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If you are the sort of person who can’t bear to part with sentimental objects—“That belonged to Mamaw!”—this book is for you. Packed inside The Heirloomist: 100 Heirlooms and the Stories They Tell are photographs and stories of 100 items belonging to everyday as well as famous people, including Gloria Steinem, Rosanne Cash and Gabby Giffords. Their treasures might be a Rolex watch or a Rolleiflex camera—or simply scribbled notes, ticket stubs and even a plateful of spaghetti and meatballs. 

After becoming curator of her family’s important items, Shana Novak turned to other people’s stuff. Her photography and storytelling business, The Heirloomist, has documented over 1,500 keepsakes since 2015. No matter their financial value, she writes, “all are priceless, precisely because their stories will play your heartstrings like a symphony.” Take, for example, the daughter of a New York City firefighter who died on 9/11. Several years after that tragedy, she and her mother opened a toy chest and found an old Magna Doodle, on which her father had written: “Dear Tiana, I love you. Daddy.” 

The Heirloomist is meant to be shared with loved ones, especially those who harangue you to declutter. They may even start rummaging through basement boxes with a freshly appreciative eye. 

Shana Novak’s gorgeous, poignant The Heirloomist documents 100 treasures beloved by everyday and famous people.

Adventure, anyone? While Ikumi Nakamura is best known as a Japanese video game artist and developer with an interest in horror and mystery, she has another fascinating side. As Project UrbEx: Adventures in Ghost Towns, Wastelands and Other Forgotten Worlds reveals, she’s also a fearless, adventurous photographer who has long traveled the world to explore and capture unusual and hidden locations. (For the uninitiated, UrbEx is short for urban exploration, a sometimes-dangerous pastime exploring structures and abandoned ruins in the human-made environment.)

This volume includes images from Nakamura’s explorations in North America, Europe and Asia accompanied by short, evocative essays and captions by Cam Winstanley, written based on interviews with Nakamura. The photos range from an old Italian garment factory, a decaying theme park in Bali nearly overgrown with lush vegetation, and the ruins of military planes baking in the Mojave Desert sun. A few depict Nakamura herself in precarious positions as she attempts to capture a shot.

It is unfortunate that the text is printed in neon orange, which readers may find difficult to read. Otherwise, this beautifully designed book is an intriguing conversation starter that may inspire photographers to undertake their own explorations.

 

In Project UrbEx, photographer Ikumi Nakamura explores and captures unusual and hidden locations throughout the world.
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Documentary filmmaker and historian Ken Burns believes that photographs are portals “not just to a different time and space but also to dimensions and possibilities within myself.” Through photographs and illustrations, these books are guaranteed to transport you.

Apollo Remastered

Book jacket image for Apollo Remastered by Andy Saunders

Apollo Remastered: The Ultimate Photographic Record is a weighty, large-format coffee table book that beams readers right into its cosmic world. The original NASA film from the Apollo missions (which includes some 35,000 images) has been safely secured inside a frozen vault at the Johnson Space Center, but new technology has allowed digital restoration expert Andy Saunders to painstakingly remaster this treasure trove of photographs, many of which have never been published. The results are pure magic, full of clarity, sharpness and color that make readers feel like part of the team—a far cry from those grainy images that were broadcast on TV at the time. 

During their spaceflights, many astronauts were shocked by how moved they felt looking back at Earth, and readers will see why. Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell notes, “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it.” Apollo 9’s Rusty Schweickart recommends reading this book at night, surrounded by darkness and silence, to allow the gleaming spacecraft and spacesuits to shimmer and shine.

Our America

Book jacket image for Our America by Ken Burns

In the tradition of Walker Evans’ groundbreaking 1938 book, American Photographs, Ken Burns has assembled a collection of his favorite images in Our America: A Photographic History. “I’ve needed forty-five years of telling stories in American history, of diving deep into lives and moments, places and huge events, to accrue the visual vocabulary to embark on this book,” he writes in his introduction. 

These black-and-white photographs are arranged chronologically from 1839 to 2019, with only one on each page for full visual impact. They’re labeled by date and place (at least one for each state), with fuller explanations at the back of the book, and they are mesmerizing, drawing on a multitude of personalities, emotions and events. The images depict the brutally scarred back of an enslaved man, decomposing bodies at Gettysburg, frozen Niagara Falls, a 1909 game of alley baseball in Boston, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Elvis onstage and, finally, a stunning portrait of Congressman John Lewis from 2019.

Illustrated Black History

Book jacket image for Illustrated Black History by George McCalman

For Illustrated Black History: Honoring the Iconic and the Unseen, artist, designer and creative director George McCalman created 145 original portraits spotlighting Black pioneers in many fields, each accompanied by a short biographical essay. Moving alphabetically from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to cinematographer Bradford Young, McCalman uses a bold array of acrylics, watercolors, pen and ink and colored pencils, to capture each personality in an individualized way. “I document body language, I document exuberance, I document pain,” he writes. “I draw like a reporter because I am a reporter.” 

