Books

Guide: Holiday Books & Gift Ideas

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This holiday season, what will you give the book lovers in your life? Our books gift guide offers a variety of choices -- in books (new fiction, nonfiction, children's and more) and other ideas -- to help make your decisions easier.

Holiday Books & Gift Ideas
This holiday season, what will you give the book lovers in your life? Our books gift guide offers a variety of choices -- in books (new fiction, nonfiction, children's and more) and other ideas -- to help make your decisions easier.
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Fiction & Poetry

Thrillers, Fantasy and Science Fiction

Quirky and Unusual

Children and Young Adults

Coffee-Table Books

Nonfiction

Graphic Novels

Audio Books

Back to Work

Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy

Bill Clinton

Random House Audio, $30, 5 hours, read by the author

There's a note of urgency in the former U.S. president's voice as he outlines solutions for the current economic crisis. The CDs are supplemented by a PDF file of charts referenced by Clinton.

Bossypants

Tina Fey

Hachette Audio, $29.98, 5.5 hours, read by the author

The "30 Rock" star gives a hilarious performance of her memoir that retraces her "steps to figure out what factors contributed to this little soccer nerd developing into this fancy glamour lady who secretly prefers to be this weirdo on roller skates in a wig. For clarification you can check the PDF!"

Great by Choice

Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck — Why Some Thrive Despite Them All

Jim Collins and Morton T. Hansen

Harper Audio, $39.99, 8 hours 45 minutes, read by Jim Collins

A must for execs: The author of "Good to Great" and his co-author offer coping mechanisms for companies facing economic instability and international volatility.

Happy Accidents

A Memoir

Jane Lynch

Hyperion Audio, $29.99, 7 hours, read by the author

Sure, the voice belongs to Jane Lynch, and she gives a no-frills reading of her memoir. But there's that signature deadpan delivery that keeps evoking Sue Sylvester from Fox's "Glee." Fight it as much as you want, but you can't help imagining that awful-looking jumpsuit.

How I Got This Way

Regis Philbin

Harper Audio, $39.99, 9.5 hours, read by the author

"It was so different when I started," says Regis Philbin at the beginning of this memoir of his rise to broadcasting success and racking up nearly 17,000 hours in front of TV cameras. Philbin has a knack for sharing his excitement with live audiences, and he does the same here with readers as he shares anecdotes of his early TV appearances and much more.

In My Time

A Personal & Political Memoir

Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney

Simon & Schuster Audio, $29.99, 20 hours, read by the author and Edward Herrmann

A glimpse not only into the nearly 40-year career of the former U.S. vice president but also of a Nebraska boyhood, his family and what fueled his ambition to move to the center stage of American politics.

Seriously … I'm Kidding

Ellen Degeneres

Hachette Audio, $26.98, 3 hours, read by the author

Stories and anecdotes from the talk show host/comedian's busy recent years (becoming a Cover Girl and making a compost heap are among the highlights). The only drawback of an audio book is that you can't watch her dance.

Steve Jobs

Walter Isaacson

Simon & Schuster Audio, $49.99, 24.5 hours, read by Dylan Baker with an introduction by the author

The author describes being invited by Jobs to write this biography, and then veteran actor Baker takes over, rendering the life of Apple's visionary founder with a clear, engaging style.

Trust Me, I'm Dr. Ozzy

Advice From Rock's Ultimate Survivor

Ozzy Osbourne

Hachette Audio, $29.98, 6.5 hours, read by Frank Skinner

Ozzy can still rock the stage with the best of them, but for this collection of columns picked up by Rolling Stone magazine, he leaves the reading to British comic Frank Skinner, whose crisp delivery suggests what the Prince of Darkness sounded like years ago.

Double Dexter

A Novel

Jeff Lindsay

Random House Audio, $40, 12 hours 31 minutes, read by the author

No one knows a book's characters better than their creator, and Lindsay is just right (of course) in this new tale of everyone's favorite good-guy serial killer … but you can't help wanting to hear the voice of Michael C. Hall from the hit Showtime series.

The Gormenghast Trilogy, Titus Awakes

Mervyn Peake, Maeve Gilmore

Naxos, $58.50, 18 hours 37 minutes, ready by Rupert Degas

Degas' effortless reading of Mervyn Peake's trilogy (and a final installment by Peake's widow) doesn't overperform this moving story of a fantastic kingdom where a boy named Titus lives.

Inheritance

Christopher Paolini

Listening Library/Random House, $60, 31 hours, read by Gerard Doyle

Though there are battles aplenty — not to mention a heroic flying dragon — to tempt any narrator, Gerard Doyle resists theatrical excess and delivers a clean, clear version of this concluding installment of Paolini's bestselling fantasy cycle.

The Leftovers

A Novel

Tom Perrotta

Macmillan Audio, $39.99, 10 hours, read by Dennis Boutsikaris

Boutsikaris gives a balanced presentation of Perrotta's story of the lives of those left behind after the biblical Rapture — or something closely resembling it — takes place on Earth.

The Marriage Plot

A Novel

Jeffrey Eugenides

Macmillan Audio, $39.99, 16 hours, read by David Pittu

Pittu lends a calm, authoritative — and slightly world-weary — air to Eugenides' novel of a romantic triangle among classic literature devotees in the years after their graduation from Brown.

She

H. Rider Haggard

Naxos, $28.98, 5 hours 17 minutes, read by Bill Homewood

Homewood employs a proper British pronunciation that fits the mood and time period of Haggard's classic tale of a Cambridge academic's adventure in search of a legendary African queen.

The Son of Neptune

The Heroes of Olympus, Book Two

Rick Riordan

Listening Library/Random House Audio, $50, 13 hours 27 minutes, read by Joshua Swanson

Percy Jackson shares the stage with other demigods trying to understand a vague prophecy as they battle unkillable monsters up and down the West Coast.

When Elves Attack

A Joyous Christmas Greeting From the Criminal Nutbars of the Sunshine State

Tim Dorsey

Harper Audio, $15.99, 5 hours 5 minutes, read by Oliver Wyman

For a little subversive yuletide thrill, try this wacky comic crime novel set in Florida. Oliver Wyman perfectly inhabits Dorsey's characters, starting with sweet old Edith Grabowski, who's as frank about sex as Dr. Ruth: "I'm 93 years old, and I've decided to stop having sex. I guess you just reach a certain age."

Abarat

Absolute Midnight

Clive Barker

Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins, $24.99, ages 13 and up

In the third installment of this lavish series, a teen girl is menaced by a powerful sorceress in a mystical fantasy world.

The Annotated Peter Pan

J.M. Barrie, edited with an introduction by Maria Tatar

W.W. Norton, $39.95, all ages

The tale of a forever youthful boy and his friends in a handsome edition edited by an authority on classic fairy tales.

The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth

Norton Juster, Leonard S. Marcus, illustrations by Jules Feiffer

Random House, $29.99, ages 8 and up

Illuminating notes, drafts, insights and background on the book's publication such as how Juster and Feiffer met as young neighbors in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Balloons Over Broadway

The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade

Melissa Sweet

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99, ages 4-8

Collage illustrations tell the story of puppeteer Tony Sarg and how his helium balloons would become the trademark of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Chanukah Lights

Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Robert Sabuda

Candlewick, $34.99, ages 5 and up

A pop-up book celebrating the Festival of Lights in a variety of settings — on a kibbutz, on a ship, in the desert and in the big city — from around the world.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

With Sounds and Music

Charles M. Schulz

R.P. Kids, $22.95, ages 4 and up

Here's the first prime-time TV outing of the Peanuts gang, in storybook form, along with interactive elements — music and character voices (including Linus' recitation from Luke's Gospel) — from that hit program.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Pop-Up Book

Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake

Penguin, $29.99, ages 7 and up

The magical world of Willy Wonka includes golden tickets, gobstoppers and a river of chocolate, but does it have lickable wallpaper?

Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite

Anna Harwell Celenza, Illustrated by Don Tate

Charlesbridge, $19.95, ages 6-9

Duke Ellington's band transforms the classical ballet into a cool-cat jazz number with Vegas glitz and Hollywood glamour. A CD recording of the Ellington/Billy Strayhorn composition is included.

The Great Global Puzzle Challenge With Google Earth

Clive Gifford, illustrated by William Ings

Kingfisher, $15.99, ages 8 and up

A puzzle hunt using Google Earth (with instructions on how to download the free program) that sends young readers on a search using coordinates to visit some of the most fascinating sights around the globe.

If You Give a Dog a Donut

Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond

Balzer & Bray, $16.99, ages 3-7

Numeroff continues her hit "If You Give …" series looking at the mischief caused by a pooch with a real sweet tooth.

In Search of Sasquatch

Kelly Milner Halls

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99, ages 9 and up

The author interviews cryptozoologists, linguistics experts, anthropologists to discover whether Bigfoot really does exist.

Inheritance

Christopher Paolini

Knopf Books for Young Readers, $27.99, ages 12 and up

The fate of Alagaësia rests on the shoulders of Eragon and his dragon, who must confront the evil Galbatorix in this concluding book in the "Inheritance" cycle.

A Little History of the World

Illustrated Edition

E.H. Gombrich

Yale University Press, $29.95, all ages

This edition of the author's popular history book for children is supplemented by art, maps and photographs illustrating the advances and conflicts of human history.

Never Forgotten

Patricia C. McKissack, artwork by Leo and Diane Dillon

Schwartz & Wade Books, $18.99, all ages

An African blacksmith calls upon the powers of the earth, fire, water and wind to return his son, captured by slavers and taken far away.

Neville

Norton Juster, Illustrations by G. Brian Karas

Random House, $17.99, ages 4 and up

New to the neighborhood, a little boy finds a unique way to make friends.

One Love

Based on the Song by Bob Marley

Cedella Marley, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Chronicle, $16.99, ages 5-8

The first child of the late singer-songwriter recasts her father's hit song as a vivid message about community and sharing.

The Phantom Tollbooth

The 50th Anniversary Edition

Norton Juster, illustrations by Jules Feiffer

Alfred A. Knopf, $24, ages 8 and up

The improbable adventure of Milo in the Lands Beyond comes with appreciative essays by Suzanne Collins, Philip Pullman and others. Also in an annotated version ($29.99) from the same publisher.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin

Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark

Candlewick, $16.99, ages 5 and up

A retelling by the author of "War Horse" of the classic story of a town besieged by rats and the magical figure who solves the problem — and cures the town's other ills as well.

Puff the Magic Dragon

Pop-Up Book

Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton with paintings by Eric Puybaret and paper engineering by Bruce Foster

Sterling, $26.95 with CD, ages 6 and older

The adventures of a classic song come to life in this storybook version with three-dimensional and interactive features.

Steampunk!

An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories

Edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant

Candlewick Press, $22.99, ages 14 and older

A baker's dozen of stories set in gaslit, steam-powered worlds.

Strega Nona's Gift

Tomie dePaola

Penquin, $16.99, ages 5-8

Share in the Italian holiday traditions such as the Feast of San Nicola, when the children choose the food, and the Feast of Epiphany.

Tiger's Voyage

A Novel

Colleen Houck

Splinter, $17.95, ages 12 and up

The third book in the "Tiger's Curse" series has heroine Kelsey struggling to find a way to help her beloved Ren regain his memory — and remember her.

The White Ballets

Rajka Kupesic

Tundra, $19.95, all ages

Love and dance abound in a retelling of the classic white ballets "Giselle," "La Bayadère" and "Swan Lake."

The Wild Soccer Bunch

Book 1: Kevin, the Star Striker

Joachim Masannek, illustrations by Jan Birck

Sole Books, $12.95, ages 9 and up (also available: Books 2 and 3)

When the Wild Bunch players find another team claiming their field, they challenge the squad to a soccer battle for rights to the field in a story taken from the author's experience as a soccer coach.

Wonderstruck

Brian Selznick

Scholastic, $29.99, ages 9 and up

From the author of "Hugo Cabret": two alternating stories, 50 years apart and both leading to the American Museum of Natural History.

The Age of Movies

The Selected Writings of Pauline Kael

Edited by Sanford Schwartz

Library of America, $40

Witty, entertaining and often exhilarating, this wide-ranging collection of pieces captures the film critic at her best.

The Almanac of American Politics, 2012

Michael Barone and Chuck McCutcheon

University of Chicago Press, $85, paper

A must for political junkies, the almanac offers timely narrative profiles of all 50 states and 435 House districts and profiles of every member of Congress.

Backward Ran Sentences

The Best of Wolcott Gibbs From the New Yorker

Edited by Thomas Vinciguerra

Bloomsbury, $18. Paper

A collection of profiles, stories and criticism by one of the leading figures of the New Yorker's early days.

And so It Goes

Kurt Vonnegut: A Life

Charles J. Shields

Henry Holt, $30

The first authorized biography of the writer who changed the conversation in American letters.

Boomerang

Travels in the New Third World

Michael Lewis

W.W. Norton, $25.95

Shrewd and lucid observations on countries where the financial tsunami has left the most damage.

Back to Work

Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy

Bill Clinton

Alfred A. Knopf, $23.95

The former president offers a plain-spoken, personal picture of ways to revive our economy and get the U.S. "back into the future business."

Catherine the Great

Portrait of a Woman

Robert K. Massie

Random House, $35

The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer returns to the Russian front with the story of the minor German princess who became Empress Catherine II.

Betty & Friends

My Life at the Zoo

Betty White

Putnam, $26.95

Along with acting, the actress shares another lifelong passion, animal welfare advocacy, in a book that celebrates zoos and the importance of caring for animals.

Caravaggio

A Life Sacred and Profane

Andrew Graham-Dixon

W.W. Norton, $39.95

The British art historian vividly recounts the Italian master's tumultuous life and mysterious death.

The Caribbean

A History of the Region and Its Peoples

Edited by Stephan Palmié and Francisco Scarano

University of Chicago Press, $35

An illuminating work tracing the region from its pre-Columbian state through European colonialism and the economic turbulence of the 21st century.

Columbus

The Four Voyages

Laurence Bergreen

Viking, $35

The glory — and tragic price — of Columbus' history-making journeys to the New World.

Eating Mud Crabs in Kandahar

Stories of Food During Wartime by the World's Leading Correspondents

Edited by Matt McAllester

University of California Press, $27.50

Tales well told of the challenges of eating well — or at all — in the combat zone.

Deadline Artists

America's Greatest Newspaper Columns

Edited by John Avlon, Jesse Angelo and Errol Louis

Overlook Press, $29.95

Work by Hemingway, Winchell, Royko, Breslin, Hunter Thompson and Steve Lopez are all included in this broad collection.

Emily Post's Etiquette

Manners for a New World 18th Edition

Peggy Post, Anna Post, Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning

William Morrow, $39.99

Is it rude to tweet from a wedding? This book answers that question and offers advice on thousands more.

