If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary for the bibliophiles on your list, here’s a collection of notable new releases that includes books about books, artwork made from books, a richly illustrated classic and more. Because books really do make the best gifts!
The singular mind of Umberto Eco takes readers on a tour of fabled places in literature and folklore in The Book of Legendary Lands. In this lavishly illustrated book, Eco explores “lands and places that, now or in the past, have created chimeras, utopias, and illusions because a lot of people really thought they existed or had existed somewhere.” From Atlantis to Camelot, 21B Baker Street to Dracula’s castle, he contemplates why these places are invented and why our imaginations have embraced them. The more than 300 color illustrations range from the canvases of Bosch, Rossetti and Magritte, to illustrations by Arthur Rackham and N.C. Wyeth, to movie stills and book jackets. At once intellectually stimulating and visually stunning, The Book of Legendary Lands is a distinctive gift for the serious reader.
BOOKS INTO ART
Some book lovers may shudder at the prospect of their precious books being “altered, sculpted, carved, and transformed” into something other than, well, books, but there can be no denying that the creations made by artists and displayed in Laura Heyenga’s Art Made from Books are dazzling to behold. Twenty-seven artists who use books as their primary material have fashioned everything from jewelry to chess sets out of all different kinds of books. Some, like Cara Barer, transform the books themselves into sculptural objects, while others, such as Jennifer Collier, make mock household items like shoes and knives. Alex Queral carves celebrity faces into phone books. Better seen than described, Art Made from Books is whimsical and inspirational, and begs the question—could any of these gorgeous artworks be made with e-readers?
ILLUMINATING THE DARKNESS
From its very title, Joseph Conrad’s masterwork, Heart of Darkness, conjures the murky jungle of the Congo and Marlow’s dark passage deep into the human psyche. But, in the arresting artwork by Matt Kish in this new illustrated edition of the classic (a follow-up to his art-enhanced edition of Moby-Dick), there is as much light as darkness. When he was contemplating how to convey the story pictorially, Kish realized that “Conrad’s Africa, the scene of so much death, so much killing, so much horror, would not be a dark place in the literal sense.” The 100 drawings are awash with bright acid greens, diseased yellows and blood reds. The haunting images have a Day of the Dead quality, with skeletal figures and skull-like faces. The effect is at once unsettling and compelling, inviting readers to consider a fresh interpretation of this ageless, seminal work.
TALE OF A BELOVED GARDEN
Beatrix Potter’s first and most famous book originally bore the longer title of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor’s Garden, and as Marta McDowell makes abundantly clear in her lovely book, Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, the lure of the garden was an essential aspect of the writer’s life. Potter bought her beloved Hill Top Farm, in England’s Lake District, when she was nearly 40, and in time transformed it into her own version of paradise. This volume is a cornucopia of delights for anyone who shares Potter’s love of gardening, as well as those who simply love her enduring work. McDowell provides a congenial biography of Potter as observed through the prism of her gardens, and follows her through a year in the garden. There is valuable information for travelers planning to visit not only Hill Top, but also other English gardens that shaped Potter’s horticultural passions, and an appendix that details all of the plants Potter grew and those she featured in her books. Copiously illustrated with photographs and Potter’s own drawings, this charming work is a must for the book-loving gardener or garden-loving bibliophile.
COLLECTING THE COLLECTIVE
A Circus of Puffins? A Shiver of Sharks? What lover of words doesn’t relish the cleverness of collective nouns? A band of four friends who form Woop Studios (two of whom were graphic designers on the Harry Potter movies) offer the dazzling, richly colorful A Compendium of Collective Nouns. From an Armory of Aardvarks to a Zeal of Zebras—and everything in between—they have compiled some 2,000 examples. Full-page, full-color illustrations with a cheery retro feel are supplemented with dozens of smaller pictures scattered throughout the text. A Charm of Words to delight logophiles, for sure.
WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED
As a reader, you probably already know that books can be good for what ails you. Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin have taken this notion to the logical next step with The Novel Cure. Modeled on a home medical handbook, this witty compendium prescribes just the right book—751 different remedies in all—to combat both physical and psychological disorders. Lost your job? Read Bartleby, the Scrivener or Lucky Jim. Nauseated? Try Brideshead Revisited (if not for Sebastian’s nausea, the authors point out, Charles Ryder would never have gone to Brideshead). The Debt to Pleasure will help the gluttonous, and Crime and Punishment will help assuage guilt. For ailments without a simple cure—the common cold, fear of flying, snoring—the authors supply lists of the 10 best books to get you through.