McCalman began this project by challenging himself to paint one such portrait every day for a month, and the result overflows with energy and color. His choices are inspiring and well-rounded, running the gamut from Frederick Douglass and James Baldwin to activist Alicia Garza and food journalist Toni Tipton-Martin.

My Travels With Mrs. Kennedy

Book jacket image for My Travels With Mrs. Kennedy by Clint Hill

Despite the mountains of books already written about the Kennedys, I couldn’t put down My Travels With Mrs. Kennedy, a conversational memoir and very personal photo album by Clint Hill. A former Secret Service agent who served under five U.S. presidents, Hill was present during John F. Kennedy’s assassination and later assigned to the first lady and her children. He’s written other books about those experiences, including several with his wife and co-author, Lisa McCubbin Hill. 

This book was sparked by the process of cleaning out the garage of Hill’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, going through boxes of memorabilia, including a forgotten steamer trunk. Dialogue between the co-authors makes the book immensely readable as they discuss their discoveries and Hill’s memories. Numerous photos bring each scene to life, capturing intimate moments that reveal the first family’s personalities, especially that of Jackie. Of their relationship, Hill writes, “It wasn’t romantic. But it was beyond friendship. We could communicate with a look or a nod.”

The Only Woman

Book jacket image for The Only Woman by Immy Humes

The Only Woman is a unique gallery of group portraits that contain a lone female figure surrounded by men. There’s Marie Curie, for instance, with her head in her hand, looking downright bored among a group of suited scientists at a 1911 conference in Belgium. There’s 9-year-old Ab Hoffman, who earned a spot on a Canadian hockey team for one season in 1956 because her coaches hadn’t noticed her gender. In a 1982 photo, a white male U.S. Army Diver candidate sneers at Andrea Motley Crabtree, a Black woman who made the training cut when he didn’t. “Most of the men hated me being there,” Crabtree recalls. “He couldn’t understand how I was better than him.” 

Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Immy Humes provides concise commentary throughout her collection, which spans from 1862 to 2020. She speaks to “the pleasure of spotting them, and then, most of all, the mystery of them: What was she doing there?”

Affinities

Affinities book cover

In need of some creative downtime? Curl up with the hefty Affinities: A Journey Through Images From the Public Domain Review and lose yourself in a delightfully imaginative, visionary game. The book’s 350-plus pages contain a miscellany of images arranged to showcase unexpected similarities. For example, one section features the shapes of outstretched arms as seen in a 16th-century drawing of a mechanical arm, an image of the Borghese Gladiator sculpture, a John Singleton Copley painting and—of all things—a photo of damage sustained to the bow of the HMS Broke during a World War I battle. 

With images old and new from around the world, all selected from the archive of the Public Domain Review, this is a book designed for random perusal. Some images come with suggested paths to different pages, creating a sort of chutes-and-ladders effect. As explained in the introduction, the result is “a maze of rootlike cut-throughs that allow you to move through the book in different ways, to disrupt the sequence and carve through your own serpentine trajectory.”

The armchair historian’s wish list isn’t a tough nut to crack. Just give them a great book.
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★ From Harvest to Home

Let me be a voice in passionate support of relishing all things fall: Pile those pumpkins! Bust out the mums! Go big on apples and cinnamon! I am here for it. With From Harvest to Home, lifestyle blogger Alicia Tenise Chew speaks right to the deepest autumnal cravings with recipes, low-key crafts and lists of scary movies and top Thanksgiving TV episodes. Nachos get a fall twist (and healthy upgrade) with sweet potatoes, French 75 cocktails go goth with the addition of activated charcoal, and there’s a pumpkin gnocchi with cinnamon sage brown butter sauce that I most certainly will be requesting of my home-cook husband. Chew provides checklists of activities you might enjoy during each of the three fall months, a welcome inspo tool for us easily overwhelmed types, as well as self-care tips for the return of short days and cold weather. You don’t have to do all the fall things, of course. But you can more deeply delight in a few faves with the help of this book—and feel not a shred of shame for loving flannel and pumpkin spice lattes. 

An American in Provence

Perhaps you’ve heard this story: Highly successful urban professional departs the rat race, decamps to the countryside and achieves a slower, simpler, even more beautiful life. But you’ve never seen rustic expatriation evoked quite so lusciously as it is in An American in Provence, artist Jamie Beck’s pictorial memoir. Beck is a photographer, and alongside romantic self-portraits, still lifes, sweeping landscapes and tablescapes, she shares generously of her expertise. There are tips for photographing children, getting the most out of your smartphone camera and working with natural lighting. Along the way Beck writes of settling in the small French town of Apt, giving birth to her daughter, Eloise, and leaning into the seasonal rhythms of the region. Recipes are sprinkled throughout like herbes de Provence: a violet sorbet, daube Provençale, wild thyme grilled lamb. In total, the effect is bewitching and immersive, and quite the motivation to save for one’s own dream trip to the hills, fields and ancient villages of southeastern France.