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick

Edited by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40

The final work of an author who dedicated his life to questioning the nature of reality and perception.

Eisenhower

The White House Years

Jim Newton

Doubleday, $29.95

This biography sets aside the familiar benign portrait of the 34th U.S. president (usually with golf club in hand) to give us a vivid glimpse of his political efforts and private world.

Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone

The Essential Writing of Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson, edited and with an Introduction by Jann S. Wenner

Simon & Schuster, $32.50

This collection of Thompson's pieces showcases his roller-coaster career at the magazine.

Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly

Scribner, $26.99

A closer look at the story behind the harrowing ordeal of astronaut Kelly and his wife Giffords, an Arizona congresswoman nearly killed in a shooting earlier this year.

The Garner Files

A Memoir

James Garner and Jon Winokur

Simon & Schuster, $25.99

A candid accounting from the actor who reconstructed two Hollywood archetypes in "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files."

Gun Fight

The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America

Adam Winkler

Norton, $27.95

Winkler, a UCLA professor, uses the landmark Columbia vs. Heller case as a springboard for a thorough examination of the gun control debate.

Holidays in Heck

P.J. O'Rourke

Grove Atlantic, $24

The celebrated political humorist on the road with his family makes him wish he were under artillery fire again.

It Calls You Back

An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions and Healing

Luis J. Rodriguez

Touchstone, $24.99

The author of "Always Running" chronicles his journey from gang member to his place as a noted figure in Chicago literature and American letters.

Hollywood Left and Right

How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics

Steven J. Ross

Oxford University Press, $29.95

Ross challenges the conventional belief that Hollywood is the seat of liberalism in this evenhanded accounting of the industry's political history.

Into the Blue

American Writing on Aviation and Spaceflight

Edited by Joseph J. Corn

Library of America, $40

This collection includes essays by Benjamin Franklin, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and Chris Jones, who recalls being marooned on the International Space Station.

Instant City

Life and Death in Karachi

Steve Inskeep

Penguin Press, $27.95

A vibrant portrait of the one of the world's fastest-growing, politically complex cities by the co-host of NPR's Morning Edition.

John Huston

Courage and Art

Jeffrey Meyers

Random House, $30

The acclaimed biographer of Ernest Hemingway and Humphrey Bogart, among many others, turns to the filmmaker best known for "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre."

Jack Kennedy

Elusive Hero

Chris Matthews

Simon & Schuster, $27.50

Kennedy loved courage but never wanted to be alone, never to be bored. Matthews offers a new assessment of the 35th president.

I Want My MTV

The Uncensored History of the Music Video Revolution

Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum

Dutton, $29.95

An oral history of the pop culture phenomenon that now plays everything but popular music.

The New Deal

A Modern History

Michael Hiltzik

Free Press, $30

The Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter sheds light on the origins, legacy and genius of Roosevelt's plan to combat the Great Depression.

The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, 1907-1922

Edited by Sandra Spanier and Robert W. Trogdon

Cambridge University Press, $40

This first volume of Hemingway's letters reveals a more complex person than his tough-guy public persona suggested.

The Language Wars

A History of Proper English

Henry Hitchings

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28

An examination of the rules of grammar, regional accents and political correctness in the battlefield that is the English language

The Man Who Couldn't Eat

A Memoir

Jon Reiner

Gallery Books, $25

The author explores our complex and often-contradictory relationship with food as he tells the story of his agonizing battle with Crohn's disease.

The Magic of Reality

How We Know What's Really True

Richard Dawkins

Free Press, $29.99

The world's leading evolutionary biologist explains a wide range of natural phenomena.

Mrs. Nixon

A Novelist Imagines a Life

Ann Beattie

Scribner, $26

The novelist wonders what it was like to be married to a hugely ambitious and flawed man.

Norman Granz

The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice

Tad Hershorn

University of California Press, $34.95

A pioneering figure in the music business, Granz defied racial and social prejudice to bring jazz to audiences around the world.

A Life in the Dark

Brian Kellow

Viking, $27.95

The first biography of the legendary film critic for the New Yorker.

Plastic Ocean

How a Sea Captain's Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans

Capt. Charles Moore with Cassandra Phillips

Avery, $26

The environmentalist and researcher details his discovery of a great garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean where plastic outweighs zooplankton.

The Puppy Diaries

Raising a Dog Named Scout

Jill Abramson

Times Books / Henry Holt, $22

Part owner's manual, part memoir, the recently appointed executive editor of the New York Times recounts her first year with her golden retriever Scout.

Rin Tin Tin

The Life and the Legend

Susan Orlean

Simon & Schuster, $26.99

The story of a a dog who never died in the public consciousness. At one time, Rin Tin Tin was Hollywood's top-ranking box office star.

Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin

Forty Years of Funny Stuff

Calvin Trillin

Random House, $26

The best of Trillin's humorous pieces arranged by themes, including "Life Among the Literati" and "English and Some Languages I Don't Speak."

Ellen DeGeneres

Grand Central Publishing, $26.99

Another memoir from the comedian and new daytime queen of talk television.

Spencer Tracy

A Life

James Curtis

Alfred A. Knopf, $39.95

A fully formed look at the stage and screen career of one of America's great acting legends.

The Rogue

Searching for the Real Sarah Palin

Joe McGinniss

Crown, $25

The author presents a scathing chronicle of the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate as an individual, politician and cultural phenomenon.

Shockaholic

Carrie Fisher

Simon & Schuster, $22

The actress explains that even though shock therapy may be wiping out her memory, she's becoming addicted to the treatments.

Steve Jobs

Walter Isaacson

Simon & Schuster, $35

The authorized biography of the co-founder of Apple who was one the most admired men in America.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends

An Autobiography

Rob Lowe

Henry Holt, $26

A funny, moving account of a Hollywood life—from teen idol to TV and movie star—lived almost entirely in the public eye

The Swerve

How the World Became Modern

Stephen Greenblatt

W.W. Norton, $26.95

This year's National Book Award winner in nonfiction describes the world-changing rediscovery of a lost Latin classic.

10 Mindful Minutes

Giving Our Children and Ourselves the Social and Emotional Skills to Reduce Stress for Healthier, Happier Lives

Goldie Hawn

Putnam, $24

The actress offers tips on teaching children how to cultivate an attitude of mindfulness in spite of countless daily distractions.

That Used to Be Us

How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back

Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28

The authors look at the challenges facing America in globalization, energy consumption, information technology and chronic deficits, and offer a call to action

Then Again

Diane Keaton

Random House, $26

The actress writes about her mother and the strong bonds that forged both their lives.

The Time of Our Lives

A Conversation About America

Tom Brokaw

Random House, $26

"What happened to the America I thought I knew?" asks Brokaw as he offers insights into how America can achieve greatness.

Three Famines

Starvation and Politics

Thomas Keneally

PublicAffairs, $27.99

The author looks at three food shortages in the 20th century and points an accusing finger at the authorities in charge.

Tutu

Authorized

Allister Sparks and Mpho Tutu

HarperOne, $29.99

An unapologetic fan biography of the Anglican archbishop who was the moral voice of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement.

The Unquiet American

Richard Holbrooke in the World

Edited by Derek Chollet and Samantha Power

Public Affairs, $29.99

A collection of essays on Holbrooke, one of the leading figures in late 20th century American diplomacy.

