Book Reviews | November 2011 | Rebecca Rego Barry

8 Bookish Gift Books

Every year FB&C publishes a holiday gift guide in its fall issue brimming with interesting book-related art, decor, and jewelry. There is always at least one book on the list, and this year, there were five! But that doesn't cover the great selection of bookish gift books out there this season (which means there are either more being published, or we're just paying closer attention). So here are eight more to entice you on, Cyber Monday and beyond.
Ex Libris: The Art of Bookplates by Martin Hopkinson (Yale University Press, 112 pages, paperback, $15). An easy gift for any booklover on your list, this slim but well produced book features one hundred color illustrations of great bookplates. Aubrey Beardsley, Eric Gill, and many more among the artists. Hard to pick a favorite, but if pressed, I go with William Harcourt Hooper's plate for Richard Stamper Philpott. It looks so William Morris, and with good reason--it features Philpott's home, next door to Kelmscott House in Hammersmith.
WritingGarden.jpgWriting the Garden: A Literary Conversation Across Two Centuries by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers (David R. Godine, 304 pages, hardcover, $27.95). This is a sweet little book for someone who enjoys both reading and gardening. It is a compilation of essays in categories like "Foragers in the Garden," "Spouses in the Garden," and "Teachers in the Garden," with essayists like Celia Thaxter, Edith Wharton, and Michael Pollan. The beautiful decorative binding, pretty jacket, nice paper, and color illustrations truly sets this book apart. A corresponding exhibit at the New York Society Library is up through Feb. 15, 2012.)
Books: A Living History by Martyn Lyons (Getty Publications, 224 pages, hardcover, $34.95). What is most enjoyable about this book is its bite-sized approach. It is a solid history of the book from cuneiform to ebooks without unwieldy chapters or arcane arguments. The full-color illustrations are as plentiful as they are useful, making this an excellent introduction to the history, terminology, and trends in writing and reading books.
Typography Sketchbooks by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico (Princeton Architectural Press, 368 pages, hardcover, $55). Know someone who loves design? A devotee of letter forms or ABCs? Then this celebration of type should be on your list. This book peeps into the private sketchbooks of talented typographers like Emek Golan, Andy Smith, Tom Schamp, Daniel Pelavin, Bernard Maisner, Katie Lombardo, Jonny Hannah, and so many more. This book is bursting with amazing, colorful, often whimsical, imagery.
Maps by Paula Scher (Princeton Architectural Press, 144 pages, hardcover, $50). The big bright maps of Paula Scher seen from afar become delightfully provocative when looked at up close, and this new book affords that enjoyable opportunity again and again. Thirty-nine of her creations are showcased here. Manhattan at Night, a painting, is gorgeous to look at, while All the News That Fits, a work on paper, is a chilling look at the media between 2001-2003. As a bonus, the book's cover folds out into a 3' by 2' frameable reproduction of one of her paintings.
Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe by Susan Dackerman (Yale University Press, 297 pages, paperback, $60 ). This comprehensive book accompanies a Harvard Art Museum exhibit, still up through Dec. 10. It aims to show about Renaissance printmakers contributed to the scientific world of the time. Filled with woodcuts, engravings, etchings, globe gores, maps, "flap" prints, and more, it is quite a resource for serious print collectors.
The Elizabethan Club of Yale University and Its Library by Stephen Parks (Yale University Press, 376 pages, hardcover, $75). A new edition of this title for the club's centenary, it includes full descriptions of the rare books in the Elizabethan Club's collection, including the nearly sixty new acquisitions of the past twenty-five years, and for the first time a listing of manuscripts and objects. It might not be the book for every book collector, but for any with an interest in the Elizabethan age or Shakespeare, it would be quite a lovely addition to their library.
An Americana Sampler: Essays on Selections from the William L. Clements Library, edited by Brian Leigh Dunnigan and J. Kevin Graffagnino (Clements Library, University of Michigan, 185 pages, hardcover, $40). This collection of essays reaches far and wide in Americana--the bible in New England, early daguerrotypes, Swedish-American cookbooks, etc., each written by an expert and illustrated with full-color photographs. This is a book for Americana collectors to dip into now and then, to read the stories behind the fascinating documents and objects collected by the Clements.