How to Be Weird

In high school, I was often told that I was weird. I took it as a point of pride, and still do. Weird is a thing to strive for in my book, as it is in Eric G. Wilson’s How to Be Weird, which amounts to an Rx for the rote life, an antidote to crushing mundanity. The small actions and thought experiments compiled here, 99 in total, are intended to disrupt dull thinking, to help us see our world and ourselves in fresh ways. They could be applied usefully in many settings, from classroom to cocktail party to corporate retreat. And as the veteran English professor he is, Wilson connects many of the actions to history, philosophy, literature, the sciences and so on. If you don’t end up weirder in the best ways from sniffing books or inventing new curse words, you’ll at least have gleaned some solid knowledge along the way.

Set up the perfect gourd-themed tablescape, photograph it like a pro, and then invite all your weirdest friends over to partake of autumn’s bounty. If this sounds like your definition of a good time, read on.
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 Everything, Beautiful

In a world unspeakably darkened by crisis, it might seem trifling to even think about appreciating, cultivating or devoting our attention to beauty. Focusing on beauty might even read as an act of oblivious privilege. But perhaps a fuller contemplation of what beauty is, can be and has been, and what it can mean in our everyday lives, is in fact one step toward repairing massive-scale damage. Writer and illustrator Ella Frances Sanders believes it is. In Everything, Beautiful, she envisions learning to see beauty as a curative, even redemptive process, “like putting a delicate, very broken vase back together.” No matter how broken our world, it is nevertheless full of “tiny, beautiful things,” she writes. “Some are so invisible or silent that you may never see or understand them, but they are there.” Through text, illustration and guided prompts, Sanders upends and expands our notions of beauty and urges us to notice the ingredients for beauty that are all around us, such as “light, slowness, and the kind of air temperatures that feel like honey.”

Lost Places

I live in a boomtown where every old structure seems to either meet the wrecking ball or get a second life via adaptive reuse. Paging through the images in Lost Places, I’m swept into another world, one where the vestiges of America’s past are left, silent and uninhabited, to be transformed by weather and time. Heribert Niehues’ photographs of abandoned cars, houses, gas stations and other structures tell a story about our country’s past. They are also suffused with mystery: What lives did these places once contain? Who last passed through these doors? Scenes of decaying diner interiors are among the spookiest, with guests’ checks, condiment containers and fry baskets left behind. Car buffs will enjoy Niehues’ many images of rusted-out, early- to mid-20th-century models. Many of the abandoned edifices captured here fell victim to the interstate system when it rerouted travel in the 1950s and ’60; one wonders what of our present might be left behind a century from now, as climate change remaps the landscape.

Forever Beirut

Forever Beirut, a cookbook with accompanying essays and stunning photographs, was conceptualized by Barbara Abdeni Massaad as a way to help her beloved home country in the aftermath of a terrible 2020 explosion at the port of Beirut. In response to disaster and economic collapse, the book passionately preserves the treasures of Beirut’s culinary heritage, with recipes for favorites such as kibbeh, a dish of ground lamb, beef or vegetables kneaded together with bulgur; man’oushe, a traditional flatbread; mezze, small dishes served together such as chickpeas and yogurt; and semolina cake. This is the stuff of my culinary dreams: food that is aromatically spiced, uncomplicated and yet bursting with flavor, served to the reader within a deep, loving sociocultural context.

Look a little closer, and you’ll find beauty lurking in unexpected places. The three books in this month’s lifestyles column will help you spot it.
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★ Edible Plants

In Edible Plants, Jimmy W. Fike takes native North American plant specimens—such as dandelion, rocket, sassafras, spicebush and pawpaw—out of their natural surroundings and meticulously digitally photographs them against black backdrops. In each image, the stark contrast makes visible the magical potency and potential of these common living things, many of which are often dismissed as weeds. Fike colorizes the edible portions of each plant, while the inedible parts are kept a delicate, even eerie gray. These striking photographs seek to inform, similar to the horticultural photography and illustrations of eras past, perhaps making foragers of us all. But what’s more, they are painstakingly beautiful. This book would make an impressive gift for the naturalist in your life.

Cats & Books

How can we not give a shoutout to Cats & Books, a slim-and-trim, adorable celebration of felines sprawled amid TBR piles and perched on bookshelves? This is a hashtag-to-print project: The photos are crowdsourced from Instagram users worldwide who tagged their photos #CatsandBooks. Now compiled in print, short captions give glimpses of these kitties’ personalities. For example, George from Germany “is a gentle soul and the best office buddy one could ask for.” (Sweet George is shown with a paw flung possessively over a copy of Sally Rooney’s Normal People.) Any person who loves cats and also loves books obviously needs to own this small treasure.