Tolstoy

A Russian Life

Rosamund Bartlett

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35

The first new biography of the lifelong rebel and genius to use post-glasnost Russian sources.

Unreal Estate

Money, Ambition and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles

Michael Gross

Broadway Books, $30

A social history of the wealthy in the City of Angels told through the prism of high-end real estate.

Woolgathering

Patti Smith

New Directions, $18.95

A memoir by the National Book Award–winner and musician that recollects the poignant experiences, real and imagined, of her early life.

The Untold Civil War

Exploring the Human Side of War

James Robertson

National Geographic Books, $40

The enduring impact of the Civil War is detailed in 30 self-contained stories on surprising, little-known and fresh aspects of the struggle.

Westmoreland

The General Who Lost Vietnam

Lewis Sorley

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30

Sorley's biography suggests that William Westmoreland's strategy of attrition failed to understand the realities of the Vietnam War.

You Will See Fire

A Search for Justice in Kenya

Christopher Goffard

W.W. Norton, $27.95

The death of an American clergyman, despised by Kenya's tyrannical leader Daniel arap Moi, is ruled a suicide until the truth is uncovered

Van Gogh

The Life

Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith

Random House, $40

The most extensive biography of the Van Gogh to date offers a new theory on the circumstances surrounding his death.

West by West

My Charmed, Tormented Life

Jerry West and Jonathan Coleman

Little, Brown, $27.99

One of the greatest figures in NBA history as a player and executive offers a candid accounting of his challenging life.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $30

The Nobel laureate offers a master class on the human mind and how we think about our personal and professional lives.

The Long Night

William L. Shirer and the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

Steve Wick

Palgrave/Macmillan, $27

An American journalist's firsthand encounters with the Nazis after starting, in the 1930s, the Berlin bureau of Edward R. Murrow's CBS News.

Sweet Judy Blue Eyes

My Life in Music

Judy Collins

Crown Archetype, $26

A broad recollection of the singer's life in music in the tumultuous '60s and the high cost it exacted in her personal life

My Song

A Memoir

Harry Belafonte with Michael Shnayerson

Alfred A. Knopf, $30.50

A forthright memoir that traces the singer's career and his larger concerns with racial justice.

In My Time

A Personal and Political Memoir

Dick Cheney

Threshold Editions, $35

The outspoken former vice president's accounting of the Bush Administration's War on Terrorism.

Higher Gossip

Essays and Criticism

John Updike

Alfred A. Knopf, $40

Perhaps best known as a novelist, Updike's essays and criticism show his masterful touch in those forms as well.

Blue Nights

Joan Didion

Alfred Knopf, $25

The acclaimed writer's heartbreaking meditation on the death of her daughter at 39.

Rome

A Cultural, Visual and Personal Journey

Robert Hughes

Alfred A. Knopf, $35

Hughes finds God in the details as he traces the city's history through its art.

Life Upon These Shores

Looking at African American History, 1513-2008

Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Alfred A. Knopf, $50

A richly illustrated book tracing the African American experience from the arrival of the conquistadors to the election of Barack Obam

Jacqueline Kennedy

Historic Conversations on Life With John F. Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy and Michael Beschloss

Hyperion, $60

Shortly after her husband's assassination, Jacqueline Kennedy recorded seven interviews on her life with JFK. Now, 50 years after his inauguration, the material has been released on CDs with accompanying transcripts.

George F. Kennan

An American Life

John Lewis Gaddis

Penguin Press, $39.95

The authorized biography of the seminal U.S. Cold War diplomat, 30 years in the making.

Becoming Dickens

The Invention of a Novelist

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

Harvard University Press, $29.95

How young Dickens overcame a difficult childhood and early obstacles to become one of the world's greatest novelists.

Physics on the Fringe

Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of Everything

Margaret Wertheim

Walker & Co., $26

Through the story of Jim Carter, a trailer park owner in Washington state, Wertheim examines a group of men without formal scientific training who have tried to change the face of physics.

Killing Lincoln

The Shocking Assassination That Changed America

Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard

Henry Holt, $28

TV host and commentator Bill O'Reilly teams up with bestselling author Martin Dugard to describe the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Five Chiefs

A Supreme Court Memoir

John Paul Stevens

Little, Brown, $24.99

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens reflects on five chief justices he worked with on the court.

Drama

An Actor's Education

John Lithgow

Harper, $26.99

A highly articulate account of the actor's upbringing in the American theater.

No Higher Honor

A Memoir of My Years in Washington

Condoleezza Rice

Crown, $35

The former secretary of state tells the story of her time as President George W. Bush's most influential foreign policy advisors.

Jerusalem

The Biography

Simon Sebag Montefiore

Alfred A. Knopf, $35

A rich account of how the small, remote town became the Holy City and the key to peace in the Middle East.

Howard Cosell

The Man, the Myth and the Transformation of American Sports

Mark Ribowsky

W.W. Norton, $29.95

Reviled by many but never boring, Cosell was a groundbreaking figure in American television.

Cool, Calm & Contentious

Merrill Markoe

Villard, $24

A collection of personal essays in which the Emmy Award-winning writer opines on narcissists, crazy mommies, camping, virginity and much more.

Alice James

A Biography

Jean Strouse, preface by Colm Tóibín

New York Review Books, $17.95 paper

The acclaimed biographer of financier J.P. Morgan chronicles the brief but brilliant life of the younger sister of William and Henry James.

Art Nouveau

Norbert Wolf

Prestel, $75

The Art Nouveau movement covered it all — decorative arts, architecture, fashion, dance, advertising and more — and this book seeks to restore the movement's prominence in the discussion of modern art.

The Art of the Adventures of Tintin

Chris Guise

Harper Design, $39.99

An exploration of how — using early concept drawings, models and final stills from the Steven Spielberg film — the film evolved from the original Hergé books.

Beyond Words

200 Years of Illustrated Diaries

Susan Snyder

Heyday, $45

A varied collection of excerpts taken from 50 illustrated diaries, including entries by 18th century Spanish explorer Pedro Font and 20th century environmentalist David Brower.

The Bush Legacy

Their Story in Photographs

David Elliott Cohen

Sterling, $24.95

With a combination of well-known and rare images, this book chronicles the history of one of America's great political families.

Carlton Watkins

The Complete Mammoth Photographs

Weston Naef and Christin Hult-Lewis

Getty Publications, $195

Views of San Francisco, Yosemite and the Pacific Coast highlight this collection of Carlton Watkins "mammoth" (18-by-22-inch) glass-plate negatives, taken between 1858 and 1891.

Chicks With Guns

Lindsay McCrum

Vendome Press, $45

A cultural study, through photographic portraits and fashion, of female gun owners in America.

Christ to Coke

How an Image Becomes Iconic

Martin Kemp

Oxford University Press, $34.95

Art historian Martin Kemp explores 11 universally recognized images and explains how they became iconic.

Deceptive Beauties

The World of Wild Orchids

University of Chicago Press, $45

A study of how orchids, called the "king of fragrant plants" by Confucius, survive and thrive in the harshest of environments.

Dogs Make Us Human

A Global Family Album

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Art Wolfe

Bloomsbury, $30

Wildlife photographer Wolfe chose 100 photographs of dogs from around the world, and Masson supplies the observations to consider the special relationship between man and dog.

The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm

Noel Daniel

Taschen, $39.99

Filled with beautiful, child-friendly illustrations, including previously published works from the 1820s to the 1950s, this book revisits the infamous brothers' twisted tales.

