Beloved Dog by Maira Kalman


Kalman is revered for her idiosyncratic, philosophical musings paired with her charming, intimate art. Beloved Dog is a reflective, funny, affecting book that any dog lover will cherish.

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Hyper Nature by Philippe Martin


If gnarly, hairy bugs aren’t your thing, the vibrant, up-close photos in Hyper Nature of centipedes, spiders, geckos, snails, and snakes might not win a place in your heart. But for kids (or adults) who want a front-row seat to study up on nature’s creatures, this book will be a winner. Hyper Nature’s most memorable caption? “The tropical giant Aphistogoniulis corallipes, endemic to Madagascar, is a detritivorous centipede without poisonous fangs. But it is able to squirt a repellent toxic spray lethal to small animals such as frogs.”


Home by Ellen Degeneres


If you’re an Ellen fan, you may already know about this revealing book, but if not, Home is a set of alluring photos of the various homes Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi share: their home in L.A., their horse ranch, etc. DeGeneres writes insightful notes about what each home has taught her about design and living.


The Snoopy Treasures: A Celebration of the World Famous Beagle by Nat Gertler


For the real Peanuts fan, The Snoopy Treasures lovingly details the history and escapades of the opinionated beagle. The book includes a number of little treasures tucked into sleeves, like a Snoopy bookmark, a replica of a poster publicizing a Grateful Dead concert that features the little dog, and a letter from President Reagan congratulating Charles Schulz on his work.


The Nature Coloring Book


Stocked with both basic and intricate designs, The Nature Coloring Book provides hours of zen-like coloring of roses, deer, and birds, among other designs. The same publisher, Thunder Bay Press, also publishes The Vintage Coloring Book (full of patterns from the Victorian era to Pop Art), among others.


The Other Paris by Luc Sante


Sante explores how the neighborhoods of Paris have defined the city and perhaps created the true Parisian. There are quartiers or neighborhoods where unexplained recurrences are the norm, and many are devoted to a single specialty, whether it’s street performers, prostitutes, pickpockets, or beggars. Taking Paris to the desperate years after World War II, Sante sees continuance of the “historical regurgitation, when all the ghosts came out maybe for a last dance.” All who love Paris will love this book.


The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African-American Cookbooks by Toni Tipton-Martin


Not a collection of recipes, this painstakingly curated book spotlights the history of crucial African-American cookbooks. Each cookbook Tipton-Martin has chosen to include gets a page or two describing the book’s history and readership, from self-published books that had a tiny audience to works by pioneers like Edna Lewis.


As Above So Below: Art of the American Fraternal Society, 1850-1930 by Lynne Adele and Bruce Lee Webb


This odd and beautiful coffetable book is for the person on your list who is the hardest to buy for; it’s guaranteed that he or she won’t have a book like this. As Above So Below compiles artifacts from fraternal societies: their symbolic charts, parade banners, freaky slides from magic lanterns, and epic photographs of scores of members in their stately, anachronistic ceremonial garb. This book gives hours of pleasurable reading about an aspect of America’s past that hasn’t often been written about.


Polar: A Photicular Book by Dan Kainen and Carol Kaufmann


Kainen and Kaufmann’s previous books Safari and Ocean became bestsellers. Here’s why: this duo’s books are irresistible. Featuring a page of text followed by a 3-D image that seems to move like a film, Polar immerses children in the lives on animals they might never meet: the snowy owl, a polar bear, a walrus (whose photo has it skedaddling along snowy ground). Polar is an excellent way for children ages three and up to become immersed in an exotic world.


Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their Lives Better by Tracey Stewart


The perfect book for an animal advocate, Do Unto Animals is a loving, clear, intriguing, and beautifully illustrated guide. The book is divided into sections about home pets, backyard wildlife, and farm animals and each one has advice ranging from basic (five ways to make cats happy) to esoteric (how to know whether to approach a male turkey based on the color of its head). Stewart’s funny, knowledgeable writing and Lisel Ashlock’s personable, quirky illustrations make this book a winner.


The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil


At 1,008 pages, The Wine Bible might look a little daunting under the Christmas tree for a wine novice. But MacNeil spends more than 100 pages engagingly and clearly explaining the basics of wine, including the nine qualities that make for a great wine and the 10 questions all wine drinkers should be asking. The rest of the book is a global tour of winemaking, which allows readers to dip into regions they’re most interested in.


Life-Size Birds by Nancy J. Hajeski


This book is like a metronome or spinning hypnosis circle: you can easily get zombie face poring through its pages. In vibrant, magnetic photo spreads, Hajeski uncovers odd facts about North American birds (the Cedar Waxwing, for example, makes sound that is “a high, thin, zeeee, often trilled”) but the large format of this book serves another purpose: making birds that flit away as you approach them in nature feel intimate and familiar.


Monet’s Palate Cookbook: The Artist & His Kitchen Garden at Giverny by Aileen Bordman & Derek Fell


A lush, respectful homage to the French painter and gardener, Monet’s Palate Cookbook is filled with recipes inspired by Monet’s love of fine, freshly grown food. The recipes are easy to create at home (Smoked Salmon, Goat Cheese, Thyme and Chive Spread, for example, or Roast Pork with Cherry Sauce). A beautiful book that evokes a beautiful home.


Cabin Porn edited by Zach Klein


“Inside each of us is a home ready to be built,” the writers of this captivating book declare. Easier said than done. For those of us who feel like there’s a home inside of us ready to be built but have no clue how to do so, Cabin Porn fills the hole left in our souls by the inability to build our dream cabin. Divided into nine “how to” chapters (How to Make a Homestead in the Wilderness, How to Live 30 Feet in the Air, e.g.), the book is full of rustic photos of innovative cabins.