By now our readers are aware of how much we love the holidays—and how much we love sharing our favorite books to give as gifts. But our suggestions wouldn’t be complete without those gorgeous coffee table books that sweep you away with their luscious photos and fascinating stories. Their spectacular covers are the literary equivalent of “You had me at ‘hello’.” Here are some of the most visually sumptuous and smartest reads for your holiday giving.
The Sartorialist: X by Scott Schuman (Penguin; October 27, 2015)
Nowadays it seems like everyone and her sister have a fashion blog, but Scott Schuman started it all 10 years ago with his photos captured on sidewalks of New York City street style. The blog that got it all started, The Sartorialist, is still going strong showcasing humans in their sartorial glory not just in New York, but Paris, Milan, London, Berlin, Madrid, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Dubai, Johannesburg, Mumbai and more. A fabulous source of inspiration for any fashionista.
Daniel Ost: Floral Art and the Beauty of Impermanence by Paul Geerts (Phaidon Press; October 19, 2015)
To call Ost a florist would be an insult—he’s an artist who works with plant materials to create masterpieces that manage to be simultaneously lavish and restrained. His breathtaking work is lavishly capture in this gorgeous book and reminds me of the art of Scottish sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, visual delights designed to be ephemeral. Fortunately for us, their peak moment is forever frozen in photos.
A Century of Progress: A Photographic Tour of the 1933-34 World’s Fair by the Chicago Tribune staff (Agate Midway; December 8, 2015)
The cover alone makes you want to climb into a time machine and investigate. Ethnically diverse bathing beauties, modern architecture, covered wagons and Model-T’s all in one place? We’ve forgotten the spectacle of wonders that was the World’s Fair. This amazing collection of photographs from the Century of Progress International Exposition that took place in Chicago from 1933-34 gleaned from the Chicago Tribune’s vast collection will remind you. The photos feel like lavish illustrations, simultaneously futuristic and nostalgic, and will make you wonder why we just don’t look that good anymore.
Kimono: The Art and Evolution of Japanese Fashion edited by Anna Jackson (Thames & Hudson; November 23, 2015)
How did a simple, T-shaped garment with straight seams that has varied little in construction over the centuries become a world treasure of wearable art? The jewel-like diversity we associate with the Japanese kimono is created by the weaving, dyeing and embroidery used to create the exquisite surface design. It’s these variations that have signified wealth, status, gender, age and, of course, taste. This dazzling book includes more than 200 kimonos beginning with the age of the samurai during the 17th century all the way to the high-tech innovations of the late 20th century. An amazing collection.
Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton (St. Martin’s Press; October 13, 2015)
If you don’t know Brandon Stanton’s blog Humans of New York you’re missing out. What began as an ambitious project to singlehandedly create a photographic census of the residents of New York City accompanied by brief interviews has evolved into a phenomenon with more than 12 million followers around the world and ever-expanding stories. His new book collects those expanded stories for a candid, heartfelt and moving depiction of the human family. Be prepared: Stanton’s work grabs you by the heartstrings and doesn’t let go—but you’ll be all the better for it.