Four Seasons of Yosemite

A Photographer's Journey

Mark Boster

Time Capsule Press, $34.95

The award-winning Los Angeles Times photographer captures the four seasons in Yosemite National Park with a book that also includes a DVD documentary, "Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven," narrated by Robert Redford.

From Uncertain to Blue

Photographs

Keith Carter

University of Texas Press, $55

Keith Carter's classic photographic look at small-town life in America is reenvisioned along with a new essay, contact sheets and an amplified travel journal.

From Yesterday to Today

Six Decades of America's Favorite Morning Show

Stephen Battaglio

Running Press, $30

The idea was to make it a "national newspaper of the air," and for nearly 60 years NBC's "Today" show has remained a leader in early-morning television. Tom Brokaw, Barbara Walters, Katie Couric, Jane Pauley and Bryant Gumbel are among those who reflect on the show's success.

George Harrison

Living in the Material World

Olivia Harrison, edited by Mark Holborn

Abrams, $40

The artist's evolution from Beatle to spiritual seeker in photos — with his family, with other musicians, onstage, in India.

Greene & Greene

Developing a California Architecture

Bruce Smith

Gibbs Smith, $50

The heart of this book traces the early years of the Greene brothers' partnership and the development of their signature style.

Harry Potter

Page to Screen — the Complete Filmmaking Journey

Bob McCabe

HarperCollins, $75

A behind-the-scenes look at the artistry and filmmaking techniques used to bring J.K. Rowling's books to the big screen.

House of Cash

The Life, Legacy and Archives of the Man in Black

John Carter Cash

Insight Editions, $39.95

John Carter offers a portrait of his father, Johnny Cash, in a book that gathers previously unpublished photographs, lyrics and archival material.

The House That Sam Built

Sam Maloof and Art in the Pomona Valley, 1945-1985

Edited by Harold B. Nelson

Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, $39.95

A leading figure in the postwar American studio furniture movement, Sam Maloof was also an enthusiastic collector of arts and crafts, and this book serves as a companion to an exhibiton at the Huntington of Maloof's work.

I Love Lucy

A Celebration of All Things LucyInside the World of Television's First Great Sitcom

Elisabeth Edwards

Running Press, $30

Rare backstage photos from the stars' personal collections help illustrate new stories on the making of "I Love Lucy" and its unparalleled success in television history.

Industrial Light & Magic

The Art of Innovation

Pamela Glintenkamp

Abrams, $50

An illustrated oral history of the visual effects company founded by George Lucas that has won multiple Oscars since its founding in 1975.

Lest We Forget

Masterpieces of Patriotic Jewelry and Military Decorations

Judith Price

Premiere Previews, $29.95

Historic moments in military history commemorated by patriotic jewelry and decorations.

Light in the Desert

Photographs From the Monastery of Christ in the Desert

Tony O'Brien

Museum of New Mexico Press, $50

After being imprisoned in Afghanistan while on assignment in 1989, photographer Tony O'Brien found solace at the Benedictine monastery in New Mexico. He returned years later to do a story and became a practicing member of the community.

Living in a Modern Way

California Design, 1930-1965

Edited by Wendy Kaplan

MIT Press, $60

One of the first comprehensive examinations of California's Midcentury modern design, this book traces its origins to 1930s European emigrés including Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler and Kem Weber.

The Louvre

All the Paintings

Erich Lessing and Vincent Pomarède

Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, $75

All 3,022 paintings on display in the permanent painting collection of the Louvre are beautifully presented in full color. Includes a DVD.

The Male Nudes

George Platt Lynes

Rizzoli, $60

A collection of male nude photographs, many never before in print, from an important fashion photographer from the 1930s and 1940s.

Marilyn: Intimate Exposures

Susan Bernard

Sterling, $35

Bruno Bernard, known as Bernard of Hollywood, photographed Marilyn Monroe, and is perhaps best known for his picture of her as she holds down her wind-blown skirt in the movie "The Seven Year Itch."

Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis

David Wills and Stephen Schmidt

It Books, $40

This portfolio of images includes photographs of Marilyn Monroe, some previously unpublished, by Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Elliott Erwitt and Philippe Halsman.

Medal of Honor

Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty

Photographs by Nick del Calzo, text by Peter Collier

Artisan, $45 (special commemorative edition $100)

A compilation of stories and photos of soldiers who were given this special honor, which was established by Lincoln 150 years ago.

Mountain

Sandy Hill

Rizzoli, $85

Mountaineer Sandy Hill presents an array of images of some of the world's highest places photographed by Galen Rowell, Peter Beard and Ansel Adams, among others.

The New Atlas of World History

Global Events at a Glance

John Haywood

Princeton University Press, $49.50

The first historical atlas to present global history in a series of uniform world maps, bringing easy comparisons of different regions and periods into full focus.

New York in Color

Bob Shamis

Abrams, $50

Some of the best color photography of the city that never sleeps by Andre Kertesz, William Klein, Helen Leavitt and Joel Meyerowitz.

Nostalgia in Vogue, 2000-2010

Edited by Eve MacSweeney

Rizzoli, $55

The magazine's popular coming-of-age-memoir columns are presented here with the great photography that accompanied them.

Now Dig This

Art & Black Los Angeles 1960-1980

Prestel, $60

The companion book to a groundbreaking exhibition documenting the pioneering work of a group of black artists is part of Pacific Standard Time, an initiative of the Getty.

Pantone

The 20th Century in Color

Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker

Chronicle Books, $40

The worldwide color authority offers a retrospective of 100 transformative years in the creation of color.

Proof

The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California

Edited by Leah Lehmbeck

Getty Publications in Association with the Norton Simon Museum, $60

An exploration of the rise of printmaking in Southern California and its legacy on postwar American art.

The Oprah Winfrey Show

Reflections on an American Legacy

Deborah Davis With a foreword by Maya Angelou

Abrams, $50

A look at the long-running TV program and its impact, with essays and tributes from Maya Angelou, Bono, Ellen DeGeneres, Toni Morrison and John Travolta.

Pacific Standard Time

Los Angeles Art, 1945-1980

Edited by Rebecca Peabody et al.

Getty Publications, $59.95

Postwar American art is viewed through the Southern California prism in this richly illustrated book.

Pilgrimage

Annie Liebovitz

Random House, $50

Photos Liebovitz took when she wasn't on assignment — images of Emily Dickinson's house in Amherst, Mass., for instance, and of the Yosemite Valley.

Richard Diebenkorn

The Ocean Park Series

Sarah C. Bancroft

Prestel, $65

Seminal artwork from one of California's best-known artists is gathered here in this beautifully reproduced exhibition catalog.

Southern California Coastal Mountains to the Sea

A Celebration of Open Space on the Historic Irvine Ranch

David R. Stoecklein

Irvine Co., $47.50

Vivid images of the lands belonging to Irvine Ranch that have been given permanent designation as "open space" in the heart of densely populated Southern California.

Star Trek

Vault40 Years From the Archives

Scott Tipton

Abrams, $40

Covering all six "Star Trek" television series and the 10 original feature films, "Star Trek: Vault" highlights the philosophical principles that underscore the franchise.

Tattoo World

Marisa Kakoulas and Michael Kaplan

Abrams, $35

Designs from around the world highlight this compilation of work from 125 of the most influential tattoo artists working today.

Temples of Cambodia

The Heart of Angkor

Photographs by Barry Brukoff, text by Helen Ibbitson Jessup

Vendome Press, $65

An intimate look at some of the most complex, imposing architectural creations in the world.

