AMERICAN FANTASTIC TALES edited by Peter Straub — Should you have a horror hound on your holiday gift list, this is what you get them: Library of America’s two-volume set, well-edited with unconventional choices by Straub. End of story. Check. You’re done. Still need convincing? Damn, you’re a problematic one, but all right: This esoteric survey of the American scary story covers some 150 years across two handsome hardcovers, cloth bookmark included: TERROR AND THE UNCANNY FROM POE TO THE PULPS and TERROR AND THE UNCANNY FROM THE 1940S TO NOW. Either is exceptional, but purchasing both are a must. With talents such as Stephen Crane to Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft to T.E.D. Klein, it’s a set to treasure … and terrify.
STAR TREK: THE ART OF THE FILM by Mark Cotta Vaz — J.J. Abrams’ STAR TREK reboot was an unqualified smash hit this summer, and partial credit for its success must go to its sleek look. Cotta Vaz explores this element of the movie in STAR TREK: THE ART OF THE FILM. The Titan Books release is “a lavishly illustrated celebration of that new vision, tracing the evolution of the movie’s look through a stunning array of previously unseen pre-production paintings, concept sketches, costume and set designs, unit photography and final frames.” Personally, I loved all the discarded poster designs that appear at the end.
CLASSIC TOYS OF THE NATIONAL TOY HALL OF FAME: CELEBRATING THE GREATEST TOYS OF ALL TIME! by Scott G. Eberle and the Strong National Museum of Play — Who doesn’t love toys? That’s right: No one! Who doesn’t love pictures of toys? Ditto. From one of the nation’s largest history museums and a Smithsonian affiliate comes a heavy, hearty helping of some of the greatest playthings known to mankind. The detail on the photos helps gets your nostalgic juices flowing, including the Slinky, the Frisbee and that plastic hottie known as Barbie.
FOOD JOURNEYS OF A LIFETIME: 500 EXTRAORDINARY PLACES TO EAT AROUND THE GLOBE by National Geographic — You know how they say never to go to the grocery store on an empty stomach? Same goes for flipping through the pages of this culinary survey around the world, presented as only National Geographic can. Plane tickets aren’t cheap, but this 320-pager is certainly affordable, taking you to Japan for sushi, to France for a glass of wine, and all the other corners of the gastronomic globe. Warning: Yes, the photos are in full color.
BETTE DAVIS: LARGER THAN LIFE by Richard Schickel and George Perry — Yep, she may have been a bitch, but she’s still one of the silver screen’s all-time greats. Celebrated movie critics Schickel and Perry team up for this authorized tribute to the star of such classics as ALL ABOUT EVE, JEZEBEL and WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? This heavily illustrated book includes a complete filmography and hundreds of rare photographs culled from her long life.
1001 CHILDREN’S BOOK YOU MUST READ BEFORE YOU GROW UP by Julia Eccleshare and Quentin Blake — The only thing better than reading a great children’s book is reading about great children’s books you may have missed, and this guide certainly will introduce you to more than your fair share. Kids’ reading material isn’t just for kids — witness the recent phenomenon of HARRY POTTER, LEMONY SNICKET, et al — and this nearly 1,000-page guide covers all age groups and many a decade. Having vintage book covers to illustrate Eccleshare and Blake’s picks are a definite plus, for those with an eye for design.
THE BATMAN VAULT: A MUSEUM-IN-A-BOOK WITH RARE COLLECTIBLES FROM THE BATCAVE by Robert Greenberger and Matthew K. Manning — If you already have or just have seen AmazonTHE DC VAULT, you know what to expect from THE BATMAN VAULT: a complete history of the comics’ caped crusader, and an absolute treasure trove of removable items. Those includes character sketches, posters, a glider, mini-comics, a mask, production-design pieces for the BATMAN films and other assorted ephemera, all in a ringed binder. Is this the perfect gift for fans of the Dark Knight? Duh.
WHO SHOT ROCK & ROLL: A PHOTOGRAPHIC HISTORY, 1955-PRESENT by Gail Buckland — Don’t let the extremely sweaty face of Tina Turner turn you off of this photographic history lesson of rock music. More than 200 images from a wealth of photographers are collected here, capturing such moments as Elvis Presley tonguing a female fan, Henry Rollins smashing a mirror with a bloody fist, or Sid Vicious messily eating a hot dog with mustard. Some of the photos are iconic; others will be new to you. Thumbnails of some classic album covers complement the volume.
LOST WORLDS by John Howe — Known for his work on Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, Howe is a supremely talented illustrator, and this 96-page trip into places that do not exist shows you why. Heavy on fantasy and mythology, the color spreads imagine landscapes of Atlantis, Asgard, Troy, Babylon, Mount Olympus, Hollow Earth, Timbuktu and many more.
Buy them at Amazon.