Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful 

Photographs and foreword by Kwame Brathwaite

Essays by Tanisha C. Ford and Deborah Willis

Aperture, $40.00

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Inspired by jazz and the teachings of Marcus Garvey, New York artist/activist Kwame Brathwaite (b. 1938) showcases the beauty and creativity of the African diaspora. This gorgeous monograph, featuring 91 black-and-white and four-color images, focuses on Brathwaite’s photos of 1950s and ’60s Harlem. Published in tandem with Brathwaite’s first solo museum show earlier this year, the book vividly explores his substantial contributions to art and culture, including co-founding the African Jazz-Arts Society and Studios, a Harlem-based artists’ collective, and Grandassa Models, a black modeling agency.


Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over

By Alison Roman

Clarkson Potter, $32.50

Do away with dinner party stress—while still thrilling friends—with this well-seasoned sequel to Alison Roman’s bestselling “lo-fi” cookbook, Dining In (2017). “I have always been allergic to the word ‘entertaining,’” Roman writes in Nothing Fancy, “which to me implies there’s a show, something performative at best and inauthentic at worst.” She suggests you strip away the BS, focus on flavor, “ask for help,” “pick your battles,” and “never apologize.” 127 low-key recipes include revolutionized classics (“The Greatest Creamed Greens”), flavor combinations that will change your life (“Tomatoes Dressed in Toasted Fennel and Anchovy”), and perfect desserts (“Torn Plum Brown-Buttered Cake”).


Lizzie Fitch & Ryan Trecartin: Whether Line

Ed. by Chiara Costa

Foreword by Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli

Fondazione Prada, $70.00

 In November 2016, American artists Lizzie Fitch (b. 1981) and Ryan Trecartin (b. 1981) (“the most consequential artist to have emerged since the 1980s,” according to The New Yorker) relocated from Los Angeles to a 32-acre parcel in rural Ohio. The duo commenced transforming the land into a queer artists’ colony/amusement park/movie set in the heart of a Trump-won swing state. The result of a three-year collaboration with Fondazione Prada in Milan, Whether Line interrogates borders—internal and external, real and imagined—exclusion, and entertainment. This curious softcover book, housed in a textured pink box, contains interviews with the artists, essays, and glossy photos of their works in progress.


Atlas of Mid-Century Modern Houses 

By Dominic Bradbury

Phaidon Press, $150.00

 This stately compendium of midcentury modern homes (from the late 1940s to the early 1970s) is a must-have for lovers of architecture and design. Author Dominic Bradbury takes readers on a fascinating tour of 400 “one-off, single-family residences” around the world, featuring the work of more than 290 architects, from big names to obscure geniuses. Together they illustrate how much we owe our current mode of living to the pioneering open-plan layouts, indoor/outdoor spaces, and multipurpose rooms that typify this “golden age of architecture and design.”


A Game of Thrones

By George R.R. Martin

Illus. by Jonathan Burton

The Folio Society, $195.00

The Folio Society is known for luxurious editions of classic books, with a special interest in science fiction and fantasy novels; it’s outdone itself this year with a slipcased copy of A Song of Ice and Fire, the first book in Martin’s A Game of Thrones series, split into two volumes for easier handling. Illustrations by Jonathan Burton create their own phantasmagorical Westeros, which will look familiar to viewers of the TV series without slavishly copying it. The paper is so thick and creamy you may want to eat it, and every detail feels perfectly considered, from the jaunty typeface to the full-color map given its own hard covers. There’s even a picture hidden on the inside of the box. Later books in the series are forthcoming.


The Jewish Cookbook

By Leah Koenig

Phaidon, $49.95

If you think Jewish food means only brisket and kugel, think again. This encyclopedic cookbook includes not only the Eastern European dishes that most Americans think of as Jewish food and Middle Eastern dishes like shakshuka that have been popularized recently by Yotam Ottolenghi, but more unusual delicacies such as Adjaruli Khachapuri, a cheese-filled Georgian pastry, and T’fina pakaila, a white bean and meatball stew from Tunisian Jewish cuisine. Before you even start cooking, reading the recipes will give you a peek into Jewish communities around the world, from Rome to Mumbai to Montreal. The focus is on home cooking, but there are also a number of recipes from contemporary chefs.