Tibet

Culture on the Edge

Phil Borges

Rizzoli, $45

An examination of Tibet through the prism of dramatic development, climate change and the deep devotion of its people.

Traveling the Silk Road

Ancient Pathway to the Modern World

Mark Norell, Denise Patry Leidy and the American Museum of Natural History

With Laura Ross

Sterling Signature, $40

Man's early attempts at globalization are examined through the history of the Silk Road with its major stops in China, Uzbekistan and Iraq.

The Worlds of Hunt Slonem

Dominique Nahas

Vendome Press, $90

The work of the onetime enfant terrible of the art world, Hunt Slonem's work depicts both natural subjects and portraits using multiplicity as a governing principle.

The Affair

A Reacher Novel

Lee Child

Delacorte Press, $28

Knuckle-busting crime-solver Jack Reacher returns with a story from his early years involving a murder near a military base and how he became a maverick hero.

The Talk Show Murders

A Billy Blessing Novel

Al Roker and Dick Lochte

Delacorte, $26

New York TV host-turned-sleuth Billy Blessing faces his long-hidden past — and an unexpected string of murders — during a visit to Chicago.

The Leopard

A Novel

Jo Nesbo

Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95

The news that a serial killer is operating in Oslo draws inspector Harry Hole back to Norway from Hong Kong's opium dens, where he's been trying to forget the trauma of a previous case.

A Dance With Dragons

A Song of Ice and Fire, Book Five

George R.R. Martin

Bantam, $35

The Seven Kingdoms are again under threat in Martin's epic saga that began with "A Game of Thrones."

Aloha from Hell

A Sandman Slim Novel

Richard Kadrey

Harper Voyager, $23.99

Think of an occult worshipper possessed by Raymond Chandler and you'll get the idea about this series, whose hero escaped Hell to avenge his own murder and now, in the third installment, is hellbound once again.

The Affair

A Reacher Novel

Lee Child

Delacorte Press, $28

Knuckle-busting crime-solver Jack Reacher returns with a story from his early years involving a murder near a military base and how he became a maverick hero.

The Drop

Michael Connelly

Little, Brown, $27.99

The clock is ticking on Harry Bosch's LAPD retirement as he investigates a Chateau Marmont death and another case involving DNA that means the killer would have been 8 years old at the time of the crime.

After the Apocalypse

Stories

Maureen F. McHugh

Small Beer Press, $16, paper

McHugh pins down the wildest of disasters—the devastation of plague, zombies, the end of the world—by using a subdued, matter-of-fact narrative voice that makes these scenarios seem eerily real.

The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares

Joyce Carol Oates

Mysterious Press, $24

Tales of darkness and horror, including the title story about an innocent girl involved in a cruel ceremony requiring a human sacrifice.

A Dark and Lonely Place

A Novel

Edna Buchanan

Simon & Schuster, $26

When a murder brings together a Miami homicide detective and a femme fatale, the pair mirrors an outlaw couple pillaging frontier Miami more than a century earlier.

The Exorcist

40th Anniversary Edition

William Peter Blatty

Harper, $25.99

The author has polished and introduced new material into his chilling story of demonic possession, first published in 1971.

The Forgotten Affairs of Youth

An Isabel Dalhousie Novel

Alexander McCall Smith

Pantheon, $24.95

A professor arrives in Edinburgh looking for her father, who gave her away at birth. What else can sweet, thoughtful Isabel do but try to help her?

Locked On

A Novel

Tom Clancy with Mark Greaney

Putnam, $28.95

Jack Ryan Sr. faces political misdeeds and character assassination as he runs for president while the rest of the Campus investigates the unclear ties between terrorists and a Pakistani military officer.

The Litigators

A Novel

John Grisham

Doubleday, $26.99

A down-and-out law firm welcomes a new associate, a young burned-out lawyer, and becomes involved in a wildly lucrative case that seems far too easy.

Micro

Michael Crichton and Richard Preston

Harper, $28.99

Scientists thrust into a paradise-like landscape confront all kinds of biological horror in this thriller finished by the author of the bestselling "The Hot Zone."

Reamde

A Novel

Neal Stephenson

William Morrow, $35

A techno-thriller in which a former marijuana smuggler, who used his money to create a wildly popular online game, is at the center of a dangerous plot involving a hacker.

Red Mist

A Scarpetta Novel

Patricia Cornwell

Putnam, $27.95

Forensic expert Kay Scarpetta wants to know who murdered a former protégé, and the answer may rest with a longtime inmate in the Georgia Prison for Women.

The Scottish Prisoner

Diana Gabaldon

Delacorte, $28

In this companion series to her bestselling "Outlander" series, Diana Gabaldon follows Lord John Grey and his unwilling companion, Jaime Fraser, as they set off for Ireland to confront a deadly mystery.

Stolen Souls

Stuart Neville

Soho Crime, $25

A sex slave on the run in Belfast finds anything but safety with a Christian pastor, and a haunted detective may be the only one who can save her.

V Is for Vengeance

Sue Grafton

G.P. Putnam, $27.95

When the death of a department store shoplifter is called a suicide, Kinsey Millhone doesn't accept the verdict and heads out in her blue Mustang to find out what really happened.

An Uncertain Place

A Commissaire Adamsberg Mystery

Fred Vargas

Penguin, $15

Is there a connection between a gruesome murder and an equally gruesome scene — a collection of shoes containing severed feet at London's Highgate Cemetery?

Awkward Family Pet Photos

Mike Bender and Doug Chernack

Three Rivers Press, $15, paper

The guys who brought us "Awkward Family Photos" are back with an edition devoted to cruel and unusual punishment to animals. Sort of. It's not that we don't love our pets; it's that we love them too much. That's why we make them sit in the lap of a gigantic Easter bunny (one unfortunate cat is about to have cardiac arrest), wear them on our sleeves (like a pair of sugar gliders in a young couple's photo) and give them very uncomfortable-looking, pseudo-Heimlich maneuver hugs (see the guy and dog on the book's cover). And yet, they quietly endure it all … which makes us love them even more.

Crafting With Cat Hair

Cute Handicrafts to Make With Your Cat

Kaori Tsutaya, translated from the Japanese by Amy Hirschman

Quirk, $14.95, paper

"Crafting With Cat Hair" shows you how to take all of the hair your cat sheds and turn it into finger puppets, coin purses and more. "A lot of soft felt handicrafts are made out of sheep's wool," explains Kaori Tsutaya. "So why not make super-soft felt handicrafts out of cat hair in much the same way?" Who could have imagined that cat hair could be recycled? There's no other word for this book except: purrfect.

The Brick Bible

A New Spin on the Old Testament

Brendan Powell Smith

Skyhorse, $19.95, paper

It had to happen. Lego blocks are everywhere, so why not illustrate books from the Bible with them? Here you'll find God creating Adam out of brown bricks; Pharaoh's army chasing the Israelites down a blue wall of rising water; Goliath getting hit in the noggin by a gray, single-stud piece representing one of the stones in David's sling … you get the idea. It's an entertaining book, but Brendan Powell Smith's motive is far more serious. He explains, in a brief preface, how he wanted to retell biblical stories in an interesting way that would engage readers. Don't visit your local toy store to order the "Genesis play set," though: There's no such thing. All of the pieces used, we're told on the author's website, come from Lego sets dating to the 1960s.

