit new consumers in style. High on Design guides readers through this emerging cannabis culture as it creates itself for a new generation of smokers that’s no longer sneaking a toke behind the high-school gym.
$51 at Amazon Buy The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia $75 now 35% off $49 Photo: retailer Any book about wine is an excuse to drink more wine — and an 800-page encyclopedia of wine is going to require a lot of taste tests to develop your palate. And this reference book has sold nearly a million copies for a reason: There’s no type of grape nor geographic region that its pages don’t cover, meaning you’ll be able to learn all there is to know (and taste) of any bottle you bring home or receive.
$49 at Amazon Buy Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics $50 now 30% off $35 Photo: retailer “Jolene,” “9 to 5,” “Islands in the Stream,” “Coat of Many Colors,” “I Will Always Love You,” and on and on goes the list of Dolly Parton’s hits — 175 of which are catalogued in this new book of lyrics. Each song is paired with photographs from Dolly’s archives, along with stories in her own words, for an everything-you-need guide that’ll delight even the most avid fan of the queen of country.
$35 at Amazon Buy Susan Meiselas: Tar Beach: Life on the Rooftops of Little Italy 1920–75 $45 now 20% off $36 Photo: retailer Assembled by photographer and Little Italy resident Susan Meiselas, along with her neighbors, Tar Beach is a collection of found family photographs that trace the lives of generations of inhabitants of New York’s Little Italy over more than five decades. They capture a forgotten way of life, in which families would gather on their rooftops to document special events like communions, graduations, and weddings, and to seek refuge from the bustle of city streets (though it still somehow feels very modern in this year of pandemic isolation). Martin Scorsese, who grew up in the neighborhood, discusses his own memories of this time in the book’s foreword.
$36 at Amazon Buy Francis Bacon: The Measure of Excess $60 now 20% off $48 Photo: retailer To truly understand the life of an artist, you need to go beyond what’s written by art historians and art critics. Francis Bacon: The Measure of Excess, written by the artist’s close personal friend Yves Peyré, does just that, giving the reader intimate access to Bacon’s artistic journey from his early design work in the 1920s to his well-known and jarring representations of the human form from the 1980s. Starting with a biography and including sharp artistic analysis, the 160-page monograph, which is printed in highly saturated color, gives readers a glimpse into Bacon’s process and his mind.
$48 at Amazon Buy Her Majesty. A Photographic History 1926–Today $70 Photo: retailer This book is the definitive photographic story of Queen Elizabeth II, as shown through the lens of photographers like David Bailey, Patrick Lichfield, and Annie Leibovitz. Anglophiles will get a peek at more than six decades of both her pubic and private life, along with never-before-seen photographs of royal weddings, jubilees, international tours, state functions, and more.
$70 at Amazon Buy $75 at TASCHEN Buy Accidentally Wes Anderson $35 now 29% off $25 Photo: retailer What started as a crowdsourced Instagram page has now become a book that compiles all the lovely, unexpected, and, well, symmetrical ways that a particular setting — no matter where in the world — could look as if it’s straight out of a movie by Wes Anderson. What’s more impressive is that the director himself has given his blessing to the project, even writing the book’s foreword.
$25 at Amazon Buy Flower: Exploring the World in Bloom $60 now 17% off $50 Photo: retailer Humans seem to have been copying images of flowers for about as long as there’s been paint, and this book — part of Phaidon’s best-selling (and highly giftable) Explorer series — shows all of the ways in which flowers have been depicted in art, from thousand-year-old gold ornaments to van Gogh’s sunflowers and Andy Warhol’s Technicolor silkscreen prints.
$50 at Amazon Buy The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design $30 now 40% off $18 Photo: retailer From two of the team members behind the 99% Invisible podcast — host Roman Mars (whom we’ve interviewed on this site) and producer Kurt Kohlstedt — comes a written and illustrated field guide to the unnoticed, yet essential, elements of our cities, with deeply researched entries on everything from power grids to street signs.
$18 at Amazon Buy The Encyclopedia of New York $35 now 51% off $17 Photo: New York Magazine Nearly three years after the publication of Highbrow, Lowbrow, Brilliant, Despicable: Fifty Years of New York comes The Encyclopedia of New York, from our own team of editors. It’s part hidden history of New York inventions (like lap dances and cronuts), part field guide, and fully covers most anything you might want to know about the city.
$17 at Amazon Buy The Barbuto Cookbook: California-Italian Cooking from the Beloved West Village Restaurant $40 now 35% off $26 Photo: retailer Chef Jonathan Waxman had quite the 2019: He was forced to close his beloved West Village restaurant Barbuto, reducing much of the neighborhood and food obsessives around the city to tears over fears that they might never be able to eat his famous roasted chicken with salsa verde ever again. In March 2020, Waxman reopened Barbuto — only to have to shutter it in the midst of a pandemic. But Waxman, like the city where he made his name, is resilient, and that shines through in this book.
$26 at Amazon Buy Oasis: Modern Desert Homes Around the World $40 now 28% off $29 Photo: retailer The light, space, and privacy of desert landscapes have long inspired architects to design the types of homes you’d never see in any other climate. Here, the most inspiring and jaw-dropping are collected in one place. The result is a rich mix of classics (like Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and studio in Abiquiú, New Mexico) and more recent creations, including one aesthete’s “Solar House” in Marfa that has a 360-degree view of its surroundings.