Things You Can Do

Last night at dinner, my daughter complained about the absence of meat in her tacos, which led to a discussion of sustainable eating. She didn’t grasp the connection between a carnivorous diet and climate change, so I brought to the table Things You Can Do and read from Chapter 3, “A Climate-Friendly Diet.” I daresay I got through to her, and I imagine New York Times journalist Eduardo Garcia’s compact, well-sourced guide to fighting climate change and reducing waste will continue to help us play our small but mighty part. Grounded in science, this approachable book offers a 360-degree view of the causes and effects of a warming planet, from reliance on coal to the excesses of modern life, including the overuse of air conditioning, increased meat consumption, car culture and much more. I for one am glad to have this resource, rounded out by beautiful watercolor and gouache illustrations by Sara Boccaccini Meadows, at my fingertips for family meals and beyond.

The natural world and all of its delicate delights take center stage in this month’s roundup of the best and most beautiful lifestyles books.

Thumbing through a beautifully designed coffee-table book is a sure way to provoke a love of photography. Just in time for the holidays, here are three gorgeous photo books that are sure to please the art or nature lover on your list—and perhaps you can keep one for yourself, too.

Shop Cats of China

Cats have charmed and fascinated humans for millennia. From ancient Egypt to modern times, cats have been depicted in art, mummified in tombs and even immortalized by the popular social media account @bodegacatsofinstagram. In Shop Cats of China, Marcel Heijnen takes readers on a photographic tour of China’s many retail shops, the people who run them—and the furry loiterers who clearly know they’re the stars of the show.

Equal parts street photography, cat portraiture and whimsical poetry, Shop Cats of China is much more than cute pictures of cats. The street scenes in this book, sometimes languid and colorful, sometimes kinetic and full of city life, are lovingly punctuated with haiku and cat stories (written by Ian Row) that add a layer of sweetness and humor to each image. A man pours tea into cups while a relaxed white cat looks directly at the camera and wonders if he’s invited. Red seafood bins surround an orange cat who, ironically, doesn’t like seafood. A spotted cat sits atop a bicycle and waits for a friend. These scenes and others will delight and entertain anyone who is fascinated by the relationship between humans and their cats, while the surrounding textures and colors offer a slice of Chinese shop culture and street life.

Birds

Tim Flach is a world-class nature photographer with the heart of a painter. His new book, Birds, offers a unique and up-close view of his avant-garde wildlife photography. The glossy pages full of shockingly sharp images show many elegant and rare birds, from songbirds and parrots at rest, to raptors and birds of paradise in flight. Feathers look like landscapes, beaks glisten like gold and onyx, and the birds’ elegant postures make them all look like royalty. The bright colors are so beautiful that they seem almost unnatural, while the details look real enough that you could reach out and touch them. Full of personality and exquisite artistry, Birds will mesmerize nature lovers with its compassion and profound beauty.

Night on Earth

Though it’s normally hidden under the cover of darkness, the world can look magical at night, as photographer Art Wolfe reveals in his remarkable new book. One of the first images in Night on Earth is a stunning, almost overwhelming photograph of Mount Etna in Sicily, erupting purple ash. A perfectly round moon peeks out from behind the plumes of dangerous-looking dark smoke as pink, red and blue clouds dance around in the background of the night sky. It’s a compelling shot to start this dazzling collection, which is filled with impressive images.

To capture these cinematic nightscapes, Wolfe traveled to all seven continents and photographed starry skies, animals, humans, natural scenery and cities. The result is an assemblage of unusual sights that occur while most people are asleep—including black rhinoceroses rambling through Etosha National Park in Namibia, fishermen on stilts in Myanmar, late-night commuters in Tokyo, penguins ambling on the shores of an island in the Atlantic Ocean and an offering floating on the Ganges River in Varanasi, India. Organized into helpful chapters, such as “Stars and Shadows” and “The Creatures of the Night,” these 250 pages of vibrant color photographs will wow anyone who’s curious about the mysteries that unfold from dusk until dawn.

Find more 2021 gift recommendations from BookPage.

Thumbing through these beautifully designed coffee-table books is a sure way to inspire a love of photography.
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Books a mother can love There’s no better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than with a gift book that immortalizes the maternal role. Joyce Ostin’s Hollywood Moms, a volume of radiant photographs, does just that. In Ostin’s touching tribute to womanhood, some of Tinseltown’s biggest names shed their glamorous facades, and the results are simple, stripped-down pictures that reveal the buoyancy, serenity and joy inherent in the mother-daughter relationship.

