The eyes have itMother's birthday? Nephew's graduation? Second cousin twice removed's wedding? If you need help selecting a gift for any occasion, you've come to the right place. What gift is always the right color, the right size, and the right price? Why, books, of course!Do you know someone who is so trendy that when they go shopping, they think their clothes are out of style before they can get them to the cash register? Laugh and learn with Holly Brubach's A Dedicated Follower of Fashion (Phaidon, $29.95, 071483887X). A collection of 27 essays published during the past two decades, Brubach's writings offer insight on trends, designers, models, and photographers. There are chapters dedicated to men, shoes, visionaries, and plus-sizes. Luckily, the photographs featured were carefully selected, so some of fashion's . . . er, more outrageous phases are kept within the text. It is a witty, educated observation that isn't muddled into tedium or grandiosity. Brubach takes a scenic route from Paris to New York, with plenty of stops along the way.
One hundred and five years ago, a subtitle reading An Illustrated Monthly was added to the masthead of National Geographic. Since then, photographs featured in the magazine have told stories that reflect our world and the times in which we live. Beginning with those early photographs, six authors have compiled an era-by-era account of the 20th century in National Geographic Photographs: The Milestones (National Geographic Society, $50, 0792275209). Often working in rigorous or rudimentary settings, many of the photographers featured are true pioneers of photojournalism. Look on the wedding portrait of a late 19th-century Zulu couple; observe the conditions of an early 20th-century Mexican cigarette factory; visit Lappland, New York, the Arctic, and scores of other places and events that were hallmarks of the past century. Very often, photographers would return to a previous site with mixed results; progress is evident in many of these revisits, while other photographs reflect areas that remain untouched by time.
If breathtaking scenery and colorful history excites someone on your gift list, you can't do much better than Scotland. Checkmark Books has captured the majesty and mystery of this gorgeous country in Heritage of Scotland: A Cultural History of Scotland and Its People ($29.95, 06003552609). Author Nathaniel Harris's enormous undertaking covers everything from Scotland's landscape to its literary offerings. Beautiful artwork and photographs are featured alongside an abundance of information about Scottish people and their traditions. And yes, clans, kilts, and bagpipes are included, but readers will soon discover there is so much more! Visit the Highland Games, look at priceless works of art, learn the complex linguistic history of the Scottish people, observe the country's most famous structures, many dating back to prehistoric times. Heritage of Scotland is a great item for history buffs and anyone with Scottish roots.
It's a classic dilemma: You're standing in the video store, thinking, What's that movie from the 1940s, the one where John Wayne plays a naval officer and has an affair with a nurse, played by Donna Reed? This dilemma is easily resolved with VideoHound's War Movies: Classic Conflict on Film. Mike Mayo has compiled and arranged over 200 war movies according to the war depicted. This guide includes many documentaries and overlooked films, like The Fighting Sullivans and Come and See. There are sidebars profiling famous actors, listings of full movie credits, and 200 photographs to peruse. Mayo provides commentary and synopsis for each film, mentioning the controversies and histories surrounding some of Hollywood's most powerful movies. Amid trivia and quotes, Mayo is kind enough to include a See Also section for each film, for moviewatchers who are interested in other films that are similar in content, direction, or have the same stars . . . just in case your first choice has been rented out!