Great Women Artists

Phaidon, $59.95

This year, an exhibition of paintings by Hilma af Klint became the most-visited show in the history of the Guggenheim Museum. An expansion of the Museum of Modern Art has added great works by female artists to its once largely male survey of modernism. And now we have this book, a collection of more than 400 artists organized alphabetically, with each getting a large page featuring full-color artwork and a biographical sketch that explores her work and places it in context. Af Klint is here as well as names both familiar and less so; the book will provide hours of fascinating reading and introduce you to artists such as Gluck, who was born Hannah Gluckstein in London in 1936 but preferred to work under a gender-neutral single name.  


Morning Glory on the Vine: Early Songs & Drawings

By Joni Mitchell

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40.00

Give the gift that peerless singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell herself gave friends for the halcyon Christmas of 1971: a collection of handwritten lyrics and drawings she made with colored pens. (“All my friends were kind of nouveau riche,” Mitchell explains in a foreword, “so buying Christmas presents was going to be really difficult.”) That book, originally compiled in a three-ring binder, has now been reproduced in a high-quality coffee-table volume perfect for the Joni devotees in your life. Here are the lyrics to “Woodstock,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “A Case of You,” and “River” (“It’s coming on Christmas / They’re cutting down trees”); along with portraits of Judy Collins, Graham Nash, and James Taylor; the cover illustration for Court and Spark; and more.


Picador Modern Classics

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

Picador Modern Classics, $16.00 each

These irresistible pocket-sized books—just 5.8 by 3.7 inches—make for a charming little library that takes up less space on your shelves and travels easily. With simple, colorful cover illustrations by Anna Parini, the latest editions comprise a treasury of great fiction: Cunningham’s clever and moving gloss on Mrs. Dalloway; Hazzard’s lyrical novel of an English soldier and a young Japanese woman after World War II; Isherwood’s classic of a middle-aged gay Englishman making his way in 1960s Southern California; and Jackson’s most famous and macabre story.


Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: A Visual History

By Melissa Wagner, Tim Lybarger, and Jenna McGuiggan

Clarkson Potter, $35.00

With the film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood coming to theaters, starring Tom Hanks as children’s television icon Fred Rogers, nostalgia for Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood may be at a high-water mark. This illustrated volume, full of stills from the show, photos from behind the scenes, interviews with cast and crew, and a rundown of all the puppets (Lady Elaine Fairchilde, Daniel Striped Tiger) and special guests (Julia Child, Margaret Hamilton), will have a Proustian effect on anyone who grew up watching the beloved program. Hanks supplies a foreword.


The Art of Nothing: 25 Years of “Mutts” and the Art of Patrick McDonnell

Abrams ComicArts, $40.00

“Mutts,” Patrick McDonnell’s daily comic strip, first appeared in 1994 and now runs in more than 700 newspapers around the world. Like George Herriman’s “Krazy Kat” and Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” before it, the strip—focused on the adventures of Mooch the cat and Earl the dog—manages to be both playful and philosophical. This volume collects some of McDonnell’s best strips along with original sketches, commentary from the artist, and a look at his children’s books. The book concludes with several pages of McDonnell writing and drawing about his inspirations, as requested and compiled by fellow cartoonist Lynda Barry.


The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

Seven Stories Press, boxed set, $50.00

These influential science fiction classics, from 1993 and 1997 respectively, form the first two volumes of a projected trilogy that was unfinished when Butler, called the mother of Afrofuturism, died in 2006. Set in a not-so-futurisic California, where walled enclaves offer slim protection against marauding hordes, the Parable novels are powerful dystopian tales that encompass climate change, income inequality, the malfeasance of political leaders and other themes that resonate more than ever. This boxed set, with striking cover art by Paul Lewin, has new introductions by Gloria Steinem and Toshi Reagon.


Pasta Grannies: The Secrets of Italy’s Best Home Cooks

By Vicky Bennison

Hardie Grant; $29.99

In 2014, Vicky Bennison launched an archival audiovisual project spotlighting the personal stories and unrecorded recipes of pasta-making grandmothers from every region of Italy. “I was going to create a kind of Noah’s Ark of handmade pasta-making techniques,” she writes in Pasta Grannies, a joyous book based on her wildly popular YouTube channel by the same name. Depicting 75 nonne from a variety of backgrounds—specializing in every type of pasta imaginable—Pasta Grannies provides everything readers need to repeat the age-old processes that yield some of the world’s most delicious dishes.