Just when you think you’ve assimilated every Beatles tidbit, along comes Mark Lewisohn’s Tune In. Any and all fans will rejoice in the exhaustive research, exhilarating detail and never-before-seen photographs.
Reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon, Aaron Becker gives his little girl a red marker and a colossal imagination in the gorgeously illustrated Journey. The character makes her way by magic carpet, boat and balloon to an enchanted world full of wonder and danger.
Men young and old will appreciate Fat, Drunk, & Stupid: The Inside Story Behind the Making of Animal House. Matty Simmons gets up close and personal with extensive interviews from the cast and crew of this classic American film.
Occupied children make happy parents, and Trish Kuffner lays it out in The Toddler Busy Book. This gift will keep on giving.
Another great choice, First Art for Toddlers and Twos: Open Ended Art Experiences by MaryAnn F. Kohl promises to keep kids busy and happy. Tons of tactile and creative choices make this book indispensible.
"Downton Abbey" and "Prime Suspect" fans – and they are legion – can rejoice in Rebecca Eaton’s Making Masterpiece. This look behind the curtain of Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! delights and informs in equal measure.
For a more sumptuous gift, try Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey by Emma Rowley. Brimming with photos, trivia and delicious tidbits to read by the fire, this coffee table book amazes at every turn of the page.
The remarkable Tavi Gevinson shows her stripes in Rookie Yearbook Two. Material from the author’s website covers all things female with additional content from such girly greats as Mindy Kaling, Judy Blume and Lena Dunham.
Daughter of the famous sculptor Alexander Calder, Sandra Calder Davidson inherited her father’s talent in spades. The Calder Family and Other Critters: Portraits and Reflections showcases a unique work of drawings and vignettes of the family that delights at every turn.
Those who like to live on the edge will appreciate Lars Eighner’s story of survival, Travels with Lizbeth: Three Years on the Road and on the Street. This account of the author’s adventures in homelessness, hitchhiking, dumpster diving and struggling to get by manages to evoke sympathy without despair.
Fresh, regional cooking is a way of life in France, not a trend. Clotilde’s Dusoulier’s The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes from My Parisian Kitchen makes this crystal clear with easy, delicious, vegetarian recipes such Zucchini and Apricot Socca Tart, which will make you pledge to support your local farmer.
What could be more pleasing than a freshly baked pie? Emily and Melissa Elsen’s The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, Uncommon Recipes from the Celebrated Brooklyn Pie Shop delivers delicious and “uncommon” recipes. For example, the Strawberry Balsamic and Salted Caramel Apple Pie will make your mouth water.
Torn from the headlines, Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois takes inspiration from the true life tale of Amanda Knox. Tartly and expertly drawn, the author makes the story her own with unique and fully believable characters, born of privilege and completely astonished to find themselves in such unsavory circumstances.
One of our most lauded authors, Jonathan Lethem does it again with Dissident Gardens. Focusing on family, politics and the ways in which we distract ourselves, this epic novel of the Zimmers winds it way through most of the twentieth century, taking no prisoners along the way.
How does Donna Tartt do it? Her latest, The Goldfinch, may just be my favorite title of the year. This saga of a lost boy brings to mind the best of Dickens, combining a richness and readability that is exceedingly rare in contemporary literature.
The food, the weather, the culture! Phaidon’s editors’ Sicily brings the romance to life with recipes and photos celebrating this singular region. It’s a simply gorgeous book.
Claire Lloyd will make you green with jealousy as you page through My Greek Island Home. A Londoner looking for a quieter life, the author documents a journey of discovery that leads her to the island of Lesvos. The photos and essays will make you yearn for a quieter, warmer existence.
History lovers will appreciate the true crime aspect of Quiet Dell, by Jayne Anne Phillips. This tale of a serial killer, an intrepid journalist and the cold-blooded murder of a widow and her three children will keep you rechecking the locks on your doors deep into the night.
A terrific book to dip into and have a laugh, Roger Ebert’s A Horrible Experience of Unbearable Length: More Movies that Suck compiles the worst of the worst of the critic’s film reviews. From the wretched All About Steve to the ridiculous Sex and the City 2, take in the Hollywood's absurdity and let it alchemize into pure comic gold.