Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Bookworm's Holiday Gift Guide

You probably finished your Christmas-gift shopping last June--or, if you are a super-industrious and insanely organized person, maybe you started shopping for Christmas 2014 way back in 2013.  But for the rest of us who haven't gotten everything wrapped up neatly with a bow (literally and figuratively), might I offer a few suggestions for the readers on your list?

Edited by Scott McCloud
This bold, bright book collects the "best" work found in graphic novels, comics and webcomics published between September 1, 2012 and August 31, 2013--a date span which, happily, includes Chris Ware's Building Stories (The Best American Comics anoints it as "Book of the Year"--a reminder that I need to hunker down and read the damn thing).  This year's anthology includes familiar names like Jaime Hernandez, R. Crumb, Ben Katchor, Charles Burns, Allie Brosh (from Hyperbole and a Half) and Adrian Tomine (and if those names aren't familiar to you, then you really need this book to bring you up-to-speed on what's happening in the world of graphic narrative).  For me, the real stand-out of The Best American Comics, however, was the discovery of Raina Telgemeier.  An excerpt from her latest book, Drama, is excerpted here and I was immediately drawn in (pardon the pun) by Telgemeier's terrific pen work which combines realism with occasional cartoon-y flourishes (Telgemeier cites Hi and Lois as one of her influences, and it's easy to see traces of that classic comic strip in the curves and lines of her characters).  The Telgemeier pages found here follow Drama's main character Callie as she and her junior-high friends start preparing for an upcoming school play.  Telgemeier brilliantly captures what it's like to be young, in love, and ripe for public humiliation.  I could totally relate.  Here's the best testimony I can offer up: I loved this excerpt from Drama so much, I immediately went out and bought Telgemeier's other books: Sisters and Smile (her best work to date).  Heck, I even bought one of the graphic novel versions of The Babysitter's Club which she wrote at the beginning of her publishing career.  I am now a die-hard Telgemeier fan and eagerly await her next book.

'Fess up: you've always wanted a Confederacy of Dunces throw pillow.  John Kennedy Toole's unforgettable character is also available on coffee mugs, tote bags, T-shirts and baby onesies.

by David Wills
Bowie, Blondie, Elton.  Diane von Furstenberg and Halston.  Cocaine and mirror balls, disco and punk rock, the parties, the orgies, the sex Sex SEX.  You get an eyeful of the Me Decade in this lavish coffee table book (and just a word of warning: Seventies Glamour is definitely NSFW, so if you have the very young or very old or the very conservative living in your house, you might not want to display this book on your actual coffee table).  David Wills has curated hundreds of photos from the era--from the nightclub dance floor to the concert stage, from the boudoir to the beach, from Diane von Furstenberg at the top of the Empire State Building to Faye Dunaway down below in the streets on the movie set of The Eyes of Laura Mars.  Seventies Glamour is uncaged hedonism at its very peak in a decade dusted with glitter and drugs.

from Mariner Books
All praise and thanks go to Mariner Books and designer Peter Mendelsund for repackaging Italo Calvino's backlist this year.  If you have a reader who's into heady, fantastical, allegorical and damn-fine writing, then you should check out these new editions of Calvino's work: The Complete Cosmicomics, Collection of Sand, Hermit in Paris, The Road to San Giovani, Six Memos for the Next Millennium, The Written World and the Unwritten World, Why Read the Classics?, Into the War and several others.  I myself only have a light acquaintance with Calvino, having read Cosmicomics in grad school, but these beautiful new editions make me want to plunge headlong into his works.  For more on Mendelsund's design process (including some other terrific rejected covers), check out this interview at The New Yorker.

from Book Riot
If, like me, your New Year's goal is to read like a freight train burrowing through a snow jam (anyone else see Snowpiercer?), then the Book Riot store might be a good place for you to shop.  Already have too many T-shirts?  No probs--Book Riot also carries book necklaces, dead writers perfume and library card socks.

from Pen & Candle
These handmade goat's milk soaps make nice little stocking stuffers for bookworms, dirty or not.  I'll take two bars of Moby Dick, please.


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