$29 at Amazon Buy Interior Space: A Visual Exploration of the International Space Station $55 Photo: retailer Humans have been living in space — and on the International Space Station — since 2000, but the ISS is scheduled to be abandoned in 2024 and eventually destroyed in 2028. So this book is something of a time capsule, giving readers a behind-the-scenes look into the visual design elements of this century’s first 20 years of space travel and habitation before it becomes obsolete.
$55 at Amazon Buy Luke Gilford: National Anthem: America’s Queer Rodeo $60 Photo: retailer Queer might not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of the rodeo, but photographer and filmmaker Luke Gilford has spent the last three years photographing members of the International Gay Rodeo Association, from drag queens on horses to cowgirls kissing cowgirls, to create this intimate look at this growing subculture of an American pastime.
$60 at Amazon Buy Mungo Thomson: Mail $34 Photo: retailer During the four-month run of a contemporary art exhibition at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, artist Mungo Thomson asked the museum to pile all of its unopened, incoming mail in a corner of the gallery. This growing accumulation of institutional correspondence, junk mail, restaurant menus, magazines, flyers, and more was displayed as a sculpture and measure of time passing. Now Thomson has collected photographs of each piece of mail into this book, which is styled as a mail-order catalogue.
$34 at Amazon Buy Kim Gordon: No Icon $45 now 36% off $29 Photo: retailer Kim Gordon, the co-founder of rock band Sonic Youth, put together this scrapbook of personal photographs, journal entries and lyrics, paired with magazine and newspaper clippings and even ads, to document and give context to her life and career as a musician and artist.
$29 at Amazon Buy The Shadow Knows $50 now 30% off $35 Photo: retailer Photographer Lee Friedlander makes some of the most unconventional and delightful black-and-white portraits out there. In this book — with a title that references a 1930s radio show that ended with the line, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow Knows” — Friedlander turns his lens away from the subject and onto his own shadow, creating scenes that are sometimes playful and often uncanny.
$35 at Amazon Buy X-Files: The Official Archives: Cryptids, Biological Anomalies, and Parapsychic Phenomena $50 now 10% off $45 Photo: retailer For the person who binged all 11 seasons of the classic 1990s sci-fi drama on Hulu, this archival coffee-table book is the ideal thing to settle into next (and will probably take just as much time to comb through). Using detailed illustrations, this ode to the television series gives the reader a look into 50 X-File investigations, designed to look like FBI case files, with notes from Agents Mulder and Scully, autopsy reports, mug shots, lab results, newspaper clippings, and more.
$45 at Amazon Buy Japanese Design Since 1945: A Complete Sourcebook $85 now 36% off $54 Photo: retailer This 400-plus-page book is a comprehensive guide to postwar Japanese design, from the Shinkansen bullet train to the Sony Walkman, and it offers a look at the way in with the country’s heritage of craft culture has been translated to the reality of mass manufacturing.
$54 at Amazon Buy Guerrilla Girls: The Art of Behaving Badly $30 now 17% off $25 Photo: retailer The Guerrilla Girls, wearing gorilla masks to protect their identities, smashed onto the scene in 1985 with their first campaign against sexism in the art world. And 35 years later, this anonymous collective has put out their first book to catalogue their career, aptly titled The Art of Behaving Badly, with hundreds of their street campaigns and large-scale exhibitions designed to expose discrimination, sexism, racism, and corruption in the international art world. Plus, each copy includes a punch-out gorilla mask for yourself.
$25 at Amazon Buy A Slice through America: A Geological Atlas $60 now 20% off $48 Photo: retailer A book of geological diagrams might not sound like a compelling read, but these illustrated cross sections — most of which are pulled from the U.S. Geological Survey — are a surprisingly beautiful, nuanced, even mesmerizing way to understand the American landscape from a very different perspective.
$48 at Amazon Buy Upstate: Living Spaces with Space to Live $57 now 28% off $41 This book comes recommended by Strategist senior editor Anthony Rotunno, who heard about it from Robin Reetz, a Strategist contributor. In his words: “The book features the other half of my in-laws’ extraordinary house in Westchester, which was once a dilapidated part of a centuries-old iron mine until my husbands’ grandparents (and their friends) bought it and transformed it into two single-family homes that share a central wall. My in-laws’ new neighbors (and our new friends), Claire and Derek, oversaw a careful and immaculate redesign — maybe I’m biased, but it’s my favorite of all the homes featured in the book.”
$41 at Amazon Buy Expect a Miracle: Quotations to Live and Love By $16 now 31% off $11 Photo: retailer A book of Danielle Steel’s favorite quotes may sound kitsch, but for anyone looking for a little bit of wisdom, romance, or entertainment this holiday season it might just be the perfect gift. Steel is the best-selling author alive and the fourth best-selling fiction author of all time, having sold over 800 million books worldwide. That alone is reason to be curious about the words that have inspired her throughout her career and her life, and if there’s anything we need in 2020, a miracle is it.
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Democrats to take Senate as Ossoff wins runoff, CNN projects
The Democratic Party will take control of Congress for the first time in a decade, after Democrats the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won their Senate runoffs in Georgia, CNN projected Wednesday.