Much in the limelight, these mothers have daughters named Coco and Collette, Stella and Chelsea, girls with above-average genes who are, in the end, just regular girls. More than 50 black and white photos feature the likes of dynamic duo Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson; Madonna and a saucer-eyed Lourdes Leon; Melanie Griffith and Stella Banderas (inheritor of Antonio’s brooding stare). Anecdotes and poems from the moms themselves and Carrie Fisher’s introduction to the book offer fresh insights into the mother-daughter connection. With an intuitive eye, Ostin has captured this classic bond, revealing the reality behind the fantasy the private sides of these very public women. Ostin, a two-time breast cancer survivor, will donate all of the proceeds from Hollywood Moms to cancer research.

“The family is one of nature’s masterpieces,” wrote George Santayana, and his statement is proven true by a volume of stunning pictures called Family: A Celebration of Humanity. Photographers from around the world some of them Pulitzer Prize winners have captured the unit in its many configurations (a family, after all, can be as small as two or as large as two dozen). There are brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, children and pets; there are families in poverty and families who flourish. Spanning the globe, the book touches down in Russia, Mexico, South Africa, Australia and the United States, and the multiplicity of cultures makes for some wonderful visual juxtapositions. Artful, honest and at times, graphic (the photo of a baby, fresh from the womb, its umbilical unwound like a telephone cord, is not a sight for the weak-eyed), Family, the first volume in a series by M.I.L.K. Publishing, Ltd., offers timeless images of humanity at its best. M.I.L.K., an acronym for Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship, hopes to develop a collection of photographs showcasing diversity in family, friendship and love, and will publish two more books in September.

Two new titles celebrate one of the world’s most famous moms, that icon of family and fashion, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The woman who founded a modern-day dynasty and helped set style standards throughout the ’60s and ’70s is the inspiration behind Jay Mulvaney’s Jackie: The Clothes of Camelot. Filled with fabulous, Camelot-era photographs, Mulvaney’s book features Jackie’s dreamy dresses, frocks like confections from Oleg Cassini and other designers done in sugary pink, pastel blue and vivid tangerine, clothes fit for a queen or a First Lady. Those classic suits boxy, modest and perfectly chic are included, too. With over 300 photos and sections on Jackie’s fashion influences, her casual wear and her style during the post-Camelot years, this volume presents a well-rounded fashion portrait of one of the White House’s most regal matriarchs. Mulvaney, author of Kennedy Weddings: A Family Album, contributes lucid captions that set the context for the costumes. Dominick Dunne provides the book’s introduction.

Jackie Style by Pamela Clarke Keogh is part biography, part beauty book. Covering the former First Lady’s childhood in New York, her years at Vassar, her time in the White House and her work as an editor at Doubleday, this volume offers a behind-the-scenes look at Jackie’s life while providing advice on how to make her style your style. Jackie’s makeup and fashion ideas are included, along with never-before-seen photos and sketches, and exclusive interviews. Keogh, author of the bestselling Audrey Style, has created a loving tribute, which has an introduction by fashion designer Valentino.

Both Jackie titles are being published to coincide with a May retrospective of Kennedy’s White House wardrobe at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, an exhibit that will commemorate the 40th anniversary of Camelot.

Books a mother can love There’s no better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than with a gift book that immortalizes the maternal role. Joyce Ostin’s Hollywood Moms, a volume of radiant photographs, does just that. In Ostin’s touching tribute to womanhood, some of Tinseltown’s biggest names shed their glamorous facades, and the results are simple, […]
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ift books for every destination The river, the rails and the road: three R’s that symbolize the American inclination to roam. If a real-life journey isn’t part of your plan for spring, take a ride with three dazzling gift books that celebrate the pleasures of travel. In Live Steam: Paddlewheel Steamboats on the Mississippi System, photographer Jon Kral pays tribute to the behemoth boats that cruised the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers in the days before airplanes and automobiles changed the way Americans travel. Beautiful but impractical, these dinosaurs, now relegated to the tourist trade, are many-tiered, nearly gaudy, their names Delta Queen, Julia Belle Swain as prissy and genteel as the wrought-iron finery that lines their decks. Only six of the boats continue to operate on the Mississippi River system, and Kral has captured them all in stunning sepia duotone. Accompanied by text that blends steamboat history with salty, first-person accounts from the likes of musician and former riverboat captain John Hartford and Captain Clark C. “Doc” Hawley, a National Rivers Hall of Fame member, Kral’s book is the first to go below decks for an inside look at the workings of these romantic vessels. More than 100 elegant photographs convey a sense of “boat life” the ornate dining areas, the infernal heat of the engine room, the fury of river water cut by the big wheel. We meet the people behind the boats porters and deckhands who live in dorm-sized quarters. From grand staircases to steam whistle stacks, Kral delivers the fancy flourishes, the details that comprise the whole of these elaborate crafts. This isn’t travel for speed or expedience; it’s travel for the sake of experience, lazy, picturesque and pleasing. With Live Steam, Kral reminds us that the journey itself is just as important as the destination.