The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions

Julia Suits

Perigee, $15.95, paper

Fraternal groups and lodges were important social organizations in late-19th century America, and pulling pranks on new members was a big part of the experience. Enter the Demoulin Brothers, who invented a fantastic assortment of "prank machines" — like a set of steps that collapses into a slide or a three-wheeled mechanical goat — for the initiation rites of the Modern Woodmen of America, the Shriners, the Elks, the Sons of Malta and more. Later pranks included electrified carpets and teeter-totters (ouch!). The author, a New Yorker cartoonist, gives a tutorial on fraternalism before showcasing these wacky devices. Readers will certainly be amused by other eras' forms of entertainment — and probably relieved that they're not experiencing it.

Goodnight, iPad

A Parody for the Next Generation

Ann Droyd

Blue Rider, $14.95

Remember the sweet, lulling rhythm of Margaret Wise Brown's 1947 tale of a little bunny going to bed? It was just the thing to settle your toddler after a busy day. But in this pseudonym-concealed author's parody, there are far too many wired-up distractions keeping youngsters awake: "In the bright buzzing room/There was an iPad/And a kid playing Doom/And a screensaver of…." And what about the "little old lady whispering 'hush' "? Well, she's been replaced by "a fed-up old woman/who was trying to sleep" — she takes drastic action to restore some peace and quiet to this beeping, buzzing house.

Haiku for the Single Girl

Written by Beth Griffenhagen

Penguin, $15

At first you're going to think, "I can't really give this as a gift, can I? It's insulting!" But along with some jokey poems at the expense of uncommitted females out there ("This town is alive/With everything except/Eligible men"), you discover something else: an affirming message. Accompanied by simple black-and-white illustrations by Cynthia Vehslage Meyers, some poems celebrate female power: "Men don't realize/We women thrill to conquest/As much as they do." Others are just simple reminders to appreciate the benefits of not searching for Mr. Right: "I smile to myself/Because I have a secret:/My time is my own."

A History of the World in 100 Objects

Neil MacGregor

Allen Lane/British Museum, $45

A catalog of things, usually, is considered inferior next to a formal world history. Why? It's missing the bigger context that a formal work supplies. That's hardly a weakness in the case of this spectacular book, which presents centuries-old artifacts from around the world, each accompanied by a helpful, scholarly gloss and selected by experts from the vast collections of the British Museum. The book opens with primitive tools and a mummy and ends, more than 600 pages later, with a credit card and solar-powered lamp. "In this book we travel back in time and across the globe," MacGregor writes, "to see how we humans have shaped our world and been shaped by it.…" Each object — whether a bust of Caesar August with a remarkable, startled look on his face or a grasping bronze hand that had been dedicated in a Yemeni temple — celebrates the same thing: our essential humanity.

The History of the World According to Facebook

A Parody

Wylie Overstreet

It! Books, $14.99, paper

What if, somehow, Internet social networking had existed for all of human history? This book is the imagined result. Here's a status update from Adam in the Garden of Eden: "Nice, but kinda lonely…" Then God posts a comment: "Pipe down, you'll like what I'm making." The next item? "Adam is now friends with Eve." This is an amusing book full of playful jokes — when Leonardo Da Vinci posts some new sketches of inventions, Dan Brown likes them (of course he does) — and attests to how quickly this form of communication has become entrenched in our culture.

The Jefferson Bible

Smithsonian Edition

Thomas Jefferson

Smithsonian Books, $35

The third U.S. president was hardly one to take it easy in retirement. In his 70s, Jefferson cut out excerpts from the four Gospels, organized them in chronological order and pasted them in a book. The result is a single narrative about the life and teachings of Jesus. This lovely book is a facsimile edition, reproducing each yellowed page, along with early-19th century maps of the Mediterranean and the Holy Land. Give it to the U.S. president buff in your family, but first warn them to brush up on their English, French, Latin and Greek. The excerpts are taken from not one but all four of these languages. Would you expect anything less from one of America's greatest thinkers?

See Mix Drink

A Refreshingly Simple Guide to Crafting the World's Most Popular Cocktails

Brian D. Murphy

Little, Brown, $14.99

How much sweet vermouth goes into a Metropolitan? An ounce? How about the amount of sherry in a Fog Cutter? A teaspoon? If you're a bit challenged when it comes to the standard table of measurements, Brian D. Murphy includes color-coded, cutaway images of cocktails showing what an ounce or a teaspoon actually looks like. It might remind some readers of studying one of those geological diagrams of Earth's layers, but what looms at the deepest levels here isn't molten lava or mineral deposits; it's vodka and scotch.

Star Trek

Book of Opposites

David Borgenicht

Quirk, $9.95

Here's a goofy board book for youngsters that breaks down contrasting ideas into images from the original TV series. While Capt. Kirk gives his "surprised" look, who's better to supply the opposite — calm — than Mr. Spock? Or how about a sweaty-faced Chekhov to demonstrate "hot" and a frozen-looking Sulu for "cold"? You're probably better off using another standard book to teach these ideas to kiddies (some images are just too jarring for a child), but as a novelty, it seems like a downright necessity for all those Trekkie parents out there.

Wreck the Halls

Cake Wrecks Get 'Festive'

Jen Yates

Andrews McMeel, $14.99

Something happens to people's artistic sense (and their spelling) when cake icing is involved. This collection of photos includes some of the silliest dessert mistakes to ever grace a holiday dinner table. Jen Yates has seen them all, and faithfully reports them here, in a previous bestselling book and on her blog. While you're watching the NFL on Thanksgiving, for instance, how about a slice of a football cake that announces, "Go, super bowel"? Beware of that Hanukkah cake that's sporting a satanic pentagram instead of the Star of David. And how about a Christmas cake that inadvertently comments on consumerism during the holidays: "Season's greedings."

The Batman Files

Matthew K. Manning

Andrews McMeel, $100

A vivid assortment of "files" on everything in Bruce Wayne's world — gadgetry, enemies, police records, dossiers — collected by Wayne as a guide for helping his future successor.

Government Issue

Comics for the People, 1940s-2000s

Richard L. Graham

Abrams Comicarts, $29.95

How U.S. government agencies have used comic characters — Lil Abner in the Navy, for example, or Bert the Turtle surviving an atomic blast — to spread information to the public.

Habibi

Craig Thompson

Pantheon, $35

The epic story of the lives of two refugees, trapped in a world of dunes and deserts.

The Joker

Daniel Wallace, introduction by Mark Hamill

Universe, $50

A fascinating look at the evolution of Batman's arch-nemesis from clownish criminal to grisly madman with a cadaver's smile.

MetaMaus

Art Spiegelman

Pantheon, $35

A lavish deconstruction of his magnum opus, the prize-winning graphic memoir "Maus," on the 25th anniversary of the publication of the first part.

The New 52

DC Comics, $150

A necessity for any fan: DC's reboot of its line of superhero comics comes in a single hardcover omnibus edition containing all of the first issues.

1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die

The Ultimate Guide to Comic Books, Graphic Novels, and Manga

Paul Gravett (general editor)

Universe, $36.95

This catalog of comic greats includes not only the expected ones — early Spider-Man or Flash Gordon — but others from around the world, including Les Naufragés du Temps ("Lost in Time") and Kaliman, El Hombre Increible ("The Incredible Man").

Return to Perdition

Max Allan Collins, art by Terry Beatty

Vertigo Crime, $19.99

In this sequel to Collins' "Road to Perdition," a young mob hit man discovers the identity of his grandfather and learns that he can't outrun his family's past.

