Bibliophiles know books are the perfect gifts, rendering “they’re so hard to buy for” an empty lament. To wit, this trio of titles truly has something for everyone. All hail the curious mind!
Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them takes a daring approach: There are no photos here. Instead, Wendy MacNaughton illustrates more than 60 tattoos, along with their hand-lettered origin stories curated by Isaac Fitzgerald. MacNaughton’s artfully rendered black-and-white line drawings of her subjects provide a neutral canvas for her full-color interpretations of their vibrant tattoos. Of course, the stories make these body-art vignettes whole: From sad to silly, emotional to eccentric, it’s fascinating to learn what can inspire such an everlasting form of self-expression. Chiming in are artists, professors, a naval officer, pizza aficionados and many more. This is a great gift for the tattooed, the tattoo considerers, art lovers and anyone curious about tattoo whys and wherefores but too shy to ask.
The explosive cover art for 1,339 Quite Interesting Facts to Make Your Jaw Drop is a reasonable facsimile of readers’ brains after they’ve experienced this compendium of wildly interesting, weirdly true facts. The authors are the masterminds of popular BBC quiz show “QI”: John Lloyd is creator, John Mitchinson is director of research, and James Harkin is senior researcher. They’re also the authors of 2013’s best-selling 1,227 Quite Interesting Facts to Blow Your Socks Off, the creation of which led them right to this follow-up book. “Once you are in the Fact Zone, everywhere you look, astonishing new facts seem to wave and demand inclusion,” they explain. There are loads of facts here, on topics as varied as music, milk, Darwin, straitjackets and earlobes. For example: “There are only two sets of escalators in Wyoming,” and “A slug’s anus is on its head.” Now get out there and win on “Jeopardy!”
Step aside, yarn-bombers and artisanal cheese-makers—the rogue taxidermists are here, and Robert Marbury leads the charge with Taxidermy Art: A Rogue’s Guide to the Work, the Culture, and How to Do It Yourself. The book shares taxidermy’s origins, as well as illustrated how-tos for the aspiring taxidermist. It’s also an illuminating look at those who practice the craft today, via page after page of disturbingly beautiful (or beautifully disturbing) works by artists worldwide. Chicago’s Jessica Joslin combines animal bones and intricate metalwork in pieces that are at once robotic and fluid; Julia deVille embellishes her taxidermy with jewels, thus “dazzling us with death”; and Marbury practices “vegan taxidermy” by using toy stuffed animals instead of formerly living creatures. Taxidermy Art is a truly interesting read, rife with intriguing history, talented artists, memorable images—and skull-bleaching instructions, too.