They have names like California Zephyr and Coast Starlight, Hawkeye and Sunset. They cut through the night touching lonely lives with the sound of their wistful whistles. Possibly the most mythologized method of travel, the train is celebrated in Starlight on the Rails, a collection of duotone photographs taken by a skilled group of artists over the course of five decades. The focus here is on railroads at night, a visual paradigm that has produced startling combinations of darkness and light photographs that look like film noir stills, marked by sparks, stars and smoke. All the mystique of the locomotive is captured here: the great, greasy wheels and spumes of steam, the engines slick and sleek.

From freight yard to roundhouse, depot to mainline, Starlight takes in all the stops made on a typical 12-hour night of railroading. The book’s broad route spans the country, taking a detour to Japan, where steam locomotion peaked in popularity in 1949. Evoking the smell of diesel, the rhythm of wheel on rail, the pictures deliver the barely bridled momentum of these brute machines. The text, written by photographer Jeff Brouws, provides fascinating information on the singular challenges and rewards of night photography, while delivering background on the trains themselves. Icons of Americana, locomotives never fail to awaken wanderlust in the hearts of humans. Starlight shows us why.

Along Route 66 by Quinta Scott is an intriguing testament to this country’s sense of restlessness. Known as “the main street of America,” Route 66 has provided the backdrop for a television show, been the subject of a song, and served as an emblem of the American experience for writers like John Steinbeck. Scott adds to the allure of the road with a book of black and white photographs documenting the architectural styles that sprang up along the route from the 1920s through the 1950s. There are roadhouses, tourist courts and diners, some of which have a touch of kitsch. A story lies behind every building. We learn about Frank Redford, the man who built the wonderfully whimsical Wigwam Motel, an eye-catching assemblage of tipis erected in Holbrook, Arizona. There are stops at the Regal Reptile Ranch in Alanreed, Texas, and the Cotton Boll Motel in Canute, Oklahoma (the motel’s marquee tempted travelers: Come Sleep All Day Tub ∧ Shower.) The purpose of all this ingenuity on the part of proprietors was to make some fast cash by stopping tourists in their tracks, a gimmick that worked for a while. With Along Route 66, professional photographer Quinta Scott has compiled a fun and unforgettable collection of images that immortalizes the great American odyssey.

ift books for every destination The river, the rails and the road: three R’s that symbolize the American inclination to roam. If a real-life journey isn’t part of your plan for spring, take a ride with three dazzling gift books that celebrate the pleasures of travel. In Live Steam: Paddlewheel Steamboats on the Mississippi System, […]
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On the couch with the bookish babes of Bibliotherapy You need therapy, sister Bibliotherapy to be exact. Subtitled The Girl’s Guide to Books for Every Phase of Our Lives, this is one glorious and hilarious guide to a life’s worth of literature. From “When You’re Feeling Unnoticed and Unloved: Bad Hair Babe Books” to “When You Desperately Need to Believe That There’s a Purpose to It All: Embracing-Your-Inner-Light Books,” there are chapters for every occasion and stage of a woman’s life. Think about it the books we read really do show us where we’ve been and where we’re headed. We loved Eloise during those frisky days of childhood and Judy Bloom’s books during our angst-ridden adolescence. Then, in college, along came Gloria Steinem who taught us to wake up and smell the patriarchy. And here we are, years later, reaching desperately for a copy of Raising Your Spirited Child. Times have changed.

But how to begin the daunting task of compiling a guide that spans a lifetime? Authors Beverly West and Nancy Peske first cousins, dear friends, editors and authors of the sleeper hit Cinematherapy: The Girl’s Guide to Movies for Every Mood say it involved many hours of girl talk. Beverly says, “We sat down and said, OK, let’s think of every book we ever read.” Not a task for the faint of memory. “Nancy and I, both being readers, have turned to books in big moments in our lives, and even in smaller ones . . . [we] thought about what the landmark phases were in a woman’s life and thought about the books that have either had a big impact on the way women experience those stages as a population like menopause or puberty and also the stuff we turn to that helps us cope with loss, or divorce, or when we’ve suddenly gone deaf to our inner voice and need to reinvent ourselves.” Women may indeed use books differently than guys do, turning to them in times of need, but that doesn’t mean Bibliotherapy excludes books by that other gender. On the contrary, says Nancy, “we have books that are classic ‘guy’ literature but that speak to women.” Beverly points out, “we’ve not only looked at women’s literature but at all books that have influenced us as people, not just as women.” In other words, there’s some Bukowski in the mix, too.