The Someday Funnies

Edited by Michael Choquette

Abrams Comicarts, $55

A singular collection of comic strips remembering the cultural turmoil and political and sexual unrest of life in the 1960s.

The Spider-Man Vault

A Musuem-in-a-Book With Rare Collectibles Spun From Marvel's Web

Peter A. David and Robert Greenberger

Marvel Comics, $49.95

A comprehensive history of everyone's favorite webhead, accompanied by images and removable features.

Aleph

A Novel

Paulo Coelho

Alfred A. Knopf, $24.95

A crisis of faith prompts a man to begin a journey of self-discovery from Africa to Asia.

The Angel Esmeralda

Nine Stories

Don DeLillo

Scribner, $24

The first collection of short stories from a defining American voice in contemporary fiction.

The Art of Fielding

A Novel

Chad Harbach

Little, Brown, $25.99

The complicated nature of relationships revolving around a gifted college baseball player.

The Artist of Disappearance

Novellas

Anita Desai

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23

Embittered characters with artistic sensibilities find unexpected sources of creativity in this trio of linked novellas.

The Back Chamber

Poems

Donald Hall

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22

A 16th poetry collection in which the poet, now in his early 80s, explores sex, desire and his beloved New Hampshire landscape.

The Barbarian Nurseries

A Novel

Hector Tobar

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27

A Mexican maid's Los Angeles odyssey and the tangled web of the California judicial system.

Before the End, After the Beginning

Stories

Dagoberto Gilb

Grove Press, $24

Stories of boys and men trying to assert control over their situations in the face of life's often unexpected changes.

The Berrybender Narratives

A Novel

Larry McMurtry

Simon & Schuster, $32.50

Collected as a single volume, the adventures of an aristocratic British family in early 19th century America provide a portrait of the American West as its frontier was opening.

Blueprints for Building Better Girls

Elissa Schappell

Simon & Schuster, $24

The eight stories in this collection connect in unexpected ways and explore how contemporary women live.

The Cat's Table

A Novel

Michael Ondaatje

Alfred A. Knopf, $26

A young boy's sea voyage from Sri Lanka to England in the early 1950s centers on the company he dines with, far from the captain's table.

Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes

William Kennedy

Viking, $26.95

The latest in his Albany cycle, Kennedy's novel follows a young man to pre-revolutionary Cuba in the late 1950s.

The Deleted World: Poems

Tomas Tranströmer

Versions by Robin Robertson

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $13, paper

A collection of poems, many of which have never been published in the U.S., from the writer who was awarded this year's Nobel Prize for literature.

The Dovekeepers

A Novel

Alice Hoffman

Scribner, $27

The lives of four women intersect during the siege of Masada by the Roman army.

An Ermine in Czernopol

A Novel

Gregor Von Rezzori, introduction by Daniel Kehlmann

New York Review Books, $16.95 paper

The tragicomic story of a military officer, at the end of World War I, who refuses to accept both his wife's infidelity and the waning of his beloved Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Every Third Thought

A Novel in Five Seasons

John Barth

Counterpoint, $24

After falling and hurting himself in the autumn of the year, 77-year-old George I. Newett experiences visions connected to seasons and moments in his life.

Forever Rumpole

The Best of the Rumpole Stories

John Mortimer

Viking, $30

A selection of adventures featuring everyone's favorite, cigar-chewing London barrister, Horace Rumpole.

The Forgotten Waltz

A Novel

Anne Enright

W.W. Norton, $25.95

Our reviewer wrote that Enright "balances rapture and grief" in this tale of a woman's life turned upside down by an affair.

Harlem Renaissance Novels

The Library of America Collection

Edited by Safia Zafar

Library of America, $70, boxed set

Works from Langston Hughes, Claude McKay and Wallace Thurman are included in this two-volume set.

The Iron Boys

A Novel

Thomas Frick

Burning Books, $10, paper

The narrator of this novel takes readers into the heart of another century and an outlaw band of Luddites committed to rebelling against the future.

The Lady of the Rivers

A Novel

Philippa Gregory

Touchstone, $27.99

The bestselling author continues her "The Cousins' War" series by tracing the elusive, early life of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, who found herself and her children caught at the center of the War of the Roses.

Los Angeles Stories

Ry Cooder

City Lights, $15.95, paper

The famed musician offers a quirky love letter to a bygone era in the City of Angels.

Lost Memory of Skin

A Novel

Russell Banks

Ecco, $25.99

Released from jail after having sex with an underage girl, the character the Kid settles under a causeway with other convicted sex offenders and tries to start his life over.

A Man of Parts

A Novel

David Lodge

Viking, $26.95

Near the end of his life, an ailing H.G. Wells looks back on his wives and mistresses, his politics and the literary career in which he invented our future.

The Marriage Plot

A Novel

Jeffrey Eugenides

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28

Eugenides, the author of Middlesex, offers a novel centered on a love triangle among recent Ivy League graduates.

Men in the Making

Stories

Bruce Machart

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24

A debut collection of short stories from the author of last year's well-received novel "The Wake of Forgiveness."

Midnight Lantern

New and Selected Poems

Tess Gallagher

Graywolf, $28

Poems containing hard-won truths and including new poems written in the west of Ireland.

Nanjing Requiem

A Novel

Ha Jin

Pantheon, $26.95

Ha Jin re-creates the terror and deprivations brought about by Japanese soldiers during the infamous Rape of Nanjing in 1937.

The Outlaw Album

Stories

Daniel Woodrell

Little, Brown, $24.99

In a first collection of short fiction from the author of the novel "Winter's Bone," Woodrell explores the lives of people on the fringes of society.

Out of Oz

A Novel

Gregory Maguire

William Morrow, $26.99

The fourth and last novel in a series that started with "Wicked" and darkly reimagines L. Frank Baum's fantasy world.

The Prague Cemetery

A Novel

Umberto Eco

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27

The author who first thrilled readers with "The Name of the Rose" returns with the story of the forgery mastermind behind the creation of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

Rules of Civility

A Novel

Amor Towles

Viking, $26.95

A year in the life of three twentysomethings set in Jazz Age New York City.

Salvage the Bones

A Novel

Jesmyn Ward

Bloomsbury, $24

This year's winner of the National Book Award in fiction describes Gulf Coast lives in the days leading up to 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

Scenes From Village Life

Amos Oz

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22

A new collection of short fiction centered on an Israeli village.

The Sense of an Ending

A Novel

Julian Barnes

Alfred A. Knopf, $23.95

A brief novel about a mediocre man was the winner of this year's Man Booker Prize.

State of Wonder

A Novel

Ann Patchett

Harper, $26.99

A scientist heads into the jungles of Brazil to find out what happened to her vanished mentor, who is thought to be inventing a bold new fertility drug with vast implications.

Treasure Island!!!

A Novel

Sara Levine

Europa/Tonga books, $15, paper

Inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson, a college grad believes Stevenson is speaking to her in his novel and determines to change her dull life and live as adventurously as young Jim Hawkins.

Zone One

A Novel

Colson Whitehead

Doubleday, $25.95

Partly set in Lower Manhattan, Whitehead's story creates a post-plague zombie universe undeniably more human than most novels in this genre.

11/22/63

A Novel

Stephen King

Scribner, $35

King offers a portal into the past with what might have been story around the Kennedy assassination.

1Q84

A Novel

Haruki Murakami

Alfred A. Knopf, $30.50

Lives of a ghostwriter and of a young girl, who steps out of a cab and enters a parallel world, converge in this epic-size novel from the author of "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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