Crossroads of War: A Historical Atlas of the Middle EastIan Barnes & Malise Ruthven (Harvard University Press)
For the history buff in the house, or for anybody still trying to understand how the Middle East was shaped into the borders that exist today.
Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany 1937Olaf Peters (Prestel)
An excellent collection of most of the works that made up the Nazi’s notorious 1937 Degenerate Art Exhibition along with explanations of why modern art was attacked as well as comparisons with artwork approved by the Nazis for The Great German Art Exhibition.
The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and The Game of ThronesGeorge R.R. Martin, Elio M. Garcia Jr. & Linda Antonsson (Bantam)
The book is filled with sumptuous illustrations based on what Martin actually thinks the cities, people, and castles in his books resemble. Thanks to the popularity of the HBO series, this kind of book is no longer just for the Dungeons & Dragons type.
HereRichard McGuire (Pantheon)
A wonderful way to savor the moment—every page of this book illustrates the same corner of the graphic artist’s childhood living room along with pop out windows that show what has happened on that spot throughout history, from a wolf with its prey to colonial Americans to more contemporary doings—housecleaning, heart attack. Great for anyone looking for some deep perspective on life.
CabinsPhilip Jodidio (Taschen)
Every romantic thought about the seclusion provided by a cabin away from it all is captured in this book. Tailor-made for the person with an inner Thoreau.
Escape: The Heyday of Caribbean GlamourHermes Mallea (Rizzoli)
Expect to hear a lot of wistful sighs this winter when guests open this book—its photos capture the region’s envious climate as well as its glittering past.
The Gardener’s GardenMadison Cox (Phaidon)
Inspirational and daunting are the words that come to mind while flipping through this compilation of the world’s most magnificent gardens. Just right for that person who needs a little creative push to do something daring in their yard.
Ottoman Chic Serdar Gülgün (Assouline)
Gülgün, an interior designer, opens up his historic mansion on the Bosphorus and provides an intoxicating look at the culture’s rich design history. An excellent antidote for the Pottery Barn-obsessed friend.
Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled ShoeLisa Small (Prestel)
Sex and the City went off the air a decade ago, but cities around the world are still cursed with wannabe-Carrie Bradshaws stomping around in Jimmy Choos. Give this gorgeous book to that friend who fits the stereotype.
The Invisibles: Vintage Portraits of Love and Pride by Sebastian Lifshitz (Rizzoli)
A truly touching collection of photographs of gay couples from 1900 to 1960—and an excellent reminder that same-sex love is older than most realize.
Paul Strand: Master of Modern PhotographyPeter Barberie (Yale University Press)
An amazing compilation of the work by a photographer who was crucial to the medium’s success. Strandf could photograph anything from a blind woman to a picket fence and make the image indelible. His vision is addictive, but will you see the way he saw? You should be so lucky. Perfect for anyone with a passion behind the lens.
Kill My MotherJules Feiffer (Liveright)
A fantastic graphic novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, inspired by classic adventure strips he read as a child. Great for the aspiring Quentin Tarantino, or for the aspiring next Feiffer.