Both West and Peske gained new insight by revisiting the books that influenced their lives. Beverly rediscovered Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance while Nancy read Rebecca with new eyes. “I had read Rebecca probably a half dozen times in my 20s, and when I went back to write about it, I started . . . discovering in the process of writing what that book was about, how I read it [at that time] . . . Those themes were very resonant for me in my 20s.” What do the authors have on their bedside tables at present? Nancy is leisurely leafing through the first Harry Potter adventure and is also “going through a big spirituality phase,” reading The Jesus Mysteries and books about the goddess tradition. She’s also working on a book by a wiccan high priestess who wrote Book of Shadows. Beverly just finished writing a book for Falcon Press on the remarkable women of New Mexico goddesses in their own right so she’s been immersed in reading a lot of biography. “I just finished an autobiography of Mable Dodge Louhan. She was like the madame de style of the Southwest . . . I’m hung up on unmanageable women at present, being one myself.” She may be unmanageable, but these two certainly manage to work well as a team, complementing each other at every turn. Beverly kids Nancy, “We can’t get out of this collaboration. She’s going to be staring at me over turkey at Thanksgiving.” Features of the book include Notes from Nancy’s and Bev’s Reading Journals; choice passages from each book followed by a digestible, witty discussion of it; “Points to Ponder” about each entry; “Can I get that printed on a coffee mug?” quotes from authors and nonauthors alike; and a laugh-out-loud “Books to Be Thrown with Great Force” section. So what’s next for Peske and West? Audiotherapy, perhaps? They’ve considered it they say, but next on their plate is the March 2002 release of Advanced Cinematherapy, the follow-up course for those who passed Cinematherapy 101. For now, however, we strongly recommend taking some time to get in touch with your inner bibliophile.

Katherine H. Wyrick lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.

On the couch with the bookish babes of Bibliotherapy You need therapy, sister Bibliotherapy to be exact. Subtitled The Girl’s Guide to Books for Every Phase of Our Lives, this is one glorious and hilarious guide to a life’s worth of literature. From “When You’re Feeling Unnoticed and Unloved: Bad Hair Babe Books” to “When […]
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s for Black History Month Revisiting an era that rent the nation, King: The Photobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. is the perfect way for readers to commemorate Black History Month. The first of its kind and a wonderful gift book, King is an intimate look at the life of a multifaceted figure. Told in graphic black and white, King’s story unfolds in a series of photographs, some of which have never been seen before, and the result is a visual retrospective almost as mighty as the man himself.

Photographer Bob Adelman assembled the starkly beautiful, sobering images that comprise this volume, and it’s a detailed compilation that spans more than a decade. With authoritative text written by National Book Award winner Charles Johnson, this in-depth look at one of our most revered leaders is organized around the major events in King’s life, from the 1957 prayer pilgrimage in Washington, D.C., to the Nobel Prize award ceremony in Oslo in 1964. But most touching are the simple moments in which the great man seems mortal: King dozing in a chair in an airport; struggling over the composition of a sermon; having a strained moment at home with his wife Coretta. While documenting the life of King, the book also captures the essence of a violent epoch, presenting the triumphs and trials that characterized the civil rights movement and doing so with an intensity that makes the events of the ’50s and ’60s feel strangely immediate. Most importantly, King penetrates the surface of its subject, presenting both the public and the private sides of an icon, a superman of sorts who was, after all, human.

Black history is at the reader’s fingertips with Velma Maia Thomas’ ingenious three-dimensional book Freedom’s Children: The Passage from Emancipation to the Great Migration. The second volume in a series chronicling black history and the sequel to Thomas’ best-selling Lest We Forget, Freedom’s Children addresses the years following the Civil War, examining the challenges faced by slaves tasting liberty for the first time. With illustrations, photographs and one-of-a-kind interactive elements, this intriguing book requires reader participation. A letter from a Freedmen’s Bureau agent is tucked into an envelope. A miniature version of The Freedmen’s Third Reader a primer studied by illiterate slaves invites perusal. A ticket for the Colorado and Southern Railway, which bore freedmen and freedwomen west in search of better lives, and script money folded into pockets lend an air of authenticity to Thomas’ narrative, making Freedom’s Children something of a fold-out museum, a mini-archive. Thomas’ illuminating text, which follows the lives of former slaves, along with the replicas of documents and artifacts that illustrate the era, make Freedom’s Children both an invaluable work of scholarship and a beautiful gift volume.

A book that delivers the nobility, beauty and dignity of the world’s most mysterious continent, Sensual Africa by photographer Joe Wuerfel captures the essence of a place and its people in pictures that are sheer poetry. Wuerfel visited the Cape Verde Islands, Tanzania and Namibia, where he lived among a nomadic tribe of herdsmen called the Himba, and the results are images tempered by a golden tint, photographs that have the warm haze of yellowed lace, of something aged. Dressed in calfskin loincloths and beaded belts, the bodies of the Himba seem burnished. At times, in this light, Africa itself appears apocalyptic a landscape yellow-white, barren and bone-dry in which zebras look otherworldly, and black baobab trees stand like supplicants beneath an unyielding sky. In his travels through Africa, Wuerfel captured archetypal images of the masculine and the feminine, of youth and age. Young Himba girls flirty yet demure seem to be sharing a secret; Tanzanian women mourn, their heads shaven in honor of the dead; a bare-chested Himba boy runs with a bow and arrow. Foreign yet familiar, the postures of these isolated people transcend language and culture and remind us of what it means to be human. In their gestures, we can see ourselves.

