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Click through for 11 coffee table books guaranteed to make your last-minute gift shopping a breeze.
Legendary lenswoman Lynn Goldsmith tells all, truly, in her latest collection of iconic rock images. The stories behind each shoot are delightfully juicy, especially if you’re into rock idols of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. The pictures are grouped into categories: Strange Angels (including shots of Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Prince, Tom Waits), Style (Debbie Harry, Lenny Kravitz, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Grace Jones, LL Cool J), Teen Idols (New Kids on the Block, Marky Mark, Leif Garrett,  Duran Duran, Elvis, Tiffany) and more. Some of the most interesting details Goldsmith mentions are fashion-related: she used an ex-boyfriend’s left-behind clothes in shoots with Bryan Adams, Ricky Nelson and even Tina Turner. Goldsmith also coerced Bruce Springsteen into wear her own leather jacket for a shoot (“He never really liked [it],” she says. “Too many studs for him.”) and it now resides in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We wonder if she got a well-deserved stylist credit.
With vignettes on 250 of America’s most iconic foods—from New Orleans Beignets to Hatch Chiles to Whoopie Pies— The Taste of America will either make you consider taking a U.S. road trip or, perhaps less extreme, run out to your local grocery store for some potato knishes and Sriracha. Author Coleman Andrews, James Beard Award-winning journalist and co-founder of Saveur magazine, provides lyrical summaries of the history and cultural importance of each of the featured items. “Why red velvet cake and not, say pecan pie?” he writes in the introduction. “I have no good answer, except to say that I chose whatever I thought most vividly expressed the essence of the way we eat.” Added bonus, the book includes a directory of where to procure each product.
The best part about the Rookie yearbook series is that each installation comes out in the fall: you don’t have to wait until school’s out for summer. And you certainly don’t have to be a teenager to appreciate the mix of personal narratives. In the second volume, the essays are still funny, poignant and true, the playlists are still awesome and the interviews and pop-culture content (conversations with Morrissey, Emma Watson, Molly Ringwald and Neil deGrasse Tyson, to name a few, are included) is on-point. There’s just so much here to read—go month by month or pick a random page. You win either way. (And don’t miss the stickers and tarot cards.)
Oh to be young, creative and in love! We can’t stop looking at this immersive appreciation of the 13-year romance of free-spirited British singer and actress Jane Birkin and Parisian musician Serge Gainsbourg. Produced by Jane’s brother Andrew, Jane & Serge features pages of intimate photographs of the couple between 1968 and 1980. And the packaging of the book offers even more: it’s encased by 70s-photo-album-style plastic cover—and tucked into the front and sides are contact sheets, photo prints, stickers, a personal essay booklet by Birkin, a poster and a collectible patch.
A must for all fans of Wes Anderson’s work, Matt Zoller Seitz’s 300+ page survey documents Anderson’s seven films, from Bottle Rocket to Moonrise Kingdom (though sadly not the upcoming Grand Budapest Hotel). It includes interviews with Anderson for each film, inspiration images, storyboards for key sequences, behind-the-scenes photographs and more—basically anything an Anderson fan could ever want, plus an introduction by Michael Chabon as icing on the cake. OBSESSED.
Any art book that opens with quotes from Banksy, John Cage, Sister Wendy Beckett and Thomas Kincade lets you know from the jump that you’re in for an interesting ride. This 460-page survey focuses on creativity that exists outside of the perimeters of the traditional art world—from graffiti to ice sculpture to tattoos. “Their visual powers are obvious, direct and immediate,” authors David Carrier and Joachim Pissarro offer as a means of definition of the works contained within. “Together they share one common denominator: they do not leave their viewers indifferent.” We love the appreciation of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland just a few pages after Japanese artist Haroshi’s sculpture of a shark made out of skateboard decks. And if you’re starting to forget what Lady Gaga’s meat dress looked like, worry not: it appears here too.
For appreciators of The Velveteen Rabbit and fans of Mike Kelley, we offer this most excellent collection of photographs by Irish lensman Mark Nixon. Inspired by his son’s affection for a Peter Rabbit doll, Nixon photographs much-loved stuffed animals (almost all bears, with a few bunnies and dogs and a lone giraffe) and provides some biographical info for each. We love that 40% of the animals in the book have named that are some variation of “Teddy Bear.” (“Pink Teddy,” “Teddy Moore,” “Ted,” “Teddy,” “Ted Ted,” “Big Ted,” “One-Eyed Ted,” etc…)
Authors François Armanet and Élisabeth Quin (both journalists in France) describe a killer fashion detail as “the unique touch that attracts our attention, emphasizes an attitude, and perfects a style.” And in this collection, they wax poetic about over 120 such details on a wide array of pop culture figures. Included, yes, are the usual It-girl suspects from sexy to sophisticated to gritty (Ursula Andress, Audrey Hepburn, Marianne Faithful) and the expected stylish gents like David Bowie, Mick Jagger, James Dean. But they also feature some sartorial surprises like authors James Joyce, philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, singer Gram Parsons and aviator Amelia Earhart. The specific items the authors choose to highlight for each subject will surely be a cause of spirited debate (Patti Smith in torn black button up – not the iconic Horses cover look? No, we say. No.) but that’s just part of the fun.
Dorothea Lange’s stark, journalistic photography is inexorably linked to way we understand the Great Depression. Born in 1895 and the first female photographer to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Lange started her career years before—and continued decades after—the period that brought her the greatest acclaim. In this monograph, readers are treated to a full survey of Lange’s work from her time as a portrait artist in San Francisco in the ‘20s to images shot in Japan, Korea and Vietnam in the late ‘50s.  Over 100 plates are featured in this companion book to a PBS American Masters episode on Lange that will air in 2014.
L.A. Photographer Tierney Gearon and British artist Damien Hirst use the alphabet framework for their latest compilations. But despite the elementary starting point, the works within them are surely more for an art-loving adult than a child. Alphabet Book features photographs of children in various stages of play – the images are crisp and marry the natural feeling of their outdoor landscapes with the fantastical element of dress-up. Damien Hirst ABC, an oversized board book, showcases the iconic images from the artist’s entire career, from 1994’s sheep-in-formaldehyde  “Away from the Flock” (L is for Lamb) to 2007’s bedazzled skull “For the Love of God” (D is for Diamonds).
Presented in the most beautiful marbled canvas, this “comprehensive taxonomy” of Louis Vuitton’s City Bags exhaustively catalogs the brand’s iconic carryalls from the Speedy to the Sac Plat. With the precision of an anthropologic study, design experts break down the differing iterations (“genealogy”), fabrics (“biodiversity”) and dimensions of each family of bag. The tome also includes advertising images, designer sketches, runway looks and an exhaustive breakdown of the hardware and leather that goes into each piece. By the end of the book, your appreciation for LV bags will be so high that you may find yourself drawn to your nearest boutique to admire the craftsmanship in person.