An interview with photographer Peter Beard, who has spent 25 years on the continent, is also included in Sensual Africa. A remarkable visual experience, this is a stunning volume that Africaphiles will love.

s for Black History Month Revisiting an era that rent the nation, King: The Photobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. is the perfect way for readers to commemorate Black History Month. The first of its kind and a wonderful gift book, King is an intimate look at the life of a multifaceted figure. Told in […]
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The eyes have it Mother’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. 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 (Visible Ink, $19.95, 1578590892). 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!

The eyes have it Mother’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 […]
Review by

Gifts for Black History Month Revisiting an era that rent the nation, King: The Photobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. is the perfect way for readers to commemorate Black History Month. The first of its kind and a wonderful gift book, King is an intimate look at the life of a multifaceted figure. Told in graphic black and white, King’s story unfolds in a series of photographs, some of which have never been seen before, and the result is a visual retrospective almost as mighty as the man himself.

Photographer Bob Adelman assembled the starkly beautiful, sobering images that comprise this volume, and it’s a detailed compilation that spans more than a decade. With authoritative text written by National Book Award winner Charles Johnson, this in-depth look at one of our most revered leaders is organized around the major events in King’s life, from the 1957 prayer pilgrimage in Washington, D.C., to the Nobel Prize award ceremony in Oslo in 1964. But most touching are the simple moments in which the great man seems mortal: King dozing in a chair in an airport; struggling over the composition of a sermon; having a strained moment at home with his wife Coretta. While documenting the life of King, the book also captures the essence of a violent epoch, presenting the triumphs and trials that characterized the civil rights movement and doing so with an intensity that makes the events of the ’50s and ’60s feel strangely immediate. Most importantly, King penetrates the surface of its subject, presenting both the public and the private sides of an icon, a superman of sorts who was, after all, human.

Black history is at the reader’s fingertips with Velma Maia Thomas’ ingenious three-dimensional book Freedom’s Children: The Passage from Emancipation to the Great Migration . The second volume in a series chronicling black history and the sequel to Thomas’ best-selling Lest We Forget, Freedom’s Children addresses the years following the Civil War, examining the challenges faced by slaves tasting liberty for the first time. With illustrations, photographs and one-of-a-kind interactive elements, this intriguing book requires reader participation. A letter from a Freedmen’s Bureau agent is tucked into an envelope. A miniature version of The Freedmen’s Third Reader a primer studied by illiterate slaves invites perusal. A ticket for the Colorado and Southern Railway, which bore freedmen and freedwomen west in search of better lives, and script money folded into pockets lend an air of authenticity to Thomas’ narrative, making Freedom’s Children something of a fold-out museum, a mini-archive. Thomas’ illuminating text, which follows the lives of former slaves, along with the replicas of documents and artifacts that illustrate the era, make Freedom’s Children both an invaluable work of scholarship and a beautiful gift volume.

A book that delivers the nobility, beauty and dignity of the world’s most mysterious continent, Sensual Africa by photographer Joe Wuerfel captures the essence of a place and its people in pictures that are sheer poetry. Wuerfel visited the Cape Verde Islands, Tanzania and Namibia, where he lived among a nomadic tribe of herdsmen called the Himba, and the results are images tempered by a golden tint, photographs that have the warm haze of yellowed lace, of something aged. Dressed in calfskin loincloths and beaded belts, the bodies of the Himba seem burnished. At times, in this light, Africa itself appears apocalyptic a landscape yellow-white, barren and bone-dry in which zebras look otherworldly, and black baobab trees stand like supplicants beneath an unyielding sky. In his travels through Africa, Wuerfel captured archetypal images of the masculine and the feminine, of youth and age. Young Himba girls flirty yet demure seem to be sharing a secret; Tanzanian women mourn, their heads shaven in honor of the dead; a bare-chested Himba boy runs with a bow and arrow. Foreign yet familiar, the postures of these isolated people transcend language and culture and remind us of what it means to be human. In their gestures, we can see ourselves.

An interview with photographer Peter Beard, who has spent 25 years on the continent, is also included in Sensual Africa. A remarkable visual experience, this is a stunning volume that Africaphiles will love.

Gifts for Black History Month Revisiting an era that rent the nation, King: The Photobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. is the perfect way for readers to commemorate Black History Month. The first of its kind and a wonderful gift book, King is an intimate look at the life of a multifaceted figure. Told in […]

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